Leaders from Indiana’s public universities made their biennial trip to the State Budget Committee on Wednesday in advance of a new state budget that legislators will debate early next year.
A big part of the universities’ presentations is proving to the committee how much work they’ve put into improving their institutions.
Graduating students on time is a major focus of the legislature, so one of Purdue president and former governor Mitch Daniels’ budget requests is more money to help increase the number of students taking summer classes.
“If we can get some momentum and get this to be more of an expected part of the Purdue culture, we hope even to move further and, I don’t know, one day perhaps to really qualify as a year-round university,” Daniels says.
Some university presidents weren’t shy about voicing their concerns.
One focus was the performance funding formula that helps determine how state dollars are doled out. The formula includes measures such as number of degrees and on-time completion rate.
Indiana State University President Daniel Bradley says the formula can be problematic.
“We’ve got a dog-eat-dog effort to get appropriation. So we have Indiana State in a fight with Ivy Tech, IU and others to get dollars, as opposed to working together for the benefit of the state,” Bradley says.
The performance formula is set to have a greater impact than previous years on how much state funding universities will receive in the next budget.
Indiana University President Michael McRobbie says his system’s flagship campus in Bloomington has made great strides in student engagement.
That includes counselors meeting with students to create degree maps, helping ensure they’re taking the right classes at the right time to graduate in four years.
McRobbie says he wants money from the state to spread that effort to regional campuses, which have a more diverse student population.
“We’ve got people who are coming part time because they’ve got a family business and they just can’t afford any longer to be at university, we’ve got a lot of vets on our regional campuses,” McRobbie says. “And they need a level of support and advice that we’ve just simply been unable to provide on those campuses.”
Ball State University President Paul Ferguson says his school wants to engage in similar efforts.
The legislature will begin meeting in January to write a new state budget.