Stop Building Public University Buildings?

Consider the following facts, reported in the October 2009 Delta Sky magazine. From 2007 to 2008, online higher education enrollment grew 12.9%, “which far exceeds the 1.2% growth of higher education enrollment overall.” Last year, “[a]bout 4 million U.S. college students took at least one online course” and “66 percent of accredited U.S. colleges have some form of online learning.” The demand for online learning can be expected to grow, thereby allowing more people to learn in the same amount of, or less, space. This raises the question: Should Oregon stop building new public university buildings?

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  • Diamond Jim Franconni

    But the peoples who go to brick and mortar schools need the best and newest buildings. It is wrong to expect them to crowd into empty classrooms sitting dormant in old, asbestos-laced buildings. What will become of their self-concept if they are in old buildings?

    And what of the jaded faculty to who must walk from small, cramped offices with just a coffee maker and an old computer to the crumbling classrooms where they meet with students a couple times each week and then retire to “publish” for the rest of the day.

    Build we must and we will do it with your money because you are too stupid to stop us.

    • Anonymous

      Get your head out of your ass, Jim. The Lillis Business Complex at the University of Oregon, which was completed in 2003, cost $41 million dollars and was 90% financed by private gifts.

      • Gwen & Chuck Lillis—$14 million
      • Ronald & Patricia Peterson—$4 million
      • Matt Katzer & Barbara Dawson—$1.25 million
      • Cameron Foundation—$1 million
      • Chambers Family Foundation—$1 million
      • Homer & Adele Goulet—$1 million
      • Jeld-Wen—$1 million
      • James & Shirley Rippey—$1 million
      • Scott Thomason & Debbie Autzen—$1 million
      • And 75 others who gave $25,000 or more

      I don’t have the numbers in front of me, but its construction/renovation put a fair amount of people to work and has made the Lundquist College of Business that much more attractive to out of state students. It is a very nice facility. You are aware that all but 15% of UO’s operating costs are paid by donations and tuition, right?

      The $48.1 million expansion of UO’s College of Education was similarly financed by approximately 60% private gifts (some of which came from faculty and staff). The 2005 Oregon legislature authorized $19.4 million in general obligation bonds for the project. The centerpiece of the expansion, the HEDCO Education Building, which was completed just this past summer is a similarly impressive facility and like the LBC will be a draw for young students who plan to become educators.

      God forbid UO students and faculty enjoy their surroundings, Jim. I mean, when you were a student you probably had to walk to school… barefoot… in the snow, right? And when you finally got there it was probably just a tent covering a hole in the ground, right?

      http://www2.lcb.uoregon.edu/app_aspx/lcblillis.aspx

      • eagle eye

        But, Anonymous, don’t you know, those donors are all socialists and tools of the public worker unions? And the business professors are all communists and I won’t even go into the Ed school people, the Music school types. The nanotech people — aren’t they the same ones pushing evolution on the unsuspecting students?

        And you mentioned out of state students. Do you think we want outsiders coming in, paying the high out of state tuition, thereby driving up expenditures and giving our own students ideas about making a lot of money someday? After all, a lot of those out-of-staters are Californians, we don’t want them, do we? Let alone people from outside the country. What do you want, Oregon students learning to do business with Asians?

      • Diamond Jim Franconni

        When I went to college our buildings were not quite so fancy and yet, we still did OK.
        Wow – only 40% of our money then.
        Cool.

        • Anonymous

          Key word, “our” money. But, I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree. As a fellow taxpayer I fully endorse the spending of that money if it supports an already underfunded higher education system by building infrastructure and creating jobs. Call me crazy.

        • eagle eye

          I’ll bet in your day they didn’t even have the internet.

          You are right, they should have built the new buildings to 1950’s standards, the way businesses do.

          As if they need new buildings at all, enrollment has only tripled since 1960. Can’t they find some more room in the rafters?

          And to think that only 90% of the business complex and 60% of the ed school was privately financed. Why should the public have to contribute anything to train the future school teachers?

          What do they think it is, a public university or something?

