Address to the Board of Control on December 10, 2010
Chair Richardson and members of the board; distinguished audience
Today I would like to apprise you of the Senate’s accomplishments to date, to present you with some insights into proposals that are under discussion and to briefly comment on tuition revenues.
We have had many presentations to date in the Senate and, as you may be aware, now arrange for addresses by those who won our teaching and research awards. The teaching award winner’s presentations provided insight into aspects of teaching vs research and awareness of the status of lecturers at Tech. Our research award winners dealt with aspects of the origins of the universe; these are as wide a range of topics that one can imagine. We were also visited by members of the executive team, VP of Research Reed, enrollment and benefits representatives and perhaps for the first time an address by leaders of our Graduate Student Government. Our Provost has outlined his vision for the University’s Academic Mission and he is afforded the opportunity to speak at all Senate meetings, if he wishes. We also heard about the initiative promoted by our Assistant Provost Christa Walck regarding the Academic Quality Improvement Program and, I believe, the Senate is fully supportive of this initiative as it pertains to increasing gender diversity of Faculty and Students. I will comment on certain aspects of this later in this presentation.
Regarding proposals, we have addressed issues regarding parking (which I believe is mostly solved) and approved proposal 2-11 pertaining to Academic Renewal which the administration approved with slight editorial comments. At our most recent meeting two days ago, proposals 3-11 and 4-11 were also approved and, one of these proposals, 3-11, will result in a faster rate by which proposals of a certain nature can be addressed and this will eliminate the need for full Senate review of several other pending proposals. Therefore, with this accomplishment, the Senate has achieved the objective of working harder to evaluate proposals which as I mentioned to you in my address on September 30th was an area of concern.
Proposals 5-11 on Redefining Departmental Governance and 6-11 pertaining to establishing University-wide procedures to search for, hire and evaluate the performance of Departmental Chairs or school Deans are of particular note. You may be aware that proposal 16-92 on departmental governance approved by the Board of Control on the 18 March 1994 allowed for the creation of individual charters for all departments and schools. Remember that 16-92 means the 16th proposal discussed during the year 1992 and therefore the length of time for that Board of Control approval should be indicative of the importance ascribed to this proposal. During the intervening years, this proposal 16-92 together with other refinements adopted subsequently, has resulted in unique and slightly different ways of the various departments conducting their affairs. One consequence of this is that departments have invested a tremendous quantity of time into constructing charters which range in length from 2 – 60 pages. This disagrees with the idea that there should be only one Michigan Technological University working in unison guided by the Strategic Plan formulated, embraced and enunciated by President Mroz. Provost Seel has declared that these charters should not contain material which can be universally defined. The Senate has been guided by this statement in our deliberations and we have incorporated all of the changes suggested by Provost Seel in deriving these proposals. We have also included aspects which we believe would lead to more constructive and productive working environments and I would be happy to say more about these if there is interest later.
This next slide depicts several proposals which will benefit from approval of Proposal 3-11 as I mentioned previously. I also believe that Proposal h-11, a proposal to modify and rename the “Senior Rule” policy, which was sent to the Senate for consideration by our Dean of Graduate Studies, Jackie Huntoon, is particularly important since it allows our undergraduates to complete a Master’s program in five years. I have no doubt that members of the Board are aware of the difficulties we have in recruiting students for all of our programs but in particular with the graduate program. I think providing our present undergraduate student body with the opportunity to complete either a Masters or Doctorate degree is an excellent idea.
This next slide depicts our tuition revenues. It is important to understand how these numbers were derived. As you cannot see there are various columns featuring departments, credit hours, students, total credits, tuition, fees and total revenue. The next slide depicts how the Senate office compiled the data by going to Tech’s Schedule of Classes and simply selecting the Fall 2010 semester and then downloading the enrollment data for each department. If one chooses Chemical Engineering, the next slide shows how one can see the numbers of students enrolled in each section. We next had to assume one fee for all the students and thus we chose the value of $372.50 per credit hour which is the fee for resident undergraduates. The total sum of this at $31.4 million is less than the tuition and fees one would project to be obtained in FY2008-09 for that reason and presumably if we had the actual breakdown of the different category of students and if we did this for the fall, spring and summer terms, we would have had a more accurate compilation of the financial data. But achieving accuracy in these scores was not the purpose of this exercise. The next slide shows how this sort of information could be useful since it illustrates the financial contribution of various departments to the university. This also relates directly and accurately to student credit hours for the Fall 2010 semester. The high quantity of revenue that some departments have illustrates the fact that our engineering programs are heavily dependent on subjects such as math, chemistry, physics, business and biology, known as feeder courses. The data also highlights the importance of our general education requirements as indicated by the quantity for University Wide courses. I believe that this kind of information may prove useful as the University tries to examine ways to achieve gender diversity of students since one way to accomplish this is to enhance already large existing programs that these groups may find attractive. Interestingly enough the next slide depicts the revenue earned by the different colleges perhaps showing a transition in the way one could perceive Michigan Tech.
