News Story

State Gives $1M To Michigan State University ‘Hub Of Innovation’ That Promotes ‘Decentering Whiteness’

Editor’s note: A state budget bill, Senate Bill 82 of 2021, was passed by the Michigan House on Sept. 21, 2021, and Senate on Sept. 22, 2021, authorized giving $1 million to an “innovation hub located at (Michigan State University).” (The university was described but not named.)

Michigan Capitol Confidential reported the grant in a Dec. 21 story. Before publishing, Michigan Capitol Confidential contacted the Michigan State University Hub for Innovation in Learning and Technology, asking for a comment. MSU didn’t respond.

On Dec. 14, a different line item in a different state budget bill, House Bill 4398, authorized a $1 million grant for a nonprofit organization in Detroit to provide “innovative, youth-centered technology and music programs.” This budget item passed the House 94-9 and the Senate 35-1. Both the September and December budget bills were signed into law by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

Neither appropriation has been repealed. Repealing either would require a new bill passed in the House and Senate and signed by the governor.

The Detroit organization receiving that grant is called the Making It Happen Foundation, and it does collaborate with MSU.

Michigan Senate Republicans have said the $1 million grant was always intended for the Making It Happen Foundation, and it was a mistake that MSU was included. The Michigan Senate Republicans stated that the state budget director has agreed to not distribute the $1 million grant to the MSU Hub for Innovation in Learning and Technology. The state budget director’s office did not respond to an email seeking comment.

The state of Michigan gave an additional $1 million in taxpayer money to Michigan State University this year for the Hub of Innovation in Learning and Technologies, an internal consulting group.

This is said to promote learning communities, which the organization describes as “groups of faculty who are eager to attend recurring meetings and collaborate around a specific pedagogical topic.” Many of the learning communities engage in a range of race-based, equity, and social justice engagements.

One such community, the Anti-Racist Educator Dialogue Group, “aims to support educators in enacting anti-racist pedagogy and decentering whiteness in their work with doctoral students.”

Other learning communities are created for what the group describes as feminist community engagement, equity and social justice in medical education, diversity, equity and inclusion as part of the curriculum, and engineering and social justice.

One learning community, Teaching for Equity and Social Justice in Medical Education, has participants reading and discussing the book Is Everyone Really Equal? An Introduction to Key Concepts in Social Justice Education. The book’s publisher describes it as a comprehensive resource guide that includes material on intersectionality, classism, contemporary activism such as Black Lives Matter and “White Settler societies and colonialism.”

MSU will receive $354 million under the 2021-22 state budget, all from Michigan taxpayers. MSU is also getting tens of millions in additional federal relief dollars. Separately, the university has an endowment fund that was valued at $3.4 billion in 2019-20.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.