Bailey recommends accepting Granholm tuition challenge
Jan. 29, 2004
KALAMAZOO--Western Michigan University President Judith I. Bailey will recommend that the WMU Board of Trustees approve a 2.4 percent increase in tuition for the 2004-05 academic year, putting the University in line with a funding agreement Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm proposed to the state's public universities.
In her December executive order that reduced state appropriations to state universities by 5 percent, Granholm pledged that each state university that held its tuition increase to the cost of inflation--2.4 percent--would have 3 percent of that 5 percent cut returned to its base 2003-04 state appropriation. Her offer, which was approved by the Legislature, was reiterated in a meeting with university presidents earlier this month. In addition, Granholm pledged that those universities holding their tuition increases to the inflation rate would also be held "harmless" and spared additional appropriation cuts in the 2004-05 fiscal year, despite the looming state budget shortfall projected for 2004-05. In her Jan. 27 State of the State address, the governor announced two other universities--Michigan State and Wayne State--have accepted the challenge.
"First and foremost, this is a move that will be a tremendous benefit to our students and their families," Bailey said of her decision to take the recommendation to trustees. "At the Board of Trustees' Feb. 27 meeting, I intend to recommend that we hold our tuition increase to 2.4 percent. If our trustees approve the recommendation, our students will have an early and clear picture of their costs for next year, and we will have a solid footing on which to base our planning process and make decisions about how to allocate limited resources."
Bailey said ever since the governor's offer was made, WMU budget officials have been examining budget models and projections for next year to find a way to make the agreement work. A major concern during that process, she said, was whether the state would indeed make the commitment to hold universities harmless in the 2004-05 year. With the recent commitment from the governor, the University was able to evaluate various budget scenarios for next year and a decision was made based on that commitment. If the state's budget for next year deteriorates and the state is not able to maintain university funding, Bailey said, the tuition decision will have to be revisited.
"We're appreciative of the governor's efforts and her clear recognition of the critical role higher education will play in creating jobs and moving the state's economy forward," Bailey said. "We want to do whatever we can to work collaboratively with her to create a healthy economy that will keep our graduates living and working in Michigan."
Bailey also noted that even with the return of some base funding, the University will still be far below its 2002-03 funding level and will continue to face critical budget reductions that are the result of that reduced appropriation and increasing costs.
Media contact: Matt Kurz, 269 387-8400, email@example.com