Past and Future Pressures and Issues of Higher Education: State Perspectives
Cheryl D. Lovell
Looking to the future, forecasting trends, or predicting outcomes of any phenomenon requires an understanding of the past to appreciate the forces shaping the phenomenon of interest. What changes have influenced higher education over the last decade? Specifically, what changes have occurred in the relationship between institutions of higher education and state governments? Many of the forces mentioned in the introduction to this book and more fully discussed in other chapters have dealt with internal forces. The focus of this chapter, however, is to address the external forces impacting institutions-specifically the states. An examination of these forces of and by the states on institutions of higher learning is presented in four major sections. Issues of constitutional responsibility, recent political shifts in ideology resulting in states having more local control of federal programs, and competing state expenditures for entitlement and/or mandated programs are among the major issues shaping the state context for higher education.
Second, funding trends of the states over the last decade present a "feast or famine" or perhaps a "half empty or half full" view. More recently, as state budgets are stronger, more funding has been made available for higher-education institutions. Yet, this recent trend begs the question, Do the increases in state appropriations offset the leaner years when state budgets were not as strong? In addition to looking at state appropriations, it is also important to determine how institutions have utilized their funding by noting differences over the years in key expenditure areas such as instruction.
Third, while states do provide the largest source of operating budgets for public institutions, they are also requiring greater accountability from institu-