University President Mary Sue Coleman attended the Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs meeting yesterday and told the faculty governing body that the effect of the state’s nearly $2 billion budget deficit on the University’s general fund is currently unknown.
Coleman said she expects the University and other state-funded institutions to make sacrifices as a result of future budget decisions to be made by new Republican Gov. Rick Snyder.
Snyder will be making his State of the State address on Jan. 19, and it is only then that the University will know where it stands in terms of receiving state appropriations, Coleman said.
About 21 percent of the University’s general fund is provided by the state — an amount that is at an all-time low for public universities in Michigan, Coleman said.
“We hope for the best, but we understand the dire issues that the state faces,” Coleman said.
While Snyder’s agenda for University funding are currently unclear, Coleman said Snyder has been “pretty aggressive” with his budget plans for Michigan.
However, Coleman said she thinks the University has been successful in rationalizing the state funding.
Later in the meeting, SACUA member Steven Lusmann, a professor of Music, also said that the state could benefit from looking at how the University plans its budget.
“There are some things that the state could learn of the University,” Lusmann said.
Anticipating future state budgeting problems, SACUA members discussed possible solutions that the University can collaborate with the state on. These include more outreach for research funding on the part of the University and loan forgiveness legislation — which would eliminate a student’s loans after ten years of working as a civil servant — for recent graduates.
SACUA Vice Chair Gina Poe, a professor of Anesthesiology, said University faculty members are especially good at organizing symposiums that make research conducted at the University more known in the public arena, and said events like these could help the University get more research funding.
“What should come out of these symposiums are grant ideas from the industries,” Poe said.
Lusmann also suggested that legislation absolving student loan payments should be drafted to prevent the continued “brain drain” in Michigan by providing a monetary incentive.
He added that the monetary incentive would keep some of the “best minds” in the state.
Coleman highlights baby clothes company
Coleman also mentioned several honors that members of the University community received at the end of 2010.
Engineering senior Allen Kim was recently named “College Entrepreneur of 2010” by Entrepreneur Magazine. Selected as a finalist in August, Kim will be featured in the January issue of the magazine.
Kim won the title for his company Bebarang, formerly called Bebaroo, which is an online rental service that delivers brand name baby clothes at discount prices. Coleman and others have called Bebarang “the Netflix of baby clothes.”
Coleman said she was also pleased that the University received two awards for architecture in 2010 — The Best of the Best Award from McGraw-Hill Construction for the renovations to the Big House and the award for Excellence in Architecture from the American Institute of Architects.