Increased funding needed to manage rapid growth
March 9, 2001
KALAMAZOO -- Despite being the fastest growing university in Michigan and one of the fastest growing universities among its peer institutions in the nation, WMU is near the bottom when it comes to funding.
That's the message WMU President Elson S. Floyd delivered in Lansing this week when he testified in front of the House Appropriations Committee's Subcommittee on Higher Education March 5. Floyd made his case for increased funding for the University when he spoke to the subcommittee headed by Rep. Sandra Caul.
Pointing to a student growth figure of 2,189 over the past two years, Floyd told the committee that WMU is the seventh fastest growing university among the nation's 102 schools that have been placed in the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching's highest category -- Doctoral/Research Universities-Extensive.
"This growth places us in the top 10 percent nationwide," Floyd told the committee. "Unfortunately, we fall within the bottom 10 percent when measured against our peers in unrestricted state appropriations per student."
Floyd's testimony was one of a series of presentations in recent weeks by the presidents of Michigan's 15 public universities. Legislators are considering whether or not Gov. John Engler's proposed 2 percent across-the-board increase in appropriations for higher education will meet the needs of the state's public colleges and universities. The governor has proposed an additional 1.5 percent be added if the state's tuition tax credit is repealed.
Floyd told the committee WMU needs a 5.1 percent increase to bring it to the $5,700 funding floor the state already has established for the tier WMU was placed in two years ago. An appropriation increase in the 6 percent range would allow WMU to keep tuition increases under 4 percent, he said.
Among the University's critical needs, Floyd told the subcommittee, are resources to increase faculty and staff hiring to serve the growing student population. He has set a target of hiring 200 additional full-time faculty members and 50 full-time staff members over the next decade.
Despite its national recognition and status as one of the state's four research universities, Floyd noted, WMU receives 42 percent less than the combined average of the state's other nationally recognized research universities.
The president recommended that rather than use an across-the-board increase for all schools within a tier-thus perpetuating the historical disparities that exist-appropriations this year should focus on closing the funding gap and bringing schools to the minimum funding levels already set.
Media contact: Matt Kurz, 616 387-8400, firstname.lastname@example.org