Coleman outlines budget priorities in annual letter to state
As the university's budget process for fiscal year 2014 gets under way, President Mary Sue Coleman says U-M will continue to work toward a budget that "strongly supports" the university's commitments to academic excellence and affordability.
"As careful stewards of public resources we remain focused on and dedicated to prudent and responsible financial planning," Coleman says in a letter to State Budget Director John E. Nixon.
Each year the state gives state universities the chance to outline budget-related items in a letter. The university submitted its letter Nov. 16. The chancellors of the Flint and Dearborn campuses also submitted letters.
In the letter, Coleman expresses the university's appreciation for the 2 percent increase in funding for FY 2013 and notes how important it will be to U-M to retain the increase as base funding for FY 2014. Last year the state said all funding was one-time funding.
"We continue to believe strategic investment in higher education is essential to the future vitality of the state and its economy," Coleman writes.
The letter details the university's ongoing commitments to cost containment and economic development, and offers suggestions for improving the metrics used to determine funding for the state's 15 public universities.
"We encourage revisions so that new state funding is targeted to the highest priorities," Coleman says, noting that an initial step would be to provide base funding rather than one-time funding. "Reshuffling one-time funding over multiple years means that new initiatives and improvements cannot be introduced and sustained."
Coleman also notes that three of the metrics used this year — six-year graduation rate, total degree completion and institutional support as a percentage of core expenditures — require continual improvement in order to receive the maximum level of funding. This approach hurts U-M because the university already performs at a high level, so there is little room to improve.
Additionally, she said the current funding model "completely ignores the sizeable population of graduate students" that contributes to the state's work force once those students complete their degree programs. U-M conferred 5,660 graduate degrees in FY 2012.