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The Vice President's Blog

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Mark Burnham

March 2015

Last year was a momentous year, yet as we look ahead to 2015 we are even more excited about all the possibilities and initiatives happening at MSU!

On February 12 we marked 160 years since MSU’s founding, and President Simon holds firmly to the vision set forth by President John Hannah that Michigan State should “be good enough for the proudest and open to the poorest.”

To stay true to that vision, last October, we launched the Empower Extraordinary campaign to raise $1.5 billion to enable us to continue to compete, to innovate, and to empower. It’s the right thing to do—for MSU, for the next generation of Spartans, and for the world we serve. Because of the strong support and passion of our alumni, we are more than half way to our goal.

And last fall for the first time in history we surpassed the 50,000 mark in our student population. Undergraduate applications continue to increase and graduation rates over the past ten years have risen.

Preparing those students to lead us with top-notch programs has garnered MSU national and international recognition. MSU Ranks 82nd among 400 global universities in the 2014-15 World University Rankings by Times Higher Education and U.S. News & World Report ranked sixteen MSU programs in the top 10—and 25 in the top 20—nationally. According to the National Science Foundation HERD study released last month, MSU ranks 36th nationally for research expenditures and 9th in the Big Ten.

Such rankings are external validations of our continued growth as a university.  That growth continues as we received the funding we needed from Congress to continue construction of the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB). Just this week, we completed a 24-hour concrete placement through collaboration with eight Michigan suppliers. More than 350 concrete trucks from all over Michigan delivered enough concrete to the site to cover a football field two feet deep. The completed project will contribute more than $1 billion to Michigan’s economy.

In its recent report on higher education funding, Business Leaders for Michigan pointed out that Michigan ranks 42nd for state support for public higher education funding and has the fourth least affordable tuition levels in the nation. And its recent comparison of higher education performance across peer groups showed that Michigan’s higher education institutions outperformed most of their national peers in producing talent and controlling costs.  MSU in particular showed particular strength in the more than 30 metrics reviewed by BLM.

However, in spite of these accomplishments, we still have a long way to go to maintain our mission to keep higher education affordable and accessible for Michigan’s families. According to BLMs President and CEO, Doug Rothwell, "Higher education is one of the state's most critical assets for moving Michigan forward. We need to ensure affordability and access, strengthen outcomes and employment transitions, and grow overall economic impact."

Even with last year’s higher education appropriation increase, MSU and the other Michigan public universities still have yet to recover from the 15 percent cut the administration made four years ago. Today, Michigan State remains 6.8 percent below 2011 funding levels. This year, the state again finds itself in a very difficult budget situation as far more tax credits were cashed in than had been anticipated. This left the state with difficult choices about where to cut funding.

Thankfully, the Governor chose to continue to invest in higher education, despite the economic conditions. Although we had been hoping for more than the proposed 2 percent increase, given the dire economic condition the state currently is dealing with, the Governor’s proposal keeps his commitment to restoring funding back to 2011 funding levels. We call on the Michigan Legislature to pass his recommendation.

In 2013-14, MSU had a $5.2 billion economic impact in Michigan, spent more than $466 million with local businesses and through research and resources contributes toward the more than $100 billion economic impact of Michigan’s Agribusiness industry.

MSU is committed to the success of our students and the revitalization of Michigan’s economy. To learn more about our funding challenges and the impact our research and programs have across the state visit MiSpartan Impact and to support Michigan State and higher education become a Spartan Advocate!

Spartans Will

Mark Burnham 

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