a standing-room only forum at the University Center yesterday, President
Les Wong showed
how Northern would be impacted by House and Senate formula funding
models relative to the governor's budget proposal, emphatically
dispelled "any myths that the university has benefited disproportionately
from the Jacobetti legend," and urged employees to join a grassroots
effort to contact legislators on behalf of the university.
chart tracking cumulative higher education appropriation increases
from 1977 – the first year HEIDI data became available – to 2005
showed NMU fifth from the bottom at about 204 percent. That falls
below the state average of 216 percent and the Consumer Price Index
(CPI) of 212 percent. Saginaw
had an increase of roughly 458
percent over this same period and Grand
about 486 percent.
chart showing the percent of increase in appropriation per Fiscal
Year Equated Student (FYES) tells a different story, with NMU fifth
from the top – a position Wong referred to as "above average,
but certainly not at the high end of things." Enrollment figures
reflect double-digit growth at most universities over the past eight
years, resulting in 42,332 more students than the Michigan
15 reported in 1977. But while
FYES and CPI both increased about 20 percent, Wong pointed out that
state appropriation increases lagged behind at 11 percent.
state refused to fund the enrollment growth adequately," he
added. "This is the data we've been showing for more than a
month to legislators in Lansing – some more than once. It clearly
shows they're relying more on myth than fact. That's why we're putting
a lot of pressure on people, because there's no rationale for what
they have proposed. A formula in whatever shape or form doesn’t
work if all you're doing is remixing an under-funded pot. These
facts do not back up the so-called Jacobetti factor, which I've
heard about since becoming president.
I understand there are two big buildings he arranged for Northern
to have (the Superior Dome and Jacobetti
). I have offered facetiously
to give them back to the state on more than one occasion. But when
it comes to appropriations, the facts clearly don't support the
Jacobetti myth. It is imperative that not a single employee believe
we've experienced favoritism based on his past work."
formula advanced by House Republicans would cut Northern's funding
by 31 percent over six years. FYES support for non-resident students
would be 25 percent less than that for resident students, which
Wong said would hurt NMU because it is proportionately the second-highest,
non-resident enrollment campus in Michigan.
Senate formula would result in a one-year 10 percent cut for NMU
on top of the governor's proposed 1.9 percent decrease. Most of
the impact would stem from a provision to adjust the "funding
floor" to $3,570 per FYES, which would benefit many schools
but hurt NMU.
the political issue," Wong began. "We receive $5,311 per
FYES and many of the other universities are significantly below
that. Saginaw Valley and Grand
Valley, who've grown dramatically, are in the low $3,000 level for
FYES funding. Theoretically, we are a 'have,' not one of the 'have
nots.' The intent of the legislature is to close the gap. We can
argue it costs more to recruit and retain our students, and the
team has been working hard to explain why that FYES funding for
Northern is justified. But the issue again is the under-funded pot.
I say to legislators, 'Is it possible NMU is the only school you've
said if legislators are sold on formulaic funding, they would be
wise to do universities no harm this year and spend the time developing
an appropriate model – one that won't provide incentives for schools
to shift their curricula or abandon their distinct missions, resulting
in a "cookie cutter" approach to higher education.
the state funding situation will most likely be resolved in late
summer or early fall, Wong said the administration is planning around
three potential scenarios of varying budget shortfalls and tuition
increases. Because his frequent trips downstate in recent weeks
has limited his time on campus, he has enlisted the President's
Council to begin discussions of potential cost-saving measures.
Wong said employees can help by contacting U.P. legislators, urging
them not to allow Northern to take a disproportionate cut. He said
the university has recruited friends and alumni from across the
state to join the grassroots effort.
the challenges we face, it is important to keep in mind that great
things are happening at Northern, and they will continue to happen.
Many parents and students will be on campus for orientation this
summer. They need to hear that we remain committed to our number
one job, which is providing quality programming."
House and Senate versions will next go to conference, where they
will be rectified into a single bill that will be sent to Gov. Jennifer
materials from Monday's forum are available at Campus