Cherry Commission Releases Report

Guarantee higher education for all Michigan residents. Double the number of college graduates over the next decade. Help them move through the system faster and easier. Elevate high school standards to turn out college-ready students. Boost Michigan 's strategic research capacity. These are some of the recommendations in a report released Wednesday by the Commission on Higher Education and Economic Growth, led by Lt. Gov. John Cherry.


In accepting the report at a news conference, Gov. Jennifer Granholm called it a "road map" for fundamental change and a stronger economic future for Michigan. "This report makes it clear that our state's path to a robust economy with good-paying, 21 st century jobs requires all of our residents to complete their education beyond high school," she said in a news release.


The report emphasizes the link between post-secondary education and economic success. It identifies 19 strategic initiatives that will facilitate Michigan's transition to a "brain power" economy. One issue it does not address is how the recommendations would be funded in a climate where budget shortfalls in recent years and those projected in the near future have led to declining state support for public universities.


NMU President Les Wong said the report is not about securing more resources right now, but establishing higher education as a priority in the context of existing resources and future budgetary decisions.


"The report strongly points out that education is an investment on the part of the state and, as such, there are and should be returns on that investment," Wong added. "It will help citizens and policymakers alike understand that we are in this together. A key theme is the invitation to build effective partnerships between K-12, higher education and the private sector. It stresses that no one state-supported group is an island. If higher education recognizes and continues to develop its relationship with other entities, we can collectively be mindful of being as efficient as possible and using public funding wisely, keeping the public interest in focus."


Granholm said her administration will move quickly to implement the recommendations because "Michigan's future cannot wait." The full report can be viewed at Cherry Commission.



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Updated: December 17, 2004