  • eagle eye

    Meanwhile, in the real world, enrollment is up about 5% at Oregon public universities this year. I read the Oregon Daily Emerald from time to time, I don’t see many calls from the students to replace the on-campus programs with online. There are a lot of new buildings there recently built or under construction — the business school, the music school, the education school, a new basketball arena, a new “student-athlete” center, an underground nanotechnology building (I guess this is where some of those lazy jaded professors hang out to do their “publishing”). From what I can tell, most of the money came from private donors — Lokey, Knight, others. (Not exactly losers, or socialists, for that matter, I would wager they have had more success in business than most of the posters here.) The current work on the athletic facilities — none of which is paid for by tax money — is helping to keep a very shaky Lane County economy afloat.

    The amount of support from Oregon taxpayers is actually so small now that it is almost becoming an afterthought.

  • Steve Plunk

    Priorities should be examined. Sure many buildings are paid for with donated money but the money was likely solicited for buildings when it could have been used for endowments or funding of positions. Buildings don’t teach, people do, and the highest priority of our higher ed system should be teaching undergrads.

    We have been using essentially the same model for our universities for decades yet times are changing. A full re-examination that system is overdue.

    • eagle eye

      Ah, you think UO should be hiring more faculty or paying them more!

      • Steve Plunk

        No. Part of a full examination of the system would include determining staffing levels. Don’t go making me all touchy feely for the faculty.

        Sometime over the last few decades colleges have lost sight of their primary purpose and how to achieve success. It seems they make changes more in line with faculty or institutional needs rather than student needs. Theirs is a business model held together only by having a captive market and now we are hearing people question whether or not college is still worth the investment. That’s a sign of failure.

        Colleges feign concern for students when in fact students are low on the priority list. The prestige of the institution, and by extension faculty, is above all. That’s not what I would like to see. Students first and then prestige will follow.

        • Duck fan

          Don’t I remember you saying sometime that you had a son going to college? At SOU?

          And let me see if I understand you and ee correctly. You don’t like money donated for buildings, you think it should go for “funding positions”, but you don’t want more funding for faculty. Who do you have in mind then? Then football coach? Maybe you think the faculty wants to work for free?

          • Steve Plunk

            I sure wish the liberals would quit putting words into others mouths. I doubt they can refrain from it since it’s one of the main tools at their disposal.

            Yes Duck fan I have a son at SOU. What has that to do with any of this discussion? I went to SOU and it isn’t material either.

            My point about donated money is related to how it’s solicited. Historically large donations have been used for buildings but it would make sense to instead ask the donors to fund programs/endowments/professorships. Don’t confuse the sources of money, I’m talking about those large donations like someone posted above.

            I don’t think faculty will work for free but I do expect them to work. When times get tough they continue with sabbaticals, they don’t take on additional classes, and they continue to fight for raises that hurt students through higher tuition. I believe they are simply spoiled prima donnas who think more of themselves and less of the students. That said we still have to have them, like truck drivers. I recall someone recently deriding them.

            The larger issue is still the need for a complete re-examination of higher ed. What’s it’s purpose? How to fund it? What traditions are valuable and what traditions are archaic and wasteful. I would throw tenure into that last one.

          • Anonymous

            Steve, I cannot speak to the circumstances of any of the other schools in Oregon’s university system as I am simply not familiar, but UO’s faculty is not overpaid (comparatively speaking). UO administration? Definitely! And Frohnmayer’s departure was a welcome one in my opinion. But it is my understanding that UO professors are among the lowest paid in the nation.

            http://uomatters.blogspot.com/2009/02/blog-post.html

            Everyone here seems so concerned with measures 66 and 67, and that’s fine. I understand that a lot of folks are concerned with the viability of their businesses if they are passed, but to all of a sudden express concern for the well-being of students with regard to tuition is downright ridiculous. If those measures don’t pass expect tuition rates to skyrocket.

            As for the funding/solicitation of funds for buildings, individuals are often motivated to donate those large sums because their altruism (which I am not criticizing) is an extension of their egotism. Again, I’m not criticizing (at all), I’m just being real about it. They want their names on those buildings, they want to establish a legacy on campus, and why shouldn’t they? It’s a wonderful thing to do for the community.

