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They will use the law, they will use regulations, they will
use every technique they can, to protect their market. That’s
the way the world operates.
CI: Do schools hire teachers in states where you are
allowed to train them?
JS
: They are snapped up as quickly as they are produced.
These are post-baccalaureate programs. They all have BAs and
we award credentials.
CI: Do you try to overcome opposition?
JS
: We have three full-time people dealing with regulatory
barriers, two national lobbyists and 30 lobbyists at work in the
various states. There’s a vast regulatory mechanism designed
to protect markets, and our job is to find a way either to go
over, around, or, if need be, knock ’em down.
The most recent case of that was in Pennsylvania, where
there was a law against for-profit entities offering degrees. It
took us three years, but we got a law through the Pennsylvania
Legislature that rescinded that requirement.
CI: Do you compete with public and private campuses
for the best students?
JS
: They’re moving into an area that we defined. So we are
all competing for students in that market.
CI: Aren’t you competing for older students?The
average age of students at the California State University
campuses (the largest four-year degree granting system in
the nation) is more than 27 years.
JS
: For the most part our students are full-time,
managerial employees. You could not work full-time and be
a manager if you are a student at a Cal State campus which
offers courses during the day. They are structured for youthful,
full-time students, and adult students have to adapt to that
system.
Any institution that tries to do
everything probably doesn’t do
everything well. So we’ve defined our
niche, as it were. We’ve defined our
market, and we try to do that absolutely
as best as we can.
CI: Still, where does the traditional
concept of the well-rounded student
fit into your system? Given your own
academic background, don’t you have
concerns for that?
JS
: Having taught at San Jose State
for a long time, I can say that very few
students graduate well rounded in
Western or global civilization. It was
spotty at best. The only students who
were well rounded were the honors students in humanities
programs, which constituted half of their coursework for two
years.
BAs come in all shapes and sizes. I doubt that even
Princeton or Harvard produces well-rounded students
anymore. Students now are so sophisticated when they come
in, and a lot of them have a very good idea of what they want.
And if they’re married, they want to study bits and bytes.
If they’re of a scientific bent, they want to dip right into
that. And there’s so much information available. And so many
venues are available that students can get educated in all sorts
of ways.
I just don’t think the old paradigms hold anymore.
Knowledge has begun to democratize and commoditize and
it’s just too widely available to say anyone will be able to say,
“Come here and we’ll provide it for you.”
CI: Isn’t that a worrisome thought?
JS
: Life is worrisome. Life is adventure. If you think we’re
having trouble, how’d you like to be in Indonesia today?
CI: A history professor turned you on at Berkeley,
right?
JS
: I’m sure our instructors turn our students on.
CI: But you don’t have a history professor.
JS
: We have history surveys in (lower-division) general
education, and our instructors are quite competent.
CI: You’re setting precedents that drawwide attention.
JS
: What we do, we define very clearly. People know what
we do, and we try to do it very well. So we’ll take care of our
knitting, and if the critics will take care of their knitting, the
world will probably be a better place.
u
“I think that in
the U.S. we have a
common culture.We
haven’t found that the
material we prepare
for Los Angeles is any
different from what
we need to prepare for
Detroit or Seattle.”