He May be the Most Important Person in America Today

May/03/2015 5:12AM
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One man stands alone. He, and only he, believes there is a way to provide a quality university education at a reasonable price. Talking about it is one thing, trying to make it happen is different. We can all talk, and God knows we do. But, Mitch Daniels, former governor of Indiana, and current president of Purdue University is doing what he said he would do. Next year’s Purdue seniors will never have seen a tuition increase. Contrast that with the California university system where their president Janet Napolitano is under fire for requesting and receiving a 5% increase in each of the next 5 years. It’s like comparing the state of Indiana with a balanced budget, thanks to Daniels, and the state of California where they teeter on bankruptcy.

If spending is your goal, most of us can meet that goal. Ask my wife. If you believe, like Mitch does, that the college loan program is the next housing bubble, and you want to find a solution, cutting waste becomes the goal. He believes there will be a rash of college closings in the next few years as incoming students refuse to pay the tab and current administrators are unable to fix the cost problems. He compares it to corporate problems years ago where the boards went along with the management(ENRON) and change had to occur. College boards like their perks and most wouldn’t know how to save a dime if their lives depended on the dime. Picked for that reason. Go along to get along until the school closes, like Sweet Briar did.

He reminds us that the top ten endowments have a third of the money and the top 40 two thirds. From there, any institution is vulnerable. It’s easy accreditation, it’s easy money from the government for loans, an uncaring university administration that rocks along raising tuition believing it will last forever, and kids who don’t get indentured servitude for 20 years.

Until the last happens and 50 more Sweet Briars fall by the wayside, it will keep going up, up and up.

Surveys Daniels takes show that 39% of college graduates feel engaged with their jobs. And, the reputation and the price of the alma maters don’t matter. So they spend a fortune, mortgage their futures, and 61% end up unhappy with their jobs after graduation.

Sending your kid off to the school with the best climbing wall or football team? Or, to one of those top ten endowment schools and paying full freight? Maybe you and the kid need to re-visit Econ 101.

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