Phil Power | Our colleges require more support from Lansing to survive

Phil Power is founder and chairman of The Center for Michigan.

Six of Michigan's 15 public universities are showing double-digit enrollment drops.  Only four of the state's universities -- including the University of Michigan and Michigan State -- have seen enrollment increase by 1 percent over the past 10 years.

In a great piece published in Bridge Magazine, senior writer Ron French put the situation in graphic terms: Central Michigan University, for example, has lost an average of 1,164 students each year since 2014. In French's telling, that's "the equivalent of a Chippewa Marching Band parading off campus and never returning three times a year."

Interest in attending college is dropping, as well. In 2018, just six out of 10 Michigan high school graduates signed up for post-highschool education, the lowest in a decade.

Certainly, rising tuition rates have something to do with it.  Equally important is the relatively robust state economy; with the unemployment rate running at a record low of 4.2 percent, it’s relatively easy to choose to work for immediate income rather than go to school and pay high fees.

At the same time, the Republican-controlled state Legislature this year adopted and Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed a higher education budget that doled out a skimpy average funding increase of 0.9 percent. Taking into account the 1.75 percent inflation factor, that amounts to a budget cut of 0.5 percent.

The state budget signed by Whitmer on Sept. 30 gives Michigan's public universities $1.45 billion for the 2019 budget year that started Oct. 1. That's 3.5 percent more dollars than the 2010-11 spending plan.  But when adjusted for inflation, state funding for higher education has actually dropped 12 percent over the past nine years.

In comparison, this year's state budget allocated $2 billion to the Department of Corrections, suggesting lawmakers are finding it more important to spend state money warehousing criminals in state prisons than educating our young people post high school.

Last year, Michigan ranked 44th in the nation in per resident state support for higher education; at $195.52, our per capita average support falls way behind the national average of $280.52. As recently as 2001, Michigan ranked 20th in the nation.

The iron rules of economics are beginning to bite colleges, as well. Declining enrollment means less tuition income, but costs (notably faculty and staff) are relatively fixed, squeezing operating income and requiring expense cuts.  Bigger classes, reduced choices for courses, and rising tuitions all reduce demand for university admissions.

That, in turn, hurts the state's economic prospects.  Experts predict that maintaining our high-tech economy will require something like 60 percent of the work force to have some post high school training; currently, only 44 percent have it today.

Overcoming all these problems will require increased support for colleges and universities from our resource allocators in Lansing.  However, it's no secret that higher education is facing more political skepticism than years ago.  Critics say universities are hostile to conservative thinking, and others point to the ratio between increased student debt and uncertain income increases resulting from a college degree.  Pew, in a national poll, recently found that 59 percent of Republicans surveyed had negative opinions about higher education, compared to 18 percent of Democrats.

When I served as a member of the Board of Regents of the University of Michigan in the 1960s, I wrote annual letters to thousands ofMichigan’s opinion leaders, trying to explain the challenges and opportunities U of M faced. I concluded that when the historians of the 21st century get around to writing the history of our times, the signature creation of American society in the past 100 years was to have created and sustained excellent public universities, with wide-ranging access for all our youth.

I'm beginning to worry these vital institutions may not survive the gathering storm.

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Kevin Grand
Mon, 10/21/2019 - 7:38am

I see that The Bridge still doesn't want to be upfront about the fact that the post-modernism philosophy that colleges and universities have allowed their faculty to implement in their attempt to indoctrinate students at the expense of everything else played a significant role in the drop in student population.

Burying that troublesome detail two paragraphs from the end of this piece says everything.

Perhaps if they would have kept their eye on the ball, you wouldn't have had companies like IBM, Google and Apple telling prospective applicants that they no longer require degrees to apply.

And when other companies wake up to that realization...

Mon, 10/21/2019 - 9:28am

Progress is painful. My way or the highway just doesn't work anymore. Those of us who know how the Republicans have dismantled or not funded education (from preschool to universities) over the past many years, the same conservatives who have used illegal and deceitful methods(gerrymandering, overturning voters will, poisoning water and covering it up) have done untold damage that we will be paying for years to come.

