Michigan Tech Accreditation Sustained by Higher Learning Commission

By Marcia Goodrich | Published

The Higher Learning Commission has reaffirmed Michigan Technological University’s accreditation, the Board of Trustees learned Aug. 2.

“It is fair to say that Michigan Tech passed with flying colors,” said Board Member Lenora Ashford.

The Higher Learning Commission’s Reaffirmation Panel stated that the University met all of the criteria for accreditation.

“Michigan Technological University shows clear evidence of its commitment to high performance, AQIP [Academic Quality Improvement Program] and continuous quality improvement,” the panel wrote in its evaluation. “The Reaffirmation Panel acknowledges that Michigan Technological University is a high performing organization . . . .”

The University has been continuously accredited since 1928. In 2005, the University entered into the Higher Learning Commission’s AQIP program. The seven-year project involved intensive self-evaluation of activities throughout Michigan Tech and led to numerous action projects to streamline and improve University processes, from student advising and international education to reducing Michigan Tech’s carbon footprint.

“This process has required a huge effort on the part of many dedicated faculty and staff throughout the University,” said Max Seel, provost and vice president for academic affairs. “In particular, I’d like to thank Associate Provost Christa Walck, who has spent countless hours leading this process to the best possible conclusion.”

CFO Dan Greenlee reported that the University ended the 2011-12 fiscal year with a 1.5 percent deficit. Expenditures in the five funds used in the daily operation of the University, including the general fund, exceeded revenues by $3.7 million.

Expenses were over budget by about three-quarters of a percent, from $250. 5 million to $252.5 million, and revenues were down by the same amount, from $250.6 million to $248.7 million. “We missed the mark by a bit in both directions,” said Greenlee.

Financial aid and health care accounted for most of the variance.  Financial aid in particular was a factor for the 2011-12 budget. Just before students enrolled in fall 2011, the University was notified that their federal financial aid would be cut, leaving the University to address shortfalls in students’ aid packages that had been developed five months earlier. Overall, the University spent $3 million more on financial aid than expected.

Private donors helped address the shortfall. “I’d like to thank everyone who has supported scholarships through the Michigan Tech Fund,” said Michigan Tech President Glenn D. Mroz. “This shows how critical your giving can be, both for the University and for our students.”

In addition, heath-care costs were $1.6 million over projections, and, reimbursement to the state for the MPSERS retirement program was $900,000 higher than expected, Mroz said.

The University managed to minimize the 2011-12 variances through spending reductions and realignments throughout the organization.  The University spends an average of $963,000 per day.

“Even by economizing in hundreds of ways, it was difficult to make up for large variances, but it was important to keep people in school, both for our students’ sake and for the employers who need their skills,” Mroz said.  “Our graduates are in high demand; last year’s placement rate was 94.6 percent.”

The University has adjusted the 2012-13 budget, which began July 1, in response to the 2011-12 year-end figures. “We’ve been working toward budget solutions that have the least negative impact on students, faculty and staff,” Mroz said.

“Last year was a challenging time for us, particularly in view of the 15 percent cut in state appropriations and the tuition cap,” Mroz said. “However, we have been able to focus on our priorities and continue working toward our strategic goals.”

In other business, the Board

• Installed Board Member Steve Hicks to serve a one-year term as its chair. He received the gavel from past chair Marty Richardson.  

• Welcomed the University’s three new deans, Gene Klippel, dean of the School of Business and Economics; Terry Sharik, dean of the School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science; and William Worek, dean of the College of Engineering. “We are looking forward to working with them to achieve our strategic goals,” Hicks said.  

• Passed a resolution of appreciation for two employees who are retiring after many years of service to Michigan Tech. They are Hugh Boyer, assistant professor of social sciences, 42 years; and John Rovano, director of facilities management, 35 years.

• Learned that the ongoing capital campaign reached $178 million. The campaign goal is $200 million.

• Granted professor emeritus status to Sudhakar M. Pandit, Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics.

• Approved an easement for Ontonagon Rural Electrification Association to build, operate and maintain an overhead power line to provide enhanced electrical service to Michigan Tech’s Advanced Powertrain Systems Research Center in the former Blizzard building near the Houghton County Memorial Airport.

• Approved an easement that allows Baraga Telephone Company to extend fiber optic cable to Ripley, which will provide fiber optic service to the University's Mont Ripley Ski Hill.

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.