Friday, October 7, 2011

Genetski is On The Right Track

State Rep. Bob Genetski has offered HB 5000, to create a commission to study how our public universities are run. Quoting from the language of the bill, "The commission shall analyze the operation and governance structure of the state universities; analyze the advantages and disadvantages of the constitutional requirement for separate governing boards for each state university; review the higher education governance structures utilized by other states; and make any recommendations to the governor and the legislature it considers appropriate concerning the restructuring of the manner in which the state universities are governed in this state."

This is a great idea. Predictably, university management and their lobbyists are objecting. “He's trying to dismantle higher education,” said Michael Boulus, executive director of the Presidents Council, State Universities of Michigan, in a story in Mlive.

This is so typical. Those who are on the public dole don't want any oversight. But those same people want more regulation of the private sector. It's ironic really. Think about it; if your tax dollars are being spent on government-run programs, why would you not want more oversight of how your dollars are being used?

Back in 2003, I was on the House Higher Education appropriations sub-committee. We were responsible for recommending how the $1.7 billion that was being given to the 15 public universities would be doled out. Each year, the fifteen presidents would sit in front of the committee and beg for more money, but then they would remind us that according to the state constitution, they were autonomous and we could not regulate how they spent the money.

Michigan has 15 public universities, all heavily subsidized by your tax dollars. Have you noticed how they compete against each other for more students, how they put up huge billboards and open campuses in each other's back yards?

I think it is high time for some independent oversight and recommendations for how to make universities more efficient. Kudos to Bob Genetski for stepping up.

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