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December 08, 2005 - Image 15

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2005-12-08

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The University - a rare elite, public
university - is in the unique position
of simultaneously setting education-
al trends and providing access to the
And that, no doubt, has helped the
state. But if the University priva-
tized, there is no guarantee that it
would continue training Michigan's
brightest and bestrstudents. There
is no guarantee that it would main-
tain its commitment to accessibility.
There is no guarantee that it would
continue offering tuition breaks to
in-state students as a service to the
Undeniably, private universities
affect their states in profound and
positive ways. But the state-Univer-
sity link is explicit; the University
contributes to the state because it has
structured itself to meet the needs
of Michigan's students, Michigan's
economy and Michigan's future.
Courant and Duderstadt strongly
disagree with the premise of the
Mackinac Center's argument in favor
of privatization, that the $320 mil-
lion allocated to the University can
be used in better ways. Both believe,

in Courant's words, that the Univer-
sity is a "tremendously productive
investment" that helps the state in a
"direct and powerful" way.
The Stanford Research Institute
put numbers on that intuition when it
concluded in 2002 that for the state's
1999 $1.5 billion investment in high-
er education, higher education paid
$39 billion in economic dividends.
Peterson mentioned that, while the
state puts around $315 million into
the University, the University draws
almost a billion dollars in research
funding and private support back
into the state.
Duderstadt emphatically rejected
the Mackinac Center's assertion that
lower taxes could help spur eco-
nomic development. "In this global,
knowledge-driven economy ... what
determines prosperity more than
anything else is the average educa-
tion level of your workforce. And so
if people want to convert Michigan
into Mississippi, then I'd say 'Okay,
don't invest -any money in educa-
tion.' But that's not a state I'd want
to live in."
"There's not a state in the union

that's able to draw in business with
tax policy. I think Bill Gates pointed
that out quite clearly ... when he said
' Look, businesses don't look at what
their taxes are going to be when they
go someplace, they look at what the
talent pool is,' "he continued.
Duderstadt also disagreed with the
Mackinac Center's notion that state
taxpayers don't benefit from sub-
sidizing higher education because
many University undergraduates end
up leaving the state. In fact, Duder-
stadt suggested that while Michigan
students with University degrees
may leave the state, the University
draws many students from other
states that eventually chose to reside
in Michigan.
"I've had a senior vice president
of General Motors tell me that the
state is out to give the University of
Michigan a bounty for every out-of-
state student - every out-of-country
student - that they're able to attract
... because if you attract them to
the University and the state, (Gen-
eral Motors) can hire them from (the
University)." It's shortsighted to cut
funding for the University because
students leave the state, Duderstadt
argues, because the University is the
only institution drawing outsiders to
The basic message, echoed in var-
ious forms by Duderstadt, Courant
and St. John, is that the stateand
University enjoy a symbiotic rela-
tionship that, if severed, would be
detrimental to both. Higher educa-
tion is - and will continue to be - a
worthwhile investment for the state
government, and the University, as
an elite, trend-setting institution,
plays a critical role to that end. As
long as the state has a compelling
interest in encouraging education
and higher learning, it would be
counterproductive to remove it from
the mix.

The University of Michigan was established in 1817, before the state of Michigan

So where does this
leave us?
ven thoughrprivatization
may be the wrong solution
to the state's higher educa-
tion crisis, changes to the
nature of public higher
education are unavoidable.
"Like it or not," Duder-
stadt warns, "... for at least a genera-
tion, there are not going to be sufficient
dollar appropriations from the states to
support high quality public education."

The de facto privatization of higher
education will, for at least the foresee-
able future, be irreversible. Even if the
University doesn't privatize - and it
should not - it must prepare for further
shortfalls in public support if it intends
to remain a top-tier institution.
A key component of de facto priva-
tization will continue to be reliance
on student tuition - and the University
could stand to learn a lesson from a
neighboring institution south of the
state border. Ohio's Miami University,
a publicly supported institution, has
adopted a radical scheme that not only
guarantees a steady stream of revenue,
but also creates political pressure on
state legislators to adequately fund
higher education.
Essentially, the school has abolished
in-state/out-of-state tuition distinction;
all undergraduates are billed the same
$22,500 market price. However, the
university then divides its state appro-
priation between all in-state students
in the form of rebate checks; each
student receives, on average, around
$12,000. But, the size of this check
is entirely dependent on the state's
generosity. If the state appropriation
drops, the university simply expects
its students to pick up the slack. Par-
ents and students are able to quantify
the abstract notion of state support
each semester - and then apply pres-
sure on the state to provide the money
needed to keep tuition low.
This type of creative solution - that
simultaneously generates necessary
revenue and puts pressure on the state
to uphold its end of the public educa-
tion bargain - is worth much more
consideration than privatization. The
response to decreasing state support
shouldn't be complete separation, but a
concerted effort to repair a relationship
that began before the state was even

