The Great Mistake: How Private-Sector Models Damage Public Universities, and How They Can Recover

Event Date: 

Monday, January 25, 2016 - 4:30pm to 6:00pm

Event Location: 

  • Communications Building (CMU) room 120
  • University of Washington
  • Seattle
  • Seminar/Workshop

Co-sponsored by the Certificate in Public Scholarship, with additional support from the Joff Hanauer Distinguished University Professorship for Western Civilization.

Nearly all public universities now accept the conventional wisdom that the era of public funding is over. This is thought to mean that universities must commercialize, marketize, financialize, and economize. This "new normal" has polarized observers: most senior officials assert that higher tuition, continuous fundraising, corporate partnerships, and sports enterprise support the public mission; faculty critics say the university will no longer support independent thought. But both positions assume that private-sector changes will make universities more efficient. On this point, both positions are wrong: private sector "reforms" are not the cure for the college cost disease; they are the college cost disease. This lecture offers an overview of how privatizing public colleges has made them more expensive for students while lowering their educational value. It also outlines more productive policy directions.