Monday, August 9, 2010

What the candidates (don't) say about higher ed...


You might think that with budget cuts and layoffs shrinking state universities, and with impending leadership changes influencing how they’ll do business, gubernatorial candidates would be speaking out about how to handle it all.


“The focus has been on K-12,” said David Schultz, a Hamline University business professor who also teaches political science. Politically, higher education “is a niche issue.”

Schultz said these are the issues that candidates should be speaking out on:

Future university leaders. With University of Minnesota President Robert Bruininks leaving next June, and Chancellor James McCormick of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities expected to step down next August, “I would expect (candidates) to be talking about who’d they like to see” as replacements, Schultz said. He wouldn’t expect specific names, but “a sense of what they’d like to see” in the next leaders.

The university-business connection. “This is a natural opportunity for them to be discussing how they see higher education as it relates to business and economic development,” Schultz said. “But we’re not seeing them talking about it.”

Tuition. It has gone up dramatically, and Schultz said, “It has got to be on the minds of students and the parents who are sending them off to college. I’d have thought somewhere they’d be saying something about tuition, especially tuition at public institutions.”

The “green economy.” DFL candidates Margaret Anderson Kelliher and Matt Entenza have discussed their desire to create a “green economy” based on the environmental industry, Schultz said, “but what’s missing is how we’re going to train those workers. Are they talking about putting money into four-year or community colleges.

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