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UM president weighs in on access, funding, and future of public higher education

University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel at podium
Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio
University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel says UM has to do more to tell prospective students who are worried about the price of college that an education can still be attainable.


One of the big topics during this week's Mackinac Policy Conference is higher education: how to help schools turn out the workforce that Michigan's businesses need, while also tackling funding challenges.

University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel is attending the Mackinac Policy Conference. The University Research Corridor  – consisting of Michigan, Michigan State and Wayne State – recently released its latest report on contributions those schools make to Michigan in the areas of life, medical and health sciences.

One of every eight Michigan jobs is related to those fields, and Schlissel says it's one of the few sectors of Michigan’s economy that gained jobs during the economic recession. The University of Michigan is also an enormous provider of healthcare in Michigan, with clinics and hospitals in Ann Arbor and other areas of the state.

However, President Trump’s proposed federal budget slashes funding to the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation. Sclissel says investments in research by those and other government agencies is what has made the United States a leader in research, particularly in biomedical research.

“Investment in research, especially biomedical research, is amongst the best investments we can possibly make,” Schlissel said. “I’m puzzled how an administration that wants to grow American strength is thinking about underinvesting in an area where it is a global leader.”

Schlissel says in talking with Michigan’s political leaders, Schlissel believes there is broad support and belief in the value of higher education and research universities. Yet he says the state has not made “adequate” long-term investments in those areas. Schlissel says U of M receives the same amount of funding from the state of Michigan it received in 1997.

Listen to the entire conversation with University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel above.

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