GVSU testifies before House subcommittee

President Philomena V. Mantella
President Philomena V. Mantella
Image Credit: Amanda Pitts

President Philomena V. Mantella led a Grand Valley leadership team in its virtual appearance at a March 11 legislative panel in Lansing. The testimony took place at a meeting of the higher education appropriations subcommittee of the House of Representatives. Mantella was joined by Trustee Susan Jandernoa, vice chair of the Board of Trustees, and Joel Pagel, vice president of the GVSU Student Senate.

Mantella reminded lawmakers of the university’s efficiency and performance, calling it “a return on the taxpayer’s investment,” while encouraging the subcommittee to focus attention on the education gap in Michigan. 

“Our state needs more citizens with certificates and degrees for the jobs of the future,” Mantella said. In response to questions about the state’s funding policy, she encouraged lawmakers to consider adjusting appropriations for institutional performance and changes in enrollment.

Pagel spoke to the challenge students have in paying for college when state appropriations fail to keep up with rising costs, forcing pressure on tuition. He pointed to the Laker Line, while holding up a model of the new articulated bus, as the kind of success that can occur when federal, state and local governments cooperate with the university. 

Joel Pagel, vice president of the GVSU Student Senate
Joel Pagel, vice president of the GVSU Student Senate
Trustee Susan Jandernoa, vice chair of the Board of Trustees
Trustee Susan Jandernoa, vice chair of the Board of Trustees

Jandernoa, representing the university’s governing board, pointed out that lawmakers and trustees, who are constitutional officers of the state, need to follow the direction of the Constitution, which emphasizes the importance of education and the state’s obligation to fund it.  Jandernoa, who taught elementary school for decades, said when education is a priority, more students will attend college, and an increase in college graduates will improve Michigan’s economy.

 The subcommittee is conducting hearings on the budget recommendation for FY 2022 proposed last month by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer which would, if adopted, increase appropriations to universities by 2% in the coming year but withdraw that increase in the following year. The state’s new budget year begins October 1.