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Posted on Tue, Jan 3, 2012 : 6:52 p.m.

House bill could result in call for fewer university boards in Michigan

By Cindy Heflin

A proposal in the Michigan House of Representatives would re-evaluate the need for the state’s public universities to have separate governing boards, and some university officials don’t like it, the Daily Press & Argus reported.

The proposal, House Bill 5000, would establish a 13-member commission to evaluate the efficiency of the governance of Michigan’s 13 public universities, the newspaper reported.

The commission may determine whether individual university boards are necessary, State Rep. Bill Rogers, R-Genoa Township, a co-sponsor of the legislation, told the newspaper.

Martin Taylor, a Democrat on the University of Michigan Board of Regents, called the measure “pure, unadulterated politics.”



Sat, Jan 7, 2012 : 10:35 p.m.

So now, this power grab by the republicans and increase of bigger government intrusion, once again trumps using legislative time to create jobs for the many unemployed in Michigan.


Wed, Jan 4, 2012 : 11:29 p.m.

As cited in the link provided, Maryland looks at courses and majors across the University system with the goal of reducing unneeded duplication or encouraging diversity. Maryland also participates in the East Coast alliance, where if a program is not offered at a Maryland school, but is offered at one of 30 other schools in the alliance, a Maryland resident can attend one of these schools, out-of-state, at in-state tuition rates. Some other highlights: Central Audit, construction management, property development, leveraging buying power, energy management- saved $225 million. No tuition increase, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009. 3% hike in 2010 but Maryland's tuition cost ranked 21st in the nation (it was 6th before the initiative). Increased faculty contact in classroom hours at under graduate research universities by 20%. all time high levels of community college transfer rates. Added 5000 students in 2008 and 2009 without additional funding for academic growth. Understanding that it is a great concern. Nice liberal enclaves like Ann Arbor still exist. College Park and Tacoma Park (TP, home of the first nuclear free zone!*) are vibrant - Maryland is solidly democratic. *not quite certain of the nuclear free zone 10 miles from Washington DC, but it is the thought that counts.


Thu, Jan 5, 2012 : 10:10 p.m.

No disrespect taken. Highlights cited above were from Maryland statewide, not just their "flagship", University of Maryland College Park. As a UM grad (wolverine, not turtle), and having a parent that's a UM professor emeritus (wolverine, not turtle), Blue rules. Wolverine reputation is not a free pass to consider benefits for consolidation because it's been a time honored tradition in our constitution since 1863 (let's see, no womens vote, slavery, fill in other amendments here). Your course content scare comment is also bogus. Maryland's efforts are centered on bottom up adjustments making sure that community college courses meet standards for credit at state universities. Something that every student and paying parent wants. If your really just spooked about this happening during a republican controlled legislature and governor, just say so. Frankly, due to the value I've seen in Maryland, I would have considered it even under the previous administration. Quality and cost efficient education should be non-partisan.


Thu, Jan 5, 2012 : 6:39 a.m.

You are not seriously comparing a Maryland University to the University of Michigan are you? Here I thought you were joking, no disrespect to MD, but seriously? LoL.


Wed, Jan 4, 2012 : 9:07 p.m.

Part of the aforementioned Maryland Agenda is the re-writing of Course content ..... is that what we want --- a State bureaucracy writing course content for it's public university system? That is absolutely unbelievable State control and intrusion in my opinion. Faculty and school administration within a University should have absolute discretion in course design, content, and administration -- just as the University should retain control of administration of it's institution per the State's Constitution.

Ethics Advocate

Wed, Jan 4, 2012 : 3:41 p.m.

I believe that, in effect, U-M is a private university with some relatively minor state support. All of the money providers, including massive research supporters and generous donors deserve to have an independent board of trustees.


Wed, Jan 4, 2012 : 11:05 p.m.

Could be relatively simple. Return back the 10-17% UM gets from state funding (not quite sure on the numbers) be charged taxes for property ownership etc. Pretty easy to change the name too. All you'd need is a sharpie pen. Cross out "The" insert "A", cross out "Of" add "In", you'd end up calling it: "A University In Michigan".


Wed, Jan 4, 2012 : 9:03 p.m.

This step could be what sends UM to private status and keeps the State permanently out if it's business.


Wed, Jan 4, 2012 : 3:09 p.m.

Do we really need to have a separate governing board for each university? Sounds like it would be a cost savings, reduction of functions and more centralized decision making. Unless we do something to reduce the cost of a college education only the rich will be educated! Lets end the era of BIG EDUCATION!


Wed, Jan 4, 2012 : 1:33 p.m.

