U.S. pizza mogul: invest in public HE
Michigan has seen rough times following the financial crisis.
Its largest city and economic backbone is Detroit, a city that
mostly relies on the automobile giants Ford, General Motors and
Chrysler. Data shows that the city's population decreased by over
25% within the last decade. Can investments in higher education
help the state turn around this trend?
Incarceration rates vs. university
Business, government and education stakeholders discussed this at the Business Leaders for
Michigan higher education summit. Particular advocate of greater
state funding for public universities was Patrick Doyle. Doyle is
President and CEO at Domino's Pizza Inc., a multinational worth
over $3,46 billion (€2,7 billion) and with headquarters in Ann
In his speech he argued that "dwindling state funding for
universities could have far-reaching economic impact. Our
universities are critical to helping us fill the jobs need. Every
company wants access to the very best talent, and when those jobs
come, they also create jobs for people without degrees."
He compared Michigan to North Carolina, a state similar with
respect to tax revenues, population, unemployment, university
enrolments and prison population. He pointed out that the state
government there spends $1.3 billion a year on prisons and
allocates $2.5 billion to its 16 public universities. Michigan,
meanwhile budgeted $1.9 billion for prisons and $1 billion for its
15 public universities for 2012.
Presidential elections upcoming November
The overall consensus at the summit was that state funding
needed to be increased urgently. Financial means needed to be
allocated to universities according to performance measures like
research and development expenditures, graduation and retention
This call fits well with Obama's agenda of increasing higher
education funding in the U.S. budget of 2013. Major driver behind this
policy move is the concern that students increasingly pile up
loan debt as state funding decreases and tuition fees rise. Whether
these plans can be turned into reality remains to be seen. In
November, the 2012 presidential elections will take place during
which Barack Obama will face his opponent Mitt Romney who has a different vision on higher education.