Governor Snyder Addresses Higher Ed during Copper Country Visit

by Marcia Goodrich, senior writer

Higher education is key to Michigan's economic well-being on more than one level, Governor Rick Snyder said Aug. 16 during a town hall meeting at The Bluffs, in Houghton.

"Certainly universities support the economy simply by educating our kids and giving them the skills they need to succeed in the marketplace," he said. "They also create jobs by commercializing research and starting businesses; Michigan Tech has been a leader in that area for a long time." In particular, the state's SmartZones--including the Michigan Tech Enterprise Corporation SmartZone--support economic development in partnership with universities.

President Glenn Mroz introduced the governor and said of him: "I've been impressed with his accessibility and willingness to listen, as well as his forthright responses to very difficult questions about the challenges facing the people of Michigan," Mroz said. "His willingness to confront brutal realities and make timely decisions stands in sharp contrast to the way similar issues are being handled by governments around the world today."

An audience member noted that the Snyder administration had cut appropriations for Michigan's public universities this year, while eliminating the Michigan Business Tax, which Snyder has called "the dumbest tax in the United States" for stifling job growth and imposing a greater tax burden on small business owners.

Reducing funding for universities was "a tough call," Snyder responded. "I hope we're at the end of these cuts, but we absolutely needed to create the climate for job creation and grow the pie so we can invest and build a strong future and quality of life for all."

The governor reviewed his vision for Michigan's future. "We need more and better jobs," he said. In particular, the state needs economic growth that will allow young people to remain in Michigan. But just fixing Michigan isn't enough, he said. In all kinds of state rankings, "we're ranked 50 of 50, or 47th of 50. We need to get back to number one. And we have the talent to do that."

To make such a shift, "everyone knew we needed change," he said, but change hasn't always been easy, especially when it involved cutting funding for favored government programs. However, he said, the results have been positive: a balanced state budget passed on schedule in May. "That hasn't happened in decades," he noted. Other accomplishments: "We added to the rainy day fund," which previously was so depleted it could only cover state expenses for about 30 minutes, he said. Meanwhile, the state has made progress funding its health care obligations and held steady on Medicaid reimbursement rates to providers. "I hope that Washington looks to Michigan as a role model," he said, as the state works with the federal government to lower costs while maintaining services.

He touched on K-12 education reform, noting that we have "great teachers and great administrators, but a broken system." When he came into office, only 16 percent of Michigan students were "college ready." That number has edged up to 17 percent, he said, but the state has a long way to go. He suggested a "master teacher" program to give stellar instructors an alternative career path training other teachers.

Over the next three months, the state will focus on health and wellness, infrastructure, and talent—"workforce development," he said. "Our greatest resource is the talented people of our state," he said. "I'm fired up about what we're doing," he said, promising "relentless positive action" to boost prosperity and create a culture of cooperation. "We don't blame anyone for anything. No one ever solved a problem by blaming someone"—or by taking credit for solving problems. "We will be relentless about taking these problems on so we don't leave them for our children."

That will require a change of attitude. "We've spent too much time looking in the rearview mirror," he said. "The key to success is us all coming together with an attitude that's positive, forward-looking and inclusive."

Snyder responded to several questions from the audience. When asked if the unemployment tax could be lessened, he noted that Michigan's unemployment fund has borrowed over $3 billion from the federal government and that his administration was working on a repayment strategy that would minimize the burden on employers.

He acknowledged that his administration had worked to eliminate all of Michigan's income tax credits in favor of a "simpler, fairer system. It had gotten out of control," he said, adding that credits had cost the state $500 million in tax revenue.

Snyder came down firmly on the side of extractive industries. "Let's go mine!" he said. "We've got the best, toughest regulations in the country. This is how we create jobs while remaining sensitive to the environment. Let's show the world we can do this the best."

On the environmental front, he said that green, renewable energy sources were costing utilities less than anticipated, and that energy conservation was also an individual responsibility. "It's about turning off the lights and being energy efficient ourselves," he said.

In closing, he stressed that he was focusing on the job at hand. "I'm not here to make flashes on the national stage," he said. "I've turned down most interview requests from national media." That said, he might be stepping out a bit more. "We're starting to spread the word about the good stuff we are doing in Michigan," he said.

Generations of Discovery Campaign Update

Michigan Tech's Generations of Discovery Campaign seeks to raise $200 million by 2013.

Tech Today tracks the progress of the initiative with monthly announcements of gifts from individuals and from corporations and foundations.

There were 284 individual gifts for the month of July totaling $3,116,640:

• 282 gifts ranged from $1 to $24,999 totaling $116,640.

• A $500,000 planned gift designated for the Department of Materials Science and Engineering.

• A $2.5 million planned gift designated for scholarships.

The campaign total as of July 31 was $150,500,884.

Groundbreaking Set for Portage Health University Center Expansion

Portage Health will break ground at 11 a.m., Thursday, Aug. 25, on its expanded and renovated University Center, 600 MacInnes Drive, on the north side of the SDC.

At the ceremony, President Glenn Mroz and Jim Bogan, CEO and president of Portage Health, will give brief remarks, as will representatives of the Portage Health Board of Directors and the lead contractor for the project.

The construction will more than double the available space at the center. When work is completed, there will be 18 exam rooms and 2 procedure rooms, occupying 14,950 square feet.

Flaspohler Investigates How Native Hawaiian Birds Survive in a Fragmented Forest

by Jennifer Donovan, director of public relations

When humans cohabit with Mother Nature, they tend to leave footprints behind. They fragment the natural forest landscape into patches of trees and other vegetation separated by the diverse products of their labors--agriculture, residential development, industry. Even well-intentioned efforts at forest management can wind up fragmenting otherwise contiguous forests. Because many wildlife species evolved in large blocks of contiguous forest, they can be harmed when human activities break up landscapes into a patchwork of smaller, isolated pieces of habitat.

