Wednesday, December 20, 2006

"rankings are a catalyst for changes that improve the school"

So says Manny Fernandez, chairman of the board of trustees at the University of Florida in Tamar Lewin's article, "Public Universities Chase Excellence, at a Price," from today's New York Times. The article discusses a lot of the issues we've been talking about here at Money-Law (well, Jim and others have been talking about--I've been busy with other work of late), like the trade-off between the pursuit of rankings and the exploding cost of education, as well as the mission of public institutions. Here's a taste:
Like Florida, more leading public universities are striving for national status and drawing increasingly impressive and increasingly affluent students, sometimes using financial aid to lure them. In the process, critics say, many are losing force as engines of social mobility, shortchanging low-income and minority students, who are seriously underrepresented on their campuses.

Undoubtedly, Jeff Harrison will have some thoughts on the story, in part because it's largely about his school, the University of Florida. Among the issues at the University of Florida, is the relative absence of students from modest backgrounds. Lewin reports that Florida's president, Dr. Machen "said that when he became president of the university in 2004, he was troubled to discover that the average student’s family income was about $100,000. "
“That bothered me because public education is supposed to be a ladder to success,” Dr. Machen said. “We don’t want to be an elitist institution. We want to be a mirror of society.”
There are some obvious parallels here with Brian Leiter's latest on changes in hiring practices over the last two decades.


Blogger Jeff Harrison said...

Actually, the item in the article I found most encouraging is the program that provides aid to low income students who are first in their families to go to college. The use of public education to redistribute income from the relatively poor via a lottery to the relatively affluent could be solved my charging all the full cost of tuition and basing subsidization on need.

12/20/2006 6:23 PM  

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