U-M Chief: Alumni Should Lobby for Snyder's Proposed Funding Hike

U-M Chief: Alumni Should Lobby for Snyder's Proposed Funding Hike
March 14, 2014/Detroit News

University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman is lobbying thousands of alumni to seek out their legislators and encourage them to support Gov. Rick Snyder’s proposed 6 percent funding increase for the state’s public universities next year.

“As you know, in the last two years, state support for the university has risen modestly, but this year, I am so encouraged to see the governor’s budget proposal with a substantial increase for higher education, the first major increase since I came to Michigan in 2002,” Coleman wrote in a letter emailed Wednesday night to 90,000 U-M alumni living in the state.

“The governor’s proposal of a 6 percent increase is incredibly significant, a move I think the whole country will be watching,” Coleman continued. “We have the chance here in Michigan to recapture national leadership with support of our public universities. The end result will be more affordable college costs for Michigan students, and more innovation for our state’s economy.”

Snyder’s budget was unveiled in February and proposed the largest state funding increase for higher education in 14 years.

Snyder wants to use part of the state’s $971 million, three-year surplus to finance an additional $80.3 million for Michigan’s 15 public universities.

The money would be tied to several performance measures and a 3.2 percent cap on tuition increases.

In the letter, Coleman praised Business Leaders for Michigan for lobbying for more investment in the state’s public universities, and pointed alumni to its Facebook page.

Doug Rothwell, president and CEO of Business Leaders for Michigan, said it makes sense to advocate for higher education. Rothwell said Michigan will need more workers with postsecondary education in the years ahead, and such employees will make more money than those with just a high school diploma.

“But in Michigan, we’ve made it harder for kids to get the education they need,” Rothwell said.

“We went from being a Top 10 to a Bottom 10 state for college affordability over the past decade due to a dramatic decline in state support.

“The result was a cost shift to students and parents at a time when they could least afford it.”

“Business Leaders for Michigan supports Governor Snyder’s higher education budget proposal as it makes college more affordable for students and families and recognizes Michigan’s need for well-educated talent by increasing public investment in the state’s colleges and universities,” Rothwell said.

Coleman told alumni to tell their lawmakers to support the funding increase.

Read her letter at http://outreach.umich.edu/state-impact/msc.html.