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Posted on Thu, Nov 17, 2011 : 7:12 p.m.

University of Michigan Regents knock formula funding model in Lansing

By Kellie Woodhouse

The University of Michigan Board of Regents criticized Gov. Rick Sndyer's 'formula funding' model for higher education at their meeting on Thursday.

"This is a pretty dangerous area to get into and this business of turning it into a cookie cutter approach… just seems like a disturbing development to me," said Regent S. Martin Taylor.

Beginning with the 2013 fiscal year, Snyder plans to begin allocating university funding based on a formula that "will encourage universities to graduate a highly educated workforce in a timely manner and conduct research that contributes to the overall economic strategy for Michigan," according to the governor's office.


University of Michigan regent Martin Taylor.

Lon Horwedel |

The formula will judge schools' success and funding allocations based on yet-to-be-established performance indicators. A limited formula was used last year when state officials cut funding between 17 and 18 percent for universities that did not practice tuition restraint, compared to about 15 percent for universities that did.

The formula is still being developed and state officials have asked for suggestions from Michigan's 15 public universities.

At their meeting Thursday, the regents discussed a letter U-M President Mary Sue Coleman and her staff wrote to state budget director John E. Nixon regarding suggestions in developing the formula.

The letter needs regents' approval before it can be officially submitted to the state.

Coleman and several other university presidents in Michigan have been outspoken opponents of formula funding, publicly saying that it is not a viable solution to allocating funding in the midst of a difficult economic climate.

That concern was echoed on Thursday.

"I don’t know of any state that has found some magic solution with formula funding," Coleman said.

U-M Provost Philip J. Hanlon said formula funding is not a good higher education funding model because "the 15 public universities in the state of Michigan have very different missions and contribute in different ways."

Taylor criticized Coleman and her staff for not noting that U-M administrators are opposed to formula funding in the letter to Nixon.

"It seems to me that we weren't making a really good argument that… this is not the way to go," Taylor said. "To not say this isn’t a good idea doesn’t seem to be very smart."

The regents voted to approve the letter as long as it was amended to note U-M's opposition to formula funding.

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


Ron Granger

Fri, Nov 18, 2011 : 2:28 p.m.

Snyders implication is that all schools are the same and it's all about churning out worker-bees. I think he's also showing his true colors - he doesn't want universities competing against his business buddies. He seems to over-emphasize the little piece of paper diploma, and ignore that it's the educational journey and experiences that are the most critical. Snyder seems to ignore the importance of research and instead focus on short term thinking. Not all research creates jobs. Not all university study churns out a little worker-bee. A lot of research should add to the body of human knowledge, not be measured on whether it makes a quick buck that can be taxed. That said, the University of Michigan does often stray from their mission as a *public* institution that receives our tax dollars. The University does compete against Snyder's buddies in business, and the U does have some unfair advantages.

Left is Right

Sat, Nov 19, 2011 : 7:15 a.m.

Please clue us in on exactly how the U competes against Snyder's "business buddies"? Knowing Snyder and being familiar with tech transfer at the U, I don't see it this way at all. It's simpatico if anything.


Fri, Nov 18, 2011 : 2:18 p.m.

Is anyone surprised that the U OF M would be complaining about less money? Cut the salaries of some of the dead weight professors.

Jim Mulchay

Fri, Nov 18, 2011 : 1:51 p.m.

How many free meals, tickets, etc. does the various state "higher education" institutions provides for state legislators annually - either directly or thru lobbyists? How about some concern for the K-12 budget in Michigan? They can't charge tuition.


Fri, Nov 18, 2011 : 1 p.m.

So who decides what research contributes to the overall economic strategy of the state? The state should encourage any and all research that creates jobs of any kind. No state is like a corporation that can focus it efforts on a narrow vision. Does Snyder want all of the universities to do research on the same thing? Like Hanlon said, all of these universities have very different missions. I might add that none of the missions are to "not graduate students in a timely manner".

Left is Right

Sat, Nov 19, 2011 : 7:06 a.m.

I take that back--a lot disingenuous.

Left is Right

Sat, Nov 19, 2011 : 7:05 a.m.

I agree. Lansing Sounds like it's "picking winners and losers.". A bit disingenuous.

A Voice of Reason

Fri, Nov 18, 2011 : 4:48 a.m.

Tuition at U of M went up I believe 5.6% this year and EMU 3.8%. Tuition has and is going up 2 times the rate of inflation and kids are spending over $100K on their education. I am not sure why no one cares about this and is more concerned about keeping tuition increases to the cost of inflation. Keeping U of M's tuition increase to the cost of inflation would be great job for one of the top Business Schools in the nation to teach the mothership cost containment and possibly reduce costs of running the University. Also, the building never stops. Where does all the money come from for these new buildings?

Left is Right

Sat, Nov 19, 2011 : 7:02 a.m.

Yes, higher ed should get ready for a Christensen-style disruption. Hopefully sooner than later.


Fri, Nov 18, 2011 : 12:50 p.m.

It's a Catch 22. The state cuts funding and the Universities raise tuition. Then the state punishes them by cutting additional funding.


Fri, Nov 18, 2011 : 7:55 a.m.

Rich alums and others who like to see their names on buildings and schools. Currently, Steven Ross pretty much bought the whole south end and athletic campus while Al Taubman owns the medical center. Places like the new Mott hospital are collective efforts. Every floor has some donor's name plastered across it. These funds would never go towards cutting tuition costs. These are people who like monuments built to themselves. If that's what it takes to get new facilities, then so be it. It's just too bad that the hundreds of millions these guys spend on buildings aren't also spent on creating trusts to award general scholarships beyond the usual $500 and $1000 pittance most college scholarships dole out. That doesn't even pay for books. One book with its usual collegiate and professorial kickback costs about $200 these days. Further, the editions are customized to individual schools to subvert online resales. Greed at its pathetic best. Don't any of these colleges tell you they are concerned about the affordability of tuition and costs to students. Colleges--like many other non-profits--are some of the most profitable enterprises around for the honchos that run them.

Hot Sam

Fri, Nov 18, 2011 : 2:37 a.m.

Wouldn't want to slow that 8-10% annual growth in "big ed" now would we....

Hot Sam

Fri, Nov 18, 2011 : 12:44 p.m.

I could sit and find links to education costs all day long, and they are all different and they all have an agenda. While 8-10% is a very general figure, the fact is that "big ed" is increasing at a rate that is simply unsustainable. I am open to hearing any constructive solutions.

Hot Sam

Fri, Nov 18, 2011 : 12:37 p.m.

Read it and weep... <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Fri, Nov 18, 2011 : 4:25 a.m.

I'm confused - it was cut 15% last year so what growth rate in highed ed funding are you referring to?


Fri, Nov 18, 2011 : 2:25 a.m.

Thank heaven for recall !


Fri, Nov 18, 2011 : 2:01 a.m.

Oooh, big suprise there eh ? Not ! The more politicians and educators that are &quot;unhappy&quot; with Snyder means he is doing the right thing. Good Day

Kai Petainen

Fri, Nov 18, 2011 : 12:32 a.m.

i'm surprised to see the regents criticizing snyder. i was starting to get the feeling that he was going to get the royal treatment... considering that he's an alum and with heavy connections to ann arbor and the schools. otherwise, i don't have any idea about this particular issue, as i don't know enough about it.