Speaking before a panel of senate and house lawmakers, University of Michigan-Flint Chancellor Ruth J. Person outlined the ways that UM-Flint provides learning opportunities for a diverse student population in a region that is in the process of reinvention.
In the annual presentation to the Subcommittees on Higher Education, Chancellor Person highlighted the past year of continued growth–noting that for the past four years UM-Flint held the title of the "fastest-growing" state university. The subcommittee was also briefed on the contributions to the community and the economy, along with the special recognition from the Carnegie Foundation for community engagement. She outlined many of the programs that involved student participation in the community including the Alternative Spring Break that offers students an opportunity to volunteer on projects throughout the city of Flint.
The chancellor told lawmakers Flint has changed from being an auto town to a college town with almost 34,000 people pursuing post-secondary degrees. The university also has a substantial economic impact on the area. UM-Flint spent approximately $100 million on purchases, payroll, and funds released to students in Genesee County.
Chancellor Person gave lawmakers an overview of how the university is updating programs and degrees, forming partnerships with other state universities and community colleges, and helping Michigan residents return to college. The university's efforts to help returning veterans also earned special recognition by being named one of only 12 Pat Tillman Scholar campuses in the country.
She outlined a number of budget-saving projects that the university has implemented to save dollars, especially in preparation for the expected budget cut.
"We are an extraordinarily lean institution, and will continue to be," Chancellor Person told the subcommittee. "Make no mistake: this budget cut will be painful for our university."
Person pointed out that in the past decade state funding has declined by more than a million dollars, but enrollment has increased by 29%.
"We have done all we can to keep tuition increases as low as possible, but there is no denying that we have had to balance our commitment to quality against exceedingly difficult economic expectations," said Person.
To read the chancellor's complete testimony visit her website: http://www.umflint.edu/chancellor/speeches_docs.htm.