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eBook Saving Alma Mater: A Rescue Plan for America's Public Universities ePub

by James C. Garland

eBook Saving Alma Mater: A Rescue Plan for America's Public Universities ePub
Author: James C. Garland
Language: English
ISBN: 0226283860
ISBN13: 978-0226283869
Publisher: University of Chicago Press; 1 edition (October 1, 2009)
Pages: 296
Category: Schools & Teaching
Subcategory: Teaching
Rating: 4.7
Votes: 530
Formats: mobi mbr lrf docx
ePub file: 1773 kb
Fb2 file: 1347 kb

America’s public universities educate 80% of our nation’s college students "In Saving Alma Mater, Mr. Garland argues that government should end subsidies altogether and allow supply and demand to rule. A useful primer on academic dysfunction.

America’s public universities educate 80% of our nation’s college students. But in the wake of rising demands on state treasuries. In Saving Alma Mater, Mr. Patricia Cohen New York Times). James C. Garland began his teaching career at The Ohio State University in 1970.

Saving Alma Mater thus calls for the partial deregulation of public universities and a phase-out of their state appropriations. Garland’s plan would tie university revenues to their performance and exploit the competitive pressures of the academic marketplace to control costs, rein in tuition, and make schools more responsive to student needs. A much-needed blueprint for reform based on Garland’s real-life successes as the head of Miami University of Ohio, Saving Alma Mater will be essential for anyone concerned with the costs and quality of higher education in America today.

Saving Alma Mater book. See a Problem? We’d love your help. Saving Alma Mater challenges a change-resistant culture in academia that places too low a premium on efficiency and productivity. But in the wake of rising demands on state treasuries, changing demographics, growing income inequality, and legislative indifference, many of these institutions have fallen into decline.

In 2009, Garland expounded his views on the state of higher education in public universities in his book Saving Alma Mater: A Rescue Plan for America's Public Universities. In an interview with Inside Higher Education in October 2009, where he presents public university education as vital but in need of change to survive successfully, he talks of four main areas of change that need to be addressed: He sees public universities becoming autonomous through deregulation, run by independent trustees who decide educational and financial policies.

America’s public universities educate 80% of our nation’s college . Saving Alma Mater thus calls for the partial deregulation of public universities and a phase-out of their state appropriations. Here James C. Garland draws on more than thirty years of experience as a professor, administrator, and university president to argue that a new compact between state government and public universities is needed to make these schools more affordable and financially secure.

sg/?book 0226283860 See Saving Alma Mater: A Rescue Plan for America s Public Universities Free, Best For Saving Alma Mater: A Rescue Plan for America s Public Universities , Best Books Saving Alma Mater: A Rescue.

In Saving Alma Mater, Mr. Garland argues that government should end subsidies altogether and allow supply . Let public universities compete for students and set their own tuitions

In Saving Alma Mater, Mr. Let public universities compete for students and set their own tuitions. To ensure that poor students can afford to attend, legislatures should eliminate institutional financing and instead use that money for financial aid to individuals. In essence, he proposes a voucher system.

America’s public universities educate 80% of our nation’s college students. But in the wake of rising demands on state treasuries, changing demographics, growing income inequality, and legislative indifference, many of these institutions have fallen into decline. Tuition costs have skyrocketed, class sizes have gone up, the number of courses offered has gone down, and the overall quality of education has decreased significantly.

Here James C. Garland draws on more than thirty years of experience as a professor, administrator, and university president to argue that a new compact between state government and public universities is needed to make these schools more affordable and financially secure. Saving Alma Mater challenges a change-resistant culture in academia that places too low a premium on efficiency and productivity. Seeing a crisis of campus leadership, Garland takes state legislators to task for perpetuating the decay of their public university systems and calls for reforms in the way university presidents and governing boards are selected. He concludes that the era is long past when state appropriations can enable public universities to keep their fees low and affordable. Saving Alma Mater thus calls for the partial deregulation of public universities and a phase-out of their state appropriations. Garland’s plan would tie university revenues to their performance and exploit the competitive pressures of the academic marketplace to control costs, rein in tuition, and make schools more responsive to student needs.

A much-needed blueprint for reform based on Garland’s real-life successes as the head of Miami University of Ohio, Saving Alma Mater will be essential for anyone concerned with the costs and quality of higher education in America today.

Kagda
Garland's book is incredibly descriptive of the processes and problems of the university. I found his portrayal of the problems, particularly the problem of dealing with faculty, shared governance, and commitees to be consistent with my experiences in academe. Clearly this book reflects Garland's passion and, in places, his frustrations.

