As Central Michigan University faces enrollment turbulence, budget cuts are an inevitability with such a large reliance on tuition dollars.
But not at the College of Medicine.
In 2008, during former President Michael Rau’s tenure, the university announced it would have to shell out a one-time investment to help fund the College of Medicine.
Rau even specifically said that CMED would not cut into the operating budget, instead pulling funds from reserve funds. In 2011, then-Provost Gary Shapiro announced increased costs that are “likely to exceed $30 million,” with an additional $3 million in annual support.
Originally setting aside $25 million, the university has since increased this total to more than $30 million – promising CMED at least $6 million over the next five years.
Was Rau accurate in saying that will not cut into the operating budget?
While university support represents just one of six revenue streams that will fund the college, CMED’s current revenue totals $3.6 million – a concerning number for a college demanding $18.3 million in expenses this year alone.
Although university officials consistently say the College of Medicine will not draw from tuition dollars, tuition costs have increased while some core departments face increasing funding cuts and the inability to afford some of the more basic office supplies.
Once it has four full classes, CMED will be comprised of just 400 students on campus, only a small fraction of an ever-decreasing student body – which begs the question: Do our priorities have the students in mind?
The college has earned its place as the crown jewel of the university, seemingly immune to the penny pinching and budget slashing seen just about everywhere else on campus, aside from athletics.
There is an undeniable shortage of physicians in some areas of the state, and CMED seems to be in place to address that need. But perhaps it wasn’t the right time to address those concerns when campus is in the midst of handling its own series of shortages.
University President George Ross has consistently emphasized the importance of building the “CMU brand” in order to become a “first-choice university.”
But CMED is a self-serving entity. It’s difficult to see how growing CMED will extend any benefits to other areas of campus. By neglecting the academic core and focusing so much of its attention on such a talented but incredibly small group of students, CMU won’t have a brand to build.