Minnesota’s taxpayers aren’t getting the bang for the buck that they deserve. MnSCU executives, university and college presidents and the MnSCU Board of Trustees aren’t fulfilling their responsibilities of providing great educations while being the taxpayers’ financial watchdog.
Leslie McClellon, the president at Rochester Community and Technical College, aka RCTC, is one of the worst offenders. RCTC is running an $800,000 deficit this year. Despite that deficit, President McClellon spent almost $50,000 on the college’s recent centennial celebration. Though the school is running an $800,000 deficit, President McClellon spent “$20,000 for a jazz band, $15,000 for sound, lights and video screens, and $10,000 for an academic mace and golden chain of office.”
The financial mismanagement isn’t just contained at RCTC. MnSCU itself spent $2,000,000 to hire McKinsey & Co. as a consulting firm to help with MnSCU’s Charting the Future initiative. According to the Inter Faculty Organization, McKinsey & Co. was on the job for approximately 3 months. That amounts to getting paid almost $700,000 a month to produce a report that Dean Frost, a professor at Bemidji State University, criticized:
Dean Frost, a professor at Bemidji State University and a former management consultant who reviewed some of the documents McKinsey produced, said the playbooks feature general, common-sense instructions on conducting a task force. He said the supporting research mostly includes publicly available materials rather than reports generated specially for MnSCU.
At. St. Cloud State, President Potter spent $50,000 to hire a company called the Great Place to Work Institute. That’s after they paid almost $450,000 to Earthbound Media Group, aka EMG, to help with President Potter’s rebranding initiative. That’s after St. Cloud State paid the City of St. Cloud $540,000 over 3 years for police that don’t police the SCSU campus.
That’s minor compared with the money St. Cloud State has paid to the Wedum Foundation for empty rooms in Coborn’s Plaza:
So in the first four years of operation of the Coborn’s Plaza apartments, SCSU has paid approximately $5,000,000 for empty rooms! Essentially, the university is averaging losing more than $1,250,000 per year. With declining enrollment, less demand for dorms and apartment space, coupled with the automatic price escalator in the lease agreement, it is not unreasonable to project million dollar payments for empty rooms for years to come.
By the way, St. Cloud State ran a deficit of almost $10,000,000 in FY2015. They’re running another multi-million dollar deficit this year. Finding examples of foolish and/or outrageous spending in MnSCU is as difficult as finding Thanksgiving leftovers the day after Thanksgiving.
Thus far, the MnSCU Board of Trustees haven’t criticized these colleges’ and universities’ mismanagement. Bud Nornes and Terri Bonoff, the House and Senate chairs of the Higher Education committees, haven’t investigated this either.
With accountability not being a priority, it isn’t surprising that presidents like Earl Potter and Leslie McClellon and Chancellor Rosenstone spend money foolishly. That’s why MnSCU is the place where fiscal responsibility goes to die.