For the eighth year in the row, the University of Michigan leads the nation in research volume among all public universities, and we are particularly proud how much our success makes a positive impact right here in our home state.
Our $1.55 billion in research expenditures during the most recent fiscal year is a U-M record – and you can see the benefits of our work no matter where you live in Michigan.
For instance, our engineers are using windshield wipers to help collect rainfall data in real time, which could be used to predict flooding or sewage overflows. Branko Kerkez, an assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, says wiper activity and video from vehicle cameras provide information that is “more precise than radar, and allows us to fill gaps left by existing rain gauge networks.”
U-M researchers led by Daniel Whitney have also found that more than 40,000 Michigan children are not getting needed treatment for mental health disorders. As reported on Michigan Radio, that’s about 40 percent of children who need help with disorders such as depression, anxiety and ADHD. When people are left untreated, Whitney says, their conditions worsen, and they may experience additional problems with their health.
Both of these examples are among thousands of projects supported by government, industry and U-M’s own investments in research. They help the people we serve address challenges and live better lives.
U-M’s value to our state and its economy is further amplified by the students we educate for a changing workforce. Compelling data show that higher education and prosperity go hand-in-hand.
But our state currently ranks 30th in the nation in per-capita income and 35th in college attainment. Michigan has fallen behind, and if current trends continue, our economic competitiveness — our ability to attract and retain growing businesses — will be limited. I hope we can change that and move into the Top 10.
Greater state investment in direct-to-student need-based financial aid would increase degree attainment, grow our economy and raise per-capita income. It
would also allow students to decide where they wish to study in Michigan, worrying less about expense, and encourage schools to compete for the best students, regardless of their family income.
This type of aid would help to address concerns about college affordability that I frequently hear when I travel to communities in our state – while also aligning with Governor Whitmer’s pledge to increase post-secondary attainment in Michigan.
The governor’s state budget proposal of a 3 percent across-the-board funding increase for all Michigan public universities is encouraging. I agree that a meaningful investment in public higher education is vital to our state’s long-term success.
If we want our state to be among the most prosperous in the nation, we have to make the investments necessary to be among the most educated. Our students, businesses and residents deserve this opportunity to succeed.
I appreciate our state’s elected leaders, businesses, and the many Michiganders across the state who support our students and researchers as they continue to deliver value to our communities.
Mark S. Schlissel