NY Times Letter 10/26/05
The following letter was published in The New York Times on Wednesday, October 26, 2005:
The Business of Education
To the Editor:
Re "Tuition Rise Tops Inflation, but Rate Slows, Report Says" (news article, Oct. 19):
The reference by Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings to higher education as a product, while unfortunate in some respects, might have revealed the real problem. As contemporary demands have outstripped our centuries-old ways, perhaps we lack viable business models.
Are we now like the airlines - unable to make ends meet without mergers, bankruptcy and cuts in service?
We insist on academic excellence and can't forgo costly athletics and student life amenities. We are saddled with spiraling health care costs and legal fees, expensive technology and equipment, and incalculable energy costs. Around the world, the situation is equally troubling.
I suggest that we stop the rhetoric and ideological blame throwing. Higher education needs business models that work. Governments and the private and public sectors must now accept a shared responsibility to develop models that foster creative collaboration, not divisive competition; make higher education affordable; balance excellence with access; advance superb teaching; create new knowledge; and prepare citizens for an enlightened democracy.
William G. Durden
President, Dickinson College
Carlisle, Pa., Oct. 20, 2005