Monday, July 13, 2009

Continuation: Has the Leadership Given Up?

Here is the text
Committee Chair Gould expressed his view that the State funding model was broken. The University must plan how to address this challenge in its academic planning and in securing future funding resources. The University has seen the erosion of State support over decades and cannot sustain excellence and access, given the broken promise of the State. . . .

President Yudof concurred that the funding model is broken. Ninety-eight percent of the University’s endowments are restricted. Students can only absorb a limited amount of the cost increases. There might be other inefficiencies to be removed from the system, but if present trends continued, he saw only two real alternatives. The first was a new role for the federal government, with an integrated higher education policy. This would be a new development; the government has sponsored research and access programs, regulations, and the G.I. Bill, but there has never been a national government policy on higher education. The second alternative would be to change the delivery model of the University, which is currently a hands-on, labor intensive delivery model. He has asked the faculty for ideas about how the University could deliver its services as well as it does, but at lower cost. This might involve use of the internet or other technology, less time to degree, and a change in practices regarding faculty workload and prerequisites. The University could not continue to function within current parameters. There is a need for reexamination of University operations.
A fragment of good news is that President Yudof is not flying the fundraising flag, and saying philanthropy can make up for lost public funding. Private money never did replace public money and never well. This realism is a welcome change.
On the other hand, Regent Gould and President Yudof both assume state funding will never recover. This means that they don't need to try to resurrect it, which is indeed something UC has never seriously done.

This continues the same non-leadership that helped dig the public funding hole in the first place. First UC refused to tell the public that the cuts that started in 1991 were seriously damaging something they needed and valued. Now they have given up.

The Yudof alternative:
  1. a federal bailout of higher ed in general and of California in particular. This defies the entire history of decentralized higher ed in the U.S., including the Civil War-era Morrill Act tradition that created a cost-sharing partnership between the feds and the state in which the state was supposed to make major investments in a system that most directly benefited them.
  2. education without faculty. Or not too many. $43,000 a year for UC's public law schools and distance learning for the undergraduate masses.
I read this as the end of the line of the last model, not the beginning of the new. The broken state model has to fixed, not thrown away. But it appears that we will need to re-philosophize and re-explicate the nature of knowledge creation and teaching for the heads of our own universities - so they don't replace all of us with robots.


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