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Thursday, May 7, 2009

UC chief touts progress

To: Jim Doyle jdoyle@chronicle.com

Thanks for your article “UC chief touts progress, outlines marketing plan” about the UC financial struggles http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/05/06/MNJQ17CKF9.DTL&hw=jim+doyle&sn=002&sc=838.

Our colleges and universities have been built around a premise that society would always need more colleges, more college students and that any dollar spent on college was a dollar well spent. This led to a predictable inflexibility in ability to downsize and reduce costs when such circumstances require it. Staff (both professors and support staff) were given well above average benefits packages (especially health care, vacation time and pension programs). And since their customers (students) were given lucrative loans with which to pay for this education combined with substantial state and federal subsidies for the universities there was little if any push back for lower prices. In fact the normal premise is that the higher the tuition the better the education.

The typical government approach for lower costs is to give all employees a few days off without pay. But their fixed benefits continue to accrue and therefore little actual savings are realized.

Our public colleges and universities should turn to the mavericks like the University of Phoenix that have created a far more flexible cost structure. They rely far less on the traditional professor lectures and are making money despite far fewer subsidies from government.


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