Dumbing down the population is part of the "conservative" plan. We need both conservative and progressive thinking in government. The problem is conservatives in MI now have no capacity to be bipartisan because they have been in total control for so long.

Kevin Grand
Mon, 10/21/2019 - 10:48am

So now colleges are the ONLY place where someone can actually learn?

Tue, 10/22/2019 - 6:26am


Tue, 10/22/2019 - 3:26pm

Try to getting your foot in the door at any entry level corporate position without a bachelors...

Kevin Grand
Sat, 10/26/2019 - 8:12am

Is a good thing that small businesses are the largest employer here in America.

Mon, 10/21/2019 - 10:43pm

While it's true that non-degreed applicants are not required to apply (or be hired), having a degree inceases the likelihood that they'll be hired. Since 15% of IBM employees don't have degrees, that means that 85% do. From the link: "In 2017, IBM’s vice president of talent Joanna Daley told CNBC Make It that about 15 percent of her company’s U.S. hires don’t have a four-year degree. She said that instead of looking exclusively at candidates who went to college, IBM now looks at candidates who have hands-on experience via a coding boot camp or an industry-related vocational class."

Mon, 10/21/2019 - 9:54am

Universities are not hostile to conservative thinking. They're hostile to non-fact-based thinking. They're hostile to thinking based on logical fallacies and emotional demagoguery, as they should be. I have yet to hear a conservative argument that is based on facts and data. From abortion to gun rights to the size of government, every precept is based on emotional hysteria, logical fallacy, and self-service, to the point of being cult-like in the following, which often results in violence when challenged. I never know whether I should be sad at the lack or angry because it's such a danger to our democracy. The one thing that universities should continue to do is teach people to think and think for themselves based on facts and logic, not conservative or liberal demagoguery.

Kevin Grand
Mon, 10/21/2019 - 10:46am

"Emotional hysteria"???

When was the last time you've read about a Conservative group setting fire, vandalizing or rioting at a college?

This should be good.

J. Vanbevere
Tue, 10/22/2019 - 6:28am

‎May 4, 1970 ...They used guns on students.

Kevin Grand
Tue, 10/22/2019 - 5:48pm

Now, why would that be???

"Members of the Ohio National Guard were already on duty in Northeast Ohio, and thus they were able to be mobilized quickly to move to Kent. As the Guard arrived in Kent at about 10 p.m., they encountered a tumultuous scene. The wooden ROTC building adjacent to the Commons was ablaze and would eventually burn to the ground that evening, with well over 1000 demonstrators surrounding the building. Controversy continues to exist regarding who was responsible for setting fire to the ROTC building, but radical protestors were assumed to be responsible because of their actions in interfering with the efforts of firemen to extinguish the fire as well as cheering the burning of the building. "


"A Kent State police officer standing by the Guard made an announcement using a bullhorn. When this had no effect, the officer was placed in a jeep along with several Guardsmen and driven across the Commons to tell the protestors that the rally was banned and that they must disperse. This was met with angry shouting and rocks, and the jeep retreated. "

Wed, 10/23/2019 - 9:23pm

You sound so much like an American President who conjured an incident in the Tonkin Gulf out of a non-event to justify his personal politics which he turned into the war in Vietnam? How many guns do you think he put to use in his political self promotion?
How many incidents can you conjure to blame on the politics of 'conservatives' to even reach shadow of LBJs impacts?

Thu, 10/24/2019 - 7:38am

That president relied on the deep state to provide a false narrative to justify war. Fortunately today we have a president that isn't in lock-step with the industrial military complex.

Tue, 10/22/2019 - 6:35am

May 13, 2017

Tue, 10/22/2019 - 9:34am

There are more currently existing laws making sure firearms don't get into the wrong hands than for any other existing product. The firearms industry is one of the most regulated industries in the country. Your premise is entirely flawed. What conservatives oppose are an ever-expanding series of laws based on non-factual nonsense that only serve to disarm lawful, responsible citizens and to nothing to enhance public safety. The hysteria over the AR-15 is one blatant example. The verbal manipulation that falsely claims that "AR" stands for "assault rifle" rather than its actual designation as Armalite Rifle (originally made by the Armalite company) is a perfect example of the duplicitousness of the gun-grabbers, as well as the claim that the AR-15 is a "weapon of war" and not simply a popular sporting rifle (no military in the world uses AR-15's).

