Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

As Deficits Grow, States Try Innovative College Funding

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

As Deficits Grow, States Try Innovative College Funding

Article excerpt

MASSACHUSETTS' public universities and colleges, struggling with state budget cuts, may be in for a dramatic reorganization.

An innovative plan, created by Massachusett' interim chief of public higher education, Chancellor Randolph Bromery, would group the state's 29-campus system into five regions to combine resources.

Within each region, schools would share libraries, faculty, and even courses via satellite and intercampus shuttle buses. By linking institutions together, more students would have access to a greater number of academic programs at lower costs, Mr. Bromery says.

"It doesn't take away any of the stature of the institutions within the region, it just increases cooperation, collaboration," Bromery says. The chancellor has begun implementing the plan this month, although he has yet to get the full support of the state's college presidents.

Bromery's proposal is designed to ease pressure on public colleges and universities, hit hard by the state's ballooning $1.2 billion budget deficit. His plan is just one example of how public higher education is responding to funding cuts nationwide.

"What we're finding is that a lot of colleges are cutting," says Arthur Levine, chairman of the Institute for Educational Management at Harvard University.

Colleges experienced considerable enrollment growth during the early 1980s. Schools expanded and competed for the best resources and faculty. But as the decade waned, tuitions rose and the number of college-aged students declined, forcing schools to look for ways to downsize.

Compounding the problem, Northeastern schools have been hit hard by unforgiving state budget deficits. New Jersey, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and New York all have either considered or have already cut back on higher education.

Although experts say regionalization is not a new idea, no state public system has attempted anything close to Bromery's plan; many states have cut staff, canceled classes, and increased tuitions. …

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