"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public." -- Theodore Roosevelt

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Berkeley Chancellor and Vice Chancellor Call for Fed Bailout Money

Robert J. Birgeneau and Frank D. Yeary, the chancellor and vice chancellor of UC Berkeley, wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post Sunday entitled "Rescuing Our Public Universities" (h/t to Instapundit and TaxProf Blog).

Birgeneau and Yeary write: "Our private and public research and teaching universities have contributed greatly to American prosperity. Public universities by definition teach large numbers of students and substantially help shape our nation. The top 10 publics have more than 350,000 undergraduate students. By comparison, the eight Ivies educate less than a sixth of that number. Public universities with strong state support have an admirable cross-section of ethnically and economically diverse students. In essence, their student bodies look like America. They are the conduits into mainstream society for a huge number of highly talented people from financially disadvantaged backgrounds, as well as the key to the American dream of an increasingly better life for the middle class.

"Yet over several decades there has been a material and progressive disinvestment by states in higher education. The economic crisis has made this a countrywide phenomenon, with devastating cuts in some states, including California. Historically acclaimed public institutions are struggling to remain true to their mission as tuitions rise and in-state students from middle- and low-income families are displaced by out-of-state students from higher socioeconomic brackets who pay steeper fees. While America is fortunate to have many great private universities, we do not need to add to the list by privatizing Berkeley, Illinois, Rutgers, etc. On the contrary, we need to keep our public research and teaching universities excellent and accessible to the vast majority of Americans.

"Given the precarious condition of state finances, we propose that President Obama emulate President Lincoln by creating a 21st-century version of the Morrill Act.

"Specifically, the federal government should create a hybrid model in which a limited number of our great public research and teaching universities receive basic operating support from the federal government and their respective state governments. Washington might initially choose a representative set of schools, perhaps based on their research achievements, their success in graduating students, commitment to public service and their record in having a student body that is broadly representative of society.

"Washington would provide sufficient additional funding for operations and student support to ensure broad access and continued excellence at these universities. A portion of these resources would ensure that out-of-state and in-state students pay the same tuition and have access to the same financial aid packages. The combined federal-state funding must be sufficient for these universities to maintain their preeminence as well as charge moderate fees to all U.S. citizens and permanent residents."

Excuse me while I wretch.

Why is the response of financially strapped state schools to beg the federal government to raise taxes to pay for their costs? Does it even occur to them to re-examine their spending?

Every public college campus I have been on (I'm not sure how many, but many more than twenty-five across the Pacific Northwest, California, Southwest and out into Texas) has been in the midst of expanding their campuses. All of them. Always a building project-- never an exception. Paying young athletes to play for their school (even in a relatively unheralded sport like women's volleyball at CSUN) is so common that reports and investigations of malfeasance have become little more than scripted vaudevillian routines.

Before Birgeneau and Yeary come crawling on their hands and knees, begging eloquently to the great Obama (mentioned in the article-- though shouldn't they be begging to the American people?) for more money, they should take time to look over their own school's budget. They don't mention doing that in their article. Nothing like "Even after a careful examination of our budgets, we can find no way to significantly reduce our budgets without an unacceptable decrease in the quality of our education, high wages, and our name-brand sports teams." They didn't even make the pretense of softening their hard-sell with that sort of lie.

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