Agnosticrat 2.0
Tue, 10/22/2019 - 6:48pm

I don’t care what they call it and why.

middle of the mit
Tue, 10/22/2019 - 10:39pm

No! What were they protesting in the first place?

[[Kent State protest activity, 1966–1970

During the 1966 Homecoming Parade, protesters walked dressed in military paraphernalia with gas masks.[12]

In the fall of 1968, the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and a campus Black Student Organization staged a sit-in to protest police recruiters on campus. 250 black students walked off campus in a successful amnesty bid for the protesters.[12]

On April 1, 1969, SDS members attempted to enter the administration building with a list of demands where they clashed with police. In response, the university revoked the Kent State SDS chapter charter. On April 16 a disciplinary hearing involving two of the protesters resulted in a confrontation between supporters and opponents of SDS. The Ohio State Highway Patrol was called and 58 were arrested. Four SDS leaders spent six months in prison as a result of the incident.[12]

On April 10, 1970, Jerry Rubin, a leader of the Youth International Party (also known as the YIPpies), spoke on campus. In remarks reported locally, he said "The first part of the Yippie program is to kill your parents. They are the first oppressors." Two weeks after that, Bill Anthrell, an SDS member and former student, distributed flyers to an event in which he said he was going to napalm a dog. The event turned out to be an anti-napalm teach-in.[12]

Friday, May 1

At Kent State University, a demonstration with about 500 students[13] was held on May 1 on the Commons (a grassy knoll in the center of campus traditionally used as a gathering place for rallies or protests). As the crowd dispersed to attend classes by 1 p.m., another rally was planned for May 4 to continue the protest of the expansion of the Vietnam War into Cambodia. There was widespread anger, and many protesters issued a call to "bring the war home". A group of history students buried a copy of the United States Constitution to symbolize that Nixon had killed it.[13] A sign was put on a tree asking "Why is the ROTC building still standing?"[14]]]

I would think all you conservative would be thanking these people? Why? Because they are the ones that made sure YOU WOULDN'T BE DRAFTED. If it was me? H E double hockey sticks NO! I want a draft! Let everyone BE the DEFENDERS they think they are!

[[Trouble exploded in town around midnight, when people left a bar and began throwing beer bottles at police cars and breaking windows in downtown storefronts. In the process they broke a bank window, setting off an alarm. The news spread quickly and it resulted in several bars closing early to avoid trouble. Before long, more people had joined the vandalism. ]]

Conservatives did ram a car into protesters, didn't they? Or at least one of them did. And those people were defending their heritage. Look up what the founding documents of the Confederate States of America was. Then read the Cornerstone speech

[[After decades of sectional conflict centered on the question of slavery, the 1860 presidential election appeared to many Americans on both sides of the Mason Dixon Line to represent a point of no return in the ongoing national debate over critical issues ranging from the first principles to territorial governance. Abraham Lincoln’s electoral victory on the Republican ticket was seen by some Southerners as the beginning of the end of their ability to determine the course of national politics, and the governments of South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas responded by declaring their intention to secede from the Union during the winter of 1860–1861. Each of these states passed a resolution outlining the justifications for their action; as in the case of Mississippi, these tended to emphasize the centrality of slavery as an institution to the Southern way of life and to paint Northern policies as not only a political but an existential threat]]

And then you tried to make it acceptable that the Ohio National Guard shot and killed already living college kids? Are you pro life or not?

[[The wooden ROTC building adjacent to the Commons was ablaze and would eventually burn to the ground that evening, with well over 1000 demonstrators surrounding the building. Controversy continues to exist regarding who was responsible for setting fire to the ROTC building, but radical protestors were assumed to be responsible because of their actions in interfering with the efforts of firemen to extinguish the fire as well as cheering the burning of the building. "]]

Does property mean more to you than life?

You better check your values. Especially when they allowed you to not have to be draft dodgers. Because if it was up to me? Have you ever heard of the minute men? THAT IS Constitutional!

