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Forum Provides Federal, State Funding Update

 

At Tuesday’s campus forum, NMU President David Haynes and others updated employees on the impact of the federal sequestration on the university (see separate story) and the new Michigan House budget proposal. Haynes also briefly summarized findings of the first phase of the NMU branding study.

 

According to Deanna Hemmila (Alumni Relations), the budget approved by the House on Tuesday would increase state support of public universities by roughly the same 2 percent as the governor’s executive proposal.

 

“But it divides up the money differently because the House performance metrics formula is quite a bit different than the executive formula,” she said. “We’re trying to emphasize that a stable formula is essential; they shouldn’t keep changing the pieces. The House also would penalize universities that have negotiated long-term contracts with bargaining units in advance of right to work. That could impact significant chunks of funding for some. If that’s the way it ends up, the question becomes, ‘What happens to the extra money? Will it be rolled into the formula for other institutions?’ It could have implications for us.”

 

The House tuition restraint threshold is an increase of 3 percent or less to qualify for performance funding compared with the governor’s 4 percent, which is factored separately from performance funding. Under the governor’s proposal and performance metrics, NMU would receive a 2.1 percent increase (or $852,400) over last year’s appropriation. Gavin Leach (Finance and Administration) said NMU would receive less based on the House budget—an increase of 1.6 percent, or $635,600. But most of either increase will be countered by NMU’s $500,000 increase in the MPSERS unfunded health and pension liability.

 

Haynes responded to a new factor in the House formula based on the number of in-state fiscal year equated students (FYES): “There’s been a debate for years in the legislature. Some have said we shouldn’t use taxpayer money to fund out-of-state students. We should give no state aid to out-of-state students. We said to them, not only is 17.5 percent of our student population from outside of Michigan, but we intend to increase that because that’s how we’re going to grow. We’re not going to grow in the U.P. We have to grow with out-of-state population. And there will not be an eligible in-state student who is denied access to this university because of out-of-state students coming here. We’re going to be making that case strongly, but politely. We think out-of-state students are good for our local economy, diversity and add quality to student base.”

 

The next step in the state budget process is for the Senate to release its version of the higher education funding bill. NMU and other universities have submitted written responses to Senate questions for consideration in developing that bill.

 

Haynes also gave a brief overview of the first phase of the university branding study, completed before he was appointed president. Stamats collected data on NMU’s brand perception among on-campus and off-campus stakeholders. Haynes reported that the elements perceived as the university’s greatest strengths, in order, were: location; faculty, staff and advisers; university size and class sizes; university atmosphere and personal attention; and the quality of academic programs/majors.

 

NMU is conducting the second phase of the branding study with Genesis. He said concepts and “creatives" will be developed for discussion en route to marketing the NMU brand.