Central Michigan University President George E. Ross testified this morning before the Michigan House Appropriations Committee, introducing CMU to its members and answering questions about transfer and first-generation students and performance metrics that help determine funding levels.
"At Central Michigan University, we take seriously our role in contributing to Michigan's remarkable comeback and recognize the obligation we have in serving well the citizens of this great state. It is not by chance that nearly 90 percent of our freshman class members once again are residents from across the state.
"This commitment is why we focus our attention on graduating students with the expertise, as well as the leadership skills and values, that Michigan's communities and businesses need. It is why, as we plan for the future, we focus on degrees that fill vital gaps in our state," Ross said.
Highlights of his testimony, which is posted online, include:
- CMU's evolution over nearly 125 years started in response to the statewide need for teachers who had been taught to teach. Today, CMU prepares to graduate its first physicians, through a College of Medicine similarly created to meet a great need for health care providers in rural and medically underserved communities. Twenty percent of those soon-to-be physicians are first-generation college graduates.
- CMU had 1,400 new transfer students last fall, taking classes on campus, online and at 14 satellite locations across the state. About 500 are taking advantage of the off-campus delivery methods, earning degrees with balancing factors such as jobs and families.
- Transfer student services include frequent advising visits to community colleges and articulation and reverse transfer agreements. The new Chippewa Achieve Program gives students who aren't quite ready for university-level classes the opportunity to attend Mid Michigan Community College for a year while living on CMU's campus and using key CMU resources.
- First-generation students are supported by a range of services, including the nationally renowned Leadership Safari before the first semester. CMU also offers student success and career services advisors, staff and student mentors, and faculty who are widely known for coaching students — sometimes long after graduation.
- Ross endorsed performance metrics that hold all Michigan public universities accountable. He suggested factoring in how many of a university's students are from Michigan, and how many of their alumni stay in the state. He called for appropriations that treat each student equally, as CMU receives $3,900 a year per student, while others receive as much as $8,700.
- The president reminded legislators that CMU has been a leader in protecting students and families from skyrocketing tuition rates, noting that Central has had the lowest cumulative increase over the past seven years.
"Even with our current budget situation, I and the CMU Board of Trustees are unified in continuing to come in below the recommended cap (on tuition increases). We believe that we cannot fix the higher education funding dilemma on the backs of students and their families," Ross said.