To my way of thinking, the book would be most useful for university trustees. The first half of the book is generally descriptive of the public university, and Miami University (in rural SW Ohio) in particular, and should serve to inform newly appointed trustees of many of the problems in running a university from the presidency. I am not sure that the trustee who has only been a student at a college will know about the issues (and attitudes) that Garland describes but they can read this book and find out something about those issues. Faculty and adminstrators will be all too familiar with these topics even if they disagree with Garland.

The book becomes more prescriptive with the chapter called "The Role of Governing Boards in the New Era." The trustees of public universities in Ohio are appointed by the Governor and trustees tend to be party loyalists who asked for appointment as a trustee resulting in boards that ... well, let me just say that a potential trustee wanting to be on a board does not always advance the institution. I think Garland makes this point when he writes, "Trustees should be paid for their services, not as an honorarium or "thank you" for their efforts but as compensation for the value they bring to their institution. ...[paid] enough to send the message that a serious commitment is expected, that there is important business to be conducted, that many millions of dollars are at stake...."(p 129) I might add that it isn't just millions of dollars of public monies but also millions in private tution and fees and the lives of thousands of people. In general, Garland recommends that boards be comprised of persons who bring useful skills to the oversight function of trustees.

The primary focus of the book is on institutional finances (a topic that should be very important ot trustees) and he both describes the problems and his recommended solution(s). It is Garland's recommended strategy that I find most lacking. He begins to advance a market based strategy where public universities become privatized in the sense that they are no longer directly subsidized by the state government. Instead, as reviewer Geller points out, but much too simplistically, Garland advocates a voucher like system where the state awards direct student subsidy based on need - sort of like a state based Pell grant. Garland put a similar system in place at MU by raising the in-state tution to the out-of-state tuition levels and then MU redistributed the subsidy by calling them scholarships. I find this approach to be counter productive to the mission of the public university as a mechanism for promoting mixing of the classes (and the mission of public education as a mechanism for promting democracy). Using Garland's logic, the rich will send their children to MU because they can afford to do without the subsidy and the poor will send their children to MU because the subsidy makes MU economically attractive. Those between the extremes (the middle of the middle class) are probably not going to feel welcomed at MU from a financial perspective. When Garland got his board to agree to this, he claimed that MU is loosing too many students to Northwestern, Notre Dame, and Vanderbilt so he wanted to use this strategy as a "value communicator". I recommend, therefore, that before trustees adopt Garland's recommendation in this book, they need to examine the results at MU and think about the mission of their university or college.

Nonetheless, Garland lays out the issues of financing for a state university in a seemingly reliable and readable fashion. Are there any other books that do this as well as Garland's book?
Damand
Insightful, clear writing on the complexities facing America's public universities.
Mall
If you want to be surprised by the ending of this book, stop reading now! There is a spoiler ahead. Dr. James C. Garland started his career as a condensed matter physicist. He then went into the administration career path, concluding as president of Miami University (Ohio). Obviously he has much to say about universities and he can do so from experience. He provides the reader with much detail and gives the general reader incredible insight into the intricacies of academic governance, especially a public university. So why did I only give this book a three star rating? It is his supposed solution. Now comes my spoiler. His solution is analogous to vouchers for public education at K-12 levels. He proposes to have no direct support for any higher education institutions, rather have states provide funds directly to students in the form of scholarships, like vouchers, and have the students choose the university. He believes that this will lead to intense competition for students and that the better managed colleges will get more of the students, and the poorly managed colleges will go under. So hey, it's like survival of the fittest right? Or is it? You may wish to read up on the debate on school vouchers to better understand the cons, not just the pros. Perhaps check out an objective web site on vouchers. Nonetheless, I find it amusing that Garland's so-called solution would give the late Jerry Falwell his dream, as he said: "I hope I live to see the day when ... we won't have any public schools." I guess it is a little late for Falwell. Could a physicist ever be wrong?
Zeleence
James Garland is the former president of Miami University of Ohio who negotiated the revolutionary change in Miami's tuition structure. In Saving Alma Mater he examines the current model for funding public higher education, considers it doomed and offers an alternative.

For years now the state allocations for public higher ed have diminished. Where once public universities were state-funded (and then state-supported) they are now little more than state-located. The percentage of the state contribution to the top public universities' budgets is now sometimes in the single digits. As a proportion of the universities' budgets, student tuition has now generally eclipsed the state allocations, even though the states continue to robustly regulate public higher ed. However, while the states often expect universities to take on additional students and have failed to provide the proportional costs for those students they have also pursued such policies as the capping of tuition levels.

