July 20, 2007
Earlier this afternoon the U-M Regents unanimously approved the campus budget for the upcoming year, a budget that supports the main objectives of our campus despite the tough economic climate across the state of Michigan. This budget clearly supports the primary commitments of the campus: our emphasis on enhancing the quality of our educational programs; our goal of providing more access to our programs for the students in our region by increasing institutional financial aid; and our commitment to maintaining the positive working environment that allows us to attract and retain talented faculty and staff members. In fact, in the budget approved today, we will increase financial aid by 16 percent, signaling our commitment to increasing the number of students able to take advantage of a UM-Dearborn education.
I am particularly grateful to the work of the members of the university budget committee who performed a great deal of highly focused work on our budget this year, in collaboration with Provost Susan Martin and Vice Chancellor Robert Behrens. Their efforts have been invaluable as we work to balance the forward-looking priorities of the campus with the tight financial condition of both the state and the university.
As everyone knows, the reductions in our state appropriation over the past few years and the uncertainty in Lansing over the past several months have made it very difficult for us to assemble this year’s budget. In recent weeks, the state government has decided to rescind most of the increase that was approved for our campus this fiscal year, and to delay one of the 11 distributions we receive from the state per year. The budget approved this afternoon reflects the assumption that the delayed payment will be restored next year and the rescinded amount from the current year will become a base budget reduction in the coming year. As a result, we expect next year’s state appropriation will be reduced by $440,000 compared with this year. This means that our state allocation is now more than $2.5 million below what it was in 2001-2002, and more than $6 million lower when inflation is taken into account.
As a result of the lingering effects of that decline, and in order to maintain our quality excellence, we have determined that our tuition rate needs to go up by 7.9 percent this year for undergraduate students. For many of our students, this increase will be partially offset by the large increase in our financial aid programs.
One of the most important items in the budget from my perspective reflects our commitment to increase compensation through the annual merit program. The total merit salary pool included in this budget is 3 percent, with individual raises to be determined by the merit review process currently under way.
As an institution, we have three leading priorities: to maintain the high quality of our academic programs, to make these programs available to the most able and ambitious students in the metropolitan region, and to preserve a working environment for our faculty and staff that maintains the highest level of commitment and achievement for our students. We are confident that this year’s budget will help us meet those goals. I am most grateful for the dedication and hard work by all our faculty and staff as we continue to succeed in fulfilling our central mission in difficult financial times.