Friday, August 11, 2006

The Politics of Arizona Higher Education

A formula the Legislature has used to fund Arizona's public universities has created a disparity in the amounts of money spent per student at the University of Arizona and Arizona State University. For every student attending the University of Arizona in Tucson, state taxpayers spend roughly $2,000 more than they do for those enrolled at Arizona State.
There will be no “successful vision” until ASU gets its own Regents. These feelings are not unique - they pertain, in a greater or lesser degree, to all who have given their devotion to academics, and those who have nourished their hopes and aspirations for ASU through extensive financial support.


Anonymous said...

At 9:20 PM, gaclark said...

Why ABOR Must Go – a Timeline

• ABOR created as the governing board for the University of Arizona (1945)

• ABOR, UA relentlessly oppose university status for ASC Tempe (1958)

• ASC Tempe attains university status (by a 2:1 margin) in a state-wide vote (1959)

• Late 1960s – ABOR blocks ASU’s efforts to get a med school in Maricopa County; the UA awarded the med school (1967)

• Early 1980s, ASU grows to the extent that it shows up on UA’s radar screen; ASU perceived as a competitor for resources that might otherwise go to the UA

• At the behest of UA constituencies, ABOR enacts the Mission & Scope Statements to protect UA’s vested interests (1983)

• The M&SS are devastating to ASU’s legitimate ambitions (to develop into a UCLA); ASU condemned to ‘Cal State Tempe’ status

• Legislature passes the capitation formula (22:1), but doesn’t fund it (1983)

• A succession of ASU Presidents fights to block implementation of the M&SS; ABOR forces ASU to increase enrollments (1983-2002)

• By 2002, ASU student:faculty ratios soar to c. 35:1 (vs national average of 15:1) (1983-2002)

• ASU course loads nearly double those of UA (1983-2002)

• By 2002, ASU staff c. 33% the size of UA staff

• Per capita student spending gap widens between UA and ASU; ABOR and UA ‘cook the books’ on per capita student spending statistics (c. 1987-2002)

• ABOR blocks new construction at ASU; physical plant deteriorates (c. 1985-2002)

• By 2002, only 9% of ASU buildings meet modern construction standards (vs 87% at UA)

• ABOR encourages UA to become independent of Legislative appropriations by maximizing access to external funding (1979-2002)

• ABOR strips ASU of access to all significant avenues of external funding, forcing it to become much more heavily dependent upon Legislative appropriations than UA (1979-2002)

• Don Ulrich named to ABOR (1994); Eddie Basha cycles off ABOR (1998)

• ASU President Lattie Coor announces retirement effective July 1, 2002 (Fall, 2001)

• ABOR seizes the opportunity to corporatize ASU (2001-2002)

• ABOR’s interests (to convert ASU into ‘Cal State Tempe’) converge with those of candidate Michael Crow (who is willing to do this in exchange for a free hand at reorganizing ASU along corporate lines)

• ABOR chooses Michael Crow as ASU President (early 2002) – a ‘palace coup’ orchestrated by ABOR president Ulrich

• ABOR endorses Crow’s ‘New American University (late 2003)

• ABOR’s ‘Changing Directions’ initiative announced; formalizes the destruction of ASU’s legitimate ambitions (early 2004)

Anonymous said...

ASU is in a very bad situation now, and Crow’s 'vision' is why.

The ABOR (Arizona Board of Regents) has been trying to turn ASU into 'Cal State Tempe' (huge diploma mill, with no significant investment in graduate or research programs) since 1982, when ASU first showed up on UA's radar screen and ABOR created the Mission & Scope Statements in order to protect UA's vested interests. The M&SS effectively gave UA carte blanche to maximize external funding so that they can become independent of legislative appropriations, while at the same time denying ASU any possibility of doing the same thing. In the person of our new president, Crow, they found someone who was willing to put this policy into effect. This is what has always been feared, given the single ABOR for the three Universities.

Hiring Crow was an act of treachery by ABOR that beggars an adequate reaction. Crow is as phony as a $3 bill. Has lofty ambitious, and an enormous ego, he doesn't know enough about the history and politics of funding for higher education in the state, nor about the context in which ASU finds itself. And when he moves on in a few years, he'll leave us far worse off than we were before he came since we'll be stuck with his 'vision - endorsed by ABOR - long after he's gone. Without consulting the faculty, the administration, the alumni (indeed any of ASU's various constituencies), Crow came up with his 'vision' (Cal State Tempe, with a few 'points of light'). When he presented it to the Regents, they sat back, smiled, and said 'Michael, my man, we'll let you do everything you want' (and then, sotto voce, 'you'll turn ASU into Cal State Tempe for us.'). Despicable. Cowardly. Stabbed in the back by the very people who are supposed to be looking out for our interests.

