Lt. Governor's Commission on Higher Education
and Economic Growth
Governor Jennifer M. Granholm created the Lt. Governor's Commission on Higher Education and Economic Growth, chaired by Lt. Governor John D. Cherry Jr., in June 2004. The commission, composed of 40 members including university and college presidents, lawmakers, state department directors, and other individuals representing business, labor, recent college graduates, skilled trades, and K–12 education, was charged with the task of developing a plan to double the number of Michigan residents who obtain college degrees and other valuable credentials.
Governor Granholm created the commission, by executive order with the
purpose of exploring the ways in which Michigan can strengthen its
commitment to education and economic growth. Attention was focused
on how Michigan can double the number of new college graduates within
the state over the next ten years. Members of the commission
also addressed the falloff in terms of students who express an interest
in attending college, but then do not go.
The Commission on Higher Education and Economic Growth
was dedicated to discovering how Michigan can ensure that the state’s
colleges and universities provide Michigan’s residents
with the general and specific skills necessary to embrace the jobs
of the 21st century.
Michigan’s higher education system is the foundation
for the state to build a strong and thriving economy. The commission looked at ways to strengthen the state’s colleges and universities
to ensure that Michigan is able to maximize the ways in which these
valuable assets connect with economic growth.
The jobs of the 21st century demand a postsecondary
education. Michigan must respond to these demands by providing an
educated and trained workforce. Individuals will not only have the
skills and the comprehension necessary to succeed but will be able
to attain economic security in the new knowledge-based and technology-driven
“As I have met with leaders in the higher education
and business fields, I am struck by the deep, strong connection
between an educated and trained workforce and our state’s
ability to retain and attract new jobs,” Cherry said. “Our
advanced manufacturing and new technology-based businesses demand
the talents of an increasingly educated workforce,” he added.
Michigan currently is threatened by a “skills
gap.” Today, fewer than 22 percent of Michigan adults hold
college degrees of any kind. This figure puts Michigan 2 percent
below the national average and 5 to 10 percent below states that
are leading the nation in terms of both education attainment and
economic growth. Only 14 states are below Michigan in this vital
measure. The skills gap for young workers of Michigan is of particular
concern. Only 34 percent of our citizens aged 25–34 have obtained
a college degree.
“The commission will work to find innovative
and concrete solutions to address the skills gap. It is our intention
to provide a solid, long-term vision for our state’s economic
stability. We are committed to fostering an educated, tech-savvy,
and knowledge-ready workforce in Michigan,” Cherry added.
The commission held an organizational
meeting on Wednesday, July 14, 2004, to begin its work. The commission
members then met in smaller work groups over the course of the
summer to divide up issues of importance for further discussion.
In September, the commission met as a whole and hearings to
accept public testimony were held around the state.