Mon, 10/21/2019 - 11:33am

Funny, here are a couple. since you mentioned them and since ... you on the left are so logical, and fact based.
At what point does a fetus become human and why?
Assault Weapons (your sides nonfactual term), are responsible for less than 1.5% of all homicides, less than blunt objects, blades and bare hands, other than for emotional reason and ignorance why is that all you can seem talk about?
Bonus third, over the last 50 years firearms ownership has quadrupled. Yet crime is at or near 50-year lows. How is it that guns cause crime?

middle of the mit
Wed, 10/23/2019 - 3:46am

I can't really answer the first question for you. I don't personally like abortion. In fact, I despise it. But I understand it. How? Why? Because not everyone who gets pregnant can afford to BE pregnant or raise a child. That is the reality of the world we live in and has been for as long as humans have been in existence.

As for your "assault weapons"? Those are assault weapons. NO ifs. NO ands. NO buts. NO ONE is going to use a 30 round clip in a deer rifle. Why? because they couldn't aim straight after the first shot! You can not legally hunt with them and have more 5 rounds in those weapons. And I've said this before and I am saying it again, if you use any rifle to defend your home, you better have a hoard of zombies invading you. Because if you use that there rifle to defend your home, you are more likely to kill someone in your home than you are going to hit the intruder. Why do I say this? BECAUSE YOU ARE USING A 30+ROUND CLIP IN A RIFLE that you don't know where those bullets go!

If you are that inefficient with a rifle, maybe you should be using a shotgun. Those will at least not hurt your neighbors or your kids. Use shot instead of slugs please. At least be responsible when you are defending your home.

Larry Wall
Tue, 10/22/2019 - 9:23am

Having worked at what I'd call a major Michigan University for 22 years prior to retiring in 2017, one that is still considered to have a student body that is largely--with a few departments excepted--conservative, I can say without reservations that universities are indeed hostile to conservative, or more accurately, non-PC, non-progressive expressions and thoughts. At the university I worked for, virtually all of the Student Affairs office as well as the various Social Science departments, not to mention the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, were progressive and actively suppressed conservative, libertarian or non-PC expressions in one form of another. I witnessed some colleagues let go or driven out because they were middle-aged white males. One department director was told by a university vice president that she needed to hire a male. After she did so, she was asked by my former boss if she ever intended to hire any more males (there are close to ten people in that office). This department director answered "No, I don't see why." Again, this is at a university department that primarily deals with students, the large majority of whom are still male.

If you "have yet to hear a conservative argument that is based on facts and data," most likely it's because you haven't looked.

Conservative thought is primarily fact-based, in contrast to progressive thought which is most frequently based on manipulating emotions as well as language. Spend some time perusing to find plenty of examples of cogent and fact-based conservative thought regarding college campuses, such as and especially, which exposes the disingenuous nature of Yale's statistics on rape. There are tons of worthwhile conservative books, such as as well as Both books are heavily sourced, which allow a more or less objective reader to go to the original source material and reach his or her own conclusions.

You want a very fact-based conservative site on economics? Go no further than and have at it!

I agree with you that "The one thing that universities should continue to do is teach people to think and think for themselves based on facts and logic, not conservative or liberal demagoguery." Unfortunately, that's not the case these days, even on a supposedly mostly conservative Michigan campus. The liberal/progressive demagoguery is dominant and frankly oppressive to opposing views.

I also need to correct you on an overused liberal meme you threw out. The United States is not a "democracy." It is a Constitutional Republic which uses free elections to select some of its primary political officers and people's representatives. It also uses appointments to office, such as for the Supreme Court as well as for institutions such as the CIA, FBI and State Department. It also uses a variety of standardized hiring practices for its large body of government administrators and employees.

Check out this reprinted 1865 publication by the man who at the time was the youngest Supreme Court justice ever appointed and who was also a founder of Harvard, who taught Constitutional law while sitting on the Court.

