Trump’s budget cuts would ‘dramatically affect’ University of Michigan

DEARBORN, MI – University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel voiced his concerns about proposed federal funding cuts by the administration of President Donald Trump that would impact the university’s ability to conduct research as well as provide for arts and humanities.

According to our media partners at, Schlissel addressed the cuts in his opening remarks of the Thursday, March 16, Board of Regents meeting on the UM Dearborn campus.

According to The Associated Press, Trump unveiled a $1.15 trillion budget on Thursday, a far-reaching overhaul of federal government spending that slashes many domestic programs to finance a significant increase in the military and make a down payment on a U.S.-Mexico border wall.

Trump proposes to eliminate money for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the national endowments for arts and humanities and more than a dozen other independent agencies financed by the government.

“We are deeply concerned about the administration’s proposed broad and destructive cuts to areas that support federally-funded research, the arts and the humanities,” Schlissel said. “The cuts will have severe consequences and dramatically affect our work as a public research university to serve society and our students.”

UM’s total volume of research expenditures for 2016 was its highest ever at $1.39 billion in 2016, the university announced in October. That ranks first among all public universities in the United States, and second overall to only Johns Hopkins, representing a 7.2 percent increase from the previous year.

The total number of research contracts awarded to UM in 2016 rose by 3.6 percent, while the total dollar value of those awards rose by about 14.8 percent, despite the fact that the number of submissions for research proposals decreased by 3.52 percent.

An example of the research that could be impacted by proposed cuts is the Michigan Sea Grant, a cooperative program of UM and Michigan State University. Nationwide, the Sea Grant program was funded at $67.3 million in 2015 and delivered an economic return of $575 million, according to its 2016 report.

That has been achieved through working with coastal communities like St. Ignace, Pentwater, Au Gres, Rogers City, New Baltimore and Ontonagon to provide research and education that addresses local needs, support sustainable use of Great Lakes resources and ensure that they remain engines of economic growth.

According to a 2009 Sea Grant study, approximately $62 billion in wages came from jobs related to the Great Lakes, which produced about 15 percent of all jobs and 23 percent of all payroll in Michigan.

The Michigan Sea Grant is one potential casualty among proposed budget cuts at the National Atmospheric & Oceanic Administration (NOAA) and the U.S. Coast Guard that could have an impact on Great Lakes fishery research, beach and boater safety, environmental protection, algal bloom monitoring, icebreaking, maritime security and rescue capabilities.

The NOAA cuts come on the heels of a proposed 97 percent cut to an Environmental Protection Agency grant program that funds Great Lakes pollution cleanup, invasive species management and watershed projects in eight states.

Schlissel said cuts to research would be detrimental to the university’s mission as a research institution and would have a wide-reaching impact.

“America’s support of research has long made us the envy of the world,” he said. “Furthermore, our national security, global competitiveness and future economic strength all depend on a robust research pipeline that trains future generations of scientists and translates to discoveries, innovation, action and economic growth.

“Such actions include life-saving technologies, like the tracheal stents U-M physicians and engineers created on U-M 3-D printers and implanted in the chests of three infants, saving their lives.”

Schlissel said he plans to work with members of the Michigan congressional delegation to monitor the budget’s progress in the coming months.

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