Oh, the weather outside is frightful! My little 12 pound dog simply cannot get over her desire to go for a walk every morning. But, two miles has now turned into three houses and she looks at us to pick her up for the return trip. So, our exercise has moved inside the Choice Fitness Center where there is a walking track in addition to a wide selection of machines to keep the blood circulating.
I have several short notes to share this week:
- MSCSA Conference
- Minnesota’s Budget Forecast and Northland’s Budget Forecast
- Tuition Comparisons
Over the weekend, the Minnesota State College Student Association held its quarterly meeting at Northland’s East Grand Forks campus. This was a gathering of the student leadership of all of the MnSCU colleges. During the conference, the leaders were briefed on many issues that are of interest to students: policy changes, tuition strategies, student services, advocacy for students, and leadership development.
I spoke to the group Friday afternoon, and thanked them for coming all the way to our campus for their meeting. We always appreciate when people make the northward trek and recognize how far we have to go to participate in meetings in St. Paul. I also thanked them for their leadership and for the commitment they make, as students, to creating a better future for themselves and their communities.
Representative Debra Kiel was the featured speaker at the Friday dinner. She and I both encouraged students to look to our area for jobs when they complete their educations. Many students expressed interest in our booming area. Rep. Kiel also fielded questions from the group, including some focused on the upcoming legislative session.
Minnesota’s Budget Forecast and Northland’s Budget Forecast
Everyone involved with developing budgets breathed a sigh of relief last Thursday when Minnesota Management and Budget released information about the November economic forecast. A surplus of $825 million is projected after the K-12 school shifts from two sessions ago are repaid. This is a breath of fresh air after several biennia of budget deficits.
The February forecast is the one that really influences the legislative session and decisions that are made about budgets. Last session, a biennial budget for fiscal years 2014 and 2015 was developed. With the forecast being what it is, many state agencies will hope for consideration of supplemental budgets and a generous bonding bill.
At Northland, we are still working with the budget that was set in May for FY2014 and FY 2015. While measures such as the Composite Financial Index (CFI) indicate that Northland is fiscally sound, this is a very difficult budget. We are struggling to get an accurate estimation of projected deficit. The legislature froze tuition for all MnSCU institutions for the biennium and our enrollment is down about 6% from last year; these factors caused a decrease in tuition revenue. In addition, we are facing inflationary costs on purchasing, utilities, and employee benefits. Compensation increases are still unknown because contract negotiations have not yet been concluded.
We will be discussing budget projections with the faculty Shared Governance Council this week and with the Support Staff Advisory Council next week. The MnSCU Board and system office personnel are developing recommendations for the legislative session.
At last week’s Leadership Council meeting a very interesting document was shared with the presidents.
The tuition and required fees for all institutions of higher education were presented in a bar graph from least expensive to most expensive. I apologize for the small type. There is a sharp break in about the middle of the array. MnSCU colleges and universities are to the left of the break; all other institutions – private and public are to the right. Clearly Minnesota State Colleges and Universities provide the most affordable options in Minnesota.
Have a wonderful week.
Fri, Dec. 13 – Pioneer Wrestling @ Ridgewater College, Willmar
Fri, Dec. 13 – Pioneer Women’s Basketball vs. Minnesota West – TRF Gym – 6 pm
Fri, Dec. 13 – Pioneer Men’s Basketball vs. Minnesota West – TRF Gym – 8 pm
Sat. Dec. 14 – Pioneer Women’s Basketball vs. Ridgewater College – TRF Gym – 1 pm
Sat, Dec. 14 – Pioneer Men’s Basketball vs. Ridgewater College – TRF Gym – 3 pm
My schedule for this week:
Mon., Dec. 9 – TRF – Agriculture Center of Excellence Conference Call, Exec. Comm.
Tues., Dec. 10 – EGF – Foundation Capital Campaign Consultant Interviews
Wed., Dec. 11 – EGF – BGEA Committee, TRF – Shared Governance Council
Thurs., Dec. 12 – EGF – PN Pinning Ceremony
Fri., Dec. – EGF – Altru Corporate Member Luncheon