(as prepared for delivery)
Chairwoman Schuitmaker, Senator MacGregor and Senator Hertel, thank you for the opportunity to speak with you.
It’s a pleasure to see all of you today. I am honored to be here representing the University of Michigan.
Addressing Sexual Misconduct
I want to begin by addressing an issue we are all concerned about: the horrific problem of sexual misconduct.
We have all heard the heartbreaking accounts of survivors across the nation, who have bravely come forward to share their painful and deeply personal experiences. I commend their courageous efforts to help bring perpetrators to justice, inspire fellow survivors to tell their stories, and bring about positive change that will prevent future occurrences of these terrible behaviors.
We take very seriously our responsibility for preventing sexual misconduct.
Although we have confidence in our longstanding and focused prevention efforts and education programs, we are absolutely committed to remaining vigilant and to developing additional approaches that will make the University of Michigan a safer and more supportive university. This is a top institutional priority for all of us, including the Board of Regents and the executive team.
In recent years we have implemented changes to better address student sexual misconduct. Now we will focus more broadly across our entire community. This includes not just our students, but also faculty, staff, visitors and patients.
We will ask an outside expert to assess the quality of our reporting resources and procedures for addressing sexual misconduct and suggest what we can be doing better, so that we can make any fixes that are necessary.
Our entire community shares a commitment to look each other in the eye and say that we simply won’t tolerate these types of behaviors at the University of Michigan.
U-M’s Impact and Workforce Success
The recommended increases in state support in next year’s budget for all three U-M campuses continue the recent trend of re-investing in public higher education in our state.
Since the 15 percent budget cut of 2011, this reinvestment remains crucial to our state’s economic rebound, as I will discuss later in my remarks. The 2% proposed budget increase would, for the first time, get us back to and even a bit beyond the level of state funding that existed before the 2011 cut. I hope we can continue to work together to bolster this positive trend on behalf of the people of our state.
Like you, I spend a great deal of time traveling throughout Michigan, listening to people who live in the communities we serve. I often get asked to explain U-M’s value to our state. My answer to their question has three parts.
One: As a research university, the discoveries we make lead to innovations that drive economic growth, create jobs and make our state and its communities more prosperous. For example, we average one new start-up company each month based on research by our faculty.
Two: We prepare many of our state’s most talented students to succeed and fully participate in a global society, through top academic programs and opportunities unique to a public university of our breadth and scale.
And three: We make the quality of life better – not just for our graduates, but for everyone, and not just through research and education, but also through our galleries and artistic performances, the cutting-edge healthcare provided by Michigan Medicine, and our outstanding athletics teams.
Related to that second point, I am proud to note that Michigan’s graduates are in high demand. Our Ross School of Business reports that more than 190 companies hired the school’s graduates in 2017, and more than 97% of students had received at least one job offer within three months of graduation.
It’s no surprise that graduates of our nationally top-five-ranked engineering college do similarly well in the job market. But it may surprise you that graduates of our College of Literature, Science and the Arts, do just as well. 96% of graduates are either employed or in graduate school within six months of graduation.
Employers are looking for workers who have broad skill sets and can tackle complex problems, work in groups, communicate clearly, think critically, write well and collaborate across cultural differences. A Michigan education doesn’t just prepare you for your first job, but rather for a dynamic career in a rapidly evolving and globalized economy.
Research for the Public Good
At U-M, we produce research that directly enhances many of the signature strengths of our state. We are the No. 1 public university in the nation in research productivity, at nearly $1.5 billion last year.
I’ve previously discussed our Mcity test facility for autonomous and connected vehicles – which is literally driving the future of mobility and helping to keep Michigan in its rightful place atop the automotive innovation world.
Our research also contributes to Michigan’s outstanding quality of life and our economic strength throughout the state.
For instance, University of Michigan researchers are part of a program that trains local officials in coastal management and helps them better understand environmental risks.
Many Michigan residents and visitors carry with them fond memories of playing on sand dunes and swimming at beaches during summer vacations. The Michigan Economic Development Corp. reports that our state’s beaches and waterfronts are a top five component of our $24 billion tourism industry.
Yet in some places in our state, shorelines are eroding away as much as one foot per year.
Our researchers help local planners analyze shore dynamics, potential fiscal impacts, environmental vulnerabilities, and other land-use impacts, including 50 public presentations in west-side communities in the past three years.
Commitment to Affordability
The most prosperous states in our nation are those with the greatest numbers of college graduates. Michigan currently stands 35th amongst the states in college attainment. Wages of college graduates are on average 60% greater than those with just a high school degree and their unemployment rate of 2.7% is almost half as high.
We have to do more as a state to promote greater affordability and broader access to a college education for Michigan’s rising generation.
The University of Michigan has a longstanding and extraordinary commitment to providing need-based financial aid to in-state students seeking to better their lives by studying on our campus. This year, our commitment to ensuring that qualified students from Michigan can afford a U-M education became a guarantee.
Most in-state undergraduate students from families with an annual income of up to $65,000 can receive free tuition on our Ann Arbor campus. This new financial aid program is called the Go Blue Guarantee.
I have heard from far too many students and families throughout our state who don’t pursue a U-M education because they fear they can’t afford it. These are Michiganders from Marquette to Detroit, to Grand Rapids, Ypsilanti and Shiawassee County.
The Go Blue Guarantee is for them – and for hard-working and talented students from families with need all across the state who dream of a U-M education, apply and are admitted.
About half the families in the state of Michigan make $65,000 or less. Students from these families receive free tuition plus whatever other financial aid they qualify for based on their individual circumstances. And rest assured that our commitment to provide need-based financial aid to students from families with incomes above the $65,000 level will remain as strong as ever. This typically includes significant amounts of aid for students from qualifying Michigan families with incomes up to $180,000 a year.
A goal of the Go Blue Guarantee is for each and every qualified student to feel that a University of Michigan education is within their financial reach. I have always believed that talent is ubiquitous in our society, but opportunity most certainly is not.
Our commitment to financial aid speaks to the importance the Board of Regents places on supporting students. This priority is reflected in the hearts of our donors, and in the details of our budget. It actually costs less to attend U-M today than it would have 10 years ago for almost all in-state undergraduate students who receive need-based financial aid.
I call upon the Governor and legislature to work together with all of Michigan’s public universities to promote greater access, affordability and college attainment for our children. Education is the best investment we can make in our shared future.
I am eager to work with you to sustain, enhance and continue to grow the impact of the University of Michigan’s mission to conduct research and educate students for the good of society and our great state.
Thank you for your support.