Note: Remarks as prepared for delivery.
Chairwoman Schuitmaker, Chairman McCready and members of the Senate and House Higher Education subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to speak with you.
I was pleased to meet with Senator Schuitmaker and Representative McCready in January in Ann Arbor and enjoyed the chance to get acquainted. I also look forward to meeting members of your two committees in the months ahead.
It is an honor to be before you today for the first time representing the University of Michigan.
Over the last several months, I have spent a great deal of time meeting with members of the U-M community and visiting many parts of the state.
My time in Michigan began before my first day on the job. I wanted to get to know the state and its people before I started, so my wife and I took the opportunity to travel throughout Michigan and enjoy its many splendors as any vacationing couple would.
We made stops in places such as Holland, Glen Arbor, Traverse City, the Leelanau Peninsula, Harbor Springs, Munising, and Midland. We particularly enjoyed Sleeping Bear Dunes and Pictured Rocks. We also visited some of Michigan’s larger cities, including Grand Rapids, Detroit, and right here in Lansing.
I was continually struck by our state’s beauty, history and focus on the future.
The people I met during that trip – and the many I have met since – take great pride in the colleges and universities that serve their communities. They are very optimistic about our state, and they look to higher education as a pathway to prosperity for their children and as a source of hope for the future. They see the good work that we do.
In the months since I began at U-M, I have continued to meet with Michiganders from all parts of the state. I have visited with some of the entrepreneurs who are responsible for the 14 startup companies launched last year based on U-M research, and met others who have started nonprofits in local communities.
I visited the White House and spoke with the President about the new Advanced Light Weight Materials Manufacturing Innovation Institute, a government-university-private sector partnership spearheaded by the U-M in Detroit.
As a result of all of these conversations and observations, I am very bullish on the State of Michigan.
For example, only in Michigan can an unprecedented collaboration of the auto, technology, urban planning, and insurance industries team up with government and education partners to build a mobility transformation laboratory on the scale of our M City, located on our North Campus.
M City is a 32-acre facility resulting from an innovative research and development partnership. Its goal is to develop the foundation for a commercially viable system of connected and automated vehicles, in which the vehicles “talk” with each other and with the surrounding transportation infrastructure.
Our test facility simulates real-world conditions. Vehicles will encounter traffic lights and crosswalks, and navigate obstacles such as buildings, bike lanes, and — as we are very familiar with — road construction.
The potential economic and safety benefits are enormous. Imagine if we could reduce motor vehicle fatalities and injuries by a factor of 10 while also increasing new transportation startups by a factor of 10. Or gain unprecedented efficiencies by avoiding traffic jams, or managing commercial deliveries through automation.
This is what we can accomplish when Michigan’s great universities work side by side with its leading industries.
We can also measure our impact on the most personal and immediate levels.
Thanks to the new statewide infant screening mandate implemented last year, a family from the Quincy area was able to receive lifesaving care for their newborn daughter. The 2-minute screening revealed a problem in baby Payton’s heart, and she was immediately transferred to the Mott Children’s Hospital for diagnosis and surgery.
The success of the mandate is due in part to U-M’s collaboration with the Michigan Department of Community Health and others to create the tools that provide birthing centers and midwives with the ability to perform the screening.
I mention these examples because they are indicative of the University of Michigan’s deeply held commitment to the public good.
This is a value that stems directly from our public ethos. It drew me to Michigan, and it drives us to be better and stronger partners with our many constituents across the state.
We appreciate the State of Michigan’s ongoing investment in our work.
The 2 percent overall increase in Governor Snyder’s budget recommendation for the state’s 15 public universities maintains the momentum of restoring investment in public higher education in Michigan.
I look forward to working with you and other state leaders throughout the budget process in this, my first budget season at U-M.
While the budget proposal requires that we meet specific criteria to obtain increased funding, I want to assure you that we always take performance seriously at the University of Michigan and measure ourselves against our peers across the country in numerous ways.
We look to identify best practices in the classroom, in our research, and in the basic business functions of our institution.
Measuring performance is a good way to show value and build confidence that the state’s investment in the University of Michigan is enhancing our ability to remain one of the top institutions of higher learning in the country.
We are also proud to continue our commitment to financial aid that meets the need of every Michigan resident admitted to our university.
One of the things that has most impressed me about U-M’s commitment to college affordability is that we cover 100 percent of the demonstrated financial need of in-state students.
I have worked at outstanding public and private university on both the coasts, and I can assure you that the Michigan commitment is truly remarkable.
Over the past several years we have kept tuition increases as low as possible and increased our financial aid resources significantly. For many Michigan students with financial need, it costs less to attend Michigan now than it did five years ago.
An important component of our work to reduce the financial burden on students and families is finding ways to be as efficient and effective as possible.
We have continued the university’s plan to achieve general fund savings, which is now in its third phase. Since fiscal year 2013, we have identified and implemented recurring reductions and reallocations that have saved the General Fund more than $78 million.
As I continue to meet with members of the Legislature, I am reminded of the enormous responsibility you hold in supporting and enhancing the state’s important assets — including Michigan’s public universities.
U-M’s Ann Arbor, Flint and Dearborn’s campuses serve a broad range of students. You will hear from my colleagues from Flint and Dearborn next.
Together, we educate more than 60,000 students, and we are eager to provide the innovative graduates who will shape the future of our state and the groundbreaking research that will drive out economy into the future.
Thank you very much.