State Budget Request
November 26, 2006
Earlier today, I presented our annual state budget request to the Regents at their meeting in Ann Arbor, and I am writing to share some of the details of that request with you.
The budget request is part of the annual state appropriation process, and will be submitted to the state government now that it has been approved by the Regents. It becomes part of the record that will be considered by the governor and the legislature when they discuss the state appropriation for higher education for the fiscal year that begins next October. I believe that the budget request is an important document, reflecting our sense of our needs and our aspirations, describing where we are today and where we want to go in the future.
So where are we today? As we all know, the state has had to cut spending on higher education very significantly over the last several years. These reductions have had real effects on our ability to deliver the educational programs our students need. Our current level of state support is still nearly 10 percent, or $2.5 million, below our state appropriation in 2002, even taking into account the 1.7 percent increase the campus received in the appropriation for 2007.
Our budget request for the 2008 fiscal year aims to reverse this direction of change. Our total request calls for an increase of $3.6 million in our annual state support.
The largest portion of this year’s request, $2 million, is designated for more financial aid for low- and middle-income students.
We want to increase financial aid for two main reasons:
- First, access to higher education is a crucial form of opportunity for struggling families in Michigan, and we seek to increase the ability of the campus to provide adequate financial aid packages for students and families.
- And second, increasing the number of students who complete college is a critical investment in the future of the state of Michigan, necessary to allow the state to compete in the global economy.
Our total request also includes $600,000 to allow us to add more faculty positions in fields that are experiencing enrollment growth, and in fields that we know will attract more students to our campus. Health is the fastest growing field of employment in southeastern Michigan; experts predict an 11 percent growth in jobs in this sector in the next few years. To address that need, we’ve asked the state for $200,000 to allow us to explore the needs of our region for a variety of educational programs that we could develop for students seeking careers in the health professions.
Our request includes another $500,000 to support the information technology infrastructure necessary for teaching and research, especially in engineering and the natural sciences, which are major elements of our curriculum.
We are also seeking smaller amounts of state support include to allow us to expand programs for early childhood and K-12 teachers, and to support some programs of the Institute for Local Government, the innovative program we’ve launched to build regional leadership capacity through seminars and courses for local elected officials and public servants.
What is the unifying feature of these items on our budget request “wish list”? These all are areas where there is significant challenge in southeastern Michigan, where UM-Dearborn has real strengths, and where there is potential for long-term positive impact.
To help us address these challenges, our campus needs greater support from the state. The budget process is far from over; in fact, this request is merely the first step. While we understand the enormous economic challenges facing Michigan at this time, we believe that investment in higher education in general and in the mission of the UM-Dearborn in particular will pay dividends for the state many times over in the years ahead.
I want you to know that we are moving forward with confidence in our mission and optimism for the future.