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Posted on Wed, Jan 25, 2012 : 12:31 p.m.

U-M president 'could not agree more' with Obama's remarks on college affordability

By Kellie Woodhouse


President Barack Obama gives the commencement address at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Saturday, May 1, 2010.

AP Photo

University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman lauded President Barack Obama's renewed pledge to address college affordability after his State of the Union speech Tuesday evening.

"We could not agree more with the president that we, as a nation, must recommit ourselves to higher education that is accessible to all," Coleman said in a statement released after the speech. "A highly educated work force is critical to being competitive in today’s global marketplace."

Obama will speak about the need to stem rising college costs at an address before roughly 3,000 people at the U-M Al Glick Field House in Ann Arbor on Friday at 9:35 a.m.


UM President Mary Sue Coleman and U.S. President Barack Obama during the school's May 2010 commencement ceremony.

Melanie Maxwell |

Tickets for the speech are free and will distributed starting at 9 a.m. Thursday at the Michigan Union Ticket Office.

"Higher education can't be a luxury — it is an economic imperative that every family in America should be able to afford," Obama said last night.

Obama pressed the need to extend an existing tuition tax credit "that saves millions of middle-class families thousands of dollars." The current allowance was passed by congress in 2009 and limits one tax credit per person per year.

Obama said he also wanted to double the number of work study jobs at colleges over the next five years.

The president asserted the importance of government support, but said universities also need to do their part by keeping tuition affordable.

"Let me put colleges and universities on notice: If you can't stop tuition from going up, the funding you get from taxpayers will go down," he said.

In response, Coleman said "the only way to achieve the support necessary for public education today is through a shared commitment that includes the federal government, state government, the business sector, donors, parents and the universities themselves."

Obama invited Coleman to attend a Dec. 5 discussion about college affordability with other public universities, but Coleman declined citing a busy schedule. Two weeks later, Coleman sent an open letter to Obama discussing the need for aggressive policy to ensure that college becomes more affordable.

Kellie Woodhouse covers higher education for Reach her at or 734-623-4602 and follow her on twitter.



Thu, Jan 26, 2012 : 6:25 p.m.

The State's continued withdrawal of support for our universities is the primary reason for high tuition costs. Our State used to believe in our youth and the need to support higher education. However, starting with Engler and continuing to present, funding has been cut again and again! Make work-study an option for all students, increase grant and scholarship opportunities for students. Kids today are leaving college with student (and parent) loans exceeding $60,000! Double an average starting salary! The State and/or feds needs to subsidize student loans, the current student and parent loan rates are at 8%! While home loans are around 4%


Thu, Jan 26, 2012 : 1:58 a.m.

1. Centralize and consolidate purchases for all Universities statewide, buy everything from paper to utilities as part of a university system in bulk and by bidding. 2. Examine curriculums and programs across the State, ensure basic standards are met and credits are transferable for schools within the State; first in the four year schools, then to the Community College level for full transfer to four year schools. 3. Examine academic programs, consolidate and/or co-join programs with others when demand is not sufficient to maintain at one school. 4. Cap executive salary (to include Deans) at 65% of the nation-wide salary level at PUBLIC peer institutions. Provide the availability of an additional 10% bonus if published, and established, goals or objectives are achieved. 5. Consolidate large construction efforts and funding through common design and bidding processes for four year Universities in the State. Odds of happening? About zero. Sigh.


Wed, Jan 25, 2012 : 11:31 p.m.

How about the University start distributing the millions of dollars that they receive in endowments, have the administrators begin to take pay cuts instead of major increases or even small increases. After having worked at the UM for many years, there are tons of funds being spent unwisely.


Wed, Jan 25, 2012 : 10:29 p.m.

Lets just move the UM to China, that way they could cut their expenses by 95% to make education affordable again!


Wed, Jan 25, 2012 : 9:02 p.m.

I would say......That she should literally put her salary, and other benies where her mouth is.


Wed, Jan 25, 2012 : 8:28 p.m.

President Coleman and the Board of Regents are such hypocrites when it comes to tuition. President Coleman couldn't agree more about tuition but her solution is more money from the State (her request last month was for more money from the feds) but the budget is entirely within her control. The problem is not too little tax money it is too much spending. President Coleman give back the extra $100,000/yr + taxes that you got in your last contract extension. VOTE FOR NEW REGENTS

Usual Suspect

Wed, Jan 25, 2012 : 7:48 p.m.

