Update on Michigan's Budget Crisis and Its Implications for Tech

Editor's Note: The following message from President Glenn Mroz is being distributed to Michigan Tech alumni and friends.

Michigan's legislature and Governor Jennifer Granholm remain deadlocked over how to eliminate the state's budget deficit of about $1 billion. By law, the Michigan budget must be balanced. The Governor's original plan to increase revenues and cut spending, which Tech has supported, has met opposition in the House and Senate. Last week, the Michigan House offered a bill that would reduce higher education funding by $43.2 million. For Michigan Tech, this means a $1.2-million budget reduction.

The House and Senate legislation is at odds with Governor Granholm's position that the number of college graduates in Michigan must double for the state to effectively compete in a global economy. The most prosperous states are those with the greatest number of college graduates. In the future, our children's success will be ever more dependent upon higher education. Reducing state support places an increased burden on college students and families, as universities will be forced to increase tuition and fees well above the rate of inflation. Sadly, this will limit access to a college education for many and will reduce the number of college graduates in Michigan.

Here at Tech, we are working now to minimize the effects of these proposed cuts. By pursuing growth in research programs, increasing our fundraising efforts and reducing costs, we have laid the groundwork for a more robust financial position. Nonetheless, the greatest opportunity to meet our budget needs in the immediate future is from the State of Michigan, which accounts for approximately 40 percent of Michigan Tech’s general fund.

This is truly a turning point--our elected representatives are struggling to set the priorities, your priorities, for funding higher education. I encourage you to reflect on what Michigan Tech has meant in your life, and to let the Governor and your legislators know the critical role of higher education for the State of Michigan.

Glenn D. Mroz

Peace Corps Deputy Director to Speak at Spring Commencement

Michigan Tech will honor the achievements of more than 800 degree candidates during Spring Commencement ceremonies Saturday, May 5.

A total of 674 bachelor’s degrees will be awarded, along with 14 associate degrees, 42 doctorates and 94 master of science degrees. In addition, nine Master of Business Administration and two Master of Engineering degrees will be presented.

Josephine “Jody” Olsen, deputy director of the Peace Corps, will give the commencement address and receive an Honorary Doctorate in Sustainable International Development.

Amy Trahey, owner of Great Lakes Engineering Group, in Lansing, and a 1994 graduate of Michigan Tech, will receive the Outstanding Young Alumni Award. Other honorees include Harvard biomedical engineering professor David Edwards, who graduated from Michigan Tech in 1983 and will receive the Melvin Calvin Medal of Distinction; and Pedro Ortega Romero, president of the University of Sonora, in Mexico, who will receive an Honorary Doctorate in Engineering.

As the deputy director of the Peace Corps, Olsen supports several initiatives, including strengthening the recruitment of older volunteers, measuring the impact of the Peace Corps and helping other countries promote volunteerism among their own people.

Olsen started her career with the Peace Corps as a volunteer from 1966 to 1968 in Tunisia, teaching English and developing community health programs. In 1979, she was named the country director for Togo, where she managed programs focused on education, health and agriculture in the West African nation. From 1981 to 1984, she served as regional director in North Africa, the Near East, Asia and the Pacific. As chief of staff from 1989 to 1992, she helped to expand the agency’s work to 25 new countries after the fall of the Soviet Union.

Olsen then served as senior vice president of the Academy for Educational Development, a large international organization, and served as the executive director for the Council for International Exchange of Scholars, the agency responsible for managing the Fulbright Senior Scholar Program. President George W. Bush appointed Olsen deputy director of the Peace Corps in 2002.

Olsen earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Utah and a master's degree in social work and a doctoral degree in education from the University of Maryland, where she founded and directed the Center on Aging.

Michigan Tech professor Blair Orr, coordinator for the university’s Loret Miller Ruppe Master’s International Program in Forestry, first recommended Olsen as commencement speaker.

Michigan Tech is home to the largest Master’s International Peace Corps programs in the country. In addition to the forestry program, the university has three unique master’s international programs, in science education, disaster mitigation and civil and environmental engineering.

The university provides the Peace Corps with a particularly valuable stream of volunteers. “Michigan Tech educates people in what the Peace Corps calls ‘scarce skills’,” Orr said. Volunteers with training in fields such as forestry and engineering are in short supply. “The Peace Corps has said if they could get twice as many foresters to apply, they would take them,” he said.

Amy (Grisdale) Trahey joined the Michigan Department of Transportation after graduating from Michigan Tech with a BS in Civil Engineering and a love of bridges. In 2000, she founded Great Lakes Engineering Group, one of only three engineering firms in the state owned by a woman. The firm specializes in the inspection, design and construction oversight of bridges. In awe of bridges since her youth, Trahey is dedicated to their rehabilitation, preservation and safety.

Retirement Party for Valerie Pegg April 30

Everyone is invited to attend a retirement open house for Valerie Pegg, director of the Rozsa, on Monday, April 30, from 2 to 4 p.m. in the Rozsa Lobby. Pegg is retiring after nearly 30 years of dedicated service.

Student Evaluations Due May 1

The Student Rating of Instruction Instruments are due in the Center for Teaching, Learning and Faculty Development, G01 Harold Meese Center, by 5 p.m. on Tuesday, May 1.

TiViTz Tournament May 3

Fourth- through eighth-grade students from across the U.P. will be at Michigan Tech Thursday, May 3, to compete in a TiViTz Tournament.

The tournament uses the board game Space TiViTz, which calls on players to exercise their math and critical-thinking skills while having a blast.

It will be held at the Student Development Complex Wood Gym from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Dr. Kathryn Clark, former chief scientist of human space flight for NASA and co-inventer of TiViTz, will give opening remarks and present prizes. Clark is also chair of the Board of Control.

GMES Seminars April 23 and 24

Megan Elwood Madden, from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, will give a seminar, "Aqueous Planetary Geochemistry: Exploring the Effects of Time, Temperature, Pressure and Composition on Planetary Fluids," on Monday, April 23, at 4 p.m. in Dow 642.

Andrew Madden, from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, will give a seminar, "Nanoscience, Bioremediation and Metals in the Environment," on Tuesday, April 24, at 1 p.m. in Dow 642.

CEE Graduate Seminar Thursday

Peter Larsen, administrator of research enhancement, and Lynn Artman, administrator of foundation relations, both from Michigan Tech, will give a talk, "Finding Funding for Your Research," on Thursday, April 26, from 11 a.m. to noon in Dillman 204.

For more information or an abstract, email Beth Hoy, elizabeth@mtu.edu .

MTU Notables

A paper published by Associate Professor Yoke Khin Yap (Physics) was the most downloaded article in Applied Physics Letters (APL) during March 2007. Each month the "Top 20 Most Downloaded Articles" are chosen from more than 450 articles published by APL. The paper published by Yap, "Formation of Single Crystalline ZnO Nanotubes without Catalysts and Templates," ranked at the top in the list ( http://apl.aip.org/dbt/most_downloaded.jsp?KEY=APPLAB&agg=md ). Images of these ZnO nanotubes were selected as the cover of the March 12 issue of APL.