The University Record, October 23, 1995

Outreach funding would benefit K-12 students statewide

By Bernie DeGroat
News and Information Services

 Although it has been several years since the U-M has received a state appropriation increase that has kept pace with the rate of inflation, University officials are hopeful

that their request for 1996-97 will be granted.

The University's move toward implementing value-centered management (VCM) and its renewed emphasis on expanding and establishing state partnerships illustrates the U-M's commitment to serve residents while also effectively managing costs on campus, according to Cynthia Wilbanks, associate vice president for university relations.

"I think [our request] squarely addresses what I believe is on the mind of most legislators, that is, how are we responding to [financial] pressures on campus?" Wilbanks said at last week's Board of Regents meeting.

"Secondly, the partnerships with the state of Michigan, in the ways that we have outlined, are directly responsive to what we believe the members of the Legislature feel is an important responsibility to Michigan---a partnership with the citizens of the state to both share and explore other ways to be creatively involved in their communities and their lives, not only with their students, but with economic development and K-12 education systems."

President James Duderstadt echoed Wilbanks' sentiments. "This outreach effort of the University, we believe, is terribly important to the state," he said. We can bring enormous resources to bear in service to the state.

"We really have received no state dollars dedicated to this purpose and so we, in fact, are both willing to commit the roughly $8 million of lapsed money included in the current year's budget to jump-starting these efforts, and seek base support for that over the next two years, which would significantly enhance our efforts to move ahead."

While Regent Shirley McFee believes that all four state partnerships proposed are vital, she made special note of the University's K-12 proposal.

"I think it is dreadfully important that, not just this University, but other universities get involved in assisting in improving our K-12 programs," she said. "If there is one thing I believe that is recognized, it is that our system of higher education remains superb in comparison with those of other countries, whereas our K-12 seems to be, if not lagging behind, at least in some system of jeopardy.

"To the extent that we can take the resources and facilities and technology that have been developed, and share this with the K-12, I urge that we prioritize that."

Although U-M government relations officials have their work cut out for them, Regent Laurence Deitch believes they will be successful in pushing through the University's budget increase request.

"As we look toward the sale of these requests, I'm very heartened by the quality of the team we have doing the selling," he said. "I am highly confident that we will be successful in this legislative season."