Thursday, April 15, 2010

Feds to the Rescue?

Inside Higher Ed and The Chronicle of Higher Education report on new federal initiatives to stabilize public higher education in cash-strapped states (i.e., just about every one). I'm starting to get a little more hopeful that the contingency-planning working group I'm in the final stages of putting together here at SUNY Fredonia (consisting of 4 appointees by me and 3 by the campus president) won't have to put all the cost-cutting ideas it generates into immediate action, but I'm still going to charge them with preparing for a range of scenarios, from bad to worse to dire to disastrous.

I'm all for emergency stabilization, but we also need to look beyond the immediate crisis, revisit fundamental assumptions about the financing of public higher education, and search for longer-term solutions. It's not enough to stop on the edge of a cliff: we've all seen enough Wile E. Coyote/Roadrunner cartoons to know that that's the moment when the cliff collapses under you. I've purposely put off focusing on the longer term in the midst of NY's budget battle, but by this time next month I'll be all over it.

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