Increased Research Means More State Funding for Michigan Tech

By Jennifer Donovan | Published

Research is paying off for Michigan Technological University. In new state higher education funding proposed by Governor Jennifer Granholm, Michigan Tech stands to receive substantially more than the average increase in state appropriations, thanks to increases in federally funded research and a high graduation rate in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

In the Governor’s proposed budget, Michigan Tech would receive 4.4 percent more than it did this fiscal year. The overall average increase proposed for Michigan universities is 3 percent. Under that proposal, Michigan Tech would receive approximately $51.2 million in state funding, compared to $49 million this year.

More than half of the increase proposed for Michigan Tech, or $1.1 million, is directly linked to the University’s research and graduate program.

In a budget released last Thursday, the Governor proposed a three-tier formula for higher education funding, based on the amount of federally funded research and commercialization of research, degrees completed — particularly in STEM fields — and the percentage of low-income students receiving federal Pell grants.

“At Michigan Tech, we have been focusing on increasing the amount of research we do, and this shows that we have been heading in the direction that the state is rewarding,” said President Glenn D. Mroz. “The University has always focused on graduating high numbers of well-educated students in science, technology, engineering and math, and we continue to do so. The Governor’s proposed budget recognizes the importance of our strengths.”

Michigan Tech’s federally funded research totaled nearly $18.8 million in Fiscal Year 2006, the last year for which the National Science Foundation (NSF) has compiled statistics. According to NSF figures recently released, research at Michigan Tech grew 7.2 percent from FY 2005 to FY 2006. Among institutions without a medical school, Michigan Tech ranked 75th in the nation and the highest in the state.

And the University’s research is continuing to grow, with total research expenditures increasing from $43.1 million to $56.6 million in FY 2007, said David D. Reed, vice president for research.

Of 15 state universities in Michigan, only Lake Superior State, the University of Michigan-Dearborn and the University of Michigan-Flint are slated for higher percentage increases than Michigan Tech in the budget proposal. Lake Superior State would receive a 6.2 percent increase; UM-D, a 5.8 percent increase, and UM-F, a 5.6 percent increase, mainly because all three campuses have a high percentage of low-income students receiving Pell grants.

In the Governor’s proposal, the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Michigan State University and Wayne State University would be funded according to a different formula, weighing commercialization of research as well as research funding. Granholm’s proposed budget would give Michigan State a 2.71 percent increase; UM-AA, 3.15 percent; and Wayne State, 3.17 percent.

State Representative Michael Lahti called the Governor’s proposal “a favorable formula. It rewards research and high graduation rates in the fields that are so important for the revitalization of Michigan’s economy,” he said.

State Senator Michael Prusi agreed. “I am glad to see Michigan Tech recognized as a leader in research and education,” he said. “What we need most in Michigan is jobs, and graduates of Michigan Tech are being prepared not only to do, but to create those jobs.”

Sen. Prusi and Rep. Lahti, in Houghton to attend Winter Carnival events, both said they think that the Governor’s proposal stands a good chance of success in the Legislature. “It’s a practical, no-nonsense budget that was well-received, even by Republicans,” Lahti said.

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.