The level of anger and sense of betrayal at ASU is all-pervasive and is practically palpable, especially among those who have some long-term perspective on the place, and who had hoped to see it evolve into something resembling UCLA (rather than CSU). Crow essentially ASU’s claims to a med school (even though a very strong case could be made for one now, and even though NIH and NIMH are the largest sources of external funding available). He also gave away ASU’s 'suzerainty' over the central part of the state in regard to recruitment (which means that UA and NAU will probably establish a number of branch campuses here). Don’t count on the tuition increase helping out much - what'll probably happen is that students will remain in the CCs as long as they can (and/or that at least some of the CCs will be converted into 4-year schools). Given the pitiful amount of venture capital coming into the state ($12.9 million last quarter), and the fact that ASU is embedded in an enormous metropolitan area with many competing institutions and NOW huge debt Crow 's plans are simply not working. They would be a tough sell even if we were the flagship institution and were located in the Midwest where there is broad public support for higher education. Look at his 'vision statement' and what he hopes ASU will become, and compare it with those of UA and NAU. Do you think any bright, ambitious, newly-minted Ph.D would choose us over UA? Crow doesn't understand what motivates faculty and, ironically he blames its faculty for the lousy financial condition ASU is in, (e.g., tenure to president Crow is based on personal grant monies rather than academic achievement, and in fact and very importantly ASU’s $850 + million dollar growing debt is the result of Crow’s personal grandiose ambitions, and unoccupied buildings and empty promises, i.e., “Skysong”.)

Even (and IF is key here) if his plans do work out, ASU will still end up Cal State Tempe, albeit 'with a few points of light' - a few programs targeted for emphasis - riding on the backs of an enormous underclass of 'compromised individuals’ - c. 95% of the faculty, with large and increasing numbers of contract faculty and part-timers, i.e., the world's largest community college). No one wants this – No one !!! No one connected with ASU was consulted about Crow's plans, nobody embraces his 'vision' (except for the ABOR), everyone who has been at ASU for any amount of time and who has invested their hearts and souls in its institution is trying to leave, junior faculty are mesmerized by fear of retribution and are focused toward leaving ASU. Crow cares nothing for people (as people) and is so personally repellent that even some of the top-level administration are/have abandoned ship. In a few short months, he has changed the 'culture' of ASU from one that was relatively open and collegial to one dominated by immense anger, a sense of betrayal, anxiety and fear.

It's worth remarking that the situation in Arizona is somewhat anomalous vis à vis other states in that UA has all the cookies (i.e., it's the land-grant school and it has the med school). ASU has nothing, and the ABOR is determined to keep it that way. The fact that their 'Changing Directions' initiative came out after Crow was hired is like closing the barn door after the horse is gone. Having reduced ASU to running on less-than-empty, they (ABOR/Crow) now magnanimously decide to loosen the reins a bit. However, you can bet your bottom dollar that if Crow were to launch an initiative to get ASU’s own regents, to get ASU’s own med school, to get land-grant status (something that can be accomplished 'after-the-fact' as, e.g., in Montana), the Regents would come down on him like a ton of bricks!

This situation represents the 'death of hope' for ASU. So long as there was some chance that ASU would escape the ABOR strictures on our legitimate ambitions, ASU faculty was willing to stick it out (kinda like Lucy and the football . . . every year Lucy spots the football for Charlie Brown, every year she jerks it away at the last minute . .), but there will be no “successful vision” until ASU gets its own Regents. These feelings are not unique - they pertain, in a greater or lesser degree, to all who have given their devotion to academics, and those who have nourished their hopes and aspirations for ASU through extensive financial support

Anonymous said...

The following is a letter I sent to the Arizona Republic earlier this year following yet another piece supporting ABOR's 'Changing Directions' initiative. It was filled with 'cooked' statistics, and gave the impression that UA and ASU were not so different after all. Only someone completely unfamiliar with the history and politics of higher education funding in the state would be gullible enough to believe this.

