Higher education in the age of obama
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Higher Education in the Age of Obama. Raphael J. Sonenshein , Executive Director Pat Brown Institute of Public Affairs California State University, Los Angeles President’s Symposium on The New Normal in Higher Education, CSU Fullerton February 22, 2012.

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Higher Education in the Age of Obama

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Higher education in the age of obama

Higher Education in the Age of Obama

Raphael J. Sonenshein, Executive Director

Pat Brown Institute of Public Affairs

California State University, Los Angeles

President’s Symposium on The New Normal in Higher Education, CSU Fullerton

February 22, 2012


Americans have mixed feelings about universities and especially about professors

Americans Have Mixed Feelings About Universities and Especially about Professors

Too academic

Never met a budget

Never ran anything

Pie in the sky

Snobby


President obama when he s good he s very good when he s not he s professorial

President Obama: When he’s good, he’s very good; when he’s not, he’s professorial.

Kuhn (Real Clear Politics): “Prof-in-chief has his drawbacks.“

Time: “Taking Professor Obama’s Class.”

CNN analysis of an Obama speech: "A little less professorial, less academic and more ordinary. That's the type of phraseology that makes you [appear] aloof and out of touch."


Obama plan text political subtexts

Obama plan: text/political subtexts

Making college education affordable and expected (shift from austerity to middle class politics; and also not professorial)

Cut off for-profit schools and banks (not Bush)

More grants, loans, low interest rates (good stuff)

More consumer information (customer service)


Obama plan cont

  • Keep tuition low, carrots and sticks (tough love); MONEY QUOTE: “If you can’t stop tuition from going up, then the funding you get from taxpayers will go down.”

  • Rewards for states that support higher education.

  • Higher Ed Race to the Top (measurable objectives inevitable, such as graduation rates; we can talk like business people)

Obama plan (cont.)


Can federal incentives work

  • Goal: “states have to do their part by making higher education a higher priority in their budgets.”

  • But carrots and sticks are dicey (Florida and PA not listening); tuition is more like chicken and egg

  • And this debate opens the door to university bashing (Pennsylvania Gov. quotes Obama while making big cuts) and new discussion about worth of public education at all

Can Federal Incentives Work?


Federal incentives cont

  • Feds lost some leverage by not funding state/local services

  • Tuition goes up at elite private schools for different reasons than public universities.

  • Can UCLA compete with USC? Does Obama’s plan hurt the public R-1 schools?

  • And lastly the focus on value may undercut our focus on values

Federal Incentives (cont.)


So what should we do

So What Should We Do?

The talk is coming from Washington DC but the outcome depends on Sacramento

Presidents don’t always get what they want, but what they say can set up a debate that is winnable locally

The CSU has a chance as this becomes a value debate; an excellent college education at an affordable price. California’s greatest bargain. Unless we sacrifice our values for value (the sad story of the American Institutions requirement).

Has CSU engaged this debate yet, or have we been defensive or re-inventing ourselves out of existence?


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