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Michigan Tech President Says Gov’s Cuts Will Hurt, But Priorities Remain

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Michigan Tech's campus in a 2009 university file photo

Michigan Tech’s campus in a 2009 university file photo

(credit: istock) Technology Report
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State budget reductions proposed last week by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder could cost Michigan Technological University more than $10 million, President Glenn Mroz told the University’s Board of Control at its regular meeting in Houghton Thursday.  

Mroz reassured them, however, that Michigan Tech is prepared to respond without sacrificing the university’s core values or strategic goals.

Governor Snyder’s budget proposal for the next fiscal year would reduce Michigan Tech’s state allocation 22 percent, from $47.9 million this current fiscal year to $37.4 million in fiscal year 2012. The proposed budget offers public universities the option to reduce their cut to 15 percent if they agree to limit any tuition increase to 7 percent or less.

“While the Governor’s proposed budget cuts present some challenges, they will not deter us from our objective of being a world-class technological research university,” said Mroz.

“It is important to remember that the Governor’s proposal is just that — a proposal,” he added. It is now being deliberated in the state legislature, so the final budget for fiscal 2012 is yet to be determined.

In her opening remarks to the governing board, Chair Marty Richardson said: “Although we are experiencing difficult economic times, we are confident that by continuing to follow our strategic plan, we will be able to weather the storm and come out a better university.” 

The board and senior university administration have been meeting in an executive retreat for the past few days, discussing guidelines for budget reductions, what Michigan Tech should look like in 2035 and how to implement the strategic plan to achieve those goals. 

Even facing declining state support, Mroz reported that Michigan Tech this year has made notable progress on key aspects of its strategic plan and priorities:

* Applications and deposits for next fall’s class are on track, with increases in graduate and female students.
* The ranks of female faculty have grown to 26 percent of tenured and tenure-track faculty.
* Research expenditures will approach $70 million this year, up from $63 million last year.
* The “Generations of Discovery” fundraising campaign recently topped $140 million toward its $200 million goal.

In other business, the Board:

* Approved housing and meal rates for the 2011-12 academic year. Residence Hall housing with the intermediate (gold) meal plan will increase from 2.16 to 4.43 percent, costing $8,029 to $11,160. A single room in a shared apartment at Hillside Place with a 50-meal plan will cost $8,400, the same as this school year. Rental rates for Daniell Heights Apartments for students with families, staff and faculty will increase from 6.45 to 9.38 percent or $575 to $940 per month.
* Agreed to pay Michigan Tech’s “fair share” of an $8 million cost-sharing bond issue by the Merit Network, a nonprofit corporation owned by 14 of the state’s 15 public universities. Merit received $103 million in federal funding to build an improved fiber network to provide better Internet connectivity to the universities. The federal government required Merit to put $8 million toward the project. Michigan Tech owns approximately 4 percent of Merit, so the University’s share would be $340,000. It will have to be paid only if Merit defaults on its $8 million bond issue bond issue.
* Voted to grant an Honorary Doctorate of Science and Engineering to Norman Augustine, guest speaker at Tech’s April 30 Spring Commencement.
* Amended the University’s equal opportunity policy to add “genetic information” to the list of protections from discrimination.
* Cancelled a $10 per semester student fee to pay bonds used to build the MacInnes Ice Arena. The fee is no longer necessary because the bonds have been retired.

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