Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Coleman says U-M ready to help Snyder turn state around

U-M stands ready to leverage its leadership role in economic development to help Gov. Rick Snyder pursue a turnaround in the state's fortunes, President Mary Sue Coleman said Wednesday.

"Governor Snyder has a powerful vision for our state and its return to prominence. We share his deep commitment to a brighter future for all Michiganders," Coleman said following Snyder's first State of the State address. 

As the state eyes a projected $1.8 billion deficit, Snyder avoided mention of specific areas he would cut. His recommended appropriation for U-M and the rest of state government will come with a formal budget recommendation in February.

Coleman acknowledged that the university likely will be asked to make do with less public funding. "We also know the state is facing unprecedented financial challenges that will require shared sacrifices," she said.

For now, Snyder stressed that everyone must contribute.

"There are no quick fixes or magic solutions," he declared. "The simple truth is that the reinvention of Michigan depends just as much on what each citizen does as what my team and I do or what this Legislature does."

Snyder's challenge to the state represents a leadership opportunity for U-M, Coleman said.

"Michigan's public universities are playing an important role in the state's rejuvenation, and I know from conversations with the governor that he understands what higher education contributes to the economy," she said.

As an example, Coleman cited Snyder's announcement of an agreement between the University Research Corridor institutions and Procter & Gamble to hasten research collaborations. U-M is part of the URC along with Michigan State and Wayne State universities.

"It's a collaboration that will speed innovative ideas to the marketplace by simplifying the legal process that companies and research universities use to negotiate research projects. It will also provide opportunities for Michigan students to gain firsthand exposure to large companies and the real business world, while exposing these companies to top talent and potential future employees," Snyder said.

While the agreement initially focuses on U-M and the other two URC universities, Snyder said that once it is up and running it will be extended to all 15 of the state's public universities.

Daryl Weinert, executive director of U-M's Business Engagement Center, said the agreement could be a template for further collaboration among Michigan's universities and with industry across the state.

"It is a great compliment to our talented faculty and to our universities' ability to work well with industry," he said. "U-M has had a longstanding relationship with P&G, and we see this as a wonderful opportunity to further expand the research aspects of our win-win relationship."