President Coleman Issues Statement on State Budget Proposal
February 10, 2005
University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman made the following comments today (February 10) in response to state proposals regarding higher education funding and education-related programs:
“Today’s state budget proposal includes a midyear cut of nearly 2 percent for public universities, and continues this as a base budget cut in Fiscal 2006. This is in addition to the 12 percent cut in base funding that we have experienced over the past two years.
“These proposed additional cuts would mean that, over a three-year period, the University of Michigan’s General Fund will have been reduced by almost $50 million. And while the opportunity for capital outlay funds outlined in the budget proposal is always welcome, it does not address the fundamental and serious issue of the recurring funding necessary to plan for and build the University’s operating budget. These are costs such as faculty instruction, student services, educational technologies, laboratories and other classroom support. This has become much more than simply a short-term challenge; it now has the potential to affect our core academic quality for many years to come.
“I said quite clearly during last year’s budget cycle that the combination of declining state support and artificially restrained tuition cannot work over the long term. We are educating more students, treating more patients and conducting more research at a time when our state funding has fallen to levels not seen in a decade. We have wrung costs out of the system through efficiencies, cutbacks and layoffs. Meanwhile, our level of activity has gone up considerably. This model, if continued, will hurt the quality of our work.
“This proposal is a starting point. We expect to be fully engaged in this process, and will encourage policymakers to reconsider this recommendation as the budget is reviewed and discussed in greater detail in the coming weeks.
“I have committed to our students, to our alumni and to the state that quality is our key priority. We cannot compromise our academic excellence. The protection of the University’s academic quality will be our guiding principle as we move into this year’s budget planning cycle.
“We share the Governor’s concern that a college education remains affordable and accessible regardless of financial means. We will continue to devote our attention and resources to increasing financial aid for Michigan students as another of our most important priorities. We are looking carefully at institutional funding that will increase grant aid for students, not loan indebtedness. For the University of Michigan, a robust financial aid program is key to making college affordable for students and families.
“In her State of the State address, the Governor made several proposals intended to encourage a greater number of students to earn college degrees and to spur the state’s research activity. I am pleased to see these proposals, which acknowledge the crucial role of higher education in the state’s economic strength. In particular, I am excited by the proposal to issue $2 billion in state bonds over the next 10 years in order to invest in cutting-edge research in universities, businesses and nonprofit organizations.
“Research and innovation will be the drivers of our economic success in Michigan and in our nation. In this global economy, competitors such as China and India are outspending the United States in R&D, and our state’s future business environment is at risk. The governor’s bold vision will fuel our ability to remain competitive within America and beyond its borders.
“Only by producing research innovations that lead to the growth of new industries, and by graduating the bright young students who will work in and lead those industries, can we build an economy that will sustain us in the 21st century. Governor Granholm’s plan for research investment gives us a tremendous opportunity to strengthen the partnership between state government, industry and research universities so we can out-innovate the competition.
“The citizens of our state now have the chance to make a powerful investment in Michigan’s economic destiny.”