            I think the biggest problem we face in terms of education (and by extension, higher ed) is really a question of value. A university education has become somewhat a rite of passage. Universities have truly become the gatekeepers of the middle-class, and what happens is that you end with a large percentage of unmotivated students who are there for no other reason than they feel that they have to be. Education, as a result, is taken for granted, and the schools end up full of under-performing students. With a school like UO that has grown so large (i20,000+ undergrad students) they literally can’t afford to turn anyone away; standards of evaluation are necessarily reduced and the quality of the education is ultimately diminished.

          • Anonymous

            OOPS! 20,000+ students, not i20,000 students. Typo.

          • Duck fan

            So you’re questioning the worth of higher education but of course, YOUR son goes to college (instead of into the family business or to work for one of your business pals?) You think colleges are too focused on prestige but your son goes to SOU. Admittedly, that is pretty low rent district on the prestige chain, but you could have chosen Rogue River CC if you think SOU is too high falutin’. Or maybe down in your neck of the woods, UO or OSU is considered low prestige! You hate government institutions but your kid goes to a public college, instead of a private. You whine about costs even though SOU is what, $7K per year? At least the state subsidy is much less than that, that should make you happy. But why not choose a private college, there are plenty of them in Oregon. You probably won’t get a need-based scholarship for your kid, not with you owning a trucking company. But you’ll be following your principles and only shelling out $20K or so in tuition. Or, there are fancier places like Reed or Stanford that will be happy to take $40K or so.

          • eagle eye

            Actually, Steven Plunk has a point about donors. Tuition is probably rising faster than the ability of people to pay out of their disposable income, even when you take into account need-based scholarships. There are reasons why expenditures are rising this fast, but that doesn’t mean it can continue to be paid for out of tuition increases.

            The solution may lie in a reordering of priorities for expenditure of private giving, more toward operating expenditures, and less toward new buildings.

            Example: UO must be spending something like $300 million on a new basketball arena, new “student-athlete center”, new alumni center. Most, maybe all of this money was NOT available for other things, e.g. operating expenditures, endowment for staff pay, tuition relief, etc. But if donor thinking is reoriented, it might be different in the future. This would probably take a national change in thinking about priorities. But, it’s a national problem. Maybe the problem will bring the solution.

    • retired UO science prof

      I don’t know how much you know about higher education donor solicitation. Usually all options for giving are laid out — the UO foundation is very happy to take money for endowments, I think, in some ways, that money is MUCH easier to deal with than money for buildings — but ultimately it’s up to the donors. And the new buildings are not exactly superfluous, look at the enrollment growth, and also the need for modern facilities, especially in the technical fields.

      About sabbaticals — most faculty don’t take most of the sabbatical they are eligible for, simply because it involves reduced pay, the longer you take, the greater the reduction. At UO, tenure-track faculty are eligible every seventh year, but a full year sabbatical gets you 60% pay. Most people take less or none at all.

      I actually know of at least one case this year — I’m almost sure there were others — where a department implored one of their professors to take a full year sabbatical. Because they needed the salary savings, and other people were planning to take up the slack from his not teaching during the year. That’s right, they NEEDED the guy to go on sabbatical to balance their budget (which was cut 2.5% from the previous year, that’s right, even though enrollment is up quite a bit).

      You may think that professors are a bunch of prima donnas, but to us, it looks like a lot of people want something for nothing. There is not much willingness here to take a minor income tax increase. Maybe that’s fine, but then why should professors take pay cuts, take on extra work just because the State is too improvident to plan for bad times, and the people are unwilling to pay for the services they want. Especially in a state that has been as stingy with higher education as Oregon has. If you can’t take a 1 or 2% tax hike, don’t expect my unretired colleagues to take a 5 or 10% pay hit. They have plenty of work to do, they expect to get paid, even if they are resigned to a pay freeze for a couple of years. And most of them believe they’ve sacrificed a lot of income by going into higher education. They have colleagues who’ve gone off to greener pastures in the commercial world to remind them.

      Come January, if the income tax hikes don’t hold, the state will be cutting higher education again to fill in all the other gaps in the state budget. Then tuition will be going up. The students, and in many cases their parents, will be forced to pay more if they want to continue to receive the service. I will sympathize some with the students, but not with the complaining from the public. If they don’t want to pay for higher education, let them do without.

  • Eddie

    Really? Have you looked at the Airline magazine in question??? The whole flippin’ story is an ADVERTISEMENT for online education programs. (Not that there’s anything wrong with advertising, but it’s hardly an unbiased look at the situation.)

