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By Julie Peterson
News and Information Services
The budget and proposed tuition rates for the 20002001 academic year were presented by Provost Nancy Cantor to the Regents at their meeting last week. The Regents unanimously approved both items.
The Universitys anticipated state appropriation, if approved by the Legislature in the fall, would represent an increase of 5.7 percent (or $19.3 million). The FY 2001 general fund budget, Cantor said, is built on an ongoing partnership between the University and the state, in which relatively generous state appropriations permit low tuition increases. As a consequence, she said, for the overwhelming majority of our students (including all our undergraduates), this budget proposes tuition growth that will be slightly lower than anticipated consumer price inflation in Michigan.
The 2.8 percent tuition increase will continue the modest growth in tuition the University has adopted over the past five years.
Cantor noted that the economic return for students pursuing a college education is at its highest levels since economists started making such calculations. Less tangibly, but at least as important, education is the key instrument for understanding, engaging with, and negotiating in an increasingly complicated and interesting world. The best universities, including the U-M, return the greatest value, both economically and more generally.
Part of our value comes from the sheer size and scale and quality of the intellectual and social and technological resources that we bring to bear in educating our students and in conserving and innovating, she said.
In her presentation, the provost highlighted connections between research and teaching that allow the University to provide a kind of education that is virtually unique.
All of the examples discussed here have similar characteristics: Original research and creative activity of the kind that can only be led by a superb faculty leads to new fields of inquiry and of graduate and professional study, frequently involving the creation as well as the use of new technologies. Often, these new fields are interdisciplinary. Invariably, their development entails rethinking and reconfiguration of undergraduate curricula, and often precipitates the making of new connections to worlds beyond the campus, she said.
Examples of the kind of work made possible by the new budget include:
Students from the Residential College also are interviewing elders in Detroit about what it has been like to come of age as a teen-ager in Detroit over the past 75 years. The resulting life-stories will be transformed into theater pieces by Detroits renowned Mosaic Youth Theater for the celebration of the citys 300th anniversary in 2001.
Technology is a theme that runs throughout the budget and, the provost noted, encompasses both information technology as well as other kinds of technology that allow us to see and appreciate parts of the world that we cant easily see or appreciate directly.
For example, she said, some technologies allow us to see and record images of brain activity as it unfolds. Another technology may permit the examination of the inside of a musical instrument to better understand the sound qualities. Whatever the opportunity, we have to enable our students to seize it and to be as fluent as they can be.
President Lee C. Bollinger recently appointed a commission to advise him on the implications of the revolution in information technology for the University. It will examine a broad range of issues ranging from implications for research and teaching to distance learning and interactions with the broader world.
The commission will be working over the coming year, but already it is clear that providing the infrastructure for both information technologies and for other technologies essential to our mission presents a continuing budgetary challenge, Cantor said.
Overall, general fund budget revenues for FY 2001 are $981 million, an increase of 5.7 percent over the previous year. Expenditures for administrative units over the past three years have grown at less than half the rate of the academic units. One area of significant cost savings for the coming year is a 5 percent reduction in the cost of utilities campuswide.
Pressures on costs for salary increases to recruit and retain top-notch faculty and staff, increased costs of instruction, technology and infrastructure improvements, and the like mean that this increase in the general fund still requires the University to make major reallocations of resources in order to accomplish new endeavors.
The principal sources that will support essential improvements in information technology, as well as new and expanded programs in FY 2001 and beyond, are reductions and reallocations from activities undertaken in FY 2000, the provost said. By necessity, given the budgets they receive and their operating costs, the academic units continually reallocate from areas of lower priority in order to support areas of higher priority and programmatic innovations.