Sunday, February 28, 2016

WKU president says budget cuts will lead to loss of academic, student life, student service and community service programs

Why is higher education expected to take such a deep responsibility 
to bail out the pension fund?

This from c/n2's Pure Politics:
Western Kentucky University President Gary Ransdell said that Gov. Matt Bevin’s proposed cuts to higher education will have a crippling impact at WKU which will lead to a loss of programs, jobs and a reduction at the Gatton Academy.

Ransdell told members of the House Budget Review Subcommittee on Postsecondary Education on Thursday that a study conducted by Budget and Policy Priorities, shows that Kentucky state funding for higher education remains far below pre-recession levels than in most states, as state spending per student from FY 2008-2015 has declined by 27.6 percent. The decline equates to almost $2,949 per student.

The study further showed that while most states increased higher education funding over the last school year, Kentucky had a 2.3 percent decline, and is tied with West Virginia for the largest drop in state spending per student during FY 2014-2015, which equates to an additional $179 per student lost.

Ransdell told members of the committee that raises for his staff and faculty have been almost nonexistent in recent years and it becomes more challenging for him to talk with them about why the cuts are happening at a time when overall state revenue is up.

“We have to go back to our campuses and help our faculty and our students come to understand why higher education is being cut when state revenues are up, and the recession has, for the most part, run its course,” Ransdell said. “The question on our campus is that why is higher education expected to take such a deep responsibility to bail out the pension fund?”

WKU’s budget is $400 million annually, with $200 million coming from tuition and $72 million from state appropriations, or 18 percent of the entire budget.

Ransdell says the problem lies in the restricted dollars that the university has which can only be used for their restricted purpose such as student fees, research, endowment income, auxiliary revenue and foundations.

While dollars might be there, they cannot be used for general fund expenses such as salaries and general operating costs.

“To say that the cuts are softened because, when you take you take it as a percentage of the total budget, is simply an inaccurate extrapolation,” Ransdell said.

The WKU president projects a 3 percent tuition increase from the 2016-17 school year but says there is no way that tuition increases can make up for the proposed cuts in state appropriations.

“We’ve reached the point that our price point is at the medium of benchmark institutions and if we continue to raise our tuition above peer institutions, we’re going to price ourselves out of the marketplace,” he said.

Ransdell made it clear that if the proposed cuts are enacted, a number of useful programs would, in all likelihood, be eliminated.

“For us to address these cuts, we’re going to eliminate actual student life, student service, academic and community service programs, things that our community depend upon,” Ransdell said.

Ransdell also pointed out to legislators that the Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science, a residential program for accelerated Kentucky high school students who have demonstrated interest in pursuing advanced careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, which is located on the WKU campus, would be subject to the cuts as well since their budget is part of WKU’s operating budget.

Ransdell wants to see Gatton exempted from the cuts, like all of the other high schools in the state.
“If these cuts hold up, 18 slots in the Gatton Academy go away,” Ransdell said. “So, you just put money into the Gatton Academy the last legislative session, to go from 120 to 200 students, if these cuts hold up, you’re back tracking.”

Ransdell’s final request to the committee was to eliminate the proposed cuts to higher education, and if they can’t do that, at least cover the Kentucky Employee Retirement System/Kentucky Teachers Retirement System mandated rate increase to eliminate even more hardships to his and other state universities.

College students to Gov. Bevin: "Cut the Bull, Not the Budget"

This from the State Journal:
 Flurries fell along Capital Avenue Thursday as dozens of Kentucky State University students joined more than a hundred others from colleges across the Commonwealth to protest Gov. Matt Bevin’s proposed cuts to higher education.

More than a hundred college students from across Kentucky marched along Capital Avenue Thursday to protest Gov. Matt Bevin’s proposed cuts to higher education. (Photo by Brent Schanding)
College students protest Gov. Matt Bevin’s proposed cuts to higher education
“Cut the bull, not the budget,” they yelled as they marched to the Capitol where lawmakers were convening for session.

