Regents to be presented budget, proposed 2.8 percent tuition hike
ANN ARBOR—The University of Michigan will be able to focus on its highest academic priorities in the coming year with the lowest percentage tuition increase in more than a decade, thanks in large part to a generous state appropriation.
“Thanks to over 150 years of state support and wise stewardship of the people of this state, Michigan is a great university,” said Nancy Cantor, U-M provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. “We are especially fortunate in the coming fiscal year in that we will benefit from an unusually generous increase in the state appropriation to the University. This permits us to ask the Regents for the lowest percentage increase in undergraduate tuition rates that we have sought in more than a decade. We hope that this combination—generous state appropriations and modest tuition increases—constitutes a formula that can be repeated in the years to come.”
Gov. John Engler, in a letter to the Michigan House of Representatives, noted that this year’s appropriations bill was intended to provide incentives for public universities which showed restraint by increasing tuition at or below 3 percent. “I am very pleased that we have been able to recommend a budget and tuition increase that is good for our students and their families and also lower than the governor’s and the legislature’s goals,” the U-M provost said.
The University’s state appropriation this year increased by 4.75 percent to $338.9 million, the highest increase in four years. Internally, the University has been able to save $1 million by reorganizing its instructional technology support programs and another $500,000 through programs that have reduced workers’ compensation costs.
The University also has reallocated millions of dollars toward its highest priorities, and has directed the largest share of its new revenues to academic programs. The total share of the budget devoted to academic programs will again increase, Cantor noted.
Overall, general fund budget revenues this year, $928.3 million, are 4.27 percent higher than last year. Expenditures for academic units, the schools and colleges and related activities, will average a 5.23 percent increase. Increases in administrative and service unit budgets will average 3.4 percent, and increases in general expenses, such as utilities, will average 1.63 percent.
When Cantor presents the 1999-2000 budget to the Board of Regents at its July 15 meeting, she will ask Board members to approve a 2.8 percent tuition increase for all undergraduates (resident and non-resident, lower- and upper-division), with increases of 3 percent for most graduate students.
Major University priorities outlined by Cantor include retaining faculty and staff, solidifying units of shared public culture, and enhancing learning environments for students. “All of these are inextricably intertwined,” Cantor noted.
Retaining faculty and staff
“We must retain the faculty and staff who help make this the great public research university that it is,” Cantor said. Competition for faculty among the best schools in the country is fierce. She noted, for instance, that when faculty in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts (LSA) receive job offers from other institutions, the offers are, on average, 40 percent higher than their current U-M salary.
Retaining and recruiting the best faculty requires not only an investment in salaries but also provision of the advanced technology and state-of-the-art laboratories required for their teaching and scholarly work.
“The University is extremely fortunate to have a superb and highly dedicated staff,” Cantor said. “The tight labor market in southeast Michigan means the U-M faces similar competition for top-quality staff. We are experiencing sharp upward pressure on wages, increased vacancy rates and difficulty in filling open positions. These exist across all of our units and we cannot afford to ignore them,” Cantor stated.
Libraries, museums and similar on-campus institutions
These units, Cantor noted, “solidify and enhance the ‘shared public culture’ of the University and sustain relationships between the campus and the community.”
The University is a major artistic center in the state of Michigan, she said. “We have taken steps in this year’s budget to support campus-based creative activity and artistic presentations,” including collaborations with the University Musical Society, the Arts of Citizenship program and the Showcase of New Dramatic Writing.
Support for the University Library will continue to increase and the Museum of Art will have substantial base budget increases. “With a new director, the Museum of Art is mounting a variety of programs that involve students and faculty from across the campus and that bring students and faculty to a vital area of outreach to broader communities,” Cantor said.
The Clements Library’s Americana collections are an “underutilized treasure.” To make the collections more accessible to researchers and the public, the Library will receive funding that will enable it to put the catalog of its entire collection online and add additional curatorial staff.
Rich learning environments
“We define ‘classroom’ as all of the places where student learning takes place,” Cantor said, “a set of locations that expands year-by-year.”
The budget proposal includes additional support for programs that offer a variety of “classroom” experiences, including:
Cantor noted that students benefit enormously from the University’s investment of its resources in maintaining an outstanding faculty and supporting and improving its libraries, museums and other shared cultural resources. “There is no substitute for an experienced, research-active faculty working directly with students,” she said.
Nancy Cantorincentives for public universitiesCollege of Literature, Science, and the ArtsUniversity Musical SocietyUniversity LibraryClements Library’s AmericanaUndergraduate Research Opportunity Program