Office of Planning and Budgeting

More on the Public/Private University Resource Gap

Two higher education news stories leapt out at us this morning as emblematic:

  • Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett announced 50 percent state funding cuts for four-year public institutions. The largest institution, Penn State, would see its state subsidy reduced from $465 million per year to $233 million. The University describes the proposed cuts as devastating:  “A reduction of this magnitude would necessitate massive budget cuts, layoffs and tuition increases, with a devastating effect on many students, employees and their families,” said Al Horvath, senior vice president for Finance and Business. “While we have for many months been planning for a potential state funding cut, we could not have envisioned one so damaging to the future of the University and the Commonwealth.”
  • Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, the University of Southern California kicked off the day with an announcement of a new, record high, unrestricted $200 million gift to the College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. The College will be named after the alumni donors, David and Dana Dornsife, who told the Los Angeles Times that they “had confidence in USC faculty and administrators to spend it wisely.” USC intends to use the money primarily to enhance the humanities and social sciences through faculty hiring, graduate fellowships and research funding.

As mentioned in yesterday’s post about faculty salaries, the growing resource gap between public and private institutions predates the Great Recession, which appears to be dramatically accelerating the existing trend. Read the 2009 Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU) report, Competitiveness of Public Research Universities & Consequences for the Country, to learn more about this concern: “from 1987 through 2006 revenue per student in private research universities in every revenue category except state funding has grown to be multiples of that available to the publics.”


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