If the Republicans or Democrats really want get serious about consolidation in education, then they need to start at with the local school districts. Michigan has over 400 local districts, some as small as 3.5 sq miles, some with fewer than 400 students, but all are legally required to employ a superintendent, who in most cases does nothing to educate a single student in the classroom. On top of that bureaucracy is another level of school administration called the Intermediate School District, again employing a superintendent and multiple levels of administration and administrative support-none of which educates a single student. One writer lifted up Maryland as an example of consolidated university governance, so it should also be noted that Maryland's K-12 educational administration is done on a county wide basis. A recent study by a MSU professor highlighted the millions of dollars that could be saved through the elimination of local school districts. However, the Govenor and his republican cronies attempted to discredit the study and ingored it implications. Could it be that the high paid school administrators, who don't teach a single student are more important than the classroom teachers?


Wed, Jan 4, 2012 : 10:59 p.m.

Interesting idea Tom on expanding to K-12 at the county level. If you could provide some more background on Govenor and "cronies" opposition? I'd also wager that you would find a tremendous opposition in certain liberal communities in Wayne County. Huntington Woods would have a heart attack.


Wed, Jan 4, 2012 : 1:11 p.m.

all last year all i heard from the state is junk. they have gotten into so much stuff that i think they have no business getting into. it is like they need stuff to do instead of messing up our state. next they will want to tell us how many times we can breath a day!


Wed, Jan 4, 2012 : 12:56 p.m.

Simply another attempt to consolidate the oversight of the state's learning institutions under one point of view. Come on sheeople, wake up and see where this is all going! Amazing, how we feared socialism in the 30's, communism in the 50's, and yet no one seems to be outraged by the dismantling of academic freedom and the public education system.


Wed, Jan 4, 2012 : 11:27 a.m.

But Mary Sue needs her rubber stamp / yes people regents!


Wed, Jan 4, 2012 : 5:52 a.m.

@trespass- You appear to have a fundamental misunderstanding of state funding for public education. The purpose is, and always has been, to subsidize the education of undergraduates for the benefit of the state. For example, U of M has about 25,000 undergrads, 2/3 are state residents, and the difference between in-state and out of state tuition is about $20,000 for a total subsidy of about $350 million. We do not subsidize medical schools, they are profit centers. The U of M Health System, for example, generates roughly half of all U of M revenue, about $2.4 billion in 2011, from patient billings alone. The university receives another billion in grants, mostly from medical research. They earn about another billion from investment income. This is fairly representative of all doctoral granting institutions, give or take. Most of the smaller schools receive a disproportionate amount of state funding because they don't have the other revenue streams but those totals are generally rather small. Every public university publishes their financial statements but nobody reads them. They just listen to rhetoric. Here is U of M's....<a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Thu, Jan 5, 2012 : 3:45 a.m.

I was primarily addressing your concern above that somehow the state would end up subsidizing medical schools. That is not how state appropriations for higher ed work. I'm not sure of your point about the general fund. The general fund is simply all funds which are not restricted in their use by, for example, contract or donor criteria. Those monies are used mainly for administrative and departmental costs. I suppose that money distributed to departments could be linked to research. So what? Medical schools are profitable. By the way, I think it's silly that everyone now thinks they need to build a med school to become prestigious but your reasoning is flawed.


Wed, Jan 4, 2012 : 2:29 p.m.

trespass: The UM Health System is a net profit center. For every dollar they appear to pull from the general fund, they have first put more than a dollar in (someone on here with more knowledge may know the specifics). When UM Health System gets a grant, a substantial percentage of the grant money goes to the general fund, which then distributes some of that back to the Health System.


Wed, Jan 4, 2012 : 11:41 a.m.

The UM Health System has great cash flow but some of its costs are still born by the general fund. In particular, even though the UM recieves $1.2 billion in research grants, the general fund still pays for substantial research costs. Also, just because the flagship medical school has these kinds of revenues does not mean that the fourth and fifth medical schools will do the same.

Billy Bob Schwartz

Wed, Jan 4, 2012 : 5:20 a.m.

William Rogers supports it? Then I oppose it. Look at the man's record for this year. Useless, meddling laws combined with new laws that were already on the books and in effect. He is teapublican to the core. This is a terrible idea. Once again, solutions are being proposed for nonexistent problems. I wish I could figure out a solution to the current republican government in Lansing. I guess it's called 2012, for starters.


Wed, Jan 4, 2012 : 4:49 a.m.

