Recently, I was asked to testify before the Senate Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee in Lansing. I was thrilled to bring Wayne State’s story before one of the entities charged with crafting the state’s budget for higher education.
I told the subcommittee that while we have many excellent universities in Michigan, Wayne State is truly unique. We are a top-tier research institution that combines exceptional academic and research activities with another critical mission — being a university of opportunity. Many of our students are the first in their families to attend college. Many attend class while working full- or part-time, often while balancing family obligations. Many are the children of immigrants, hailing from various cultures, races and creeds. At Wayne State, diversity isn’t a slogan — it’s a reality that benefits both our students and our communities.
That is why I applaud Governor Snyder for his proposed budget that includes more than $80 million to reinvest in higher education and restore some of the base funding that was drastically cut three years ago. Half of that amount will be allocated proportional to fiscal year 2011 levels to help make up for the severe cuts that were made to colleges and universities that year. The remainder will be run through performance funding metrics. I also applaud the governor for adding a metric that recognizes the number of Pell-eligible students on our campuses. Because nearly half of Wayne State students are eligible for Pell funds, this new metric will continue to give students who have the ability but not the financial means an opportunity to receive an excellent education.
In order to receive this funding, universities must cap their tuition increases at 3.2%. We support this cap but caution that lowering the cap would substantially reduce any funding increase we would otherwise receive.
We believe that the governor’s budget represents a major step in making Michigan stronger and more economically competitive. Strong universities provide the foundation for a strong, highly-skilled workforce and a robust state economy. To help Michigan realize the potential of its many excellent universities, we have aligned with Michigan’s 14 other public universities and the Business Leaders for Michigan (BLM) — an organization that has been in the forefront of advocating for increased investment in higher education as a critical step toward Michigan becoming a Top Ten state. BLM sees public universities as one of the state’s greatest assets to remain competitive now and in the future. I encourage you to visit BLM’s advocacy website, www.makeopportunityaffordable.com and let your state legislator know of your support. You can also visit BLM’s Facebook page and keep up with their efforts: BLM Facebook page.
As an alumnus of Wayne State, you are vital to the democratic process. If you agree that the state’s increased investment in higher education is critical to our state’s economic future, reach out to those who represent you in Lansing and urge them to support the governor’s proposal of increased funding for higher education.
Points to emphasize and protect are:
- The allocation of 50% of the increase to base funding.
- The addition of Pell-eligible students as a metric in the performance funding.
- The tuition cap of 3.2% must be maintained and not lowered.
Your support will help greatly with our advocacy on this very important issue, and we appreciate your efforts.
M. Roy Wilson
Wayne State University
To view a transcript of President Wilson’s testimony before the Senate Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee, Click Here.