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Governor's Budget Calls for More Funding for WSU; Metrics Must Improve
|Wayne State President M. Roy Wilson addresses a legislative joint committee about WSU's efforts to foster collaboration and strengthen regional assets, Monday, February 29.|
In early February, Governor Rick Snyder proposed his budget for the coming fiscal year to the state legislature. The Governor’s budget for Higher Education includes a 3.5 percent, or $6.6 million, increase for Wayne State University. If approved, the University would receive $198.1 million in operating funds from the State next fiscal year.
The Higher Education Budget amounts to an overall 4.3 percent increase which totals $61.2 million in new funding for colleges and universities. As has been the case for the past few years, a portion of the new funding will be run through performance metrics.
While the Governor’s goal was to restore university funding back to the 2011 levels when the budget was cut by 15 percent, 5 universities will still be below their 2011 funding levels if the Governor’s budget is approved.
Wayne State, in particular, remains at 7.5%, or $16.6 million below its 2011 level, and for the fifth year in a row will receive the lowest percentage increase of all of Michigan’s public universities. This is because the current metrics model for Michigan is constructed in a way that makes it extraordinarily difficult for Wayne State to rise from the last position for funding increases.
Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson commented in a recent Detroit Free Press column that the State could improve upon the metrics “to better align it with the state’s workforce needs and economic development.”
Dr. Wilson said that the metrics should value research more than only 5 percent weight. Next, graduate degrees should be included in the “critical degrees” metric, as they are certainly critical to Michigan’s success. Third, the metrics should incorporate instructional costs as a percentage of expenditures, rather than an overall administrative cost, since this is most relevant to the student experience. Lastly, and perhaps most critical is that Wayne State should be evaluated in relation to the other state public universities as well as in comparison to its own historical performance. Dr. Wilson said the current methodology uses the Carnegie Foundation’s classification of universities, which results in “nonsensical peer groupings” such as Wayne State being measured against Ivy League universities.
As both the State House and Senate present their own plans and negotiations begin, Wayne State’s Division of Government & Community Affairs will continue to work with the Governor and members of the legislature to ensure that the University receives its fair share of funding from the State of Michigan.
Some final good news is that the Governor’s proposed budget includes $14.75 million for Wayne State’s top capital outlay project, the STEM Innovation Learning Center. Because Wayne State has experienced such unprecedented growth in STEM student enrollment and graduation rates since 2010, the University requested funding for this project as an outstanding investment opportunity to create an enhanced instructional environment for our undergraduate STEM students. The total project cost is estimated to be $29.5 million.