If you don't want to read an entire book, at least investigate this essay:

Mon, 10/21/2019 - 8:10am

Just the opposite, we need to streamline public universities and minimize taxpayer direct aid especially at UM and MSU with Billions in endowment. If we reduce state aid, scholarship/grant money....we will see a significant reduction in tuition at many of these public universities. Also, there isn't a law that prevents a public university from closing and consolidating with another one!

Mon, 10/21/2019 - 10:49pm

Doubtful that reducing state aid and scholarship/grant money will reuslt in lower tuition. More likely it will result in state-supported colleges and universities having to raise tuition so that only the wealthiest will be able to afford college. Of course there's no law that prevents a public university from closing/consolidating, but by their description as "public" they have a responsibility to provide accessible education to students in multiple areas of the state. Specifically, this means that many students (especially non-traditional and part-time) can attend college where they live and work.

Mon, 10/21/2019 - 8:16am

The fact that our community colleges (fantastic bargains) have seen their enrollment drop substantially also gives a big BS to the theory of cost of college being a major driver of the overall enrollment drop. The real driver appears to be the demand for non grad employment, is that a bad thing? These jobs need to be filled. If you mean helping our college students attend or better yet incentivizing them to stay in Michigan after graduation, (or better yet move here) let's hear your plan. If you mean more shoveling money into our U's and their bureaucracies, that should get a big NO! Our governor (in spite of her words) doesn't seem to see the same urgency as do you.

Mon, 10/21/2019 - 8:55am

There is plenty of demand out there but a lot of it is in lower paying service industry jobs, it is fascinating to drive Grand River Ave. from the Detroit area all the way to Lansing as I did just recently and seeing all of the help wanted signs at fast food places, I think it was in Novi that I saw three places in a row saying $11 or $12 an hour to start. Other signs I saw were for school bus drivers, a gas station advertising for all shifts, auto mechanics, window glaziers etc., some places advertising I could not tell what the business was about, it looked like factory work. The jobs are there, not all of them bad but can you make a livable wage doing them?

Mon, 10/21/2019 - 11:10am

Construction and service companies of all sorts, many automotive s companies!!! Few jobs are going to start out a $25/hr for someone they essentially have to train for 6 - 12 months ++. This point also ignores the large number of college grads that take jobs that don't necessarily require (or pay for) degrees. Again crisis, what crisis? This need for colleges to streamline theire offerings to supportable programs shouldn't bother anyone.

Mon, 10/21/2019 - 6:21pm

The sad thing about your argument is you leave out to many "system" issues. I believe all businesses should be efficient and effective in the way they provide services. What you are ignoring is the systematic dismantling of our current educational system by defunding. This is the "dumbing down", so there are "plenty of workers" for those low paying jobs. Look at the jobs available and open your eyes to more than "just cut taxes". This has been the mantra of conservatives for the last generation and now this state is a mess in so many ways.

I am personally financially conservative. What that means is I have to make choices about how I spend money. I support many "community" groups who are helping others, because I am part of a society where I care about others and don't have a cynical view of how people who are struggling got there. I am grateful for what I have and share from my abundance. The conservatives in MI have make decisions that impact the vulnerable everyday, because they believe they are "put in you own term". Slackers, ignorant, lazy? I am so tired of hearing your same old arguments and same old broken record: cut taxes!!! You will not be on the right side of history.

Tue, 10/22/2019 - 8:20am

Bernadette, the sad thing is that you jump from lefty meme to strawman and and back, but here goes. Your choice for governor just one example, wants to $2.5 Bil a year on roads, on top of the $1 billion we already spend and existing red hot construction market, many if not most of these high paying jobs will not require a BA/BS along with many other skilled trades that are learned through on the job training. I fail to see the tragedy in people choosing this direction. Your thinking(?) that somehow this drop in college students has a thing to do with state spending or cost to students or a Koch bros plot,rather than one of plentiful opportunities is unsupported nonsense. I'm glad you support your community as do we all. You're welcome to support the, your terms, ignorant lazy slackers any way you wish. You must believe handing the guy with a homeless sign a $5 does any good? I'd prefer to offer these folks a job.

Mike C
Mon, 10/21/2019 - 9:20am

Instead of pressing for criminal charges, MSU just gave a Multi-Million dollar buyout to leave. Poor decisions and explosive tuition increases have created this mess. Administrative and Tenured Professors salaries have risen way above the inflation line, its time the schools start to run more efficiently on their own merits.