§ 6 Other institutions of higher education, controlling boards. Sec. 6. Other institutions of higher education established by law having authority to grant baccalaureate degrees shall each be governed by a board of control which shall be a body corporate. The board shall have general supervision of the institution and the control and direction of all expenditures from the institution's funds. It shall, as often as necessary, elect a president of the institution under its supervision. He shall be the principal executive officer of the institution and be ex-officio a member of the board without the right to vote. The board may elect one of its members or may designate the president, to preside at board meetings. Each board of control shall consist of eight members who shall hold office for terms of eight years, not more than two of which shall expire in the same year, and who shall be appointed by the governor by and with the advice and consent of the senate. Vacancies shall be filled in like manner.


Wed, Jan 4, 2012 : 4:48 a.m.

§ 5 University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Wayne State University; controlling boards. Sec. 5. The regents of the University of Michigan and their successors in office shall constitute a body corporate known as the Regents of the University of Michigan; the trustees of Michigan State University and their successors in office shall constitute a body corporate known as the Board of Trustees of Michigan State University; the governors of Wayne State University and their successors in office shall constitute a body corporate known as the Board of Governors of Wayne State University. Each board shall have general supervision of its institution and the control and direction of all expenditures from the institution's funds. Each board shall, as often as necessary, elect a president of the institution under its supervision. He shall be the principal executive officer of the institution, be ex-officio a member of the board without the right to vote and preside at meetings of the board. The board of each institution shall consist of eight members who shall hold office for terms of eight years and who shall be elected as provided by law. The governor shall fill board vacancies by appointment. Each appointee shall hold office until a successor has been nominated and elected as provided by law.


Wed, Jan 4, 2012 : 4:22 a.m.

Yes, we could continue our excellent tradition. If it's worked since 1863, why change it? Meanwhile: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> And Maryland is a democratic state.

David Briegel

Wed, Jan 4, 2012 : 3:55 a.m.

Just another example of the TeaPublicons wanting to have it both ways. They want to abolish the Dept of Education in DC. And it seems they desire to use their political clout to establish a Dept of Higher Ed in Mich!! Just tryin' to put that evil bootheel of big gubbermint on the neck of their opponents! The educated!

5c0++ H4d13y

Wed, Jan 4, 2012 : 1:52 p.m.

Here's an idea. How about we abolish the Department of Education and block grant the education money to states based on number of kids enrolled? All that saved money will go for education and there wont be any pesky bureaucrats to make rules we don't like. It's a win win.


Wed, Jan 4, 2012 : 3:49 a.m.

Study away but UM, MSU, and Wayne State are Constitutionally autonomous with elected Regents provided for in the Constitution - in the case of UM since 1863. Michigan citizens would have to vote in a different system, so let's hope a power grab by Republican Lansing will be seen for what it is. The current system has been recognized as a national model guaranteed to provide independence from political meddling for 150 years, so why would anyone want more government intrusion of either party into higher education?


Wed, Jan 4, 2012 : 1:51 a.m.

Other states use a consolidated system (Maryland for example). A study could provide insight into benefits or liabilities. Of course, calling looking at efficiency &quot;unadulterated politics&quot; pretty much shows who has the sacred cow in this pasture. Thanks Mr. Taylor.


Wed, Jan 4, 2012 : 1:51 a.m.

Look for example at the number of medical schools in Michigan. We already had three at UM, MSU and WSU then Oakland U started a new one and now Western Michigan U is trying to start one. If we have 5 state supported medical schools the will all want state support. How can it hurt to ask the question, is this the best we can do?


Sat, Jan 7, 2012 : 10:40 p.m.

WMU has a medical school CMU is starting one.

Billy Bob Schwartz

Wed, Jan 4, 2012 : 5:14 a.m.

Does it hurt to have a really good university teaching hospital in, say, Grand Rapids? You want people to bring business to Michigan, yet you don't want first-rate hospitals? Hmmm.


Wed, Jan 4, 2012 : 3:52 a.m.

Maybe there's a growing demand for increased healthcare professionals? Perhaps these schools receive major support from local hospitals, students who pay tuition, and still have multi year waiting lists to get into the programs?


Wed, Jan 4, 2012 : 12:54 a.m.

I think the plan to at least look into the issue makes sense. In this day and age when money is tight trying to figure out if the University system goverance is efficient is a smart move. Look the plan isn't changing anything. All it is doing is creating a committee to gather information. Who can oppose that?


Wed, Jan 4, 2012 : 2:26 p.m.

UM, MSU, and Wayne are all established in the state constitution. The legislature doesn't have the authority to abolish their elected governing boards.


Wed, Jan 4, 2012 : 4:58 a.m.

As you point out, money is tight. Why spend money to debate a bill to form a committee to study an issue when the legislature does not have the power to unilaterally alter the state constitution? I am convinced more every day that those who are elected really are clueless.