Their signs hammered home their overriding point.

“My education is not for $ale.”

“Why are you making us fight for our right to learn?”

“No one agrees with you Matt Bevin!”
“I’m marching because I love my school and I don’t want it to close,” Jordan Wells, a junior at KSU told The State Journal as she chanted with others to grab the attention of lawmakers.

According to KSU President Raymond Burse, the governor’s proposed 9 percent cuts over the next two years could be crippling to the university as it restructures. But Burse maintains that shuttering the school is not an option — and never has been.

Gov. Bevin also wants to tie nearly a third of KSU’s state funding to its graduation rates and other performance-based metrics. Other public universities in the state face the same fate, although many of those schools are in better shape to absorb the budget blows.

Burse and Bevin meeting

On Wednesday, Gov. Bevin and State Budget Director John Chilton met on the KSU campus with Burse and several university stakeholders, including its Board of Regents Chair Karen Bearden and Student Government Association president Diamond Gordon. Bearden declined to comment about the meeting and Gordon didn’t immediately respond to requests from The State Journal for comments. But representatives from both the governor’s office and university say the meeting was mostly social in nature.

A Bevin spokesperson told The State Journal earlier that the governor plans to meet with all of the state’s university presidents to discuss the impacts of his budget ahead of any final vote in the General Assembly.

Still, Rep. Sannie Overly, D-Paris, says students have every reason to be extremely concerned about impending cuts to higher education.

“The university presidents have made it clear that the governor’s cuts will be crippling to our universities, and end up putting higher education further out of reach for many hardworking Kentuckians,” Overly said.
More than a hundred college students from across Kentucky marched along Capital Avenue Thursday to protest Gov. Matt Bevin’s proposed cuts to higher education. (Photo by Brent Schanding)Shayla Boone, a freshman legacy at KSU whose mother and aunts also attended there, agrees.
“Now with me being at the school, I see the rising problems we’re having,” she said, as she rallied at the steps of the Capitol Annex Thursday holding a sign that compared in-state college tuition rates from 1970 to 2016.

The average cost for in-state tuition at Kentucky colleges has increased at a percentage rate nearly double that of minimum wage over the past four decades.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The Cost and the Price of Higher Education

Responding to a recent KSN&C post, a commenter, Solarity, asked a good question.
"I graduated from UK in 1974. Sure would be nice to hear someone at UK explain why I could self-finance my entire education via summer jobs and part-time work back then. Graduated with zero debt. That's not even a remotely realistic possibility today."
Then Solarity went off the rails a bit, laying it all on administrative bloat - a contributing factor for sure, (caused by increased accountability, just as happened in the P-12 world), but hardly the primary reason for the problem.

When I entered the university as a freshman in 1969, (graduating from UK a year before Solarity) my middle-class parents were able to afford my room, and board. I worked full-time every summer, and part-time during the school year, to cover my tuition and additional expenses. I couldn’t afford a car, but I had a bus ticket home, and everything I really needed to get started in my chosen profession of teaching. I graduated in four years, without any debt…and have contributed to the state economy for four decades now.

In those days America was focused on increasing the percentage of baby-boomers who were college educated. Higher education was seen as having a direct correlation to economic prosperity, and Kentucky contributed as much as two-thirds of the cost of a college education in the belief that the state would realize a return in a more productive citizenry – and our GDP soared.

But for today’s students the circumstance has reversed. Revenue growth, which stood at 14% in the 60s, shrunk into the 2% range in the 2000s. The state now supports about one third of a college students’ costs, leaving Kentucky families to make up the other two-thirds. According to the National Center for Educational Statistics today’s average US college student graduates in just under 6 years and leaves school with an average debt of $27,000.

Whenever the state cuts funding, university boards are forced to choose between lowering the quality of the educational program and raising tuition. They almost always choose to raise tuition because the alternative is to surrender the institution to a state of decline. Even then universities have raised tuition at rates slightly less than the lost state support.

