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March 2001 Column by the President

Purdue, IU presidents demonstrate, urge accountability

Martin C. Jischke and Myles Brand

Presidents, Purdue and Indiana universities

In a difficult budget year, Indiana’s House has provided our public colleges and universities with some good news.

While falling well short of the Higher Education Commission’s recommendation, the House budget is a step forward from an earlier plan recommending "flat-line" funding for higher education. Funds are scarce, and we appreciate House leaders' efforts to increase support.

This is an important moment. Indiana has made progress in higher education access and quality. We must build on that momentum.

In the mid-1980s, Indiana ranked 40th in the percentage of its high school graduates who continued to college.

That situation has improved dramatically. The latest statistics rank Indiana 17th in the percentage of its high school grads who seek higher education. That’s wonderful not only for those students, who will enjoy better lives through education, but for all of Indiana.

Indiana achieved this growth while its relative investment in higher education declined. In the 1985-86 fiscal year, the state spent 15.5 percent of its operating funds on higher education. Today, that figure is 13.4 percent. We are educating a higher percentage of students while spending a smaller budget share.

Those figures are worth noting as the legislature considers higher education and other budget issues. The cornerstone of the state’s future is education.

Well-educated people have never been more important for the development of our economic and social potential. College educated people earn more – a $16,000 average annual difference between high school graduates and people with bachelor’s degrees. They also are more likely to create wealth by starting businesses. They are healthier, more involved in communities, less likely to commit crimes and more certain to send their children to college.

IU and Purdue create and transfer the knowledge that holds the best promise for expanding Indiana’s economy. In a state that traditionally sends more in tax dollars to the federal government than it receives, IU and Purdue annually attract upwards of $600 million in federal research grants.

In short, Indiana’s investment in higher education pays tremendous returns.

We are proud of the efforts of IU and Purdue to provide access to outstanding higher education. We also work hard to get the most from every tax dollar we receive from Indiana's citizens.

Energy efficiency initiatives on IU's Bloomington campus have reduced energy use per square foot by 22 percent since the late 1970s, saving about $10 million annually. The Microsoft licensing agreement has saved IU departments $18 million, and provides the most current release of Microsoft software for students, faculty and staff. Aggressively negotiating the employee health care benefit plan has kept costs $10 million below national averages for similar employers.

IU has engaged an outside consultant to help examine how administrative services are delivered on our two largest campuses – Bloomington and Indianapolis. Savings will be applied on the academic side of the university.

Purdue is also cutting costs in a variety of ways, including consolidation of student dining halls from 11 locations to five, more efficient facilities use by administering more exams at night, and even increasing the number of students per faculty member. This last step has led to larger class sections, a trend that cannot continue without hurting the quality of education.

At Purdue, a continuous improvement program – Excellence 21 – has been in place since 1994. This effort generated 130 projects in the 1999-2000 academic year with documented efficiency improvements in a wide range of operations.

Indiana receives tremendous value for its higher education dollar. IU and Purdue consistently rank at the bottom of the Big Ten in per student state funding; yet we've maintained reasonable tuition and a long list of highly ranked academic programs.

We now face tremendous competition from other universities and the private sector for faculty members who are the key to excellence. In the high-demand disciplines upon which economic growth depends, these people make all the difference to our universities and our state. We must stay competitive in salaries, programs and facilities.

We recognize that the state faces a difficult budget year, with many worthwhile programs seeking support. But we will continue to argue strongly that investments in higher education are money well-spent, paying dividends both for individual Hoosiers and the state.

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