USC/Clemson column

Gamecock, Tiger team up against caps
By Brad Warthen
Editorial Page Editor
WEEK BEFORE last, I ran into USC President Andrew Sorensen as he was on his way to an “unprecedented” meeting with House Speaker Bobby Harrell. They were going to talk budgets.
    What was so new about that?
    “Carolina and Clemson are talking to him at the same time,” Dr. Sorensen said. “And we’re using the same numbers.” To those who remember the old days of tigers and chickens fighting like… well, like cats and birds, over funding, this was remarkable. Mr. Harrell was so “overwhelmed,” Dr.Bobby_presidents_1 Sorensen later said, he sent for a photographer to record the event.
    “Jim and I have become increasingly close in terms of… what we want to do and how we want to do it,” Dr. Sorensen said when he and Clemson President James Barker visited the editorial board last week.
    Mr. Barker stressed that this new level of cooperation was “not because of the governor’s ‘tax.’ ”
    In his latest executive budget, Gov. Mark Sanford proposed “a one percent reduction for Clemson, USC, and MUSC that will result in savings of $3,232,091 in general funds to encourage such further collaboration.”
    “Yes,” said Dr. Sorensen, “he takes away a million from each of us to stimulate us to collaborate…. if you can understand the logic in that, please explain it to me.”
    This is not the only area in which the two presidents agreed with each other and disagreed with the governor.
    For instance, there is the governor’s proposed cap on tuition increases. Sounds good, doesn’t it? It would help me out, with my fourth child now in college.
    And I like the governor’s stated goal, which is to force consolidation and reorganization of the state’s non-system of public higher education.
    But are caps a good idea for the state of South Carolina? No, and not just because this isn’t going to convince lawmakers to cut the number of institutions.
    Tuition started shooting up when the Legislature decided to cut back on direct funding of colleges, and give middle-class voters scholarship checks paid for by poor folks suckered into playing the lottery.
    South Carolina’s public colleges have experienced a larger percentage decrease in state funding than those of any other Southern Regional Education Board state over the last decade — a period in which most SREB states increased funding.
    Of the 16 states, only West Virginia funded its colleges at a lower percentage of the regional average last year. South Carolina was at 72.45 percent of that average. North Carolina was at the top end, at 136.95 percent.
    Higher state funding means lower tuition. Not coincidentally, Kiplinger’s recently listed UNC-Chapel Hill as the best deal in the country, measured by quality compared to cost. Out of 130 public colleges listed, Clemson was 24th, and USC 31st — in spite of those tuition increases.
    Or perhaps because of them. The money to improve academics had to come from somewhere. And since the General Assembly has seen fit to turn the money over to the students, via scholarships, that’s where the institutions have turned for funding.
    At USC, said Dr. Sorensen, 96 percent of entering freshmen get “one of the lottery-funded scholarships.” At Clemson, it’s 99 percent. In fact, said Mr. Barker, “At Clemson, not one freshman from South Carolina paid full tuition” this year.
    OK, so the heads of the schools don’t want tuition caps. Big surprise. What about the students? I don’t know about all of them, but some student government leaders at USC sent a letter
to the governor last week asking for a meeting “to make you aware of our concerns with these proposals, as we feel they do not completely address the desires of students.”
    One of the signers, student body Treasurer Tommy Preston, was diplomatic about the governor’s plan when I asked about it, saying that it was “our opinion that there’s just not enough information” to know, but it seemed the caps “potentially could be harmful in the future.”
    Never mind what the treasurer thinks. What does Tommy think?
    “Personally,” he said, “I think our state has a bigger problem with higher education funding.”
    Smart kid, that Tommy.

57 thoughts on “USC/Clemson column

  1. Dave

    Brad, my daughter forwarded me the latest cost increase from Clemson that was passed onto families and students. I don’t have all the details in front of me but they raised the meal program costs, student health coverage costs, and added some new fee for transportation costs. The latter is to expand the bus routes to off campus housing etc. since the school is extremely short on parking. These are all essential programs, just like tuition, books, and other services are essential. The increases if I recall are in the 5 to 7 % range.

    So, tuition has gone up some 120% since 1999 and book fees for just one class can be several hundred dollars. From the president’s comments on the lottery subsidies, you can see that the leaders don’t recognize increases as truly being increases. After all, the students are receiving tuition money. Something is amiss with this reasoning and the governor wants to lasso in the out of control spending. Last week I read where Clemson began the first stage of opening their Charleston campus branch. Why not, money is no object when you can simply pass it on. Don’t you wish the State could raise their subscription rates as freely as that?

