When Bruce D. Benson became president of the University of Colorado in 2008, the university was in financial trouble. There have been a steep decline in state funding, which is kind of strange because local pundits here seem to think that occurs only in Arizona. The recession was threatening to throw CU over the cliff.
So Benson undertook a brilliant, innovative approach. He decided to cut spending and increase revenues.
It wasn’t that hard. In fact, he admitted that his crisis response was mostly “measures you should be taking anyway” in a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed.
For example, red tape was cut, reducing the school’s administrative policies from 210 to 86. A total of 148 administrators were released. There are no reported complaints of the university being under-administered.
The University was also able to find savings by reforming the procurement system and finding ineligible beneficiaries in the health insurance system. Perhaps most remarkably, about a quarter of the faculty were induced to teach an additional course for a $4,000 stipend. This in spite of the fact that we have been told that exceeding three to six hours of classroom work per week stretches the average professor to the limits of physical endurance.
There’s more, like beefing up online learning and taking more revenue producing foreign students. But the point is that Benson realized universities needed to better do better than “approach state legislatures each year with hats in hand.”
The response in Arizona to hard times, especially from the national research University located in Tempe, has so far been quite different. Hopefully they can learn from their PAC-12 neighbors.
Editor’s note: Mr. Patterson writes a blog on the Independent’s website at http://arizona.newszap.com/blogs/speakingfreely.
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