|Universities Hopeful after Meeting with Snyder, but See Pain Ahead |
January 12, 2011/Gongwer News
Michigan's public university presidents emerged hopeful of the long-term future after meeting Wednesday with Governor Rick Snyder and Department of Technology, Management and Budget Director John Nixon, but they also acknowledged they expect to see further budget pain in the upcoming years.
Neither Mr. Snyder nor Mr. Nixon, who met the presidents during a lunch meeting, would discuss budget specifics, said Mike Boulus, executive director of the Presidents Council, State Universities of Michigan.
In a statement, Michigan Technological University President Glen Mroz, who is chair of the council, said Mr. Snyder was "clear about the difficulty of the budget issues we all face."
And Mr. Boulus said the presidents expect there will be "some pain during the first couple of years" in terms of budget cuts.
Overall, however, the presidents felt Mr. Snyder had a good grasp of the potential of the universities, Mr. Boulus said.
Mr. Snyder urged the universities to turn out more qualified graduates and try to guide them to occupations where the state has available work.
He also called on the universities to do more to help keep young graduates in the state and promote entrepreneurship.
And he urged them to be partners in economic development and to help state government access the state's knowledge base to help solve state problems.
In terms of the entrepreneurship question, the universities recently pointed out how entrepreneurial students from Michigan won top national awards.
Mr. Boulus said the universities cannot steer students into specific lines of study. But he also said the universities are open the concept of "performance metrics" since "clearly performance metrics will be part of the budget."
The discussions did not go much into the question of financial aid, though Mr. Boulus said Mr. Snyder said if the state could restore something on the basis of the Michigan Promise Scholarship it should be on a needs basis.
And there was no discussion on whether the K-12 School Aid Fund would be used at all for university funding.
But the universities were encouraged that Mr. Snyder is consulting them on who he should name to the university governing boards, Mr. Boulus said, which is a significant change from the administration of former Governor Jennifer Granholm. Other than the boards for Michigan State University, the University of Michigan and Wayne State University, the governor appoints all the members of the university governing boards.