And it is not only more difficult to pay for college these days but coming out of the Great Recession the availability of jobs has been limited in many fields.

A bachelor’s degree is no longer a guarantee of lifetime employment. Meanwhile, the American middle class has been separating itself into two opposing streams of upwardly mobile college-haves and downwardly mobile college-have-nots.

The Kentucky constitution makes K-12 education a fundamental right, but not a college education. And I'm not aware of another state that makes higher education a right either. But perhaps we should. Since our constitution was written (1891) the technical requirements of the workforce has far outstripped the ability of a high school education to reasonably ensure the likelihood of a productive future. I don't know about you, but I would dred the fate of any student entering today's work world armed with no more than a high school diploma.

Here's some more recent, and more forward-looking data that underscores the importance of a highly skilled workforce for our future economy.

And Governor Bevin's proposed budget will make this data even worse...

But here is the answer to Solarity's question.

The cost of higher education in Kentucky has been relatively stable over the past decade and a half - moving from $14,915 in 2000-01, up only $808 by 2013-14. It is the price to students that has almost doubled over the same time period - and it has risen in inverse proportion to the state's withdrawal of support.

In the meantime, Kentucky colleges have more than doubled the number of degrees granted.


Saturday, February 20, 2016

EKU Faculty Regents Candidates Session

This from EKU Faculty Innovators:

Uploaded on Feb 17, 2016
Candidates (L-R): Richard Crosby, Wardell Johnson, Donna Corley, Richard Day
Moderator: Shirley O'Brien

Uploaded on Feb 18, 2016
Candidates (L-R): Richard Crosby, Wardell Johnson, Donna Corley, Richard Day
Moderator: Paula Kopacz

 Candidates (L-R): Richard Crosby, Wardell Johnson, Donna Corley, Richard Day

Friday, February 19, 2016

Higher ed cuts a false choice, not tough love

University presidents not crying wolf on impact of cuts

Bevin undercutting future to preserve ideology

Students, families will pay the price

Read more here:

The Floor Debate on Senate Bill 1

This from KET:
An education bill ranked by Senate Republicans as their top priority is now ready for scrutiny from the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives. Renee Shaw recaps the action taken in the General Assembly in Frankfort. 

Tuition Freeze Bill Dies in Committee

This from cn/2:
Sen. Dan Seum
Senate Bill 75, sponsored by Sen. Dan Seum, R-Louisville, would require the Council on Postsecondary Education to limit tuition for resident students at the public postsecondary education institutions to the 2015-2016 tuition level for four years and then require tuition increases for the 2019-2020 academic year to be determined in consultation with the General Assembly.

A companion bill, sponsored by Rep Russell Webber, R-Shepherdsville, has been introduced in the House.

Seum told members of the Senate Education Committee on Thursday that the universities are ripping the students off by implementing annual tuition increases.

Seum referenced his granddaughters experience as she attended Western Kentucky University.

“She worked in daycare during the day and a beauty shop on the weekends,” Seum said. “Graduates in four years as a grade school teacher with $40,000 of debt. How can that be?”

Seum added, “there’s a lot of cost that’s being dumped on these kids and as I said we’re getting very close to a point where getting a degree is not worth the debt.”
Northern Kentucky University Student Body President Katherine Hahnel spoke against the legislation saying that she feared the resulting freeze would inadvertently affect the education that she would receive.

“It’s my concern that if we continue on this path of cuts and put into place tuition freezes, it will negatively affect the value of my education as well as my peers,” Hahnel said.

Robert King, president of the Council on Postsecondary Education says that with the cuts to postsecondary education in the state budget in recent years, a tuition freeze would have devastating economic impact for the universities.

“There have been mandated cost increases in the two pension systems,” King said. “The legislature over the last several years has shifted to the campuses an expense that used to be picked up in the general operating budget of the state which is the general maintenance and operating costs for newly constructed buildings.”