The University Record, June 21, 1999

Officials pleased with 'generous' state appropriation for 1999-00

By Jane R. Elgass

University officials are pleased with the “generous” state appropriation for 1990–00 that was approved by the House of Representatives June 10.

The U-M’s appropriation will increase by 4.75 percent to $338.9 million, the highest increase in four years. Last year’s appropriation was $323.5 million.

Provost Nancy Cantor said last week that the University is “very pleased that the state has signified its confidence in the academic excellence of the University with this generous appropriation. The state support will be extremely helpful in allowing us to restrain tuition increases and to maintain and enhance our outstanding programs.

“Among the major foci of our budget planning,” Cantor said, “are faculty and staff salaries (in the context of very competitive labor markets), increased student services (both centrally and in the schools and colleges), expanded opportunities for learning outside the traditional classroom (community service learning, instructional technology, living-learning programs), and enriched shared public culture on campus. This appropriation will be critical to meeting these and other important goals.”

Last October, the University asked the state for a 5 percent increase in the appropriation ($16.2 million) for the priority initiatives identified above, and additional support for the development of learning communities ($2 million) and initiatives in the life sciences ($4 million).

Under a plan hammered out in a House-Senate conference committee, the state’s 15 public universities were divided into five categories based on mission. The U-M is in the top category with Michigan State and Wayne State universities. Overall, state funding for public universities will increase by 5.4 percent.

Cynthia Wilbanks, vice president for government relations, said: “The strong support we received from the higher education subcommittees in the Senate and House proved to be very important in the final decision on the percentage increase for the higher education budget. The outcome,” she added, “is especially gratifying since so many new members of the Legislature were getting their first real exposure to the issues and challenges of higher education funding, and the importance of state support to our overall academic program.”

The Regents will act on a 1999–00 General Fund budget and tuition rates at their July meeting. The state appropriation accounts for approximately 36 percent of the University’s General Fund budget, which was $890 million in 1998–99.