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graduate student faculty, I think
it’s a place where you’re going to
have to see some changes,” he said.
Universities will be more reluctant
to put newly hired teachers on
the track to tenure, for example.
“You certainly don’t hire any more
tenured faculty, but you switch as
much of the teaching as you can
into these non-tenured faculty. Or,
rather than saying, ‘Professor X has
retired this year so we’re going to
replace him,’ they’re going to say,
‘No, professors Y and Z will fill in.’”
One effort to reduce costs
that is already under way is
the Kuali project, a prime
example of strategic sourcing,
started by Indiana University,
the University of Hawaii,
the National Association of
College and University Business
Officers and others to develop
open-source software that can replace the hugely expensive
commercial software universities need tomanage payroll
and other functions. And after years of trying to ignore them,
mainstreamuniversities now are looking for lessons in the
way for-profit and proprietary schools do business—bringing
classes closer to where students live, for example, and
maximizing the use of space.
The hunger for more revenue, in place of state government
appropriations and endowment yields, has some schools
boosting their ranks of foreign students who pay full tuition.
The University of California at Berkeley tripled the number
of foreign students it admitted this year, and plans to raise it
again next year. There also is a spirited debate under way in
California about whether public universities should increase
the enrollment of higher-paying out-of-state students,
following the example of universities in
Michigan, Virginia, Vermont and elsewhere
that already are vigorously recruiting such
students. At the College of William andMary,
35 percent of the students come fromout of
Students will almost surely feel the most
pain. More than two-thirds of private colleges
and universities plan to increase tuition next
fall, according to a survey by the National
Association of Independent Colleges and
Universities. At half of those schools, as many
as ten percent of students were already expected to withdraw
because of financial hardship.
No one appears to have surveyed public universities on
this question, but almost all of them are being squeezed.
“When [governors] cut our budgets, there’s sort of a wink and
a nod that they knowwe’re going to raise tuition, so go ahead
and do it,” Breneman said. “There’s a deafening silence from
the leadership of American higher education on this—about
affordability.”When reports show that tuition has increased
dramatically (the National Center for Public Policy and Higher
Measuring Up 2008
pointed out that tuition and
fees have risen 439 percent in the last 25 years, surpassing even
the 251 percent increase inmedical care costs), the presidents
“just get mad, because it makes it harder for them to raise
tuition,” Breneman said.
“Students are expecting a hefty tuition increase, come the
end of this year,” saidWilliam andMary student Andrew Blasi.
“When the solution is just so easy—to raise tuition—it makes
it harder to convince [the universities] to cut costs.” He has a
point, said Nosek. “Even when youmake what you consider to
be reasonable increases in fees, howmuch of that needs to go
back into aid?” he asked.
Reveley defends the price of aWilliam andMary degree.
“A really splendid undergraduate education has enormous
value, and if a family can pay for it, they ought to pay for it,”
he said. “If what you want is really first-rate teaching in small
classes, it’s got to get paid for.” Yet even though the proportion
of theWilliam andMary operating budget underwritten by
the state of Virginia has fallen from 42 percent in 1980 to 18
percent today, William andMary students “are getting an
incredible deal,” Reveley said. “Even the out-of-state students
are getting an incredible deal.” (Annual tuition, room, board,
mandatory fees and incremental costs at William andMary
total $10,300—$19,800 for students fromout of state.)
Reveley does not support imposing layoffs. “They are
enormously destructive of the fabric of the school, and we don’t
have enough people to begin with,” he said. William andMary
has 2,528 non-faculty support staff for its 7,625 students, or one
for every three, half the typical ratio. “I suppose everyone says
they’re anorexic andmiserly. But we are overachieving with a
pretty small cohort of people,” Reveley said. “We put less into
the administrative side, whichmakes it harder to find places to
cut when push comes to shove.”
Inevitably, however, changes that are more dramatic than
hiring freezes and journal cancellations will eventually become
necessary, said Golding. “We are doing those things first
because we have to deal with the immediate problem that’s
facing us, and then we can step back and look to see where
there are opportunities for such things as programs we want
to get out of because they don’t define the institutions. And
that takes time.” Besides, he said, just cutting a programmay
not save muchmoney: “If you have a tenured professor, you
still have to deal with that obligation.” And some programs
generate revenue. Breneman, in his role as an administrator
during the 2001 recession, proposed eliminating a master’s
program in his department in order to cut costs, only to find
out that it hadmore full-tuition-paying students enrolled in it
and was making money for the university.
The rain at William andMary finally let up. The next week,
Virginia’s governor slashed another eight percent from the
state appropriation for the college, on top of the seven percent
already announced. Since October 2008, the total cuts in state
funding alone had reached $8.6 million. It was time to go back
to the ledger.
JonMarcus is a writer based in Boston who covers higher
education in the U.S. for the (UK)
Times Higher Education
Terry Meyers, a professor of English and
philosophy at the College of William and Mary,
is a harsh critic of some campus spending
practices—especially intercollegiate athletics.
Tom Cogill for CrossTalk
Students might well
be willing to forgo
some luxuries to
avoid the kind of
tuition increases
universities project.