3/14/2011: From the Chronicle, “Flagships just want to be left alone”:
… “In all cases, the issue is about money, power, and control,” Mr. Lombardi wrote in an e-mail.
“It’s no surprise,” he added, “that the main campuses of many systems now look to leave their systems in the hopes of gaining some fiscal and especially revenue flexibility.”
There are worries that such flexibility will inevitably drive up tuition at public research institutions, but leaders at the University of Oregon suggest that the autonomy plan they are advocating will actually stabilize increases.
Richard W. Lariviere, the president, has said Oregon could keep tuition increases to 4 or 5 percent a year if the state would sign off on a new financing model. Under the proposal, the state would issue $800-million in bonds and agree to provide about $65-million a year, equal to the state’s 2010 appropriations, to cover debt service on the bonds for 30 years. In turn, the university would raise private money to match the bonds and create a $1.6-billion endowment, allowing the earnings to replace state appropriations.
Oregon provided just 10 percent of the university’s total revenues in the 2009 fiscal year, and the state dollars spent directly on students were less than $3,800 per full-time equivalent in the 2008 fiscal year, nearly rock bottom for major public research institutions.
As in Wisconsin, Mr. Lariviere’s suggestion that the University of Oregon should break off from the state system and have its own governing board has been met with resistance. The Oregon State Board of Higher Education is pushing its own legislation to provide greater autonomy for all of the system’s campuses, and the board’s president has suggested that Mr. Lariviere’s proposal undermines that effort. Both the system’s and the university’s proposals are under consideration in the legislature, …