BLM: Michigan’s public universities outperform their peers


The new medical school at Central Michigan University is contributing to the state's push toward knowledge-based workers. Courtesy CMU

Business Leaders for Michigan, organized a few years ago to push for a turnaround in the state’s economy and business climate, has released its updated Performance Tracker for Michigan public universities, which indicates they outperform their peers in other states in producing graduates with the critical skills employers need.

The Detroit-based organization of CEOs across Michigan has compared the performance of Michigan’s 15 public universities compared to those in other states. The update ranks each school on more than 30 data points, and the results are on the BLM website at

“Michigan’s Performance Tracker for Public Universities makes the state a national leader in providing students, parents and policy makers an easy way to compare the performance of Michigan’s public universities,” said Doug Rothwell, BLM President and CEO. “The data shows that Michigan’s public universities outperform their peers in producing more graduates with the critical skills employers need.”

“Yet while our universities are doing a better job of producing skilled graduates and controlling costs, 13 of Michigan’s 15 public universities are receiving less state support than their peers,” Rothwell said. “At a time when Michigan needs more workers with an education beyond high school, we have to step up state support for our universities and colleges to make higher education more affordable.”

The BLM said its key findings include:

Michigan’s public universities continue to outperform peers in producing graduates with critical skills employers need:

  • In 2011, 12 of 15 public universities were above average in producing critical skills degrees and certificates, and seven of 15 were among the top 20 percent.
  • Thirteen of 15 public universities increased the number of critical skills degrees and certificates they awarded (2008-2011).

Michigan’s public universities are working to control costs:

  • In 2011, seven of 15 universities had administrative costs (as a percent of core expenditures) that were lower than their peer average.
  • Six of 15 saw a drop in these figures, while the rest held administrative cost increases below inflatio

Michigan’s universities are doing more to make a college degree accessible:

  • Eleven of 15 universities have more Pell students than their peer average and six of 15 are in the top 20 percent.
  • All universities increased the number of Pell students they serve (2008-2011).

Matt McLogan, acting as spokesperson for Grand Valley State University President Thomas Haas, said he agrees with the BLM “about the importance of higher education to Michigan’s economic future and fully supports BLM’s call for public reinvestment in our state’s universities.”

McLogan, who is GVSU’s vice president for university relations, said “the BLM Performance Tracker allows taxpayers, students and their families to see how Grand Valley stacks up against our national peers and, as you can see, Grand Valley’s outcomes are excellent.”

The BLM’s GVSU Scorecard shows that in 2011, it received state appropriations equivalent to $3,086 per full-time student. The average or median among state universities nationwide was $5,890.

The state appropriation scores for the University of Michigan were $8,350, and for Michigan State, $6,974. Among their peers nationally, the average state appropriation was $9,772, and among the top 20 percent of those peers nationally, it was $12,626.

The score for Critical Skills Degrees and Certificates Awarded in 2011 at U-M was 5,457; at MSU, it was 4,063. Their peers nationally awarded an average of 2,297. The top 20 percent of their peers awarded an average of 4,084.

GVSU awarded 1,303 Critical Skills Degrees/Certificates in 2011, while its peers nationally awarded 442.

McLogan noted that more detail on GVSU's performance can be found in the university's Accountability Report, issued annually. It can be found online at

The BLM Performance Tracker for Public Universities was created over the course of a year in collaboration with the Anderson Economic Group and the Presidents Council, State Universities of Michigan. It was first released in February 2013.

Business Leaders for Michigan is dedicated to making Michigan a “Top Ten” state for job, economic and personal income growth. The organization is composed exclusively of the chairpersons, CEOs or top executives of Michigan’s largest companies and universities, and its members are said to drive more than 25 percent of the state’s economy and generate more than $1 trillion in annual revenue.

In West Michigan, members of BLM’s executive committee include representatives of Meijer, Wolverine World Wide, Perrigo, Steelcase, Amway and Whirlpool.

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