Lately former governor and current UND President Ed Schafer has been getting criticism for his budget reform efforts at his institution. Most of the complaints seem centered around the fact that Schafer is the interim president, yet is making some deep and systemic changes to the school’s budgets.
Yesterday, ahead of a meeting today, the State Board of Higher Education issued a statement standing behind Schafer.
“At tomorrow’s Board meeting, presidents will give updates on each of their allotment plans. I want to thank them all for the work they have done and continue to do, and I look forward to hearing their reports,” SBHE president Kathleen Neset said in the statement. “Many of the news stories have centered around the University of North Dakota cuts, and I would like to applaud the transparency of the decisions that are being made and thank President Schafer for his continued service. I recognize that what is being done at each campus is not easy, but it is necessary, and in the long-term best interest of our institutions, our system and our students.”
If anyone thought the criticism would slow Schafer down, they’d better think again. At the SBHE meeting today Schafer announced that he is cutting 138 positions at the school, most of them non-faculty:
FARGO, N.D. (AP) – Interim University of North Dakota president Ed Schafer says the school will eliminate 138 positions to help meet budget cuts ordered by the governor.
Schafer disclosed the numbers at a state Board of Higher Education meeting Thursday when leaders at the state’s 11 colleges and universities mapped out plans to trim their budgets. …
Schafer says the cuts include 51 faculty positions.
If 51 faculty positions are going, then the remaining 87 (or 63 percent) are non-faculty.
That’s important. Non-instructional hiring at the state’s schools have exploded in recent years. I don’t have up to date numbers at my fingerprints, but a couple of years ago I was writing about the trend, and it wasn’t good:
This is exactly what the University of North Dakota needs.
Frankly, every institution in the North Dakota University System likely needs this sort of sweeping reform.
As for the complaints about all this happening at the behest of an interim president, I wonder if there’s really any other way to do it. If we look at the trenchant caterwauling over the cuts Schafer has made so far you have to wonder if anyone other than someone like Schafer, who has no long-term ties to the university, would be capable of real reforms.
Anyway, I’m glad Schafer is doing this at UND. It needed to be done. And I’m glad that, so far, Chancellor Mark Hagerott and the State Board of Higher Education seem to be standing behind him.