    Is this a normal jumping-off point to a public policy discussion?

    That’s kinda like seeing a commercial for Coca-Cola and asking if maybe the state university system should keep Pepsi off campus. 🙂

    • Duck fan

      Hah! Now they’re getting their ideas for higher education policy from ads in airline magazines!

      Maybe next they’ll come up with a plan for Afghanistan from an ad in People magazine!

  • John Fairplay

    Isn’t a fact a fact? I could understand some criticism of the original post if in fact on-line education was not growing so much more quickly then bricks & mortar education. Challenge that assertion if you can. That it was an advertisement doesn’t mean the original point is not important or worth consideration (although there’s damn little real thought being put into this thread – I mean, seriously Duck fan, if you have nothing valuable to add to a discussion, why waste everyone’s time?).

    Like it or not, a larger and larger percentage of college students/graduates in coming years is are going to be educated outside the traditional “on campus” experience. What DOES this mean for public and private universities? What is it going to mean when one professor can hold a class for 10,000 students as easily as 10? Imagine the University of Oregon needed only one or two professors for each subject. Will the quality of education suffer? Real discussion of questions of this sort would be interesting and perhaps enlightening in place of the junior high banter.

    • Anonymous

      “What DOES this mean for public and private universities?”

      It means very little because by and large serious/motivated students (and their parents) will always prefer the “traditional” experience. I can offer no proof of that statement but feel confident that the online educational model will never replace the classroom experience. I am aware of the possibility that I could eat my words on this, but unless employers begin to regard graduates of the University of Phoenix as equivalent to graduates of say M.I.T., Standford, Yale, Princeton (or even to UO and OSU grads), and on and on, then it seems highly unlikely

      “What is it going to mean when one professor can hold a class for 10,000 students as easily as 10?”

      That is simply not realistic.

      “Imagine the University of Oregon needed only one or two professors for each subject. Will the quality of education suffer?”

      To say that the quality of education would suffer is an enormous understatement. I realize most of the contributors to this blog despise educators (teachers, professors, etc.), and feel that their contribution to society is essentially worthless, but at least they have jobs. Employment is a good thing, right?

    • Duck fan

      The poster of the article, not I, was the one who referenced Delta magazine — apparently an advertising section, as one person claimed? — as his authoritative source. I merely pointed out how hilariously preposterous this is in a website that wants to be taken seriously as a venue for policy discussion.

      Your claims about one person being able to hold a class for 10,000 is completely absurd. If it were possible, the University of Phoenix online would be spending 1% as much per student credit hour as they are.

      It’s been pointed out recently that Oregon University System enrollment is up 5% or so this year. Apparently they are meeting a big demand. Those students are choosing bricks and mortars schools — not the University of Phoenix.

      That tells me far more than a bunch of blowhards on a rightwing website.

    • v person

      “What is it going to mean when one professor can hold a class for 10,000 students as easily as 10? ”

      John with due respect I think you confuse reaching an audience with a lecture to holding a class or doing actual teaching. I’ve taught both small seminars and large webinars. They are qualitatively different. I can deliver a lecture to 10,000, but I can’t interact with 10,000 on a personal level. I can’t grade 10,000 essays. I can’t notice 9000 napping through my lecture.

      As for education, once one is literate, one can learn pretty much anything for nearly free at the public library. No need to enroll in a brick and mortar college or an on line one one if your goal is merely to book learn. But a lot of the education at a college or university, and this is a dirty little secret all honest teachers know, is what happens between the students themselves. A good student in a class of 10 or 20 can help lift up the others. A few mediocre minds can drag the rest down. Its competition and cooperation working a certain magic. In a webinar with 10 or 1000 students, they are not as connected to each other. I suppose they can blog or tweet or whatever, but I think we discount the human to human experience at our peril, whether in universities or in the office place.

      And…universities do a lot more than teach. they do research, and some of the buildings and their contents are used for that purpose.

      Which is not to say that brick and mortar universities won’t gradually fade back or away. In the meantime enrollments are up, facilities are still needed, and we should not get too far ahead of ourselves just to save a few sheckles.

