Speaking before the faculty’s leading governing body yesterday, University President Mary Sue Coleman voiced her dissatisfaction with the budget stalemate in Lansing, especially talk of potentially ending the Michigan Promise Scholarship.

At the meeting, Coleman addressed a wide range of issues, including the state budget, her upcoming State of the University speech, recreational facilities at the University and the North Campus Research Complex.

While at the meeting, Coleman told SACUA members she has been following the state budget closely and has been in contact with representatives from the University’s Office of Government Relations, who are also monitoring the situation.

“I talked to one of our folks who is in Lansing all the time … and he said it was a rough impasse between people who want to cut, cut, cut and have no new revenue increases to people who are unwilling to make the cuts and are demanding revenue increases leaving chasms between these two groups” she said.

Coleman shared with faculty members that she was disheartened by the lack of progress by legislators to finalize a state budget.

“I don’t know what to tell you,” Coleman said. “I am quite discouraged that we can’t get more action to come up with a solution.”

Coleman also said she is concerned about potential cuts to the Michigan Promise Scholarship. Even if there had to be some sort of a cut back to the program, students should receive at least part of their scholarships, Coleman said, adding that legislators made a promise to students.

“Students have these letters promising this scholarship,” Coleman said.

University students with demonstrated financial need will receive their scholarship payment from the University if the state discontinues the program, though students without financial need will not receive the scholarship if the program is canceled.

“I’ve been told that we have a much higher proportion of students who use the Michigan Promise Scholarship than other institutions,” Coleman said. “We just don’t have the resources to take over the entire program.”

When asked for an update on the President’s 100 New Faculty Initiative, Coleman dodged the question saying she would talk about the program at her State of the University address on Oct. 5.

“Come to the State of the University address, because I’m going to be talking about it,” Coleman said with a laugh.

Coleman did tell SACUA members that she felt the University was in a good position to be hiring the new, interdisciplinary faculty because so many other universities aren’t currently hiring.

Coleman also said she would update the University community on the North Campus Research Complex as part of her State of the University address.

“You’ll be hearing more about that,” Coleman said. “It’s certainly been a major focus of mine.”

Coleman also reassured SACUA members that she will make implementation of the Recreational Sports Task Force a top priority in the upcoming year.

“We need to figure out a way that we can tackle it,” Coleman said. “We haven’t quite come to grips with how we’re going to do that, but it is high on my agenda for issues to take on this year.”

Coleman said two logical approaches would be to either increase the number of recreational facilities across campus or to build larger, centralized facilities.

“One of the things that worries me about a big, new central facility is that I don’t know how we would fund it right now,” Coleman said, adding that additional facilities spread across campus may be the prudent thing to do with the University’s tight budget.

— Cassie Belfour contributed to this report.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.