Where public higher education was once seen as a public good (certainly the numbers--in economic development and increased state income tax revenue, for example, demonstrate that it is) it is now treated as a private good, with the responsibility for its funding increasingly pressed on the parents or on the students themselves.

Garland's solution is a modified voucher system in which the state provides portable support directly to the students. Public universities--largely freed from their current regulatory shackles--would then compete for students through the strength of their programs, the attractiveness of their services and facilities and the distinctiveness of their `brand' and comparative advantages. In short, the public universities could enter the marketplace with far fewer constraints than they now have. The students would be able to pick and choose the most appropriate universities for their needs and have a chunk of public money to use to discount those universities' tuitions.

The universities would enjoy the freedom to control their own destinies (within the constraints of the market); they would exercise an entrepreneurial spirit for which there is now insufficient motivation and they would enjoy a sustainable funding model. Although he does not press the point too firmly, it is clear that the universities would also like the parents of its students (and the students who are paying their own freight) to perceive the actual realities of their situation. When state funding is reduced, universities must raise tuition. Under the current circumstances, states reduce their allocations and then (often) demagogue the tuition hikes, making the universities out to be lazy and rapacious. When the value of the direct `vouchers' diminish, the payers would see, very clearly, that the state was reducing its contribution. They would then judge the value of an individual institution with a sense of actual costs and comparable charges within the marketplace. (Of course, we already have a sense of an institution's value by the level of its out-of-state tuition and the number of individuals willing to pay it.)

This is all, of course, an extremely complicated matter. Currently, for example, many of the top privates have only need-based financial aid. Many of the top publics have merit-based financial aid in addition to need-based financial aid. Public education has ended up being a bargain for those with the ability to pay far higher tuition. At the same time, some marginal students receive large `scholarships' when a struggling private institution is laboring to fill its class. Half a tuition or a third of a tuition is better than none. There are also rogueish privates that are highly ranked which quietly give merit scholarships. Some schools `buy' national merit scholars, e.g., while others, as a matter of policy do not. If states inaugurated Garland's modified voucher system they could offer differential grants based on need or differential grants based on merit or differential grants based on the states' needs for individuals within certain industries, etc. It is clear that the current system is not working. Marginal state publics are eroding their programs to an unsustainable degree and top state publics are trying to, in effect, privatize, particularly with regard to the attraction of full-paying out-of-state students.

The entire picture is complex with various irrationalities operating. Garland's suggestion has much to recommend it, but the inherent complexities of the situation would make this a hard sell politically. Nowhere does he talk about the reduction of state taxes, another way to come at the problem. I have not even addressed the subject of `productivity', which is equally complex. Legislators and payers want universities to be more `efficient', but efficiencies generally reduce academic quality (larger classes, a greater proportion of classes taught by part-time faculty, deferred maintenance, and so on). Institutions offer education; they also issue diplomas. To the extent that `efficiency' means issuing more diplomas the results can be anything but `efficient'. When diplomas become less and less meaningful the result is the need for additional credentials, so that individuals who would once have run small retail operations with a quality high school diploma now require an MBA degree. That is not `efficient'.

Saving Alma Mater discusses these matters with great lucidity. Garland offers a vast amount of sophisticated advice on the nuts and bolts of academic operations. In general I think his advice is spot-on. For example: avoid constituency-based search committees because they all too often lead to lowest-common-denominator decisions and favor candidates who are least offensive to the constituencies rather than prepared to lead the institution and solve its very real problems. Avoid putting stalled associate professors in service positions of responsibility since it sends the wrong message to junior faculty (if you don't pursue the primary obligations of your contract you can still succeed and prosper).

Garland is also interested in the extent to which time is money within the university. The general perception there is that time is `free' though some individuals may chafe when their time is wasted. Committees can meet endlessly since individuals are not being paid by the hour. He offers the example of a D.C. law firm, metering out its services and billing in 6-minute increments. He then talks about the Georgetown University faculty senate just down the street and the way in which its meetings drag on and on (though many senators fail to attend them and many faculty fail to vote for the aspiring senators when they run for office). At my university, faculty are generally expected to devote 20% of their time to service. Twenty percent of the instructional budget, however, amounts to many, many millions of dollars. Some service is crucially important (the evaluation of junior faculty for promotion and tenure, for example), but much is not. Garland talks about the LGBT center at the University of Michigan taking three years to change its name (after multiple surveys, discussions, website creations and so on). He offers suggestions on how the waste of time could be reduced and how this time could all be used more efficiently.

This is a very interesting and important book.
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