Essentially everyone wants their child to have a college education and understands the benefits of that education. Yet large fractions of Americans do not have access. Essentially everyone understands that the roots of innovation, economic development, and social progress in America reside in the education of mainstream Americans. The GI Bill of 1944 enabled the education of what was then the mainstream, returning GIís who in turn enabled the enlightened economic and social progress of America. Mainstream Americans today are men and women of many ethnicities, mostly in cities. Their lack of access, at best, is a drag on Americaís ability to provide enlightened leadership and, at worst, will be a major cause of our decline. We now know how to assure quality and measure learning outcomes via the internet and on campuses. Letís put it to use to provide access and, thereby, assure innovation and social progress going forward. Letís believe in our young people; they are motivated, just as were the returning GIís.
State universities and state governments are involved in a blame game that is bad for America.
State funding on a per student basis for state universities has been in decline for 25 years. State governments blame the universities for not controlling costs, for excessive duplication, and for lack of accountability for learning. State universities blame state governments for not understanding what they do or how important they are. Parents and students are caught in the middle as they pay higher tuition and incur more debt. The cycle of blame in the dialogue is in process right now, as stateís establish their FYí07 budgets. University leaders must stop playing the game and choose two priorities on which to act: (1) the education of the stateís students and (2) research on the stateís issues. Money will follow.
Tenure in universities provides freedom for faculty to pursue truth without political interference. As such it is essential to enlightened progress for America. I see signs that the faculty themselves may be the cause of the negative perceptions of the public about tenure. Indeed, as tenure was conceived, the freedom that it confers carries with it the responsibility for assuring the performance of colleagues, for collegial behavior of colleagues, and for support of the institution which provides the tenure. I fear that the faculty voices for academic responsibility are muted, a sure sign that academic freedom can be abused until it is lost. That would be bad for America.
Land grant universities were charged to educate the mainstream students of the state in which they are located, to support the economic development priorities of that state with their research, and to help advance social progress in the state through engagement with the social issues. They have been diverted from that charge for a host of reasons. Renewal of that commitment to the state will benefit the state and the nation, as well as the university.
The change conversation in state universities, one filled with great ideas put forth by great people, has been underway for 15 years.Why has so little changed?Why have so few of the ideas put forth taken hold or been implemented at the university level, the state level, or the federal level?
State funding for state universities has generally declined for 25 years (on a per student basis).Universities have responded by increasing the cost of tuition, compensating for the loss in state revenue.University leaders lament the consequences--- inability of many young people to afford to attend the state university and higher debt burdens for those who do attend.I believe that states will be happy to increase funding for their state universities, but only when the state universities make the needs of the state their top priority.I am compiling a set of specific examples of programs in state universities that are particularly attentive to state needs.Please provide your examples and I will compile them in a vision for a prosperous state university.