      • eagle eye

        ‘As for education, once one is literate, one can learn pretty much anything for nearly free at the public library. No need to enroll in a brick and mortar college or an on line one one if your goal is merely to book learn.’

        Can’t agree with this. Try learning freshman biology or chemistry from a book. Some people can do it, but 99% will not make it, not all the way through. Or if you think science is too esoteric, try accounting, or economics. It won’t work either just to throw a bunch of kids together with the book. On their own, they’ll be goofing off on the web within a week.

        Maybe the structure of an online course is sufficient to make the difference, but you won’t see too many of these courses taught online. OSU actually is one of the few places to offer a supposedly serious beginning chemistry course, I’m told.

        But even if you can do freshman science online, for some people, I defy anyone to do advanced science — quantum mechanics, thermodynamics, advanced biochem — online or without a course structure.

  • old professor

    Wow, this is surreal! Try telling students they can’t get into a college campus anymore, they’d go bananas! Try telling it to the legislators! “We aren’t allowing any growth at SOU, UO, PSU etc. Take all your courses online. We got the idea from Delta Airlines magazine.”

  • Dave Porter

    Kurt, I think you ask a good question, but the issue is even bigger and more complex. In this developing era of low-cost online classes and degrees, why should public money go to support the more costly traditional, residential higher ed institutions that we now have? And, if we were to switch to student based support, like scholarships good at any Oregon institution or online program, provided the student resided if Oregon, how could we maintain the research base that is necessary for our economic growth.

    Let me note that a federally sponsored report ““found that, on average, online learning, at the post-secondary level, is not just as good as but more effective than conventional face-to-face instruction.” For links to document see http://daveporter.typepad.com/global_strategies/2009/07/online-learning-more-effective-than-face-to-face-learning.html.

    Another thought provoking artilcle on the impact of online education is “College for $99 per Month” in the Washington Monthly. Two quotes from that article:

    “Colleges are caught in the same kind of debt-fueled price spiral that just blew up the real estate market. They’re also in the information business in a time when technology is driving down the cost of selling information to record, destabilizing lows.

    “In combination, these two trends threaten to shake the foundation of the modern university, in much the same way that other seemingly impregnable institutions have been torn apart.”

    And:

    “Regional public universities and nonelite private colleges are most at risk from the likes of StraighterLine. They could go the way of the local newspaper, fatally shackled to geography, conglomeration, and an expensive labor structure, too dependent on revenues that vanish and never return….”

    For a link to the article see ://daveporter.typepad.com/global_strategies/2009/09/college-for-99-a-month.html

    • Anonymous

      Dave, you are either misunderstanding or misrepresenting the findings of the DOE’s contractor. What they were analyzing with this study was the efficacy of “blended” instructional methods. By online instruction what they are referring to is the kinds of educational opportunities and services provided by systems like the Blackboard e-Education platform. Systems like this one allow professors and students to engage with one another via controlled online discussion groups, by completing and submitting homework electronically, by taking exams and quizzes online, by providing access to lecture notes, slides, and other “classroom” materials, etc. Basically, these systems are designed to extend interactive learning beyond the classroom, not replace it.

      • eagle eye

        If the study in question — I take education research with a big grain of salt — is really about things like courses taught with Blackboard, then most of the courses taught, say, at U of O are already doing this. It’s no big story. But these online software platforms certainly don’t reduce costs — they add to them, because they cost money, and generally require more labor of the staff that uses them.

    • eagle eye

      If students really think they can get college for $99 per month, they should go for it. Bernie Madoff had some attractive schemes, too.

      I’m familiar with the outfit that offers “college” for $99 per month. They offer a very few low-level courses which mostly look like advanced high school level. And, the $99 is sort of a “teaser” rate, as a friend of mine put it. A very few people would be able to take advantage of the teaser rate; otherwise, I don’t see how they could stay in business. The rate they actually charge per course is, as I recall, $399. There are a handful of real colleges that will accept their courses for credit. Their price is not so much lower than what Oregon public universities offer for less for courses at all levels. i.e. you won’t be getting a degree in biochemistry or accounting at their rates any time soon.

      Meanwhile, out in the real world, as they say, enrollment is up a good 5% or so at Oregon public universities. They must be offering something that people want and are willing to pay for — mostly tuition, a little public money, too, for now.

