Oct 122008
 
Authors: Jim Sojourner

CSU faculty expressed anger to state lawmakers Friday about the new CSU Global Campus, an online branch of the university, saying the program will pile on tuition or fee increases for students and keep tenured professors out of the classroom.

Ray Hogler, a professor in the College of Business, said the program was created using a $12 million line of credit from the CSU System Board of Governors — a price tag that he said would be difficult to pay back.

Hogler said he is unsure what guarantees the Global Campus will pay back the money, which many professors at the meeting agreed was most likely taken from student tuition dollars, and noted that the online institution provided no collateral for the loan.

“Well, of course, they don’t have any collateral,” he said.

While lawmakers said the tight fiscal situation in Colorado has forced universities to find alternative revenue streams, professors said CSU’s focus on spending was irresponsible.

“This isn’t entrepreneurship; this is crazy money!” Scott Moore, a political science professor, said. “The lack of accountability is incredible.”

Sen. Bob Bacon said Colorado’s standing in terms of state funding is reducing the quality of higher education with focus shifting largely from non-tenured faculty to part-time instructors.

And the faculty agreed.

“I don’t have to tell you there are a lot of issues that face higher (education) in Colorado that are percolating, not the least of which is funding,” said Stephen Mumme, a CSU political science professor.

Rep. John Kefalas also said he would like to know where exactly the money for the program is coming from.

Gary Geroy, an education professor, said CSU had been offering its own online degree program for some time, and he does not understand why the creation of this new institution is necessary or prudent, given the current “perilous” economic circumstances.

Hogler said he was initially told CSU Global Campus would not offer a degree, only a certificate, but that it is now a “totally separate entity” from CSU and CSU-Pueblo.

The institution has its own accreditation, degree programs — including two bachelor’s programs and two master’s programs — administration and faculty. None of the professors will be tenured.

Geroy characterized the situation as Chrysler competing with GM, saying that the result will be an “administrative structure that is going to compete with itself.”

“Why are we creating a separate entity outside of the quality control system?” Geroy asked.

In order to remain relevant, universities must support different methods of delivering degrees, said Rep. Kevin Lundberg. Whereas the majority of college students were once traditional 18- to 22-year-olds, Lundberg said, the situation has flipped, and most students are now non-traditional.

Kefalas said he is open to suggestions on how to solve the professors’ concerns.

Lawmakers said a convoluted Colorado Constitution limits the amount of money the state can allocate to state institutions, creating a funding problem for universities such as CSU.

Colorado currently ranks 49th in the nation for higher education funding because of what lawmakers have called a “spider web” of conflicting legislation.

Lundberg said that when budget cuts were made in 2003, higher education was one of the first areas to be slashed, but that upcoming budget cuts might be much worse.

“If you thought 2003 and 2004 were tough times, I don’t think you’ve seen anything yet,” Lundberg said. “Even though higher education is essential, the priority in our funding is the opposite. I fear higher education is going to be on the chopping block again.”

The panel said that in order to compensate for the lack of state funding, both the legislature and universities have to find alternative revenue streams, which entails bringing in funds from federal and private donors through research grants and innovative methods of bringing in tuition dollars.

Senior Reporter Jim Sojourner can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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