Mon, 10/21/2019 - 9:24am

Sorry - college is not for everyone! These U's need to wake-up to that fact and why do we need so many and all the community colleges? Time for a change!

Mon, 10/21/2019 - 11:06pm

Which of these public colleges in Michigan would you propose be consolidated? U of M, MSU, MTU, Wayne State, WMU, NMU, GVSU, CMU, SVSU, Ferris, Oakland, EMU, LSSU? I'd be interested in your reasons.

We need all the community colleges in this state because of their title - community. They're the lifeblood of multiple regions around the state, offering low-cost tuition and the ability for sudents (many of whom are non-traditionals and/or part-time) to live at home while they complete their first two years of a bachelor's degree - mostly the gen ed courses costing a fraction of the same course at a four-year college. CC's also offer many two-year terminal degrees, such as an associate degree in nursing, which puts skilled employees into the workforce at a good salary and allows them to continue to work on a bachelor's degree if they so choose. Same for associate degrees in other areas such as criminal justice, business, computer tech, etc. In addition, CC's offer one-year certificates in technical areas such as welding and computer maintenance.

Mon, 10/21/2019 - 9:27am

Taking funds away from education appears to be a republican stratagy, perhaps with the assumption that the uneducated tend to vote 'right'. There was a time when a high school education could get one a lifetime job, often in the auto industry, but those days are over. Putting obstacles in the way of higher education is a prescription for trouble. I agree, however, that university administration has proliferated and needs to be trimmed back.

Mon, 10/21/2019 - 9:27am

Taking funds away from education appears to be a republican stratagy, perhaps with the assumption that the uneducated tend to vote 'right'. There was a time when a high school education could get one a lifetime job, often in the auto industry, but those days are over. Putting obstacles in the way of higher education is a prescription for trouble. I agree, however, that university administration has proliferated and needs to be trimmed back.

Mon, 10/21/2019 - 11:16am

Nice theory but little evidence other than blouted university bureacracies that, yes reliebly vote Democratic.

Mon, 10/21/2019 - 6:23pm


Mon, 10/21/2019 - 3:37pm

There are plenty of JOBS..if you work with your hands.self employed person due it very day...
we need training program for children 14 years and up .on the job with pay ....$ 100 a months. second years $ 200 months.therid years $ 300 months.. training after school and one day a week business training...for 3 years ....till graduation and a licensing .. in B"barbershops.plumers drywall. constrution. floor carving .tile installation....and so on........sales..farming...gardeing food .....;Climate change all it takes is a WILL to do the right thing for the NEXT generation..

Mon, 10/21/2019 - 9:44am

The vast majority of folks simply cannot afford to go to university any more. Those that do go, come out financially crippled with a mountain of debt equivalent to a mortgage at a time in their lives when they're ready to start a family and a life they can no longer afford because of the debt load they already possess. If universities need to cut costs, perhaps they should start with the administrators which are obviously not worth as much as they're being paid if they can't provide a service at an affordable price and the institution they're running is failing. Let the grass grow or barter building services for tuition cuts through work-study programs that also show how to work a business. Athletic programs may bring in lots of money but that doesn't mean the coaches are worth millions. Just because one is handling a lot of money doesn't mean one is worth a lot of money, especially if it means consumers are gouged.

Mon, 10/21/2019 - 11:54am

The coaches of high profile sports (football and basketball) are worth everything they get because a successful program brings in many millions of dollars in contributions from allumni and others far beyond what the coach is payed. It may be a misplaced sense of priorities on the part of the general public that sports is such a big deal but it is. Dantonio and Harbaugh are under pressure right now because of the influence of big money contributions hanging in the balance.

Mon, 10/21/2019 - 11:11am

Do we really need three U.P. four-year publicly funded universities (Michigan Technological University, Northern Michigan University and Lakes Superior State University)? Couldn't all this be done more efficiently at centrally located Northern?

Do we really need three central Michigan four-year publicly funded universities (Ferris State University, Central Michigan University and Saginaw State University)? Couldn't all this be done centrally and more efficiently at Central?

