posted by King Minos in Money / Career

Higher Education Improving the Planet?

May 3, 2012

(The King decided to spout-off about higher education in light of the major breaking story about the pending retirement of U.GA.'s current President.)

If you read my title above, let me suggest a re-write that might help explain my view: Can the higher education system more effectively improve the planet?

In other words, higher education, even at GA Tech, tends to boost the standard of living. However, higher education does not directly boost the economy but works indirectly. When leaders attempt to harness the higher education system, directly, to boost the economy, they both hamper higher education and hamper economic development.

There are plenty of average folks who might not know much about higher education. Wence the system was birthed, it was done so only after educators and patrons voluntarily joined sides. This occurred after more important matters -- such as survival itself -- were settled; and public funding of higher education developed only as the larger economy created excess revenues that could create and sustain the system.

Of course, private fortunes have been used to found and sustain institutions of higher education, too; again, this was the only way to pay for the system because, generally, the U.S. early on had NOT developed into a mature economy that could afford such a thing. And for completeness, it is worth mentioning that often religious orders established such institutions for the common good and used their own special financing and management know-how to keep them running.

The important point with regards to finance in higher education remains that it is itself dependent on the functioning of the larger economy. Hence, pouring scarce dollars into higher education; and then expecting such a thing to, in turn, drive up government revenues and then "pay for itself" is a backwards and dangerous way of viewing things. Higher education is a luxury afforded only when the larger economy performs well;

I am, now, of course, talking about the GA public system of higher education which is overseen by 9 Regents who are appointed by the Governor and serve staggered terms.

The public ought imagine different outcomes for higher education, generally, such that the boost to the per citizen standard of living is directly related to some level of managment proficiency within the system. For instance, when the Regent's manage system resources most effectively, the benefit to citizens is greatest. Of course the overall effectiveness of the public system might be high, low, or very low; there are very few groups, individuals, etc., who actually monitor effectiveness and such a measure is never included in other popular contemporary measures such as whether some magazine thinks U.GA. might be a "party school."

I have decided to completely consider the effectiveness of GA's system of higher education by analyzing performance at all 34 units NOT!

Let's cut to the chase and go over the basics:

The effectiveness of higher education is the real measure of its worth. Such a measure ought to be the fundamental basis for assessing the system.

Throw in some economics: The higher education system benefited enormously from burgeoning tax revenues associated with the housing bubble and other developments; and, with the bubble over, the system will see declines in funding.

What the King thinks:

The GA system can lead, this time, it it will ...

Plumb the depths of the financial crisis and figure out what it means for higher education; then get THERE first!

In order to help, the King will tell you what to do.

1. Fairly account for the education dollar.
2. Effectively manage the resource in an environment of declining revenues.
3. Workers in higher education accept sacrificial wages in exchange for the honor and privilege of working in the system; and because wage cuts are necessary right now to keep the system operating at all.
4. PS: The IDEA that said only high wages and benefits would get the "brightest and the best" was a scam and hustle, all along, and you should have KNOWN that!
5. End favoritism in management such that the Regent's boost one institution over another; re insulate the process from politics.

No one knows what Hank and the Regents are gonna do. It'll likely be what's best for them which is what they always seem to do.

The public system in GA might be facing a severe crisis; maybe not.

Oh, so the King is hedging?

Let's put it this way: If crisis comes it will be far, far better to be positioned to handle it than to wait until it shows up on the doorstep. If it is a no show, then by all means, go back to reckless finance and unsustainable expansionism and keep imagining that with enough PR folks will believe "higher education" is improving the planet; it actually could do a lot more of THAT if folks would manage it effectively, and not with hubris and outrageous audacity which seemed and seems to be something of a stand-in, really, for the old self interest!

Of course, mistakes were made. It was a boom!

Let's not allow GA's higher education system, now, to become like an abandoned western "ghost" town.

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