Like the auto industry, American colleges and universities are headed for a long overdue shakeup, according to recent reports from independent research organizations. Yearly tuition and fee increases that squeeze middle income families, coupled with an isolated ivory tower view taken by most college and university presidents, has accelerated the need for change in our higher education structure, asserted University Consultants LLC’s Joseph Schmoke in a discussion with education industry investors. And, he says, the change is coming whether those presidents like it or not.
Universities are already approaching the federal government with pleas for help. As the Chronicle for Higher Education already reported (Dec. 15), the American Council on Education and some other higher ed associations are asking for “a $700 increase in the maximum Pell Grant, which is now $4,731, and a doubling of funds for the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant program, which augments Pell Grants for low-income students.” They submitted their request in the form of a letter to Congress that also seeks funding to support “shovel ready” projects — those that are capable to starting within 180 days.
Back here in Missouri, last Friday (Dec. 12) Gary Forsee, president of the four-campus University of Missouri System, wrote to President-elect Obama and Missouri’s two U.S. senators asking them to support for some 70 projects (price tag: $737 million) at the four UM campuses. These projects could begin in as early as 90 days, Forsee said (story).
In 2009, will we see U.S. college and university presidents appearing before Congress, a la the leaders of the troubled U.S. auto industry? Stay tuned.