WMU News

Floyd lobbies Senate for increased state funding

May 16, 2001

KALAMAZOO -- To present Western Michigan University's case for increased state funding for the coming academic year, President Elson S. Floyd traveled to Lake Superior State University May 11 to testify before Michigan's Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Higher Education.

As he told members of the House subcommittee on March 5, Floyd said WMU has achieved much over the past year. He cited the University's recent inclusion in the Carnegie Foundation's top research classification and its growing enrollment which makes it the fastest growing of the state's 15 public universities.

"This growth places us in the top 10 percent nationwide amongst our 102 Carnegie-classified peer institutions," Floyd told members of the subcommittee led by Sen. John Schwarz of Battle Creek. "Unfortunately, we fall within the bottom 10 percent when measured against our peers in unrestricted state appropriations per student."

He also outlined for the senators his vision for WMU's future and key priorities presented to the University community in his recent State of the University address. Included among those priorities, he noted, is the need to increase the number of faculty and staff members to meet the demands of a growing student body and the University's top research status.

"In spite of generous increases (over the past few years), overall University growth has resulted in a per student increase of less than 1 percent in the past two years," Floyd told the senators in response to one of several subcommittee questions.

The next steps in the budget process will be for Senate committee members to decide upon a budget recommendation and then meet with their counterparts in the House to forge a joint budget resolution. Under the House's March budget recommendation, WMU was slated for a 7 percent increase.

However, in light of recent reports of declining state revenues, Gov. John Engler has proposed zero growth in higher education spending for the coming year, which makes a large budget increase for higher education unlikely. Floyd told senators that under that scenario, WMU would be forced to raise tuition and fees by as much as 16.9 percent to offset lower state support.

Final resolution of the state higher education budget is expected by late June.

For the president's full testimony and to find out how you can help in the appropriations process, visit the legislative affairs Web site at <www.wmich.edu/legislative>.

Media contact: Matt Kurz, 616 387-8400, matt.kurz@wmich.edu

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