Kaler Proposes 3.5% Tuition Hike for U of M Undergrads

University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler's proposed tuition increase would be the lowest year-over-year hike in more than a decade.

University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler has proposed a 3.5 percent tuition hike for Minnesota undergraduates-the lowest year-over-year tuition increase in more than a decade.

Kaler outlined a budget proposal for the 2013 academic year during a University of Minnesota Board of Regents meeting on Friday. Annual tuition increases in the past decade have ranged from 4.5 percent to 16 percent, according to a university news release.

Kaler's budget also calls for a 2.5 percent increase in the pool of money that the university uses for faculty and staff raises. In addition, it includes the creation of two new investment pools: a $3 million fund for research-related infrastructure projects and a $1 million fund for investments in instructional technology.

To help offset the overall tuition increase for some students, Kaler proposed beefing up the university's need-based aid program-Promise Scholarship-by 14 percent. He proposed an additional $2.8 million in new money for merit-based aid programs.

The board is expected to vote on the proposed budget on June 8.

Meanwhile, at Friday's meeting, the board approved a resolution authorizing the university and the Minnesota Vikings to enter into negotiations regarding the Vikings' use of TCF Bank Stadium during the construction of a new downtown Minneapolis stadium. (A $975 Vikings stadium bill was approved by both the Minnesota House and the Minnesota Senate last week and signed into law by Governor Mark Dayton on Monday; the Minneapolis City Council is expected to vote on the bill later this month).

In other university news, a Board of Regents committee on executive compensation and leaves is in the process of reviewing so-called “administrative transitional leaves” that are offered to the university's executives.

University spokesman Chuck Tombarge told Twin Cities Business that the leaves are tailored for the U's executives who are also tenured faculty members. When these executives decide to step down from their administrative roles but stay on as faculty members, they are granted paid leaves before they resume faculty duties.

Former U of M President Robert Bruininks granted these paid leaves at the executives' administrative salaries, but two of Kaler's staff members on Monday proposed to the committee that the leaves be eliminated and that departing administrators who choose to stay on as faculty members should take traditional faculty sabbaticals, which are less generous in pay and length.

The U allows a faculty member to take a semester-long sabbatical with full salary and benefits and a year-long leave at half-salary and full benefits.

Tombarge said that the committee will likely make its recommendations at the Board of Regents' June meeting.