President Testifies Before Senate Subcommittee

By Jennifer Donovan | Published

At a hearing at the Advanced Technology Development Complex on campus last Friday, Michigan Tech President Glenn Mroz, told the Higher Education Subcommittee of the Michigan Senate Appropriations Committee that “economic development is what has to happen in Michigan, and higher education is the essential ingredient.”

Michigan Tech is in an ideal position to provide the agile and educated workforce that will fuel economic development, he went on to say. “We are not the largest, and we are not the smallest, but we are the most focused,” Mroz observed.

He told the subcommittee that the job placement rate for Michigan Tech graduates is 97 percent. Mroz attributed the high employment rate to the fact that 83 percent of Tech students graduate in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), fields that are critical to economic progress in the 21st century. Michigan Tech produces a higher percentage of STEM graduates than any other university in the state, Mroz pointed out.

He detailed Michigan Tech’s unique contributions to the economic development of the region and the state, noting, for example, that 13 percent of the university’s research is funded by industrial partners. That places Michigan Tech in the top 20 universities nationwide for the proportion of research supported by industry.

Mroz described Tech’s Enterprise programs, which emphasize hands-on learning by organizing undergraduates into teams that are similar to small businesses. These teams are most often funded by industries such as General Motors, Ford Motor Company, Daimler Chrysler, Caterpillar and American Electric Power to solve a particular design problem.

He talked about Michigan Tech’s role as an active partner in the Michigan Tech Enterprise Corporation (MTEC SmartZone), one of 12 SmartZones throughout the state created by the Legislature to facilitate development of high-tech jobs. The MTEC SmartZone already has established three high-tech business incubators housing 13 companies that employ more than 125 people in technology-based aerospace, homeland security, advanced manufacturing, automotive and defense work.

“Involvement with industry keeps Michigan Tech in touch with what is going on in the real world of research and development,” Mroz explained. “We take our mission of preparing our students to create the future very seriously.”

The hearing, chaired by Senator Tony Stamas (R-Midland), was the last of four held around the state. Senators Michelle McManus (R-Lake Leelenau) and Bill Hardiman (R-Kentwood) also attended the hearing, as did Senator Michael Prusi (D-Ishpeming), who is not a subcommittee member but represents the 38th district, including Michigan Tech. In addition to Mroz’s testimony, they heard from Diether Haenicke, president of Western Michigan University; Michael Boulus, executive director of the Presidents Council of the State Universities of Michigan; and Steve Pueppke, director of the Agricultural Experiment Station, and Tom Coon, director of the Cooperative Extenstion Service, both affiliated with Michigan State University.

The subcommittee will make its budget decisions this week and send them to the Appropriations Committee for consideration the week of May 21. Senate action is expected the week of May 29.S

Michigan Technological University is a public research university, home to more than 7,000 students from 60 countries. Founded in 1885, the University offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, and social sciences. Our campus in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula overlooks the Keweenaw Waterway and is just a few miles from Lake Superior.