      People, especially arm-chair educators, have been saying for ages that the university as we know it was going to disappear. It was television 50 years ago, later computerized instruction, now online learning. Things will undoubtedly evolve, but I don’t expect the revolution any time soon.

      • Dave Porter

        Yes, the federal study did conclude that “Instruction combining online and face-to-face elements had a larger advantage relative to purely face-to-face instruction than did purely online instruction.” “Blended” was a separate category from “online.” But blended instruction does not work well at a distance. And many of the studies mentioned in the federal study showed online doing as well or better than blended.

        Eagle eye, the revolution is already happening. Online universities, colleges, programs, and classes are springing up everyday. Many charge much less than traditional universities.

        What our Oregon higher ed institution face is growing competition from online programs for students who continue to reside in Oregon. The online programs are increasingly offering quality programs that are more convenient and less expensive for students.

        • eagle eye

          There simply isn’t a revolution going on. Enrollment is way up at Oregon public universities, even as state support dwindles almost to irrelevance, at least for the successful campuses like UO and OSU. If student groups in Oregon are imploring to replace the campus programs with online alternatives, I haven’t heard about it. Have you?

          Even if those campuses wanted to offer more online education, there is no more state money to cover the added expenses. They could only do that by turning away Oregon students who want to be on-campus. So far, there is just about zero support for that.

          You say that “Online universities, colleges, programs, and classes are springing up everyday. Many charge much less than traditional universities.” But when you actually examine these programs, you find that they don’t cost less than the baseline cost of public universities (including the state subsidies — especially in Oregon!); the offerings are very limited — lots of easy, low-cost programs, even though the charges really aren’t all that high; and the quality is more often than not kind of shoddy. Sure, U. of Phoenix charges less than Harvard or Stanford (if you are so rich that you don’t get heavy scholarships at those places). But Harvard and Stanford have plenty of people standing in line to get in, even at the full rate.

          It’s true that there is a growing market for online education, mostly among “nontraditional” students e.g. working adults. These students are often the ones who take advantage of community colleges. If you check around in Oregon, the CC’s seem to be packed, they certainly are where I live. Again, there may be a market for online courses, but I don’t hear too many people saying we should cut back the CC’s to pay for more online.

          If people really want to go to online schools, there’s nothing stopping them. Meanwhile, out in the real world again, at places like UO, OSU, PSU, business is booming, even with the students now paying the lion’s share of the costs (at least at UO).

          The article was about whether there should be a stop to building at public universities. It seems like a silly idea to me, especially with private donors footing most of the bill. But Oregon does a lot of stupid things. It could simply say “Stop building, cap enrollment, let the students who can’t get in shop online.” Perhaps this is the kind of Catalysis taught here. I doubt it’s what they teach in the new science and engineering buildings at UO and OSU.

        • eagle eye

          Example: Consider the costs at one of the best-known online universities for a Business program with a concentration in Accounting. Business being a medium-cost field — more expensive than poli sci, less expensive than chemistry or pharmacy or engineering.

          The total cost for a full degree program — 120 semester hours (not quarter hours as in Oregon) is $52,500, more for upper-division courses, less for lower-division. So 4 years @ $13,125 will get you a degree, if you meet whatever standards they have (and look at the legal trouble these for-profit “universities” have had over the years).

          This happens to be very close to what Oregon public universities actually spend per student, on average, as you can find out if you know where to look for the information. And of course, the in-state tuition is far less than $13,125. Of course, the in-state tuition won’t pay for room and board, but you can’t get something for nothing.

          So online is not a low-cost panacea; it has plenty of problems and limitations, some of which have come up here; and the students, the traditional students certainly, show no signs of wanting to replace traditional schools with online.

          • Dave Porter

            (1) Consider me currently an advocate for privatizing Oregon’s flagship public university, but eliminating the tuition subsidy in the process. Then I will hope they can continue to attract paying students. I’d like to see those institutions continue to exist in Oregon.
            (2) But, if we, as in state government, could take the same amount of money we are now spending for tuition subsidies at those institutions, and spread it out to more students to study online or at community colleges, we should do so.
            (3) Yes, attendance is up. But it may be the last stages of a higher ed bubble. When students and parents increasingly realize that the costs they pay do not come back to them over their lifetime, and that less costly educational options are available, the bubble may deflate. It won’t be pretty, if/when it comes.

