Regarding state funding for higher education 2-16-2016

 
From the desk of Jim Ramsey
 
February 16, 2016

Dear UofL supporter,

Our mission at the University of Louisville is to be a premier nationally recognized metropolitan research university. This is a mission to which we are fully committed and it is what drives us each and every day.

In order to accomplish this mission, I am asking for your help regarding state funding for higher education.

Governor Matt Bevin has proposed a budget that would make significant cuts to the University of Louisville (and all of Kentucky’s colleges and universities). As a former state budget director, I am sympathetic to what Governor Bevin is facing, as he was left with a large shortfall, serious unfunded pension liabilities and the rapidly increasing cost of Medicaid.

But as President of the University of Louisville, and as a strong believer that our university must provide access to higher education for our entire community—not just the wealthiest zip codes—I am urging the governor and legislative leaders to soften the blow to UofL and all of higher education when the final budget is written.

That’s why I need your help. If you are receiving this message, it is because you are part of the family that makes UofL the premier public higher education venue in this state. I need you to do two things to help the university today:

1) If you are in Kentucky, please call your state legislator at 502-564-8100 and ask them to soften the blow to UofL and higher education. Just ask the operator to connect you with the office of your Representative and Senator and leave a message.

2) After you make the call, please e-mail your legislator to follow up. Just go to this page (http://www.lrc.ky.gov/whoswho/email.htm) and send a quick note to reiterate that UofL is a good return on investment for the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

UofL is a tremendous place to invest Kentucky taxpayer dollars. But the level of funding we have received has steadily declined. When I became president in 2002, UofL received $172.3 million from the state. In 2016, that number is $134.2 million and is projected to drop to $84.4 million by 2018. This is a reflection of the budget challenges faced by our state.

Despite the numerous budget cuts we’ve had during that time, and because of hard work and creativity from our team, our academic progress has steadily grown:

  • Freshman ACT scores were 23.2 in 2002; today they are 25.5.
  • Our six-year graduation rate was 33 percent in 2002; today it is 52.9 percent.
  • We awarded 1,849 bachelor’s degrees in 2002; in 2015, we awarded 2,832.
  • We awarded 172 PhD’s in 2015, up from just 90 in 2002.
  • UofL far exceeds the state average when it comes to Kentucky students in the student body.
  • Average student debt upon graduation is $23,375, less than the state average.
  • 43 percent of University of Louisville students graduate without any debt.
  • 86 percent of the University of Louisville bachelor’s degree earners are from Kentucky, which is above the average of like institutions.

Our student body is smarter and more capable than ever, and there is growing evidence that our graduates, more so than those from many other schools, are actually staying in Kentucky to make their living and raise their families.

We have made significant progress in reversing the “brain drain.” A 2014 study found that
83 percent of our graduates are choosing to live and work (five years out of graduation) in Kentucky, up from 62 percent in 2002. That is serious progress on an age old problem and shows that money invested in UofL is producing a tremendous return.

As you can see, we are graduating the best and brightest our state has to offer and they are becoming an important part of Kentucky’s future. That’s why investing tax dollars in the University of Louisville makes sense, and why we need you, our best messengers and champions, to advocate for us.

I can’t say enough how sympathetic I am to what Governor Bevin and the legislature is facing in terms of our state’s fiscal crisis. They must solve problems that have grown so large that they now threaten things we value, like higher education.

But I strongly believe that we can solve these problems without such deep cuts to higher education, and my hope is your engaging on UofL’s behalf with Frankfort’s leaders will convince them of that, too. Thank you for your attention to this request. Time is of the essence. Make your call and send your e-mail today!

Sincerely,

President James Ramsey

 

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