    As an aside, I hold both of these universities in great respect, and Dr. Barker is an absolutely first class leader. I certainly don’t know all of the inside detail that they know and contend with to run these huge institutions. But to a taxpaying parent, something is wrong with this out of control inflationary trend when the general inflation in the US economy is annually about 2% or so. Does anyone have an answer? GO TIGERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Mark Whittington

    Sure: it’s privatization. It doesn’t really cost $40,000 per year to send your young adult to Harvard for example, but people are willing to pay huge sums to have their children credentialed so that they may at least enter the middle class (old definition-the top 1/4th of population). We have a German (1930s) style university system that is itself based on a hierarchy, with public universities such as USC and Clemson being in the middle/lower tiers.

    The exponential rise in tuition has been going on now for the past twenty years. Interestingly enough, the dramatic rise in tuition coincides exactly with the development of Globalization.

    The people who run universities, who are not slow on the uptake, realized decades ago what was happening and they made efforts to increase the supposed “quality” of their student population by sorting students with the ubiquitous, standardized SAT. Universities did this to either maintain or increase their standing within the university hierarchy in order to keep from losing funding for their institutions. Public universities across the nation are trying to become research universities in order to get higher slots within the pecking order.

    Why are people willing to pay so much for their children’s college education, and why are people willing to pay so much more to send their children to Harvard rather than to USC or Clemson, for example? Because today university credentials determine at what level you’ll be allowed to “compete” within capitalism. Harvard graduates are going to end up in the top 2% of the population concerning wealth, whereas USC and Clemson graduates are going to be in the 15% to 20% range. Here is a link to the US wealth distribution: Where would you rather send your child to college?

    Brad is right about the lottery subsidizing wealthy and middle class people on the backs of the poor. Politicians figured out a long time ago that middle class people vote, whereas working class and poor people do not participate in sufficient numbers to make that much of a difference. People do not vote because they know that the system is set up against them to begin with, and that regardless of how they vote, inevitably politicians with economic interests opposed to their own will end up in power. They’d rather take their chances on the lottery.

  3. Bob Coble

    Brad I agree with you on the caps being a bad idea. My wife and I are/have/will pay for six children to go to colleges in South Carolina, including Clemson, USC Salkehatchie, Erskine, Wofford and USC Law School. The costs are rising but I think caps will hurt our universities and colleges greatly. (I usually read your blog but do not write but college tuition payments always gets my attention!)

  4. Lee

    Mayor Bob, who is unable to control wasteful spending by his administration, is unable to criticize the out-of-control spending at USC. No surprise there.
    Dave and Mark make the more reasoned observations that there is no legitimate reason for college costs to rise 2, 3 and 4 times as fast as other prices and family incomes.
    Some college classes have 200 students, each paying $400, to listen to a foreign graduate student attempt to lecture in broken English, while the professor sips coffee with similar professors. That is $80,000 income stream for one class.
    I graduated from an engineering school, ranked at the time in the top 10 nationally, with no classes more than 40 students, some as small as 2, no graduate students teaching, and could earn enough in summers to pay my entire tuition, room and board, and graduate with $3,700 in the bank.
    Greedy, lazy faculty, and inept administrators wrecked all that. Contrary to Brad Warthen’s falsehood, there have been no cuts in taxpayer funding to our state colleges, and no cuts in tuition.

  5. Don Williams

    Greedy, lazy faculty.
    Inept administrators.
    Brad Warthen’s falsehoods.
    Graduate tudents who speak only in broken English.
    Bob Coble, the wasteful mayor.
    In only 5 paragrahps, Lee has managed to insult with a vengenace all those who don’t belong to his clique.
    Doesn’t he sound like a warm, friendly man you’d enjoy getting to know.
    Lee, did you learn character assasination at the knee of your namesake?

  6. David

    That is Lee’s angle. He likes to complain and fuss but there are a few like him in every town. Don’t worry, since they usually only have negative comments to make, leaders don’t take them seriously.
    Rep Jim McGee of Florence had a bill introduced to impose caps and raise class sizes tremendously at only USC. He didn’t include Clemson even though their tuition is rising fast as well. I emailed him on it. His response hints at just introducing a bill he knows won’t go anywhere but he can go back and say to his voters that he tried to do something. (His bill is dead in committee already).
    Tution keeps going up because the legislature keeps cutting funding to colleges. No engineering graduates are needed to figure this one out.
    South Carolina won’t ever have schools on the level of UNC, UVA and others because our general assembly doesn’t value that type of education for its residents.

  7. Lee

    David, you need to attend a class at USC with hundreds of students sleeping through lecture by some low-paid foreign student.
    Then look at that list of 800 faculty members teaching no classes. Next look at how many faculty members make over $100,000 a year, while most classes are taught by underpaid, part-time adjunct faculty with no benefits.
    Next, show us how Brad Warthen can claim that spending has been “cut” to higher education, when it has risen faster than inflation or family incomes.
    In my world of management, administrators who cannot keep spending in line are inept, and are replaced.
    Oh, don’t forget to explain to me how Bob Coble is so smart to spend more money in interest on his borrowing, than it would take to pay cash for all the capital projects this year. If you need help, some foreign graduate student at the Darla Moore school of business can help you formulate an excuse.