          • eagle eye

            Maybe you can get appointed to the state board of higher education.

            Yes, the State could privatize the University of Oregon, and eliminate the subsidy — nobody is promoting this at present — but then the State would see private university tuition there. So far, nobody is pushing this.

            As I demonstrated, online costs are not really less than the current public universities, they’re probably more. If you really look, CC costs are not significantly less, either. If you insist on ignoring the evidence, I can’t stop you.

            You may think or wish there is a higher ed bubble going on; there are people who were glad to see the current financial crash, too. But if you want to see your ideas go somewhere, convince the students that they would really rather be turned away from UO, OSU etc. and steered toward the University of Phoenix, CC’s, etc. I think you have your work cut out for you.

    • retired UO science prof

      I have a bit of anecdotal experience with online courses. Science students tend to love them when the courses are in their general education requirements, because they tend to be kind of a joke. No need to go to class, just turn through a text once a week or so, take the online quizzes and exams, and get an easy A. I hear the offerings from private online schools are even more of a joke, but there’s always the problem of whether they’ll count toward graduation.

      It’s not easy to imagine teaching intro science courses, the ones for the science-related students, online, but it’s barely possible, I suppose. But advanced science courses are out of the question. I don’t take my own word for it; I surveyed students on this not so long ago. The consensus was “Forget it!”

      • bar tender

        I’ll bet you have some acnedotes, prof!

  • Jerry

    Oregon educators must be paid more!!

  • Anonymous

    This is what’s available now in higher ed. Two paragraphs from the Washington Monthly article “College for $99 a Month:” Solvig is an older student studying online through StraighterLine:

    “Solvig threw herself into the work, studying up to eighteen hours a day. And contrary to expectations, the courses turned out to be just what she was looking for. Every morning she would sit down at her kitchen table and log on to a Web site where she could access course materials, read text, watch videos, listen to podcasts, work through problem sets, and take exams. Online study groups were available where she could collaborate with other students via listserv and instant messaging. StraighterLine courses were designed and overseen by professors with PhDs, and she was assigned a course adviser who was available by e-mail. And if Solvig got stuck and needed help, real live tutors were available at any time, day or night, just a mouse click away.

    “Crucially for Solvig—who needed to get back into the workforce as soon as possible—StraighterLine let students move through courses as quickly or slowly as they chose. Once a course was finished, Solvig could move on to the next one, without paying more. In less than two months, she had finished four complete courses, for less than $200 total. The same courses would have cost her over $2,700 at Northeastern Illinois, $4,200 at Kaplan University, $6,300 at the University of Phoenix, and roughly the gross domestic product of a small Central American nation at an elite private university. They also would have taken two or three times as long to complete.”

    Full article is at http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/college_guide/feature/college_for_99_a_month.php?page=1.

    • Eug en e 13th st. b ar t en der

      $$99 a month? The kiddos will have so much dough left over! And better math and writing skills, right? Bring it on!

  • Anonymous

    For anyone who might be interested, the following is an email from UO’s new President Richard Lariviere sent this morning to all faculty, staff, students and alumni in the UO system.

    Dear Colleagues,

    I write as the fall term comes to a close to express my sincere appreciation for making my first full academic quarter as president a thrilling and extremely rewarding experience. Jan and I have spent these first four months meeting many of you and traveling throughout the state. We’ve had a grand tour that has taken us from Ashland to Ontario. After traveling some 9,000 miles, I am amazed at Oregon’s diverse geography, culture, and beauty. This is truly a remarkable state and I am honored to lead its flagship institution.

    Here at home, we’ve enjoyed the communities of Eugene and Springfield — places with qualities that match the unique character of our university. As I said in my Oct. 25 letter to the Register-Guard < http://www.registerguard.com/csp/cms/sites/web/opinion/21893329-47/story.csp> < http://www.registerguard.com/csp/cms/sites/web/opinion/21893329-47/story.csp> , anywhere that can claim Wayne Morse and Bill Bowerman among its heroes, that has a statue of Ken Kesey in its civic square, and crowns a Slug Queen each year, is a place that exudes innovation, originality, and extraordinary qualities for the future of all its citizens.

