Business leaders oppose UM cuts to Wayne, Wayne State

LANSING, me. Business leaders on Monday protested House-passed cuts in funding for the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor and Wayne State University, saying research schools are key to the state’s economic competitiveness.

The Republican-controlled house passed a college plan last week that would keep total operating aid at around $ 1.5 billion but revise the division among 15 state universities.

The Ann Arbor School would see a 12% reduction, or $ 39.5 million. Wayne State funding would decrease 4% or $ 8.2 million. Funding for seven universities, including Central, Eastern and Grand Valley, would increase by 10%. Michigan State – the state’s third research university – and Western would receive a 1% increase, while aid to the three Upper Peninsula schools would remain unchanged: Michigan Tech, Northern, and Lake Superior State.

Mike Jandernoa, chairman of private equity firm 42 North Partners, said all universities should get more funding over the next fiscal year, adding that gaps in aid will be bridged between the older research schools and newer universities like Grand Valley and Oakland should. He noted an inflow of COVID-19 federal funds.

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“While I want all universities to be well supported, our high-level research universities invest more in training graduates (for) high-demand jobs and deserve this to be reflected in their government funding,” said Jandernoa, a GOP donor, told reporters in a call organized by the University Research Corridor, an alliance of the State of Michigan, the University of Michigan, and the State of Wayne.

He was joined by Jim Hackett, former CEO of Ford Motor Co. and Steelcase Inc., who headed the University of Michigan sports division, and Paul Glantz, chairman of Emagine Entertainment.

Mark Huizenga MP, a Walker Republican who chairs the House subcommittee that administers college budgets, has defended his proposed “radical shift” in the funding formula, saying it will be implemented over three years.

The model “does not currently encourage Michigan state students to attend Michigan facilities,” he said in an April 22 hearing, and also found significant differences in school support when viewed per student.

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Approximately 47% of the 31,000+ students on Michigan’s Ann Arbor campus were from overseas as of the fall of 2019. It is one of the leading public universities in the country.

Hackett said the number of students paying tuition outside of the state helps keep the costs down for those who pay tuition.

The fate of the House proposal is unclear as negotiations on the legislative budget begin. Both the Republican-led Senate and Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer have backed a 2% funding boost for all universities.

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