The next series of slides features data obtained from Michigan Tech Annual Financial Reports and was prepared in part by the Senate’s Finance Committee. It contains data that the Board of Control is aware of since I believe you approved all the budgets. From 2005 to 2010 we have an almost doubling in our total tuition and fee revenue from $54.6 to $97.1 million dollars representing a cumulative change of 77.80% as indicated. In order to accomplish this, the University provides Scholarships allowances and those data are also illustrated. This is as a result of increases in the tuition fees charged as shown in the bottom half of the slide.
The data from 2001 to 2010 are illustrated in the next slide. The column titled “Tuition” is obtained by subtracting the second, i.e., the quantity of money provided as a discount, to the stated tuition rate listed in the first column. Actual student financial support decreased and has more recently increased. The cost of Instructions has increased slightly and state appropriations have decreased. An explanation for these changes for 2009 to 2010 was provided in our Financial Report as shown.
This situation as reflected in the breakdown of our student body over the years is shown on this slide where we see steady increases in the in-state resident student population over the years 2006-2010. There is a decrease in the non-resident student numbers from 2007-2010 and this is probably reflective of the increases in the tuition costs over this period coupled with the recession. The next slide depicts the increases in Scholarship Allowances (remember this is the value by which our actual tuition costs are reduced) and the student financial support from 2005 to 2010. The total quantity of this change over this period represents an increase in financial assistance of some 86.81%. However on the last row we see that “Student financial support as a percent of tuition and fee revenue” has increased only slightly. I believe that most of these scholarships extend to non-resident students which makes Tech more competitive compared to institutions in their states. Given the reduction in the numbers of these students recently, the question as to if we are pricing ourselves out of this market has been raised by the Senate Finance Committee, and I have by presenting this information to you, delivered their message. It is worth mentioning that in order to achieve student gender equity, existing perceptions within the state of Michigan Tech might be very difficult to overcome. Perhaps only by thinking of the student body well beyond the borders of the state of Michigan might we be able to accomplish this objective.
Finally, I would like to conclude with a few remarks regarding the impact these tuition rates would have on the people of the state of Michigan. As you are no doubt aware, the charge given by the people of Michigan to this institution in 1885 was to and I quote “provide the inhabitants of this state with the means of acquiring a thorough knowledge of the mineral industry in its various phases, and of the application of science to industry, as exemplified by the various engineering courses offered at technological institutions, and seek to promote the welfare of the industries of the state, insofar as the funds provided shall permit and the board of control shall deem advisable.” I do not think that anyone could argue that Michigan Tech did not deliver adequately and comprehensively on this charge. The question is can Tech continue to provide a mechanism by which the children of the people of this state would have an opportunity to realize their potential and the American dream in the process! We know that tuition costs have increased to compensate for the decrease in state appropriations. However, it is also important to realize what the benefits of a university education are to the people within a state. The people of a state invest in their children by paying taxes so that when these children receive an education and hopefully a good paying job, they contribute to the state’s economy. This vision can only be fully realized if the children who receive an education at Michigan Tech live and work within the state of Michigan. We all know that this is sometimes difficult to achieve and therefore educating people from outside the state who may end up in the state of Michigan might achieve a balance. Therefore the idea that we should only afford an education to the children of the state of Michigan is as relevant today as the idea of the 1885 reference to the “knowledge of the mineral industry in its various phases” is in 2010. To use a word often used by President Mroz, Michigan Tech has “transformed” beyond its original charge.
In conclusion, it is my contention that it is important to recruit more students from outside the state of Michigan in that it will allow us to keep in-state tuition revenues at a level affordable for the people of Michigan. Desirable goals regarding diversity and gender equity may also be achieved.
Thanks for listening.