GVSU's impact on state merits more funding

By Lanthorn Editorial Board | 11/9/17 1:28am

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The 11th annual Grand Valley State University Accountability Report, which was released Friday, Nov. 3, at the GVSU Board of Trustees meeting in the Kirkhof Center, revealed that GVSU continues to rank well in the areas of graduation rate, retention rate, Pell-eligible students and degrees awarded in critical skills.

For four years in a row, GVSU has enrolled more than 25,000 students, and for the sixth consecutive year, GVSU has witnessed more than 4,000 freshmen join the Laker community. In addition, the freshman-to-sophomore retention rate holds steady at 84 percent. Those are some good numbers.

The Board of Trustees also recently approved some changes and additions to different majors. This includes a doctorate in occupational therapy, a bachelor's degree in information technology and a bachelor's degree in sports management. 

Surely, there must be a correlation between GVSU's student-body numbers and success rates and the university's willingness to update and modify its majors somewhat regularly. GVSU's administration continually assesses and adjusts its curriculum to continue to meet the changing needs of students and the economies and workforces they will be joining after graduation. Subsequently, the university sees success in high retention and enrollment rates.

Despite the strong numbers posted in the Accountability Report, the most jarring figure has to be GVSU's appropriation per student from the state of Michigan. GVSU ranks in the top half of Michigan public institutions in the aforementioned categories yet has received the second lowest amount of state funding. With the high academic performance of GVSU students, the university has a legitimate argument for receiving better funding.  

In addition to being one of the best-performing academic institutions in Michigan, GVSU also has created an economic impact of $816 million in Kent, Ottawa and Muskegon counties.  Nationally and internationally recognized companies such as Herman Miller, Kellogg and General Motors are some of the top employers of GVSU alumni. GVSU also created more than 2,000 construction jobs in the state through its various expansion projects. Shouldn't the university receive more support for its high performance?

A potential increase in funding would benefit students. Despite GVSU having a manageable tuition, increasing the allocated funds per student would result in lower fees and more resources for students. As GVSU is second only to Michigan State University in its number of Michigan-resident students, an increase in state funding seems warranted. 

Other institutions can't hold a candle to GVSU but continue to receive more appropriation per student. For example, Lake Superior State University ranks in the bottom tier of schools in categories such as median composite ACT score and freshman-to-sophomore retention rate, but it still manages to receive more than double the amount of appropriated funds per student.  This is especially concerning as GVSU has an undergraduate population that is more than 10 times larger in size. It's less than fair to see GVSU continue to receive less money than schools that it consistently out-performs.

GVSU's existence continues to be beneficial to the state of Michigan. Despite being a positive influence both economically and academically, the university is comparably underfunded. It is only reasonable that the state does its part in helping GVSU as well.

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