In and outs of the political campaigns, focusing on Michigan and Lansing, Tim Skubick will report regularly throughout the primary and then general election campaigns.
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Please, No Controversy
University presidents are an interesting lot. For one thing they abhor controversy which is why when the Big Three showed up at the state capitol this week, they made very little news and were darn happy they didn't. In case you missed it, the University of Michigan, Michigan State University and Wayne State are locked in a little budget battle with a certain governor. She wants them and the other 12 citadels of higher education in the state to freeze tuition increases for next year and if they don't, she'd like to whack them with a three percent cut in state assistance. Suffice it to say Mary Sue Coleman, Lou Anna Simon and the new guy on the block at WSU, Jay Noren, are not happy campers, but you wouldn't know it by their rhetoric. Everything was nicey-nice as they tapped dance around the battle for bucks with Ms. Granholm as reporters tried in vain to get them to say something, anything newsworthy. Coleman finally opined that freezing tuition was like "price controls" and she was not a fan of that. Simon finally conceded that the proposed three percent cut in state aid was really seven or eight percent when you factor in the rate of inflation. Noren, who observed that it "was too early" to comment on anything finally admitted it would be "devastating" if higher ed got cut anymore. Pretty rough stuff, hey? To be fair, there are delicate negotiations going on with her governorship and taking her on i n the media, is probably a bad move, but even so, whatever happened to telling like it is? University presidents have none of that in their collective DNA.