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Oct. 26, 2018

Board supports Engler’s call for stronger state investment in higher education

The Michigan State University Board of Trustees today approved MSU’s 2019-20 state appropriation request calling for legislators to provide additional funding to universities that freeze undergraduate tuition. Trustees approved a two-year budget including tuition freezes in June.

The approval sent a clear signal to state lawmakers that universities such as MSU that are trying to be sensitive to the rising cost of a college education should be acknowledged and rewarded with greater state funding. Michigan ranks 40th in maintenance of its higher education appropriations over the last decade, lagging the national median by 16 percentage points.

“Students and families today bear an increasingly heavy burden of the cost of public higher education, one shifted to them by the state at a time when post-high school training or education is more important than ever,” said MSU Interim President John Engler. “Government investment in higher education provides greater economic returns than most other sectors of government spending, yet MSU’s per-student appropriations today only approximate 1992 levels.”

The appropriation request asked the Legislature to create a balanced approach to encouraging lower tuition and fee rates at state universities, similar to the state’s tuition restraint provision. Currently, public universities that raise tuition more than 3 percent are penalized with lower annual appropriations.

During the meeting, trustees also approved a proposal to fully integrate the MSU College of Law into the university. The college currently is a private law school affiliated with MSU, but with a separate governing board and administrative practices. Full integration will support a high-quality education for students as well as enhance administrative services. It will also create more, mutually beneficial opportunities for collaboration between the law school and MSU’s other academic programs.

“Since their original affiliation 23 years ago, the university and the law school have grown increasingly close. Full integration is the next logical step, and one that will benefit both institutions by creating new opportunities for interdisciplinary programs, initiatives and research,” said Lawrence Ponoroff, dean of the MSU College of Law. “This new relationship will enable the law school to best serve as an innovative resource in legal education as well as build upon its already strong external reputation.”

Other board activity included:

  • Officially naming the Billman Music Pavilion and Edward J. Minskoff Pavilion
  • Authorizing $2.5 million for the installation of lighting at the McLane Baseball Stadium and Secchia Softball Stadium
  • Approving the return of mummified remains and associated material to Bolivia

In addition, the board heard a presentation from professor Dean Lee from the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams and the Department of Physics and Astronomy. Lee spoke about his group’s research, which works to understand the nature and origins of matter by crafting new approaches that link fundamental quantum theory to precise predictions for nuclear structure.

The next meeting is scheduled for Dec. 14.