  8. David

    I graduated from USC. Thanks for the offer though.
    and tell me how current proposals to raise the current freshman classes at USC by over 800 students per year will lower class sizes? After all, these are the only proposals out there right now. Could you share your wisdom, which is obviously above the rest of us, how that is supposed to work?
    “Of the 16 states, only West Virginia funded its colleges at a lower percentage of the regional average last year. South Carolina was at 72.45 percent of that average. North Carolina was at the top end, at 136.95 percent.
    Higher state funding means lower tuition. Not coincidentally, Kiplinger’s recently listed UNC-Chapel Hill as the best deal in the country, measured by quality compared to cost. Out of 130 public colleges listed, Clemson was 24th, and USC 31st — in spite of those tuition increases.”

  9. Lee

    Those who want to spend more money always pick as their standard how much money someone else is spending. It’s a technique left over from the teen years, and it is just as irrelevant.
    Why should tuition on every student have to be increased just because the enrollment increases? That means that the capital costs are amortized over a larger customer base.
    And why should USC enroll 800 new students, when it is already enrolling marginal students who are projected to flunk out the first year?
    PS: anyone who attended USC cannot deny that it has huge classes taught by foreign students.

  10. Brad Warthen

    “Those who want to spend more money…”
    That’s an interesting choice of words, but just a variation on a theme I’ve run across a thousand times. Libertarians are constantly accusing people who want to get something done for the greater good of simply wanting to spend more money, as though that were the end itself instead of one of the means.
    I think it’s because they simply DON’T want to spend more money, regardless of whether that’s a means to a worthwhile end or not. For them, it’s ABOUT the money. Therefore they assume that those who disagree with them simply want to spend money for the sake of spending it.
    What they don’t understand, at least in my case, is that whether you spend more or spend less is purely a function of which will do the most good in a given situation. I happen to believe that Washington wastes hundreds of billions of our tax dollars (on meddling in education, for one thing, but mostly in expanding entitlements). But South Carolina is still failing to invest sufficiently in some of the most basic functions of a state government, from law enforcement to public health to education.
    Sorry, Lee, but I don’t see anything adolescent or immature about looking at the states around us that have managed to become wealthier, healthier and wiser by investing far more than we do in education, thereby providing the foundation of a strong economy. Quite the reverse. It takes maturity to realize that achieving a certain desired result is going to cost you something.

  11. Lee

    South Carolina spends over $12,000 per public school student.
    In a class of 20, that is $240,000, of which $60,000 to 80,000 may be going to direct instruction. The bulk of the remainder is to non-instructional labor costs, and the rest to facilities.
    Tell me why only 1/4 to 1/3 of the budget should go to direct production of the product?
    Tell me why the cost of college (or government ) should increase faster than the growth of the economy, and how long do you think that scenario can be sustained.

  12. Lee

    Since I have worked a great deal of my life in other states, I know a lot about why they are better. There are lots of reasons, for each industry and area, and South Carolina is not going to catch up by having the government hand out money willy-nilly without knowing exactly what they are trying to improve.
    Engineers and scientists are trained to be skeptical. Journalists need to be more skeptical of the spending schemes of politicians who just wave their hands and ignore questions about what the money is going to do, how they know it will accomplish that, why they have not succeeded before, and what they intend to do if this also fails.

  13. David

    Sorry Lee, I don’t really pay your posts any attention. You are a complainer. That is all you know how to do. You do it so much that people just write off what you say – good points or bad.
    I do think Libertarians are good for a few good laughs though. They are always so angry about everything – complaining, fussing, etc. It is little wonder why they are dismissed by almost everyone.
    I don’t know why USC would enroll 800 more students right now. They don’t want to but a Republican legislator has proposed that for them (they aren’t interested in doing it).
    “Of the 16 states, only West Virginia funded its colleges at a lower percentage of the regional average last year. South Carolina was at 72.45 percent of that average. North Carolina was at the top end, at 136.95 percent.
    Higher state funding means lower tuition. Not coincidentally, Kiplinger’s recently listed UNC-Chapel Hill as the best deal in the country, measured by quality compared to cost. Out of 130 public colleges listed, Clemson was 24th, and USC 31st — in spite of those tuition increases.”

  14. Lee

    Higher state funding MAY mean lower tuition, but studies show that the schools do not lower tuition by the amounts of funding. A recent article in The State showed how the tuition increases were not tied to the state funding INCREASES (not reductions) not being as large as the colleges wanted.
    College administrators are playing the oldest game in democracy:
    * take away benefits from the most number of people, usually the most innocent and least politically powerful (students this time)
    * lie to the victims about the cause being a “funding cuts”
    * shift the blame from their own spending on pet ego projects, to elected officials who are trying to do their duty of oversight.