Do we really need a medical school at Central?

Do we really need graduate school programs at any school other than Michigan State University, University of Michigan and Wayne State University?

Do we really need a separate governing board for all 15 public universities?

With declining college enrollment, declining number of high school graduates and declining rural population, maybe we should be looking at these broad trends and adjusting to them.

Maybe the higher education model we should be looking at is the Wisconsin model: one board, integration of all public colleges and avoidance of duplicated services, particularly graduate school services.

Mon, 10/21/2019 - 11:45am

All excellent questions and points, EB!! Except for Ferris, (I didn't atttend), which has it's own niches that that produce super high demand grads. Where else can you get a degree in welding, Optometry, diesel Mecs. or HVAC?? Here's another, why do we clutter up our ballots with electing the U's boards of regents??? What do we know or care?

Mon, 10/21/2019 - 1:46pm

Wisconsin has just one board, mostly appointed by the governor. There are a few position that are elected by students.

We have four statewide elected boards in Michigan: UofM, MSU, Wayne State and the K-12 Board of Education.

Take the MSU board as an example. The electorate was fairly happy with the board until the Nassar scandal. It's when board members mess up that elections matter, since we can get rid of the bad apples. In other board matters, it is tough to criticize decades of spectacular success, particularly at MSU and U of M.

If we went to a single board for all higher ed, I think it's critical for this board to be elected. Just one person in Wisconsin, the governor, has way too much higher ed authority, a downside of their system I think.

Our K-12 board seems a bit of a farce, since their authority has been usurped by the legislature and governor. UM, MSU and Wayne State are somewhat immune from this type of interference, since they have other funding sources: tuition and fees plus large grants and large endowments.

Mon, 10/21/2019 - 5:20pm

These positions shouldn't be partisan since R or D should have little or nothing to do with anything there. Nor should these positions being political plumbs. Doesn't hurt my feelings nor I'd bet 99.99% of the voters not being able to vote on them. Like it or not, if the legislature is expected to appropriate the money, their oversight is part of the deal. Unless you want to change the funding system to go to the students directly in some manner as I've suggested before?

Mon, 10/21/2019 - 11:12am

The big mistake was converting state colleges to universities. That was public policy at its worst. With university fundraising as it is, it’s hard for lawmakers to look at universities and affirm Power’s lament. And without a state coordinating body, these schools pretty much do their own thing, including spending a lot of money—through university allocations and student fees—on intercollegiate athletics. It adds up to a mess—a mess that can’t and shouldn’t be addressed by simply increasing state allocations. Unless and until MI gets serious about addressing core issues, I say let market forces take care of the problem. The outcome won’t be good for directional and regional schools, but so be it.

Mon, 10/21/2019 - 12:25pm

How about our universities stop building new buildings? I visited my alma mater, U of M Ann Arbor, last weekend, and the campus is barely recognizable from what it was 20 years ago. New buildings, wings, expansions in nearly every corner of main campus. This is simply not necessary, and the added operating costs of these facilities are huge. Just maintain and make do with the square footage you have.

Mon, 10/21/2019 - 1:19pm

They can't do that, higher education is very competitive and the universities are well aware of what the competition is doing. They have to keep up with the Joneses so to speak in order to attract students and faculty. Students are very picky and more demanding about facilities and want updated dorms, dining halls, exercise facilities etc., if Michigan won't give them that someone else will. It is a sort of "arms" race they are involved with but if they don't do it they will be left behind.

Tue, 10/22/2019 - 9:48am

In the case of the U. of M. (my alma mater), there's little or no risk that it will lose in any competition by some other university and be "left behind." A huge portion of the U. of M's students come from the east coast, where the common wisdom has been, at least from the 60's, that "if you can't afford to send your kid to an Ivy League school, send them to the University of Michigan." This "keeping up with the Joneses" mentality is part of what's causing an unsustainable bubble in both university costs and tuitions across the board.

Tue, 10/22/2019 - 12:21pm

Are saying they would just blindly send their kids to U of M even if they knew they were falling behind other schools in infrastructure spending and improving the school for students?

