Should members of the LSU Board of Supervisors disclose who receives their scholarships?|
Story Archives: College revamp easier said than done
- 2013 - 801 articles
- 2012 - 1954 articles
- 2011 - 2029 articles
- 2010 - 2139 articles
- 2009 - 2066 articles
- December 2009 - 163 articles
- November 2009 - 166 articles
- October 2009 - 231 articles
- September 2009 - 161 articles
- August 2009 - 136 articles
- July 2009 - 153 articles
- June 2009 - 126 articles
- May 2009 - 164 articles
- April 2009 - 242 articles
- March 2009 - 204 articles
- March 31st, 2009 (Tuesday) - 2 articles
- March 30th, 2009 (Monday) - 3 articles
- March 29th, 2009 (Sunday) - 2 articles
- March 28th, 2009 (Saturday) - 4 articles
- March 27th, 2009 (Friday) - 1 articles
- March 26th, 2009 (Thursday) - 25 articles
- March 25th, 2009 (Wednesday) - 11 articles
- March 24th, 2009 (Tuesday) - 1 articles
- March 23rd, 2009 (Monday) - 1 articles
- March 22nd, 2009 (Sunday) - 1 articles
- March 21st, 2009 (Saturday) - 6 articles
- March 19th, 2009 (Thursday) - 35 articles
- March 18th, 2009 (Wednesday) - 9 articles
- March 17th, 2009 (Tuesday) - 2 articles
- March 16th, 2009 (Monday) - 3 articles
- March 14th, 2009 (Saturday) - 4 articles
- March 13th, 2009 (Friday) - 2 articles
- March 12th, 2009 (Thursday) - 27 articles
- March 11th, 2009 (Wednesday) - 15 articles
- March 10th, 2009 (Tuesday) - 3 articles
- March 5th, 2009 (Thursday) - 31 articles
- March 4th, 2009 (Wednesday) - 12 articles
- March 3rd, 2009 (Tuesday) - 1 articles
- March 2nd, 2009 (Monday) - 2 articles
- March 1st, 2009 (Sunday) - 1 articles
- February 2009 - 163 articles
- January 2009 - 157 articles
- 2008 - 1757 articles
|College revamp easier said than done|
A few months ago, Commissioner of Higher Education Sally Clausen got the presidents of the state's universities to agree in principle on a change to how colleges are funded. The idea, not a new one, is to reward schools doing better jobs of graduating their students on time and attracting competitive research grants instead of just allocating dollars based on enrollment, as is now the case.
The college presidents all held hands around the campfire in unity, with one caveat: that any new plan would only be implemented with increased public dollars, so that some schools would get more but none would get less. In other words, hold that thought until the state's financial picture improves.
So imagine the shock and dismay in academia when the governor's office, the day before it released its executive budget for the new fiscal year, informed college presidents that not only would they get 15 percent less state support, but that those fewer dollars would be distributed according to that brave new formula they were talking about, even if it wasn't finalized.
When there is not enough money to go around may seem like the right time to shake down the system and start anew, except to those who have to live with the consequences. Such is the cloud of angst hanging over college administration offices today.
For years, the common complaint of armchair governors has been that Louisiana has too many four-year colleges, some within a few miles of each other. In this big-picture view, a bunch could be closed, merged or made into cost-effective two-year community colleges, thus saving millions by reducing the number of high-salaried presidents, deans and what not.
While the tough-love approach to restructuring higher education sounds good and simple, there are more than the devil in the details, but whole sankepits and minefields awaiting the best-intentioned plans. Any official who has even uttered the name of an institutution as a candidate for closure, merger or down-sizing instantly has been besieged with irate phone calls and hate mail worthy of an AIG executive.
Take, for example, the most obvious case for merger. The University of New Orleans and Southern University at New Orleans sit side by side on Lake Pontchartrain. The UNO student body is mostly white; SUNO is mostly black. Both campuses were heavily damaged by Katrina--SUNO more so--and their enrollments have declined significantly.
Sounds simple just to put the two together. But to seriously propose such is to invite a firestorm of protest from both campuses, and probably an inquiry from the civil rights division of the U.S. Justice Department. And isn't that just what the city needs: another issue on which to divide along racial lines?
One could kick over a similar anthill in northeast Louisiana, home to three four-year ULS campuses, or anywhere else a university is targeted for demotion to a community college.
Yet passionate and parochial concerns should not defeat the big idea that higher education in Louisiana would better serve and be served by a well-thought-out reorganization of campuses. The population of high schoolers is dropping while the popularity of community colleges grows, with both trends working against the status quo among four-year universities.
Changing the funding formula for higher education seems like the best way to start, but the governor is putting Higher Education Commissioner Clausen in a very tough spot by calling for the new plan in the worst budget year in two decades.
The governor might wish for the Board of Regents, which Clausen answers to, to propose the higher education cuts for him, but the constitution does not so provide. It requires the Legislature to appropriate directly to the college governing boards, not through Regents.
That means college officials and boosters will be pressing their legislators to adjust the new funding formula--or to tap the so-called Rainy Day Fund--to keep their schools from being hurt. If so, not much will have changed where it matters.
The last time Louisiana had a single head of higher education, his name was Huey Long. If Bobby Jindal is serious about restructuring university systems--starting with a new funding formula--he needs to get directly involved: devils, snakes, mines and all.