by President Susan, Published February 18, 2011
Dear Students, Faculty, Staff, Alumni, Friends and Supporters,
Governor Snyder's budget presentation earlier today included sweeping tax reforms and budget reductions aimed at reducing the state budget deficit, which has been estimated as high as $1.8 billion. The proposed budget includes reductions to higher education funding. The amount of the proposed reduction is significant. For Eastern, it would amount to a 19 percent decrease from our current operations funding from the state. This would represent a reduction of $14.7 million, from $76 million to $61.3 million. The Governor also unveiled a plan for universities to receive an incentive grant for keeping tuition and fees below the most recent five-year average of annual changes in tuition and fee rates of all of Michigan's universities, which stands at approximately 7 percent. For Eastern, this would result in a $3.3 million grant. Adding in the proposed grant, the overall funding reduction would be $11.4 million, or 15 percent.
This would have a significant impact on our overall General Fund operating budget, which this year stands at $280.9 million. The General Fund budget would ordinarily increase roughly 2-3 percent in 2011-2012, due primarily to scheduled increases in salaries and other operating costs.
While the Governor's budget will now be submitted for legislative review and input and the final numbers might change, it is clear that Michigan universities will face significant challenges in the year ahead. How Eastern addresses the reduction in our state appropriation will be crucial, as I indicated in my campus messages on January 20 and in my report to the Board of Regents on Tuesday. Difficult discussions and difficult decisions will have to take place as we seek to find new ways to reduce costs and increase revenue to make up the difference. It is important that we continue to engage our university community, including students, faculty and staff, as we address the budget challenges and finalize plans for 2011-2012. We must maintain the positive momentum and pride in Eastern that we have generated and the growth we have achieved, and conduct this process with transparency, with civility, and with opportunities for input and involvement, to create a framework for long-term success.
Due to our determined efforts to keep tuition and fees, room and board at the lowest percentage increase of any state university over the last two years, we are approaching this challenge from a position of strength and positive momentum. We are building off of two consecutive years of enrollment growth, and projections indicate strong and continued growth in fall 2011. Compared to last year, fall 2011 freshman applications are up 32 percent (2,537); transfer applications are up 50 percent (429); and graduate applications are up 24 percent (291). We are in a good position not only to weather the storm, but, as the Governor indicated, to find new solutions and continue to create great opportunities for our students, faculty and staff.
We will conduct a budget forum on Monday, February 21, from 4-5 p.m. in the Student Center Auditorium. The forum will provide additional details about the impact of the proposed state reductions and our plans to address them. This will be the seventh forum we have held since summer 2009 in our ongoing effort to facilitate open dialogue about budget issues that affect our campus.
Chief Financial Officer John Lumm and I will provide a brief budget update, and we will be joined by two special guests for the remainder of the forum. Congressman John Dingell will provide an update on federal funding issues related to higher education. This will be followed by the presentation, "Michigan's Economy: Past, Present, and Future," by Charles Ballard, professor of economics at Michigan State University. Professor Ballard is the director of the State of the State Survey in MSU's Institute for Public Policy and Social Research. He has served as a consultant with the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Health and Human Services, and Treasury, and is the author of "Michigan's Economic Future."
Now is the time that our greater community of alumni and friends can really help support Eastern through "Invest. Inspire. The Campaign for Eastern Michigan University" www.emufoundation.org. Encourage those you know to support Eastern at this important time.
I appreciate the challenges that the budget situation will create for all of us in the weeks and months ahead. I look forward to working with you and communicating with you regularly as we proceed through this process.