The Board of Regents sit at a table with the University of Michigan seal on the wall behind them.
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The University of Michigan Board of Regents met at the Alexander G. Ruthven Building to discuss the budget for the 2023 fiscal year, which includes an increase in tuition and a $15 minimum wage for all workers across campuses.  

Interim University President Mary Sue Coleman opened the meeting by announcing that Regent Jordan Acker (D) will be succeeded by Regent Paul Brown (D) as the new chair of the Board. Acker will continue to serve on the Board of Regents until his term ends in 2027. 

Regent Sarah Hubbard (R) shared updates about the Presidential Search Committee and the process of selecting the University’s new president. In February, the University announced the Presidential Search Committee, led by regents Sarah Hubbard and Denise Ilitch, to find a replacement for former President Mark Schlissel, who was fired in January for engaging in an inappropriate relationship with a subordinate. The committee, which solicited feedback from the campus community through virtual learning sessions and an online survey, consists of representatives from all three campuses and Michigan Medicine. 

“We continue to be on track to complete the search for a new president this summer,” Hubbard said. “We’d like to have an announcement sometime soon. The interest is very high. We’re interviewing a diverse pool of candidates.”

Following Coleman’s opening remarks, Laurie K. McCauley, University Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, ​​presented the Fiscal Year 2023 General Fund Budget for the Ann Arbor campus. The budget outlined an increase in the minimum wage for students and temporary workers of the University to $15 an hour, up from $9.87 per hour.

“This change will assure that all employees, including students and temporary staff, are compensated in a manner consistent with the institutional values, regardless of how many hours they worked at the University,” McCauley said. 

The budget presentation detailed an increase in tuition for all paying students. For the 2022-23 school year, tuition will increase by 3.9%, amounting to $2,102 per year, for undergraduate out-of-state students and will increase by 3.4%, or $558 per year, for in-state students. The increase in the cost of tuition amounts to over double that of last year’s, with tuition increasing by 1.8% from the 2020-2021 to 2021-2022 school year. Tuition will not increase for in-state students who receive need-based aid.

The budget also includes support for community college students in the humanities who aim to transfer to the Ann Arbor campus through the Bridges Program, renews support for Living Arts Engine — an interdisciplinary learning community on North Campus — and funds increased access to a program called Mental Health First Aid, which equips faculty staff and students with more tools to identify and help students who may be struggling. The U-M Biological Station will also receive infrastructure upgrades. 

Regent Denise Illitch (D) was the only board member to vote against the proposed budget. Illitch said continuing tuition increases would make a U-M education inaccessible to more students.

“This continual increasing (of tuition) has limited opportunities for middle and working class students — some would say ‘being squeezed’ — to take advantage of a Michigan Education and impact the economic diversity of the student body at a time of increasing hardship,” Illitch said.

Illitch proposed several suggestions and solutions to address the University’s budget issues without tuition hikes, saying the University needs to change its unsustainable business model before change is forced upon them.

“We’ve been told over and over that this business model is not sustainable,” Illitch said. “(We must) find new revenue sources to fund tuition. We need to be more innovative when addressing our finances and setting tuition. If we were as good at raising revenue streams as we are on raising tuition, our students would be far better off … We need to be creative, innovative and tighten our belts and make the same difficult sacrifices made everyday by the hard-working people that attend our three campuses.”

Martino Harmon, Vice President for Student Life, announced a 4.6% increase in room and board rates through Michigan Housing, as well as increased fees for University Health Service and Central Student Government.

Several public commenters attended the meeting to discuss carbon neutrality, including recent U-M graduate Zackariah Farah.

“At this very meeting, you could have been proposing significant solar, wind and geothermal projects, some of which were outlined in the PCCN report,” Farah said. “But instead, you have turned to misleading and deceptive non-starters like DTE’s, MiGreenPower program and PPA carbon offsets … You have even failed to start the search for a permanent carbon neutrality executive. … We demand bolder climate action now.”

Farah also said a $15 minimum wage was “long overdue,” pointing out that the MIT living wage calculator puts a livable wage in Ann Arbor at $18.53 an hour for a single adult with zero children. Farah called on the regents to work more quickly to address the needs of students, staff and faculty.

“With the cost of food, rent, medicine and energy skyrocketing right now, $15 isn’t even enough anymore,” Farah said. “Instead of wasting 15 million dollars on the President’s mansion, you should have been investing in a true living wage for all workers, decent conditions for our nurses and renewable energy projects that will ensure that young people like me have a decent future.”

Other public commenters included members of the University of Michigan Professional Nurse Council (UM-PNC), a branch of the Michigan Nurses Association (MNA), amid contract negotiations between Michigan Medicine nurses and the University.

Prior to the Regents meeting, a coalition of nurses and community members held a rally to raise concerns about understaffing, unfair compensation and unsafe mandatory overtime. According to an MNA press release, the contract between the union and the University is set to expire on June 30. 

MNA-UMPNC member Adam Paulson, a nurse at Michigan Medicine, spoke at the meeting regarding the nurses’ contract negotiations and understaffing in the ICU. 

“I’ve been a nurse for 13 years,” Paulson said. “Two years ago, the management team called us heroes (and) offered us praise at every turn. Now, they offer us a contract that cuts our protections, our patients’ protections and based on current inflation, a pay cut, all while getting 20% pay increases … Our maximum census in the PICU is supposed to be 26 patients, but this week we can only hold 22 patients because we don’t have enough nurses. People from around the country come to Michigan Medicine, and we simply can’t take care of them because management won’t fix the chronic understaffing, despite all of my union’s suggestions to fix the problems.” 

Debasish Dutta, Chancellor of U-M Flint, proposed a 3.7% increase in undergraduate in-state tuition and an $85 increase in fees for a total increase of 4.9%. Graduate students at U-M Flint will see a 4.5% increase in tuition and fees. Residence halls at U-M Flint will increase 5% in cost and meal plans will increase by 2%. The minimum wage for employees at U-M Flint, including student and temporary employees, will increase to $13 per hour in Sept. 2022, then to $15 per hour in Sept. 2023. 

Domenico Grasso, Chancellor of U-M Dearborn, also proposed an increase in tuition for undergraduate and graduate students. Undergraduate tuition and fees will increase for lower division residents by 3.6%, or $252, per term and for non-resident students at the lower division by 5.5%, or $768, per term. The proposed graduate tuition and fee increase for graduate residents students is 5.6%, or $480, per term, and non-residents 5.5%, or $844, per term. U-M Dearborn also adopted a $15 minimum wage for all permanent employees and plans to broaden the wage increase to include temporary and student employees over the next two years.

Dr. David Miller, president of the University Health System (UMHS), presented the budget recommendation for UMHS, which anticipates an operating margin of 4.1%, or slightly greater than $240 million dollars. 

Athletic Director Warde Manuel announced the University has improved from a $16 million deficit in 2020 to zero deficit and plans to announce a $201 million budget — the largest in University history — for the 2024 fiscal year. 

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the current minimum wage for temporary and student employees is $12 per hour. The article has been updated to reflect that change.

Correction: An earlier version of this article stated the minimum wage for temporary employees at U-M Flint would increase to $15 per hour on July 1. The article has been updated to reflect that change.

Summer News Editors Anna Fifelski and Irena Li can be reached at afifelsk@umich.edu and irenayli@umich.edu. 

Daily News Contributor Camryn Reitzel also contributed to reporting.