Public Purpose Magazine, Winter 2009
Public Purpose Cover Winter 2009

Leadership for Lean TimesBy Stephen G. Pelletier
Colleges and universities are facing today’s economic challenges with creativity and resolve. Some are even finding that the crisis can make them stronger.

Another Inconvenient Truth:Facing Public Higher Education’s Fundamental Money ProblemBy Travis Reindl
As a nation, we are often slow to confront major economic and social challenges until realities on the ground make them unavoidable. Take the environment. We have been recycling and celebrating Earth Day for a generation, but conservation, environmental protection, and the development of alternative energy sources did not truly reach the top of the public agenda until $4 per gallon gas emptied our wallets and images of melting polar ice caps filled our television screens. Today, three- quarters of Americans favor new policies aimed at reducing global warming and developing “clean” energy sources, hybrid cars are hot sellers, and President Obama has made the “green collar” economy a key part of his domestic agenda.

How Exemplary Presidents Lead in Times of Fiscal TurbulanceBy John W. Moore, David McFarland and Madeleine Adler
In A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens said: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” Today’s academic leaders, faced with the reality of extreme financial circumstances, understandably may have trouble finding the “good news” during these turbulent financial times. In state after state, university presidents are coping with or preparing to confront significant financial retrenchment. Compounding the problem is the probability that these tough conditions will last for several years. In a tumultuous financial environment, university presidents are being told to “do more, better, with much less.”

Endsights:Why FY10 Could Be the Tipping Point for Public Higher EducationBy John C. Cavanaugh
Each of us has our own interpretation of the saying (or curse, as some would say), “May you live in interesting times.” Leading public universities and higher education systems these days is interesting indeed. To many of those on the outside looking in, fed largely by inattention, higher education is little more than a bloated, inefficient bureaucracy with low productivity that is resistant to change. Therefore, the economic downturn is viewed as an opportunity to force reform. Fueling this argument is the media-fed belief that public universities essentially profit-monger on the backs of students and their families. Public universities are accused of flagrantly disregarding the Consumer Price Index and ignoring the fact that wages for the typical family have increased at a rate far lower than tuitions have increased.