The Arizona Desert Lamp

ABOR Meeting Reactions

Posted in Campus, Politics by Evan Lisull on 23 January 2009

Looks like quite the rally yesterday, which got picked up by the Chronicle of Higher Education’s blog:

A legislative proposal to cut more than $600-million from the Arizona university system’s budget over the next 18 months drew nearly 1,000 people to a meeting of the Arizona Board of Regents today, a record crowd, the University of Arizona’s UA News site reported.

The Wildcat has more here, with some very bad ideas from ABOR:

Regent Robert Bulla mentioned that although non-resident undergraduate enrollment would increase, resident enrollment would remain the same, if not above the 2008 levels.

Bulla said that the UA, increasing non-resident undergraduate enrollment to 35 percent would generate more than $20 million in revenue, and increasing the enrollment to 40 percent would generate more than $40 million in revenue.

I have no beef with out-of-state students, obviously — but only our “excellent” ABOR could actually think that this is a good solution. Remember all of those signs on the mall, in maudlin black, urging the state to save our class sizes? Well, this proposal isn’t exactly going to help on that front. Yet the reason ABOR supports such a policy, fully opposed to the ‘Three University’ model, is because of the way the state apportions money — on a head-count basis. None of this changes the fact, though, that the state of Arizona is broke. If you follow this approach to its logical extreme, there’ll probably come a point when the state legislature decides to reduce the amount of aid provided per student. Call me an elitist, but if a school like the UA wants to stay among the top of its class — if it really wants national renown — then it’s going to have to spend more per student than ASU. It’s probably, in the next few years, going to have to cost more. Wouldn’t it be nice if we had our own board of regents, so that we make decisions independent of the other two schools?

The best newsflash today, though, is that fellow blogger Ben Kalafut has a guest column in the paper today, arguing that we should shift our sources from fickle state funding to other sources. The whole column is full of good sense, but this is a money quote:

What should be clear to all of us, leftist, right-wing, or classical-liberal, is that heavy reliance on state funding is bad for the university. Coupling so much funding of higher education to funding of governance leaves the UA too vulnerable to external economic shocks. I have no advice concerning how the UA should weather the current crisis, aside from pointing out that there are a dozen “studies” departments, but I do have a recommendation for the long term: emulate the successful.

Really, read the whole thing. Someday, we’ll have a nifty name for our small-but-growing coalition, like Greg Mankiw’s Pigou Club.

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