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Interviews with news makers and discussion of topics important to Southwest Michigan. Subscribe to the podcast through Apple itunes and Google. Segments of interview are heard in WestSouthwest Brief during Morning Edition and All Things Considered

WSW: WMU President On Degrees, Tuition, BTR Park And More

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Western Michigan University President John Dunn says he’s not convinced that allowing community colleges to offer more four year degrees is a good idea. 

Community colleges can currently offer four year degrees in a few programs, but state lawmakers are considering expanding the list. Dunn says recently some have questioned the number of state universities. He says adding another 28 schools offering four year degrees doesn’t seem the best model for opening up more access to education.

Dunn says Western has a strong record of working with community colleges, including reverse transfer agreements with community colleges around the state. He says those relationships would not be affected by changes in state policy. Western’s President sat down with WMUK’s Gordon Evans, Battle Creek Enquirer reporter Safiya Merchant and Kalamazoo Gazette reporter Madison Bennett. On other issues:

Miller College

Western has been working with students at Miller College in Battle Creek, which announced late last year that it was closing. Dunn says as part of the “teach out” the university is working to make sure that they’re get good advice on their future education. Dunn says there about 100-200 students affected by Miller College’s closing.

Business Technology Research Park

Dunn says he wants work on expanding the BTR Park into the Colony Farm Orchard to start “as soon as possible.” But he says “due diligence” on the environmental impact to the land could delay construction. Dunn says Western has a reputation for sustainability, and wants to live up to that reputation in phase 2 of the BTR Park. 

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Interview with John Dunn - web version

Tuition

Western Michigan University Trustees approved a tuition increase of 4.19% last month. That’s just under the cap of 4.2% set by the state Legislature. Dunn says Western wanted to be responsible by boosting tuition, and keeping college affordable. He says additional money from the state, which is tied to staying below the cap was a factor. But Dunn says Western is not receiving as much money from the state as it did in 2011.

Medical School Accreditation

Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine was granted provisional accreditation last week by the Liaison Committee on Higher Education. Dunn calls it a “huge step”. He says the med school’s contribution will continue to grow in Kalamazoo. Dunn says the medical school started small, with gradual growth in subsequent classes. But Dunn says the thought from the beginning was to be a medical school of distinction, not necessarily the biggest.

Gordon Evans became WMUK's Content Director in 2019 after more than 20 years as an anchor, host and reporter. A 1990 graduate of Michigan State, he began work at WMUK in 1996.
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