  15. Dave

    So all can see the facts directly, I am pasting in the fee increase letter from Clemson to all students. As you read this, imagine that you own a company and you contact a “captive” customer and tell them you need to raise your prices on materials, labor, freight, advertising, packaging, all at one time, but this is in their best interests.

    Clemson University students’ quality of life outside the classroom should improve this fall, with a boost from fee increases approved today by the school’s board of trustees. Increases in meal plan, health service and housing rates, and a new transit fee requested by students, will take effect for the 2006-07 school year.
    “It is always a tough decision to increase student fees,” said Almeda Jacks, vice president for student affairs. “But, in order to maintain and improve the quality of campus life our students expect, it must be done.”
    The cost of meal plans, which currently range from $567 to $1,285 per semester, will increase 5 percent. The increase will pay for facility and equipment upgrades and offset higher costs of labor, food, insurance and utilities.
    The health fee will rise $15, from $110 per semester for full-time undergraduate and graduate students to $125 per semester. The summer health fee will increase $5, from $40 to $45. The health fee covers on-site professional services at Redfern Health Center on campus, which is accredited by the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Health Care Organizations. Services offered by Redfern’s physicians, nurse practitioners, registered nurses, clinical psychologists, psychological counselors and licensed substance abuse counselors are all covered by the health fee.
    Housing rates will go up an average of 4.18 percent. The increase will help fund the university’s long-range major improvement plan for residence halls and offset higher operating expenses.
    The transit fee, a new fee proposed by students and presented by student senator Brian Church, a senior computer information systems major from Taylors, is $67 per year. The fee will generate approximately $900,000 annually to support transit services, such as Clemson Area Transit bus system. The revenue will allow for the expansion of CAT routes to campus residence halls and off-campus apartment complexes. Other improvements will include better remote parking bus service and bus service on and off campus 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
    Currently, parking services revenues contribute $850,000 annually to Clemson Area Transit and on-campus shuttle services. This new fee will allow parking services revenue to be directed to parking improvements, such as new parking structures on campus.
    “Transit services are an integral part of the Clemson infrastructure,” said Katy Bayless, student body president. “Without this fee, we will not have the financial ability to improve our landscape, create a pedestrian-friendly campus or improve upon the services provided by Clemson Area Transit.”
    “This fee was requested by and approved by our student government to improve the quality of student life at Clemson,” said Almeda Jacks, vice president for student affairs. “We applaud our student government for making decisions to make campus life better for all students.”
    In other action, the trustees voted to accept property and facilities from the city of North Charleston and Friends of the Hunley related to the university’s plan to establish a Restoration Institute in the Lowcountry.

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
    Inside Clemson * Clemson University Department of News Services
    E-MAIL * PHONE 864.656.3860 * FAX 864.656.0812
    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

  16. David

    I understand your point but
    1) If the costs is too high, the student can transfer (not a great option I realize)
    2) what do you expect? if the state is going to keep sending Clemson less and less money and they want to keep moving up and becoming a better university, more selective, etc- they have to raise cash. Employees want raises. Facilities have to be built and maintained. Insurance keeps going up – it isn’t going down, etc etc etc

  17. Lee

    Why should the cost of college increase at more than twice the rate of family incomes and other goods and services?
    How long do you think this can continue, short of the obvious point at which annual tuition = 100% of family income?

  18. David

    It shouldn’t if the General Assembly would come up with reasonable increases to our colleges.
    But when they cut funding over time, colleges are going to have raise the money somewhere because their expenses aren’t going down. Professors and line employees aren’t much into taking pay cuts (I ain’t much into it either). Their insurance payments aren’t going down. Their facility maintenance budgets aren’t going down. Their utility bills aren’t going down, their food costs aren’t going down, their fees to provide housing aren’t going down, etc, etc, etc.
    Many private school colleges have tuition that is higher than 100% of family income. Clemson’s President has publically stated that Clemson is fast becoming a private school because of the decreasing budget that the General Assembly provides.
    So it wouldn’t shock me at all if in 10 years college across SC are basically private schools with huge tuition bills.

  19. Dave

    David, I want Clemson, USC, CofC, and the others to be the best academically they can be. I have watched as Clemson has been on a construction building boom for the last 10 years. For example, they built an absolutely world class workout center and pool, probably bigger than any YMCA. So did USC. Why??? Then we have the new luxury condos that are closing in the open end of the football stadium. I could be wrong on where revenues are coming for that but it is a public stadium after all. The same trend has impacted the high schools that have been built lately. I guess it all depends on the definition of “reasonable”.

  20. Lee

    David, you use the bogus liberal definition of “funding cut” to mean not giving the educrats all they asked for. Actually, a real cut is reduction in spending from the previous budget.
    The fact that Harvard or such has a tuition of $40,000 is irrelevant to the failure of public schools to keep their tuitions lower. Harvard students come from families with incomes of $250,000 to $25,000,000 a year. The school has billions in endowments, which provide scholarships for the few students who cannot afford to pay their own way.
    The primary mission if USC and Clemson is to provide and affordable, good, college education to the citizens of this state. After they do that, then they can look at the next priority, which is providing graduate degree programs for those same students.