Student-Faculty Ratios Misleading

I write to correct factual errors in the piece on ASU and the UA (“Labels frustrate ASU, UA”, 11/25). The Arizona Republic would be well advised to consult the National Center for Education Statistics, rather than a popular magazine like US News & World Report. A little elementary arithmetic clearly shows that, with 61,000 students, if ASU really had a 19:1 student-faculty ratio, it would have c. 3200 line faculty. As nearly as I can determine (and it is not easy to get hard numbers from Arizona’s public universities), ASU has only c. 1850 line faculty, and a 33:1 student-faculty ratio. The rest of the ‘faculty’ counted in the USN&WR are part-timers, grad students, contract faculty, adjuncts etc. – not line faculty.

The statistics for the UA are also misleading, although in the opposite direction. With 38,000 students, UA has c. 2230 line faculty and a student-faculty ratio of 17:1 (not counting their ‘shadow faculty’ – the ones in the centers and institutes that don’t show up in the line faculty statistics – if you do that, the UA ratio improves to c. 14:1).

According to the NCES, the national average student-faculty ratio for 4-year public universities in 1976 was 18:1, improving to 14.7:1 by 2002. In 1980, ASU’s student-faculty ratio was c. 23:1, and that of the UA c. 20:1. In 2002, ASU’s student-faculty ratio was c. 31:1, double the national average. UA, on the other hand, had improved to c. 18:1.

This is what happens in a state where higher education is under the control of a single governing board. It is also a good example of how to lie with statistics.

Anonymous said...

Funding formula creates disparity between ASU, UA
Associated Press
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 08.14.2006

TEMPE - A formula that has been used by the Legislature to fund Arizona's public universities has created a disparity in the amounts of money spent per student at the University of Arizona and Arizona State University.

For every student attending the University of Arizona in Tucson, state taxpayers spend roughly $2,000 more than they do for those enrolled at Arizona State.

Carol Campbell, ASU's chief financial officer, said the disparity affects every part of ASU's day-to-day operations, which have been stretched thin as its student population has increased rapidly.

Still, others argue the gap isn't as great as it seems.

University of Arizona Budget Director Dick Roberts said the gap isn't nearly as large as the basic computation - dividing state funding by student enrollment - makes it appear.

"That is too simplistic a view of the way the state supports its institutions," Roberts said. He noted that certain programs, such as UA's medical college, are more expensive than other degree programs, such as English or math.

Determining funding per student "fails to recognize the differences between the institutions," Roberts said. "I have a College of Medicine and a College of Agriculture. ASU doesn't have any such thing. I have a College of Public Health and a College of Pharmacy. ASU has no similar parts."

The disparity is the byproduct of an unofficial formula the Legislature used to fund its public universities for much of the past 20 years, not including the last legislative session. The formula, dubbed "two-two-and-one," determined that whatever amount the state awarded to UA, ASU would receive an equal amount and Northern Arizona University would get half that amount.

The formula is believed to have guided virtually all higher education spending decisions at the Arizona Capitol during much of the past two decades, although it's never been written into law.

There is debate about how it came to exist, the funding difference it created and even whether there is a disparity at all.

What is certain is that from 1995 to 2005, ASU grew by more than 14,000 students at its campuses in Tempe, Mesa and Glendale, according to enrollment figures from the Arizona State Board of Regents. During the same period, UA grew by fewer than 3,000.

Despite that, state lawmakers funded the two universities almost identically, records from the Joint Legislative Budget Committee show.

Steve Miller and Scott Smith, ASU's lobbyists, refused to comment on the funding disparity, as did many other ASU officials, citing a reluctance to raise a point of contention between the universities

The Legislature didn't use the formula last session and split up new higher education dollars based on enrollment growth - a change that directed to ASU just more than half of the additional $20 million given to the universities this year. However, it would require more than $100 million to close the funding gap.

Anonymous said...

ABOR, at the instigation of
former ABOR president Don Ulrich and with the collusion of Crow, decided
that ASU was expendable as a credible academic institution, but that it was
nevertheless crucial to their (and 'the business community's') economic
plans for the Valley. However, the only real beneficiaries of the 'New
American University' will be a few dozen obscenely wealthy developers and
their buddies (who include many of the shakers and movers in the Valley) who
will become even more obscenely wealthy as a consequence. Everyone else
loses, but especially ASU, whose legitimate aspirations now lie (probably
irreversibly) in ruins.

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