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De-Corporatizing MSU

Much can and should be said about the important role that Michigan's public universities play in improving the lives of Michiganders, be it through education, research or economic development. As our state's premier land-grant institution, one of our three main research universities, and the only one with ties to Michigan's 3rd largest industry - agriculture - MSU plays a central role in the prosperity of our mitten state.

Given these principles, I find it frustrating that often times the solution to solving financial difficulties on campus is to balance the budget on the backs of students. In reality, this does not have to be default answer.

MSU, like several other public institutions over the past 20+ years, has moved toward a "business unit" model that requires departments to be much more independent with their internal budgeting, rather than the elected Board and administration working with college Deans and department heads to create an overall vision for the university and work together to pay for it.

It is because of this silo'd financial model that the university struggles to pay competitive wages for non-tenured faculty and staff, often-times overworks student teaching assistants, doesn't have an internally-funded solution to pay for the $500M settlement to the survivors of Larry Nassar, and refuses to use athletic profits for anything besides athletics.

There is nothing in law that states that our universities have to balance their books in this manner. In fact, for many decades, Michigan's public colleges didn't. I propose that we move away from this model and guide MSU back to a wholistic vision of education to improve the common good of society, rather than one that requires each department to focus on their bottom line. 

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