  21. David

    Clemson and USC build such things as new workout centers because they attract great students and faculty. I can’t speak for Clemson but USC’s old center was falling apart and incredibly crowded. It was 30 + years old as well. It is still used but new, modern facilities were badly needed for students.
    I really wonder if you have a clue what you are talking about sometimes.
    USC’s budget in 1995-1996 was $149.5 million
    USC’s budget in 1999-00 was $180 million
    USC’s budget in 2002-03 was $164 million
    in 2004-05 it was $149 million
    Clemson in 95-96 was $86.7 million. In 98-99 it was $97.8 million. in 04-5 it was $85.3 million.
    in 1996 USC’s budget was 14.4% of state revenue. In 04-05 it was 11.6%.
    Now I don’t know about you or Washington, but that isn’t a cut in the increase. That is an actual cut.

  22. David

    The above numbers are the budget money provided by the state.
    the condos near the stadium are all privately owned and financed. THey aren’t on the stadium property. The state -nor USC- has anything to do with them.

  23. Lee

    David, you left out the tuition increases, federal money, and grants.
    Then there is the pesky issue of how to pay for the new research campus, which is just a vague notion, with no detailed plans, budgets, etc… just a “build it and they will come” hand-waving.

  24. David

    “David, you use the bogus liberal definition of “funding cut” to mean not giving the educrats all they asked for. Actually, a real cut is reduction in spending from the previous budget.”
    USC’s received (From the State of SC) in 1995-1996 $149.5 million
    in 1999-00 $180 million
    in 2002-03 $164 million
    in 2004-05 it $149 million
    So clearly your characterization of it was wrong in that these are actual cuts in USC’s budget from the state. Not simply a cut in the rate of increase.
    Tuition is obviously going to go up when the state cuts funding as I showed you in the post above.

  25. Lee

    According to the House Ways and Means Committee, the $1,000,000 reduction for Clemson was in the area of travel, meals and entertainment:
    15% reduction in Travel, Meals, Fees and Registrations $1,037,158

  26. Lee

    The naive ASSUMPTION is that tuition will increase of taxpayer funding is decreased.
    That has already been debunked in a recent guest article on The State op-ed page.
    A competent administration would reduce their spending in order to reduce tuition.
    As I pointed out, the tiny spending reductions were line items for travel, entertainment and telephones, all of which can be easily reduced. It would take many millions of dollars of real budget reductions to bring the cost of college back in line with the average 1.9% annual increase in family incomes.

  27. David

    I wasn’t talking about the 1 million that was cut at Clemson for meals and travel. Trying to stick to one topic at a time here.
    You stated above that… ” you use the bogus liberal definition of “funding cut” to mean not giving the educrats all they asked for. Actually, a real cut is reduction in spending from the previous budget.”
    I posted real numbers that show a real reduction in spending- not just a cut in the increase asked for.
    One more, the budgets of both Clemson and USC as provided for by the state of SC
    State money to USC in 1995-1996 was $149.5 million
    in 1999-00 was $180 million
    in 2002-03 was $164 million
    in 2004-05 it was $149 million
    Clemson in 95-96 was $86.7 million. In 98-99 it was $97.8 million. in 04-5 it was $85.3 million.

  28. Lee

    You might get away with posting partial budgets for a few select years down at the campus coffeehouse, but those of us who have been paying taxes and tuition for more than 30 years know that spending all all government, including primary, secondary, and college education, has risen far faster than family incomes.
    The limit has been reached. Time to roll back the spending to let incomes catch up.
    Every administrator since 1970 has been getting away with it, and Sorenson surely thought he could, too, but the music stopped when he was without a chair. The sloppy management of the past is going to be replaced if our universities are to survive and serve the citizens of the state.

  29. David

    Nah, I just looked up state spending (because I knew your statement was wrong) on colleges for the last 10 years and there it was in black and white – state appropriations to schools like USC and Clemson are at pre 1995 levels.
    Colleges like USC and Clemson will get around whatever tuition caps are put in place – and thankfully so.
    I am glad to see Clemson raising standards and raising tuition to match. Same thing for USC and I hope to see more of it.
    “Higher state funding means lower tuition. Not coincidentally, Kiplinger’s recently listed UNC-Chapel Hill as the best deal in the country, measured by quality compared to cost”

  30. Lee

    Why do you continue to avoid the entire costs of college? Why do you avoid mentioning the huge increases in federal funding since 1998?
    Do you deny that college costs have increased much more than family incomes? (300% since 1983)
    Do you believe college costs are reasonable, or need to be increased?
    Do you not care about the effect on the people who could benefit the most from a college education, the bright students from lower income families?
    Do you work for USC?

