Policymakers | Costs

Poshard has it wrong

THE SOUTHERN   |  December 12, 2009 by Anne D. Neal

In the article regarding ACTA’s report card on Illinois’ public universities, SIU President Glenn Poshard takes issue with three of SIU’s many failing grades.

Poshard first dismisses ACTA’s call for members of the Board of Trustees to make their contact information publicly available and to enhance professional development. In doing so, he ignores best practices in several states—including North Carolina, Virginia and Minnesota—where trustees can be contacted directly by the public, not to mention a growing call for trustees to obtain independent information to inform their deliberations.

Poshard then blames the Legislature for SIU’s 60 percent increase in tuition and fees in the last five years. As Poshard sees it, jumps in tuition are inevitable when state appropriations decline.

But that’s just not so.

While cuts in funding to higher education do pose a significant challenge, universities should focus on cutting costs and only raise tuition as a last resort. SIU has had recent success in lowering a proposed tuition increase and in making significant cuts to administrative spending, but there is much more that it can do to promote affordability.

With Illinois parents already paying nearly 15 percent of their median annual income for in-state tuition and fees, piling on further burdens is just not sustainable.

Rather than dismiss the messenger, we hope President Poshard and the Board will use the report card in the spirit it is offered—to help address ways higher education in Illinois can be more accountable, transparent and efficient.


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