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Published: Saturday, 2/4/2006

Ribeau laments drop in higher-ed funding

Sidney Ribeau, the president of Bowling Green State University, expresses concern about declining state support for higher education in his State of the University address. He noted that BGSU is on solid footing, with 11,000 applications for 3,600 fall spots. Sidney Ribeau, the president of Bowling Green State University, expresses concern about declining state support for higher education in his State of the University address. He noted that BGSU is on solid footing, with 11,000 applications for 3,600 fall spots.
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BOWLING GREEN - Bowling Green State University President Sidney Ribeau yesterday warned that continuation of a decade-long trend of diminishing funding for higher education from the state would increasingly hinder all colleges and universities in Ohio.

Despite the reductions - and his prediction the trend would continue - Mr. Ribeau delivered an upbeat State of the University address - heralding the school's enrollment growth, highlighting some of its most successful initiatives, and promoting its graduate programs. The school has received 11,000 applications for 3,600 available spots in the fall, he said.

"The news I have today is good news about the state of Bowling Green State University and what we're doing with the resources we have," he said. "But with just a little bit of funding for higher education, I think we'd get a great return on quality of life for citizens, on the awareness of nations and cultures."

The president began his speech before 500 people assembled in the student union by comparing the amount of public money spent on the military versus the money allocated for higher education in Ohio.

"The defense department maintains it is spending at $4.5 billion a month on the conflict in Iraq, or $100,000 a minute," the president read from an article in The Blade.

"One of the things we are fighting for desperately in higher education - in the second year of the biennium budget - is $30 million in additional state share of instruction for 25 community colleges and 15 state institutions It comes to less than $1 million per institution."

Because of that challenge, he urged all members of the university community to promote what he called the higher education agenda and a greater investment in the area.

"We are trying to scrape and fight and prove and justify our existence for a million dollars, and we are trying to educate and create knowledge and develop resources for our nation, and you are spending $100,000 a minute in another arena, it just seems like the balance of the scales are quite off."

In the last 10 years, the president said, the state's share of instruction, which is the amount allocated from the state per student, has shrunk from about 65 percent of the cost to attend to about 31 percent.

And the landscape of higher education will continue to change, Mr. Ribeau said.

The merger of the University of Toledo and the Medical University of Ohio is the most recent and perhaps one of the largest examples, he said. He offered accolades and congratulations to leaders of both institutions.

Mr. Ribeau indicated that BGSU had much to celebrate.

"The higher education landscape is changing throughout our region, state, and across the nation. However, if we remain focused on our mission and vision, I believe that Bowling Green State University will be well-poised to meet the challenges that lie ahead," he said.

The president closed by announcing that BGSU's centennial campaign, "Building Dreams," is making progress toward its fund-raising goal of $120 million. So far, the university has raised $91 million.



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