How the Great Recession Reshaped American Higher Education!

Dear Commons Community,

The Chronicle of Higher Education has a featured article this morning highlighting the changes that have occurred  in our colleges and universities since the Great Recession.  The article focuses on the perceptions of individuals at a number of our institutions as they grapple with new fiscal and student demand realities. Here is an excerpt:

“During the past 10 years, the financial meltdown and its aftermath have spurred considerable change in how academic leaders run their institutions, public research universities in particular. Immediate funding shortfalls and tightened credit from banks squeezed many colleges, leading to furloughs and cutbacks.

The longer-term effects of the recession have been more profound and less obvious. They have altered campus revenue streams, influenced students’ choice of major, reshuffled the composition of the academic work force, and prodded colleges to emphasize their role as economic engines.

Institutions have had to prove their worth to both prospective students and skeptical state governments, many of which have reduced appropriations. Once prized as important societal investments, campuses have had to fend for themselves.

“Higher education in most parts of the country is moving from what is perceived as a public good, as economists would define the term, to a private good,” Morgan Olsen (ASU) said. “As that has happened, I think it has forced everyone to look at how they generate the resources.”

After taking short-term steps to stop the bleeding a decade ago, Olsen realized fairly quickly that the financial impact of the recession would endure.

Arizona’s state colleges and universities in 2017 received less than 40 percent of their revenue from educational appropriations, down from about 64 percent in 2007, according to the State Higher Education Executive Officers.

This isn’t a temporary deviation from what was once normal, he remembers thinking. This is an inflection point.”

It you are interested in this issue, my colleague, Chet Jordan and I published a book earlier this year, The community college in the post-recession reform era:  Aims and outcomes of a decade of experimentation.  (Routledge/Taylor & Francis) that specifically focuses on large-scale policy changes at public community colleges as a result of the issues raised in the above article.



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