HOUGHTON - In addition to revealing the results of its tobacco-free referendum (see related article at left), Michigan Technological University's Senate heard a detailed financial presentation at its regular Wednesday meeting.
Tech President Glenn Mroz and Vice President for Research Dave Reed presented similar data to Tuesday's campus forum (see article in Wednesday's Daily Mining Gazette), while fielding an array of questions from Senators.
Mroz started by providing some historical perspective on how Michigan Tech is positioned in the Midwest - from six other accredited engineering programs in 1936 to 29 others today, and how that has framed the university's approach.
Stephen Anderson/Daily Mining Gazette
Michigan Technological University Vice President for Research Dave Reed gives a financial presentation at Wednesday’s regular University Senate meeting.
"There are a whole bunch of engineering programs in our neighborhood, the place where we draw most of our students," he said. "Why would anybody want to go here when they can go to any of these other more convenient places? ... The very basic thing that has to be there is you have to have great quality programs, and to have great programs, you have to have faculty who have a great reputation."
Through its Strategic Faculty Hiring Initiative, Tech has "frontloaded the pipeline with a lot of talented people," according to Mroz, and now it's time to start implementing other tangible steps toward becoming a research university of international stature.
He described the need for more graduate students, to match the American Society for Engineering Education's data, which shows that 40 percent of U.S. engineering degrees are at the master's and Ph.D. level.
Financially, Tech is trying to progress while facing the "critical balancing act" of decreasing state appropriations and increasing tuition and fees.
"We're reacting to what state appropriations are, and don't ever let anyone tell you anything different. That's just a fact," Mroz said.
He explained that a Tech education is worth it before turning the presentation over to Reed to delve into financial details. The full presentation can be found on the Senate's website, www.admin.mtu.edu/usenate.
Throughout the presentation, Reed noted the importance of defining terms, after a question he had previously received.
"One of the questions is 'Why did we have an $11 million deficit?' We didn't. We have an $11 million cumulative negative fund balance," Reed said.
Senator Madhukar Vable noted the university is still running deficits since the fund balance continues to decrease.
Reed explained the differences between several funds and pointed out the total current fund provides the most accurate overall picture. The general fund accounts for about 60 percent of the university's bottom line. The total current fund number dropped from $16,079,338 to $12,487,739, a drop Reed attributed to a number of factors, including rising health care costs and a large increase in student financial aid ($16.1 million in 2007-08 to $27.1 in 2011-12).
"This is not where we wanted to end up ... but we took actions such as we did with a change in vendor in health care to address these issues," Reed said.
He also explained the perceived drop in research funding as coming largely from $16.1 million in unobligated awards, meaning awards in which only a portion of funding has been processed, though more will come later.
He pointed to a $5 million National Science Foundation grant in which only $900,000 has been awarded so far, and the $900,000 is what is currently counted on the budget.
Reed also added that Tech is looking into a plateau tuition rate, meaning a flat rate per semester for full-time students, instead of charging by the number of credit hours.
Mroz added a final point about the capital campaign, which has almost reached $190 million of its $200 million goal, with an emphasis being placed on people.
"Our consultants early on said 'You guys are crazy. All anybody has ever given you money for is buildings.' We said, 'We've got enough buildings. We'd like to put this in people.' ... Frankly we found some early adopters that really said, 'Yeah, it is about the people.'"
In other business, the Senate:
heard two new members had been elected to the committee on academic tenure, promotion and reappointment, with 181 of 365 voters responding: James Woods (93 votes) and Haiying Liu (56).
heard from Senate President William Bulleit that all faculty and staff with an instructional component will have to sign an employee code, if they have not already done so.
approved a proposal for a spin-off from "B.S. in Management" to a "B.S. in Management with a Concentration in Supply Chain and Operations Management" that will go to the Board of Control at Friday's quarterly meeting.