  31. Lee

    On the subject of raising standards, Clemson and USC are doing it for the wrong reasons, and taking the easiest route to short-term boosting of the numbers used by college guides.
    They are raising the SAT score minimums in order to fill classes with students from the upper percentiles.
    They are trying to select the best students, even from out-of-state and foreign countries, at the expense of SC students who may have just as much potential for success in college.
    The mission of state universities is to first educate the citizens of the state. They are not supposed to select elite student bodies. Nor should they select very elite students to offset the minority students who they expect to flunk out.
    State universities are supposed to have multiple tracks and degree programs in order to serve all the good students. The long-term solution to truly raising standards is to raise teaching standards, in order to realize more of the potential of that broad student body.
    There are plenty of top high school graduates to fill up Clemson and USC. Where both schools fail. Many of them attend school elsewhere because they want to make the connections to get out of South Carolina, a state with too much government, backwards politicians who are hostile to small entrepreneurs who threaten the status quo of old money. Go elsewhere, young man!

  32. David

    No, I don’t work for USC- never have. Don’t have any family that works for USC – at least not that I know of. (nor do I work for any college. I do have a relative that works for a private school in state – in the classroom)
    Bright students from lower or upper income families can get various and numerous scholarships. Currently over 95% of freshman at USC receive lottery tuition scholarships. That doesn’t pay for everything, but it certainly makes a huge dent. That doesn’t count the many private scholarships available.
    If the state caps tuition, a degree from USC and Clemson won’t mean anymore more than what a lower tier community college degree would mean in about 10-15 years.
    Because we all know the state isn’t going to pay more in the long run for higher education. We know the trend. I pointed out the declining trend above. The colleges are getting more and more funding from tuition because the state continues to cut their budget.
    you wrote “They are trying to select the best students, even from out-of-state and foreign countries, at the expense of SC students who may have just as much potential for success in college.”
    I call bull on that. High school students know the requirements. They know the deal. South Carolina has a college on almost every corner. Kids that can’t get into Clemson or USC have tons of opportunities to go to a local school and transfer to Clemson or USC if they so desire after they get into school and proove they can make the grades. It is often cheaper as well at the local school because of being able to rely on staying at home – or eating at home more.
    Our brilliant Republican led General Assembly certainly isn’g goint to shut down colleges down. They had just rather kill them slowly with lower funding. But then the school has to survive so they raise tuition. It is much easier on Representatives like Jim McGee to say that than to look a voter right in the face and say “your child should have worked harder and made better grades if they wanted to go to a school that had higher requirements.
    Federal funding has increased but federal funding is tied to specific programs – like a research project – (and often this is directed toward graduate level research projects – not making undergraduate tuition more affordable). You should know that.

  33. Lee

    Again, I talk apples and you talk oranges. Like most apologists for government spending, you make a lot of assumptions that don’t hold up. They have been studied and found to be nothing more than frightened speculation.
    Let’s take your assumption that tuition must continually rise faster than the general prices and incomes, or Clemson will fall off the map. Why so?
    The administrators blame the cost increases on things which add nothing to instruction of students: health care for employees, pensions, salary increases for existing staff. Sounds to me like those costs need better controls, rather than just raising the price of the unimproved product.

  34. Uncle Elmer

    Lee, our universities and colleges have to play on a nationwide field, not just here in this state. If we want to recruit the best faculty to educate the best of our kids, we need to be ready to pay them a wage (and yes, offer health benefits) that competes on the national stage. We also need to have facilities (research, teaching, libraries, etc) that compete nationally. Given the continued hacks on their budget from the state (as David demonstrated) they have to go somewhere for the dollars, or else just give up, roll over, and agree that it’s OK for SC to lose at one more thing we could have done well at if we had the guts to invest.
    As for your other comment – $852,000,000?? Sorenson would dance naked down Main Street if USC got $852,000,000 from the state, what are you talking about? Please post sources.
    A google search gave me this for USCs budget this year:
    It puts the 06 state appropriation at ~$137,000,000

  35. Steve

    The “money quote” from the USC budget document link above:
    “The university receives current funds from several sources. As current
    funds flow into the university they are directly distributed to certain accounts and,
    from there, downward to the colleges and other units. The projected magnitude of
    current funds for the University system for the year 2005 – 06 is $826,406,000. The
    Columbia campus receives most of that, a total of $626,253,032.”
    Sure looks like Lee was correct in his 852 million figure for next year. 826 plus about 3% gets you pretty close to 852.

  36. Uncle Elmer

    Steve and Lee,
    The total system $ is not the state’s allocation to USC-Columbia. Lee is complaining, as he often does, about the way the state spends their money. My take on his comment was that he was implying that the entire 852 came from the state, and was complaining about USC Columbia specifically. If that wasn’t what he meant, I humbly stand corrected and apologize.
    Although the top half of the comment is dead on.

