Snyder’s budget proposal could mean funding boost for GV

Courtesy Photo /
Rick Snyder

Courtesy Photo / Rick Snyder

Anya Zentmeyer

Gov. Rick Snyder announced the budget proposal for Michigan’s 2013 fiscal year today in Lansing, proposing a three percent, or $36.2 million, increase in state allocation to public universities. For Grand Valley State University, that means a 7.6 percent increase, translating to an additional $3.9 million in funding from the state.

“It’s the first time in 12 years that that state governor is not talking about how much to cut higher education but how much to add,” said Matt McLogan, vice president for university relations at GVSU. “Any dollar that we receive from the state we do not have to ask our students to pay in the form of tuition. Any new dollars, any additional dollars that we get from the state, means a dollar we don’t have to ask the students to pay.”

In addition to the increase, Snyder suggested a new funding model for state that would be based more on performance criteria rather than the per-pupil system currently in place.

Under Snyder’s suggested model, funding for universities would be determined by performance measures like graduation rates, merit and a high turnout of students with degrees in high-demand fields like science, technology, engineering, math and health professions.

In addition, the governor said universities operating efficiencies should also be taken into consideration with deciding on funding.

Which, McLogan said, is all good news for GVSU, who have doubled the number of degrees awarded in the last 10 years, and have a high pass rate for both it’s nursing program (100 percent of graduate students and 93 percent of undergraduates) and engineering program (89 percent).

According to President Thomas J. Haas’ most recent Accountability Report, the university experienced the highest increase in enrollment and granted degrees from 2001 to 2010 over all other state institutions. The report also cited that 88 percent of the 2010 graduating class are employed, in graduate school or both, and 84 percent of those students are working in Michigan.

“So, the governor has said all along that results for money really matter for him as a part of public policy,” McLogan said. “So Grand Valley, which is one of the states best performers because our students are so good, means we’ve done well.”

Among other good news on the horizon for GVSU is Snyder’s mention of the December, 2010 proposal authorizing a science and laboratory classroom building for the Allendale Campus. McLogan said the proposal has been in limbo for about a year while the administration was making judgments about what projects it wishes to support.

However, the governor indicated in his budget message today that the science and laboratory building facility is something the state will support in the coming years, and noted that he would recommend it for funding to the legislature.

“We need additional capacity in our science classrooms and laboratories for the large number of students at Grand Valley who are in those stem and health programs,” McLogan said.

Money matters aside, McLogan said the most important part of the governor’s message today was the hope of a new policy direction – a shift away from the disinvestment of higher education and one toward accessibility, affordability and growth.

“For a decade, it has been the policy of state governor to disinvest the public universities to shift the burden away from tax-payers and on to students and this year the governor has proposed a shift,” McLogan said. “A reversal of that policy, with renewed investment in the states public universities. So I think that makes this a red-letter day.”

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