In a meeting with the leading faculty governance body, University President Mary Sue Coleman responded to questions about state funding and future freshman class sizes. The faculty also passed resolutions responding to student protests at California universities and a resolution concerning the Penn State sex abuse scandal.

Coleman said to members of the Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs yesterday that the University currently receives 30 percent less state funding than when she assumed office in 2002. But in the face of the reduced funding, Coleman said faculty and administration have done a “great job” cutting costs and increasing efficiency without harming interaction between faculty and students.

Coleman said state funding is crucial to maintaining the University’s level of academic excellence. 15-percent was cut from the 2012 fiscal year budget, which totals $5.77 billion.

“I am hopeful the governor will have a budget that realizes the need to invest … in higher education,” she said.

Coleman acknowledged that students are concerned about the high cost of a college education, but said she believes a college education is essential to maintain a high quality of life. She also said it gives students the opportunity to grow in various ways.

“Students come out of here very different than when they came in,” she said. “We give them the tools to have great lives.”

SACUA member Ed Rothman, a professor of statistics, asked Coleman why the University doesn’t increase the size of incoming classes, saying that he believes it would provide more people with a quality education and create greater revenue for the University.

Before increasing the sizes of incoming freshman classes, Coleman said the administration would need to figure out how to more efficiently use space in classrooms and residential buildings.

SACUA PASSES RESOLUTION IN SUPPORT OF PEACEFUL PROTEST

Earlier in the meeting, SACUA members passed a resolution demonstrating their support for the peaceful protesters at the University of California, Berkeley and the University of California, Davis who made headlines last month. The resolution called upon University of California administrators to refrain from using police force against students.

On Nov. 18, police officers at UC Davis pepper-sprayed students peacefully protesting by sitting on the ground. Earlier in November, protestors at UC Berkeley were assaulted by campus police during a peaceful protest.

The SACUA resolution states that if similar incidents occur at other universities in the future, the administrations of these schools should engage in a dialogue with the protesters and listen to their concerns.

SACUA MEMBERS RESPOND TO PENN STATE SCANDAL

SACUA members passed an additional resolution in response to the sexual abuse scandal at Pennsylvania State University. The resolution provides suggestions about how to prevent similar scandals at the University of Michigan and stresses that each individual, whether a victim or a witness, is responsible for reporting criminal behavior.

Coleman said she has been actively working with the Office of General Counsel to enhance the sense of personal responsibility in reporting crimes on campus. She said the scandal at Penn State, in which former football coach Jerry Sandusky is accused of sexually abusing young boys, has increased awareness of crime reporting and hopes it is an opportunity to make improvements at the University.

“Out of something bad that happened, I hope there’s some good that comes — that it will create an opportunity to talk about these issues,” Coleman said.

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