  37. Lee

    I have specifically said that the $1,700,000 in reduced state appropriations to USC for travel and entertainment is a minute part of an $850,000,000 budget and has nothing to do with the tuition increases.
    The tuition increases are a publicity stunt, to punish students and drive them to demand more spending by the legislature, when instead, we need more professional management and accountability from the administration.
    I refuse to even engage in sham debates which rise no higher than the use of bromides like, “.. must compete on the national stage..”. Please be specific say exactly whom you think USC is competing against, for what, and why they should be.
    There is so much untapped potential in this state. For example, with our population is aging, and half the USC engineers leave engieering in their early 40s, you would think that an urban university would address their needs with continuing education, night classes, weekend degree programs. Hell no, they are discontinuing what little they had. Georgia Tech is soliciting the outcast engineers to complete their graduate degrees there. When those engineers move up and hire, or start a company that takes off, to where do you think their loyalties will lie? How can USC expect to have this huge research campus in nanotechnology and biotech when the consultants in that field here in SC have to do business with Duke and Emory?

  38. David

    Lee wrote
    “The administrators blame the cost increases on things which add nothing to instruction of students: health care for employees, pensions, salary increases for existing staff. Sounds to me like those costs need better controls, rather than just raising the price of the unimproved product.”
    A university is more than just teachers teaching in a classroom. A university has staff that don’t ever see a classroom. They have counselors, they have mainteannce and facilities issues, they have computer programmers, they have housing staff, etc, etc.
    What better salary controls do you propse for Professors like Dr. Walter Edgar who was recently pursued by another university for his services. Dr. Edgar is a wonderful teacher, writer, and is nationally respected on Southern History. He is very well known and respected and students from all over come to USC to take classes from him. But he was underpaid for years. USC was going to lose him unless they came up with some money. They did – and even then they didn’t match what another school was offering but he did decide to stay.
    Unless you missed it, health care costs are going up for everyone, private business, public sector, etc. Offering a janitor a $2000 deductible Health Savings Account isn’t a worthy offer. So they work within the system they have set up.
    I had an email reply from a legislator just this morning. His response to me about tution caps was ” my understanding is that we have funded public colleges in South Carolina at a rate equal to other southeastern states over the years.”
    No you haven’t was my email reply and I sent him the most recent report from colleced from the southern schools.
    Lee, have you volunteered to mentor an elementary school child in our public schools lately? You have all the answers. I just know you are doing your part.

  39. Lee

    Public colleges can control costs by the same methods that private businesses emoploy to keep their operating costs from increasing.
    Just because medical insurance premiums increase 7.85% does not mean that medical costs have to increase more than the 1.9% increase in incomes of the students. The other 6% can be removed by increasing deductibles and copayments. It takes about a $3,000 deductible for a family medical plan to be a cost-effective.
    Universities are fighting to maintain an antiquated 1930s European socialist business model that no longer holds up. Big businesses are having to admit that the promises of their World War II pensions and benefits are not deliverable.
    Faculty have long had portable pensions and benefits denied by law to private sector workers, but they are still over-funded by the taxpayers. It is time for all of us to have our ownership of own private benefits and pay 100% of the contributions.

  40. Lee

    Yes, I volunteer in a lots of areas. In the 1990s, I was state coordinator for a program called “Engineers in Schools”, to provide retired engineers as tutors and helpers in public schools. The state department of education refused the offer. Other states did quite well with it.

  41. Lee

    Dave, you seem miffed that the legislator did not reply to you meaningless comparison of SC appropriations to those of richer states.
    You didn’t reply to my real example of how USC is dismantling its connections with the private sector research and engineering community.

  42. David

    I respect your offer for the enginneer in schools program.
    I was “miffed” at the legislator’s reply more so because he was wrong on the facts – and his wrong facts seemed to be his complete reasoning behind his opinion on the issue.
    I sent him information (sent him the link and report) on states like Alabama, Tennessee, North Carolina, and “rich” states like West Virginia and all the southern schools in the 16 state region that make up the report . The State paper said this morning that Governor Sanford relies on the same report but he often doesn’t relate all the info in the report when he is talking about the issue.
    The report was quite clear that SOuth Carolina’s appropriations to college trailed the states in the region.
    A $3,000 family medical deductible might be perfectly resonable for some employees – for a lot of staff though it is unrealistic.
    Winthrop’s President has a fairly decent opinion piece in today’s paper on the subject.

  43. Lee

    Show me someone who cannot afford to pay the appropriate high deductible to make his total insurance more affordable.
    If there is no insurance plan which is affordable, maybe the school should consider:
    * having the high-paid employees subsidize the lower-paid workers.
    * paying the lower-paid workers a little better.
    * reduce staff in order to be able to pay the remaining employees a little more
    Bottom line is that if insurance premiums rise 7.9% and your cost increases need to stay under 1.9%, management has to find ways to cut premium costs. That is the basic job of management. Any idiot can raise prices to the customer.

