AUSTIN – A new report from the Texas Public Policy Foundation challenges university trustees to lead the charge in reforming higher education by evaluating their institutions’ mission, organization structure, curriculum and cost-efficiency.
“It falls to trustees to fortify the towers,” wrote Dr. Candace de Russy, Senior Research Fellow at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, “lest they continue to deteriorate ‘by degrees’ and eventually bury the nation beneath them.”
Trustees must commit themselves to fundamental reform, the report says, enlisting support from their colleagues and publicly advocating the need for reform. Specifically, trustees should:
- Review the institution’s mission and organization structure.
- Evaluate cost efficiency and when appropriate:
- Expand teaching loads,
- Reduce faculty size and administrative staff,
- Combine or eliminate programs,
- Reduce non-instructional expenditures,
- Privatize or contract out non-instructional services, and
- Reduce the timeframe to earn a degree.
- Increase the transparency of academic performance and financial matters.
- Review the curriculum for mission relevance and quality.
- Evaluate and reform the hiring, promotion, and tenure process.
“With tuition costs exploding and the focus on education diminishing, trustees must exhibit the leadership to challenge the conventional way of doing things and refocus colleges and universities on providing quality education in a competitive and efficient environment,” said Foundation president Brooke Rollins. “Policymakers also have a role to play – the governor must appoint trustees who are committed to reforming higher education, while lawmakers must allow greater competition in the higher education arena. Students have to come first.”
Dr. de Russy is an Adjunct Fellow at the Hudson Institute in Washington, D.C., Chair of the Ave Maria University Board of Regents, and served as a Trustee for the State University of New York for 12 years from 1995 to 2007.
The Texas Public Policy Foundation is a non-profit, free-market research institute based in Austin. The report, “Raise High the Towers: A Call to Good Governance,” is the seventh in the Foundation’s series on higher education. The entire series is available online on the Foundation’s website, www.TexasPolicy.com.
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