|Gov. Rick Snyder Warns University Presidents of Short-term Sacrifice|
January 14, 2011/AnnArbor.com
By David Jesse
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder didn’t tell the presidents of the state's 15 public universities what level of cuts are coming to their state aid in the next budget. But he did say that eventually, the state needs to invest more in higher education.
“The governor was clear about the difficult nature of the budget issues we all face, although he provided no details — and we did not expect any,” said Michigan Technological University President Glen Mroz, who is chairman of the Presidents Council, State Universities of Michigan, the group that put together the Wednesday meeting.
“He called on Michigan’s public universities to partner with him on returning Michigan to prosperity, and all of my colleagues pledged to leverage the assets of their schools to assist him.”
Both Eastern Michigan University President Susan Martin and University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman attended the meeting, which was followed by a lunch with Snyder budget director John Nixon.
“It’s very clear that he values education at all levels,” Martin said. “It’s also clear there’s a structural deficit in the budget. (Nixon) told us that they need to get the structural deficit balanced in the short-term and then work with us on what the vision of higher education in Michigan should be.”
Coleman could not be reached for comment Thursday.
In addition to talking about money, Snyder also talked about the role the universities play in the state.
“The governor had a productive conversation with the university presidents and was very pleased to have the chance to sit down and discuss the reinvention of Michigan with them,” Snyder spokeswoman Geralyn Lasher said. “He discussed how we will look to the universities to help in our efforts to create an environment where jobs can be created so when the students graduate, there are job opportunities here in Michigan for them.”
He also touted the role of universities in turning around the state’s economy.
“If you look at great economic development, a university is usually behind it somewhere,” Snyder told the presidents during the meeting, held at the Governor’s Conference Room at the Capitol.
David Jesse covers higher education for AnnArbor.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 734-623-2534.