    Reflecting on the last 21 weeks, I find this campus and the students, faculty, and staff that work here deeply committed to making this one of the best institutions in the world. I draw continual encouragement from the members of this community who make the University of Oregon what it is. The passion, excellence, and commitment to our core mission of education and research make up the very lifeblood of this campus. Here are some recent examples of excellence at the UO — a list we all should be proud of:

    • Enrollment: This fall we have a record enrollment of 22,386, with an average incoming GPA of 3.55. We continue to serve an increasing number of students who demand the high quality education we offer. While this undoubtedly puts pressure on all of us, we continue to meet the challenges brought by educating an increasing and energetic student body. After all, that is our fundamental mission.
    • Fundraising Success: We continue to build on the momentum from Campaign Oregon. We raised $129 million for the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2009, and in the first quarter of this fiscal year we raised $26.2 million. Recently, we received a new $5 million anonymous gift to the School of Journalism and Communication, which will allow us to remain at the forefront of training journalism and communications professionals for this dynamic changing industry.
    • Research: We continue to be among the most productive universities on a per capita basis in research expenditures. We received more than $100 million in grants and contracts last year. Through the first quarter of this year we have secured $69 million in competitively awarded grants—that’s more than we will receive from the state for the entire year.
    • Big Ideas: I’m excited about how the Big Ideas are taking shape. This is another example of how the UO culture of interdisciplinary collaboration keeps us on the cutting edge of academic innovation.
    • Faculty Excellence: This year we have an excellent cohort of new faculty. I must also mention psychology professor emeritus Mike Posner who received the prestigious National Medal of Science <
    http://uonews.uoregon.edu/archive/news-release/2009/9/uos-posner-among-white-house-national-medal-winners> this year—the first UO recipient of this distinguished honor.

    There are many noteworthy endeavors occurring on this campus every day. Programs such as PathwayOregon and our scholarship initiatives continue to provide greater access to higher education for many of our students. This year eight UO students earned Fulbrights, and we learned this week that one of our seniors received the prestigious Marshall Award, just the third UO student to earn this honor. We are deeply engaged in developing our Climate Action Plan < http://sustainability.uoregon.edu/content/introduction>. The Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art continues its tradition of enhancing our cultural mission with the latest and wonderful Superheroes exhibit. We opened a new wing and collections vault at the Museum of Natural and Cultural History. We are moving ahead with implementation of the strategic housing plan and a new Alumni Center. And of course we are enjoying a football season that’s showing signs of a thrilling finish. Together we form an engaged, growing, nimble, fun and leading public university that continues to draw the best students, faculty, and staff from around the world.

    Despite our recent successes, we must look to the future to ensure continued achievement. In light of the fiscal challenges facing our state, we must address how we fund and govern public higher education in Oregon and rethink how we can continue to fulfill our critical public mission.

    Recently, President Emeritus Dave Frohnmayer issued a report outlining one way of approaching these issues. Dave offers a compelling case for change and a starting point for addressing these critical issues. This is a conversation in which we will actively engage, over the next few months, with the entire campus community, our peer public four-year institutions, the state board and Chancellor, and our elected leaders. The University of Oregon and the six other institutions in the Oregon University System have been wrestling directly with these problems for years. This is an important campus conversation that we must continue if we want to effect change that will enhance our capacity to serve our students and the state. We look forward to working closely with all of you in the coming months to craft a solution that best meets the needs of our students and allows public higher education to fulfill its critical economic, societal, and community mission. Under any model, the University of Oregon remains focused on meeting the needs of Oregonians and delivering high quality education and conducting cutting edge research.

    We will enter new territory on this front, as we have in so many areas in the past. Once again, it is time for us to lead—not to follow—the nation and world. With the excellence, dedication, and passion we have at this university, I am thrilled to join you in looking to the future.

    My sincerest regards,

    Richard W. Lariviere
    President

    [email protected]

  • Duck fan

    Interesting. Sounds like UO won’t be falling to online any time soon.

    I especially noticed this:

    So they were hiring new faculty last year, I guess they saw the enrollment bulge.

    With that kind of financial stability, I’ll bet the old faculty won’t be lining up for pay cuts very soon.

    • Duck fan

      That is, I noticed the part in the last bullet about new faculty.

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