"No 17-year-old should have to
choose what they're going to be when
they're 17 years old, and a curriculum
like this gives (students) so many new
experiences that ... in the first two years,
it allows their tendencies to ... emerge,"
Schmidt explained.
After their sophomore review, stu-
dents are allowed to choose their own
classes "to create a focus that's not
medium-specific, but that's thematic."
She gave an example of a focus that
could be accommodated with the new
curriculum: art that concerns social
issues. "Where in the old curriculum
would that have fit?"
While Schmidt said that shemand
Rogers that they'd lose some students
as they had at CMU, she acknowledged
that, "There's always fallout (with a cur-
riculum change). It was natural that we
did (lose students)."
Schmidt also understands that many
freshmen in 2002 didn't realize what
they were getting into. "A lot of the stu-
dents who applied for and were admitted
for the class (of 2006) had old informa-
tion at their high schools and from their
friends. They came here feeling like we
had baited and switched, and that was a
legitimate feeling."
However, many students didn't see
such understanding from School of
Art and Design's administration when
the transition was in progress. Student
groups proposed amendments to the
curriculum that didn't fit into the vision
that the administration and faculty had
worked out together. The administration
did make some adjustments - such as
creating half-semester studios that met
twice a week rather than semester-long
studios that meet only once a week
- but some students under both the
new and old curriculum believe that the
administration wasn't concerned with
their problems during the transition.
Still, Schmidt stands behind the new
curriculum, and she believes that the
adjustments the administration did and
didn't make were for the best. "I think
it's human nature," Schmidt said of the
protests that went on after the switch.
"When you have set in motion plans
and you know all the things you want to
do and you can only do one at a time,
you keep adding them in and you keep
moving forward," Schmidt said of the
furor. "You deal with the backlash as it
comes, but you keep moving forward.
You don't ever let negative vibes or
criticism stop you from moving forward
... because you know ... that the things
you're doing are the best for the educa-
tion of the undergraduates."
The administrative run-
But how did the change affect the
students who were in the old curriculum
and lived through the switch?
"I spent two years in the College of
Engineering," said Adamo d'Aristotile,
an Art and Design fifth-year senior. "I
had always had a love for art, but I never
took it as a practical career choice"
D'Aristotile transferred into the school
as a part of the new curriculum, but since
then, he's found it increasingly difficult
to complete his goal of graduating at the
end of the winter 2006 semester.
D'Aristotile began his art classes glad
that he had made the transfer from the
College of Engineering, but now, the
curriculum's flaws have become more
apparent. "The first two years, they

don't prepare you at all for your soph-
omore review ... None of theclasses
really stress a good work ethic; it's all
very lax, it's just very laid-back," he
explained. "Some of the classes, they
have deadlines, but (in) most of the
classes, it's just like, 'Get things done
when you can.'
"For me personally, they could have
made the curriculum more adjustable,
simply because I'm a transfer stu-
dent," he added. Shifts in requirements
throughout the past few years have
made it more difficult for d'Aristotile's
plans to go smoothly.
While d'Aristotile acknowledged
that the variety of media thatstudents
work with in the first two years, as well
as the practical applications of the work
he's been able to do in graphic design
has helped him with his own work, he
still experiences difficulty when dealing
with the administration.
"What's happened is a lot of times
I've kind of gotten the runaround,"
he said. "Every time I've approached
them about something, I'm constantly
going from one person to the next to the
next." =:;< :>:><>x
Amy Wahlfield, an LSA and Art and
Design fifth-year senior who transferred
from the Residential College under the
old curriculum, echoes d'Aristotile's
sentiments about the administration.
"People would try to contact (Dean
Rogers) ... and no one could ever get an
appointment with the dean," she said.
A problem that many old-curricu-
lum students experienced was a lack of
classes that fit the programs they had
been following. When old curriculum
classes were replaced with new classes,
students would often be shut out from
classes they wanted or needed to take.RQ
After bringing a scheduling problem to
the administration, "I walked out and 'o
felt completely tricked," Wahlfield said.
"It really was like they didn't care about
the old curriculum people any more."
While it was sometimes possible for
requirements to be waived under diffi-
cult circumstances, "at the same time,
you didn't learn anything."
Wahlfield feels that students had
more opportunities to learn applicable
skills under the old way. "They're train-
ing people to be starving artists. They're
See ART SCHOOL, page 13B Work, located on State Street, displays many different projects from Art and Desi


www. fa
Th~ Michigan D



12B - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, December 8, 2005

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