Tom Watkins
Mon, 10/21/2019 - 2:50pm

Where is the shared vision and common agenda to address these issues which are certainly not new? Is Launch Michigan (Launch Michigan – Boosting education excellence for every student, every school, and our state. looking at the educational needs of Michigan from the cradle to the grave or simply Pre K-12? Is there a balance between structural reforms at the governance and University/college level that is matched with increased funding — or is it only about additional revenue?
Who will forge the shared vision and common agenda that will begin to prepare more and more of our youth/citizens for their future and not our past?

Will this be another year of educational pogo stick — where we jump up and down and not go anywhere? Clearly Gov Whitmer’s goal of reaching 60 % of our citizens with a post high school credential is a solid aspiration — what are we doing to attain it?

We need to embrace
Toby Keith’s - A Little Less Talk And A Lot More Action

James Roberts
Mon, 10/21/2019 - 4:04pm

The key component in all this complaining is per the charts provided in the previous story, the total actual enrollment is down a mere 1.5% in the 10 years tracked. Pretty good for our declining and aging state with our shrinking cohort of college aged student numbers. Yes the second tier schools have taken a beating, but if anything that confirms they have outlived their usefulness other than for commuter students. Switch them to community colleges, since half of them will not continue toward a four year degree, then allow them to get into the premiere growing schools which they would be much happier to graduate from anyway.

Richard Colony
Wed, 10/23/2019 - 6:44am

One thing that seldom is listed in articles about need for more funds for Colleges and Universities is the amount of the Endowments at those schools. In an awful lot of schools the Endowments are Billions. We all know why, it raises the question of why students are put into debt that stays with them for a long time as well as why do states need to keep pouring funds into the state schools.

Wed, 10/23/2019 - 10:50pm

It is interesting that Mr. Power seems to feel that the schools are exempt from the marketplace choices, that the schools don't have to compete for prospective students and that they should not have to change what they do, how they do it, who they employ, or even adjust their spending. Mr. Power feels that is other people's [the public] responsibility to make the changes, to make the sacrifices.
Mr. Power seems to have an elitist attitude toward college and universities, for him it is about a degree [no matter the value, no matter the cost, no matter the sacrifices], he makes no mention of the value the learning will provide to the students/graduates.
The reality is that our marketplace economy is what has drives our abundance, it the competition for the marketplace's attention/money that drives the creativity that determines the what the marketplace will pay for the improved value.
Mr. Power expects none of that for our colleges/university for he doesn't mention their changes, not their personalized value, not even any expectations of creativity, nothing about what they can and should do, he only talks about what others should do for them.
It was a great discovery to Mr. Power the size of the decline in enrollment, but he didn't have enough interest to inquire about why, he simply wants more of other people's money given to the schools. He even mention the decline in the support for the colleges/universities, but he shows no interest in even asking why. He demonstrates his distain for the public by telling us about how he would write to the 'opinion leaders' about supporting the University. Maybe he doesn't realize that much of the reason for students to be interested in attending a college/university is because of what their parents and friends have been talking about for years. The vast majority of these parents aren't part of his select group of 'thought leaders,' we are the public and we value the colleges/universities by what we hear and see, and what we have experience. A few years ago I was volunteering at a local school and a couple of high school students were volunteering with us and we began talking about college and if the planned to attend, about what areas of study the were considering, and what schools they were considering and why. I found they were not getting strong encouragement, no college/university had even visited their school, no one in their school was encouraging them to consider engineering or other STEM degrees [though they were succeeding in the sciences and math classes]. Why wouldn't/shouldn't a college be making a visit to the high school and talk to kids that were potential students for their college.

Mr. Power is another of those who encourages the schools to stay in their 'ivy towers' and not sully themselves selling/promoting education and their school to the potential students. All he wants is our money for them while isolating the college/universities from the taxpayers.

Wed, 05/06/2020 - 2:13pm

Nope ... they have to change to survive. No more tenure, slash you budgets (you know they can) and reign in your politcal Profs.

And get some decent administrators and UoM and MSU. The abuse has sickened all MI citizens and I don't want anymore money going there than necessary.