Sometimes Mother Nature causes fragmentation herself. When volcanoes erupt on forested hillsides, for example, lava flows divide the forest into patches of trees separated by lava rock. On the Big Island of Hawaii, lava flows have created more than 300 isolated forest fragments. Native Hawaiians call these patches of forest kipukas.

Professor David Flaspohler (SFRES) went to Hawaii this year to help find out how the birds that live in the kipukas manage to survive. He is part of a multidisciplinary team of scientists from Stanford University, the University of Maryland, the Carnegie Institution for Science, the US Forest Service Institute for Pacific Islands Forestry, and Michigan Tech. They were funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to study the effects of Hawaii’s kipukas on the creatures that inhabit them. The five-year, $1.2 million study will continue through 2015.

A conservation biologist, Flaspohler's research focuses on how organisms interact with their environment, particularly ecosystems altered by human activity and species that are most sensitive to such changes. The effect of forest fragmentation on the imperiled songbirds that live in the kipukas is one of Flaspohler's particular interests.

For the full story, see Flaspohler.

Huskies Picked Second in GLIAC Football Preseason Poll

by Wes Frahm, director, athletic communications and marketing

The Michigan Tech football team has been picked second in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference North Division in the league's 2011 preseason coaches poll. The Huskies, who finished 8-2 a year ago and in second place in the GLIAC North, trailed only Grand Valley State in the poll.

The No. 2 pick is the school's highest rank in a GLIAC preseason poll, although 2011 is the first year the league has done its preseason poll by division. There are seven teams in each division. The Huskies were selected ninth of 14 teams a year ago and third of 14 teams in the 2009 poll.

Grand Valley State tallied 85 poll points and all but one first place vote in the poll. Tech garnered 67 poll points and the other first-place vote. Saginaw Valley State (44 points) was third in the North, followed by Northern Michigan (43), Northwood (38), Ferris State (37) and Indianapolis (29).

Wayne State, Tech's week three opponent, was picked to win the GLIAC South Division with 80 poll points and 10 of the 14 possible first-place votes. Ashland was a close second with 73 points. Hillsdale (66), Ohio Dominican (38), Findlay (36), Lake Erie (36) and Tiffin (13) rounded out the GLIAC South poll.

The 2011 GLIAC Football Preseason Poll was released on the league's football preview website at gliac.org. Video interviews with each of the league's 14 head coaches, as well as written season previews for each team, are available on the site.

Michigan Tech opens its 2011 campaign with a nonconference game at Winona State on Sept. 3. The Huskies open at home and in GLIAC play on Sept. 10 vs. Lake Erie.

2011 GLIAC Football Preseason Coaches Poll
Rank, team, (first-place votes), points, 2010 record

North Division
1 Grand Valley State (13), 85, 11-2
2 Michigan Tech (1), 67, 8-2
3 Saginaw Valley State (0), 44, 4-7
4 Northern Michigan (0), 43, 5-6
5 Northwood (0), 38, 5-6
6 Ferris State (0), 37, 5-6
7 Indianapolis (0), 29, 6-5

South Division
1 Wayne State (10), 80, 9-2
2 Ashland (4), 73, 8-3
3 Hillsdale (0), 66, 9-3
4 Ohio Dominican (0), 38, 2-8
5 Findlay (0), 36, 1-10
5 Lake Erie (0), 36, 3-8
7 Tiffin (0), 13, 1-10

Hockey Huskies Add Two Defensemen

Head hockey coach Mel Pearson has added two more players to the team's 2011-12 roster. Riley Sweeney (Delta, British Columbia/Surrey (BCHL)) and Nick Cecere (Des Moines, Iowa/Lincoln (USHL)) will attend Tech and play hockey starting this fall.

Sweeney, a 6-1 defenseman, played the last two seasons with the Surrey Eagles of the British Columbia Hockey League. He tallied 10 goals and 28 assists for 38 points in 60 games a year ago, ranking among the top 10 defensemen in the BCHL in scoring. The previous season, he posted 23 total points in 53 games played. Sweeney plans on majoring in business administration.

"Sweeney's a very talented, smooth-skating defenseman," said Pearson. "He's going to add some offensive punch to our blue line. We expect him to have a very successful career at Tech."

Cecere, a 6-0 defenseman, played with the Lincoln Stars of the United States Hockey League in 2010-11. He recorded seven assists in 58 games played. The previous year, he put up two goals and nine assists for 11 total points in 60 games with the Alberni Valley Bulldogs of the BCHL. Cecere also plans on studying business administration.

"Cecere's had a solid career in the USHL," said Pearson. "We expect him to continue that at Michigan Tech and bring some grit to our defense."

The two additions give Michigan Tech 33 players on its hockey roster for the upcoming season, which opens Oct. 1 with an exhibition game vs. Lakehead.

Investment Counselors Set to Visit Campus

Fidelity Investments will visit campus to offer confidential consultations. Here is the schedule:

Tuesday, Oct. 4
9:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Memorial Union 106A

Wednesday, Oct. 5
9:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.
Memorial Union 106A

To schedule an appointment, call 1-800-642-7131, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to midnight, or visit fidelity.

TIAA-CREF will visit campus to offer advice and evaluation. Here is the schedule:

Tuesday, Sept. 13
10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Memorial Union Room 106A

Wednesday, Sept. 14
8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Memorial Union Room 106A

Tuesday, Oct 11
9 a.m. to 4 p.m
Memorial Union 106A

Wednesday, Oct 12
9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Memorial Union 106A

For reservations, contact Jenny Brown at 866-842-2949 Ext. 25-3512, at 734-332-3512, or at JDBrown@tiaa-cref.org .