Cherry and Coleman discuss increasing state's college graduates
If the state is going to remain competitive in the global economy, more
students need post-secondary education, Lt. Gov. John Cherry said.
|Lt. Gov. John Cherry and President Mary Sue Coleman
talk during a media briefing about the quest to double the number
of college graduates in Michigan. (Photo by Paul Jaronski, U-M Photo
To that end, he is heading a new commission that will focus on doubling
the number of Michigan college graduates during the next 10 years,
making the state the national leader in producing college graduates.
Cherry met with President Mary Sue Coleman May 18 to discuss
the goals and mission of the Cherry Commission on Higher Education
and Economic Growth.
He noted that fewer than 22 percent of Michigan adults have bachelor’s
or advanced degrees, less than the national average of 26 percent
and more than 10 percentage points lower than states that are leading
the nation in economic growth.
“We have a real skill gap that we need to address,” Cherry
said. Without at least a couple of years of post-secondary education,
he said, “you cannot expect to have a meaningful job or career.”
The enrollment capacity at U-M’s Ann Arbor campus is “maxed
out,” Coleman said, but the Dearborn and Flint campuses have
the infrastructure to support more students. U-M-Flint has about
5,300 students and can accommodate 8,000 to 8,500, she said, and
U-M-Dearborn has 8,500 and can support 10,000 to 12,000.
“I’m pretty excited about what we could do on those campuses,” Coleman
She said all three campuses need to explore creative solutions for
achieving the new state goal, such as outreach efforts and partnerships
with other institutions.
Coleman applauded the lieutenant governor’s ideas and said it is
important for government to focus on higher education. “This is
the future of the economy of the state,” she said.
In the past, higher education was not a necessity for many people in
Michigan because of the jobs available through the auto industry, Cherry
said. But times have changed, he said.
Reaching the new goal will require better preparation for students
and efforts to teach the public about the benefits of post-secondary
schooling, Cherry said.
“We have a responsibility to go out and make a case for higher
education,” he said.