A letter to the community: Invest in our University’s students, Guam’s future
ver seven decades, the University of Guam has helped nearly 20,000 students launch careers that have made lasting impacts on the island and our region. People who attend UOG are far more likely to stay in Guam after graduation than those who go off island. And UOG graduates are extraordinary people who dream and achieve.
Our School of Education has produced educators throughout early childhood, elementary, and high school classrooms. Teachers who graduate from UOG are highly prepared, and many also become specialists, counselors, and principals throughout public and private schools in Guam. Recently, Michelle De Guzman, a 2009 graduate in education and former teacher at Juan M. Guerrero Elementary School, received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching — considered the highest honor nationwide for K-12 STEM teachers.
Graduate students in our Marine Lab and Water Environmental Research Institute (WERI) contribute to our island by monitoring the health of our coral reefs and marine life and the quality of our fresh water source, respectively. Leilani Sablan, a biology grad student recently embarked on a deep-sea research expedition as part of a research team studying the Kingman Reef and Palmyra Atoll in the Pacific.
Our School of Business and Public Administration students and alumni contribute to discussions on public policy, develop innovative ideas as future entrepreneurs, and develop into future accountants, marketers, human resources specialists, public servants, and other members of our island’s professional workforce. Kehani Mendiola, a public administration graduate, became UOG’s 19th Truman Scholar in 2021.
Triton alumni are also contributors to the arts in our community — whether through the Guam Territorial Band, “Breaking Waves” in theater, or through distinctive murals across the island. Austin Domingo, a 2012 art graduate, has a recognizable artistic style. His bright, intricate works have infused life and cultural pride on public walls, corporate buildings, bus stops, food trucks, and even shipping containers. He says that the “UOG” mural he designed and painted at the Field House brought his career as an artist full circle.
While we celebrate the successes of our students and alumni, behind the scenes, the University of Guam is barely getting by.
In FY 2018, UOG received $30.7 million in GovGuam appropriations for general operations, but in the five years that followed, funding decreased year after year. By FY 2023, funding was 23% lower than in FY 2018. The decrease is starkly lower — 35%, factoring in the cost of inflation. We had to go back 20 years to see the last time UOG was funded at such a low level.
Over the years, investment into the University’s general operations has continued to fall short while the costs of providing a modern, high-quality education and college experience to our students continue to rise.
We look to the 37th Guam Legislature to reverse five years of decreased budget appropriations.
For FY 2024, we are asking for $42 million in general operations funding to turn the corner and show our accreditors and the world that Guam supports UOG. Thisamount will stabilize UOG’s operations, hold off a tuition increase, allow for hiring critical faculty and staff positions, and allow the University to address facilities maintenance issues which can no longer be deferred.
A recent economic impact study by economist Claret Ruane found that UOG generates $3 in additional GovGuam tax revenue for every $1 that GovGuam appropriates to the University, and that UOG generates $350 million a year in total economic impact in Guam. This is a sound return on taxpayers’ money.
Yes, Tritons dream and achieve. But these dreams and achievements need a Legislature and a Government that believe that their investment will pay off over time for our island. It is our hope we can continue to give our Tritons the support they need to be major contributors to our island and region — socially, culturally, and economically.
A Triton’s success is also Guam’s success. Please invest in our students.