Commission Holds Hearing at NMU
Governor John Cherry and his Commission on Higher Education and
Economic Growth held the first of its six public hearings scheduled
throughout the state on Tuesday (Sept. 7) at NMU. About
20 people testified at the hearing. They included NMU President
Les Wong and the presidents of all Upper Peninsula community
colleges and universities; U.P. business and community leaders;
and several K-12 administrators and teachers.
Jennifer Granholm created the 40-person commission and charged the
group to “explore ways in which Michigan can strengthen its commitment
to education and economic growth.” The governor has expressed a
desire to see Michigan double the number of new college graduates
within the state over the next decade.
the educational attainment of our workforce is a social and economic
imperative if we are to create new jobs and grow the economy in
our state," said Granholm. "To compete in a global economy,
a post-secondary degree or certificate is no longer an option –
commission will also address the falloff revealed by studies that
show 90 percent of Michigan high school
students express an interest in a post-secondary education, yet
only 41 percent go on to college or vocational school. Only 18 percent
graduate with a bachelor’s degree within six years.
main goal of the commission is to identify general and specific
skills necessary to “embrace jobs of the 21st century.” Fewer
than 22 percent of Michigan adults hold college degrees of any kind,
Cherry said at the hearing. This figure puts Michigan 4 percent
below the national average and 5-10 percent below states that are
leading the nation in terms of both education attainment and economic
growth. Only 14 states are below Michigan in this measure.
advanced manufacturing and new technology-based businesses demand
the talents of an increasingly educated workforce,” said Cherry.
“The commission will work to find innovative and concrete solutions
to address the skills gap. It is our intention to provide a solid,
long-term vision for our state’s economic stability. We are committed
to fostering an educated, tech-savvy, and knowledge-ready workforce
in Michigan. Where once ‘brawn work’ is what drove Michigan ’s economic
success, today it is ‘brain work’ that is needed.”
testified that strong state funding would be needed to significantly
increase the number of students attending and completing post-secondary
degree programs. He also suggested that the commission not take
a “cookie-cutter approach” to Michigan’s higher education institutions
but to celebrate and support each school’s unique aspects.
also hope the Commission strongly encourages innovation and risk-taking
from all of Michigan colleges and universities,” Wong said, indirectly
referencing the laptop computer program at Northern. “In fact, I’d
go so far as to advocate that the state find ways to reward those
schools that are willing to take calculated risks to bring about
closed his testimony by saying, “I applaud Governor Granholm, Lieutenant
Governor Cherry, the commissioners and those serving on the work
groups for their efforts to take Michigan
’s outstanding higher education
system and make it one that is superior. The potential is there,
but it will not happen without a fearlessness to let go of the traditional
standards on the part of both government and universities.”
other public hearings will be held between Sept. 13 and Oct. 18
at various locations in Michigan.