""We could not agree more with the president that we, as a nation, must recommit ourselves to higher education that is accessible to all" Unfortunately, according the liberal mindset, that translates to increasing taxes to pay for part or all of everybody's tuition, when reducing the insane cost of college is the proper solution.

Top Cat

Wed, Jan 25, 2012 : 7:05 p.m.

Of course, Ms. Coleman would love nothing more than for the Federal Government to pump in more money to fund her's and countless other's grossly inflated salaries.


Wed, Jan 25, 2012 : 10:01 p.m.

I wish I could get money given to me to use as a tax write off later on down the road. Is this like that game at the U of M basketball games where you follow what is under the cup for a gift certificate to Arby's?

Tony Dearing

Wed, Jan 25, 2012 : 9:46 p.m.

Here's a link to a story regarding Mary Sue Coleman's compensation package: <a href=""></a>


Wed, Jan 25, 2012 : 9:41 p.m.

I don't know about others salaries but it appears President Coleman 1) did not get a pay raise in 2009, 2) took a 3% pay raise in 2010 and 3) donated her pay raise from 2011 to Study Abroad scholarships ... though I'm pretty sure she is already in the top tier of what public university presidents are compensated (paid).


Wed, Jan 25, 2012 : 6:28 p.m.

Wow, really? No surprise there. What exactly is Mary Sue Coleman doing to reign in costs? Her industry has seen cost increases at 10 times the rate of inflation. Why is this? The University received public money and pays no property taxes. Now that's a competitive advantage. As Universities start to look more an more like for-profit hybrids (see tech transfer) University Executive salaries certainly have take no back seat to executive salaries in the private sector. The difference is, a lot of the money she is paying her executives is public money. Our money. ....and tuition rises unabated. Just like unfunded benefit packages at GM and Delta, this too is unsustainable. Eventually, people will realize the old brick and mortar University is no longer the monopoly it is today. Mary Sue had better watch her back....the world is changing. Education is not exempt.

say it plain

Thu, Jan 26, 2012 : 11:51 a.m.

I agree with @andys for sure... The baby-boomers have benefitted in all ways from the changes in college costs...from the move to make it accessible to all that *they* enjoyed in their college days to the relative &quot;glory days&quot; for college profs starting out when that was their station some decades ago to the current situation with obscene salaries for the administrative levels to which they have 'graduated' before they retire. Screwing everyone who comes afterward in the process, at all points. Funny coming from the 'change the world' generation isn't it?! They sure did...and the university too, from something better that it used to be to what they are now.


Wed, Jan 25, 2012 : 11:57 p.m.

Kellie- the education committee criticized UM and other state universities for allowing their administrative costs to increase more quickly than teaching costs. It is not only the increasing salaries for the President and all of those VPs but how many secretaries do they really need? EMU tried to impress the state legislature last year by not increasing tuition but when it came time for the legislature to allocate construction and renovation budgets they gave it to UM.


Wed, Jan 25, 2012 : 9:41 p.m.

IT may not be sustainable, but Mary Sue will have long ago cashed in her chips, and be comfy in retirement by the time things crash.


Wed, Jan 25, 2012 : 6:43 p.m.

They might be working on cost containment, but any successes they have had in that area has not resulted in any decrease in tuition. If the point is tuition may have risen more without these containment efforts, that's a further indictment something is very wrong with the cost of a college education. These Universities spend money as fast and ferociously as any government.

Kellie Woodhouse

Wed, Jan 25, 2012 : 6:34 p.m.

The university has been working on a few cost containment measures. Here's a university analysis of their efforts: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Wed, Jan 25, 2012 : 6:22 p.m.

&quot;U-M president 'could not agree more' with Obama's remarks on college affordability&quot; Then she gives out raises to the 1%


Wed, Jan 25, 2012 : 6:21 p.m.

We need to change the monetary system.


Wed, Jan 25, 2012 : 5:50 p.m.

If you can't agree more then take pay cuts, wage freezes and reduction in benefits like every other public employer has.


Wed, Jan 25, 2012 : 6:20 p.m.

I agree, and it is hard to find balance in this. What is the right answer?

5c0++ H4d13y

Wed, Jan 25, 2012 : 5:37 p.m.

Obama the scold.