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.
What can intervene in this cycle? What can produce prosperity? 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. I am categorizing them as follows. Please send me examples in these categories. This compilation will form a vision for prosperous state universities.
Educate the Students of the State: The university shares significant responsibility for the learning of American students, in particular for the learning of the State’s students—all of those students. This responsibility manifests in at least five domains.
The state university system shares responsibility for preparing those students, who are currently under-prepared, for admission to their ranks as full-fledged students ready to engage. For example, the state universities have:
Proactive links with community colleges and high schools
Supplemental instruction programs in the institution with peer mentoring.
Measurable learning outcomes, with some responsibility placed on the teachers for the success rate.
The state university system shares responsibility for providing access to all qualified students. For example, the state university:
Funds the financial need gap with grants, not loans, and links continuation of the grant to staying on track
Has a contract between the institution and the student, delineating the institution’s promises to the student and the student’s promises to the institution.
The state university takes responsibility for measuring learning outcomes and shares responsibility for achieving them. Thereby, they share responsibility for the graduation of their students and the success of their graduates. For example, the state university:
Assesses learning for the purpose of improving it.
Uses standards for what represents successful levels of learning in basic general education courses, : e.g. what does one need to know to have completed freshman Chemistry.
Obtains feedback from employers on gaps in the graduates they employ and works with employers to fill those gaps.
The state university has programs which attract the most qualified of the state’s students.
Study abroad programs in China and India (not only England, France, and Italy)
An Honors Track (examples abound here)
The state university supports the students search for meaning and purpose within the academic curriculum and in campus life—the students civic, moral, and spiritual development.
Support Economic Development in the State: share responsibility for economic development in the state/region. This responsibility manifests in two domains: 1. The state university develops identifies those academic programs that best fit the priorities of the State/region and builds those to excellence. Example: if the region has a lot of engineering firms develop those programs so that they can provide the workforce for those firms at the undergraduate and graduate levels. If the region has an emphasis on biotechnology, deal with that, etc. 2. The state university has as standard practice strategic research partnerships with the business and industry in the state/region. For example, joint faculty appointments; industry people teaching and advising; graduate student and post doc flow.
Enhance Cultural and Social Progress in the State: share responsibility for the social progress and cultural development in the state/region. K-12 schools, the teacher education programs, urban issues such as neighborhood deterioration, health care, transportation. Build these academic programs to excellence and have strategic partnerships.