  44. David

    a lower paid staff person at a college making $26,000 a year isn’t going to find a $3000 deductible health savings plan reasonable. (unless that person is young, single and in very good health which some very well may be)
    They are most likely just going to avoid going to the doctor until a situation is much more serious – and then usually the costs will be must higher at that point.
    There have to be various options and most good plans have options.
    But this is getting slightly off the subject. THis is one portion of many various costs that keep rising at colleges and other places of business.

  45. Lee

    So far, the ONLY EXCUSES college presidents have come up with for ridiculous price increase of education are things which do not affect classroom instruction: medical benefits, lavish pensions, travel, entertainment, sports facilities….

  46. David

    We will have to disagree on that.
    I happen to think when a college has their expenses increase in other areas, that does impact the classroom. I don’t see how it can’t. Just as a family doesn’t have as much money for vacations, housing, etc when their insurance or their maintenance bills go up.
    It is a free market of sorts – colleges are in a race to have nice housing, nice facilities, latest computers, etc to be able to attract great students – as well as the other students that will be attending. If they sit around, they will be left in the dust my many other schools that aren’t sitting around.
    Sports facilities, at large schools, in large measure are paid for by the athletic department funds and boosters. Not in every case but most facilties are paid for by the athletic department.

  47. Lee

    Businesses are in greater competition that are government colleges, yet they keep their cost increases to 1/3 the rate. Why is that?

  48. David

    I don’t think it is fair comparison. – and it depends on the business. Most businesses have competition right across the street or in the next town. A 20,000 student school doesn’t have another 20,000 student school 10 miles away for the most part.
    The company I work for is owned by a 15B dollar company. Our health care costs have increased dramatically and we passed along the costs to our customers- up until last year when our CEO said we couldn’t do that anymore and remain competitive. So now he passed the costs on to us. -and they did offer a complete set of choices that slowed the rate increase down some. I am all for colleges doing that as well, – but as our CEO said- our health care costs will continue to rise in our present health care system so just expect it to keep going up for the near term.
    But our business continually creates and offers new products and services and that does cost money. We do away with older products and we push products that aren’t selling as well.
    But I just don’t buy the comparison. If USC was a private school the costs of attending would double in a period of one years time.

  49. Lee

    About the only businesses that don’t compete nationally and internationly are the local power utilities, and banks.
    Some others are naive enough to not realize that they have worldwide competition.
    That said, the incantation of “competing with the world” is just a slogan used by academics to excuse their lack of management skills. Most of academia seeks job security and status, not competition. I have spent a more time in research on more campuses, in more disciplines than most professors, and I have seen very little sense of competition or urgency.
    Again, the mission of USC and Clemson is to educate all the students. If they actually became a top 10 school, they would have to toss out 90% of the students they have now, and abandon that mission to serve the resume building of the faculty.

  50. David

    They may indeed half to throw out a lot of the students.
    We don’t have to worry about either becoming top schools like UNC or UVA. The General Assembly will never allow that to happen.

  51. Lee

    It is the legislature’s job to serve all the citizens of SC, and to see that public schools and colleges attempt to serve all students with a reasonable and cost-effective prospect of learning.
    That means that state colleges are not supposed to serve as ego fuel or stepping stones for faculty at the expense of the student body. A large state university should be capable of meeting the needs of students with some minimum acumen – say an SAT of 1,000 – as well as the narrow end of the bell curve with scores above 1,500.
    One basic aspect of teacher competency is the ability to teach the subject matter to a wide mix of interests and abilities, and to teach opposing points of view as well as one’s own.
    I don’t see any great mass of students with SAT scores above 1,300 who would to fill up USC and Clemson, much less who would want to. Many smart students want to leave a state with so few career opportunities, regardless of the colleges therein.

  52. Lee

    UNC-Chapel Hill, for example, takes very few out-of-state students, and offers almost no scholarships for them. In the hard sciences and engineering, and architecture, it is my experience that Clemson surpasses both UNC-CH and Duke, and has done so since the 1950s.
    It is the elite branch of a system which has regional colleges of varying academic difficulty, such as UNC-Pembroke.

  53. Derlene

    I’ve been reading the ramblings of the last week and have this to say:
    Dr. Sorensen does not whine.
    Dr. Sorensen is a man of character and integrity, as such, I am pretty certain that he is not going to “dance naked down Main Street” for any amount of money.
    And, yes, I do work for the University of South Carolina–the flagship university of this state.

  54. Lee

    This is not a cheerleading contest. We are trying to discuss the very real problem of public colleges not being managed well enough to keep cost increases in line with the family incomes which must pay the taxes and tuition.
    If you have any suggestions on how USC can get control of its spending, please share them.

  55. Dave

    Darlene, a few years back, my guess is you would have posted the same comments about Dr. Holderman. It is great that you are loyal to your employer but as Lee noted the issues are huge and relate to every public university and college in this state. If you think the status quo and trends of spending and costs are fine, then you don’t care about a solution.


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