Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Thursday, March 15, 2012

President Coleman urges improvements in higher-ed funding metrics

President Mary Sue Coleman told state legislators Wednesday that proposed higher-education budget formula metrics give the wrong impression about success at U-M.

"By all accounts, the University of Michigan is a world-class institution of higher education," Coleman told the House Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee in testimony delivered in Lansing. "We have applications from nearly 42,000 students who want to be a part of our next freshman class. We have 95 academic programs ranked in the top 10 nationally. We get more research funding than any other public university in the nation.

"Yet, in the budget proposal that has been recommended, you could erroneously come to conclude that based on the performance measures that were evaluated, the university is a failing institution. I am concerned about a number of aspects of the recommendation that could be improved."

She urged lawmakers to consider changes to the metrics that do not pit individual state universities against each other for funding. She suggested an emphasis on achievement as well as improvement, and consideration for graduate education and economic development activity.

In addition to offering her reaction to the proposed funding formula, Coleman outlined the university's commitment to financial aid, discussed the many ways the university stimulates economic development in the state, talked about the importance of maintaining academic excellence, and provided an overview of ongoing cost-containment efforts.

Coleman noted the improving economic outlook for the state and urged legislators to commit to increasing higher education funding over time.

"Michigan was once a top-10 state in higher education funding. Today we are near the bottom of that list," she said.

"I'd like to see the Legislature set a goal of getting the state back into the top 10 of state funding for higher education. I recognize that would be a long-term goal. But setting a goal is the first step toward achievement.

"We simply must step it up."