ERIC Number: EJ1064380
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015
Reference Count: N/A
The Public-Good Variable: Can Public Engagement Boost State Support for Higher Education?
Weerts, David J.
Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, v47 n3 p20-25 2015
As state support for higher education has continued its downward slide, several commissions, declarations, and association reports have called on colleges and universities to be more productively engaged with state and regional needs. An underlying subtext of these reports is that the future of state support for higher education hinges on the willingness and ability of colleges to be active partners in transforming communities. Given the complexity of the higher education funding puzzle, is this really true? Commissions, declarations, and association admonitions notwithstanding, campus leaders may question whether a concerted engagement strategy could bolster state support amid some seemingly overwhelming macro factors. To answer that question, author David Weerts conducted a longitudinal study of how public engagement--defined by the Carnegie classification as reciprocity and mutual benefit with community partners (NERCHE, 2015)--might relate to levels of state appropriations for an institution. The strategy was to control for state economic health, partisanship, demographic trends, and other relevant variables. State- and campus-level data from a twenty year period were analyzed and a model was developed to understand the variations in state funding for institutions across and within states. Outlier institutions that received higher- or lower-than-predicted levels of state appropriations between 1984 and 2004 (Weerts & Ronca, 2012) were identified. These outliers were determined by predicting levels of support for individual campuses based on state-level economic, political, and demographic variables-as well as campus-level variables, such as Carnegie classification, known to impact state appropriations for a particular institution. Outliers were those campuses that were not well predicted by the model, receiving either higher- or lower-than-expected support based on what the model predicted. Weerts and a colleague went on to examine how practices and perceptions of public engagement might be understood among six outlier campuses that varied in their expected levels of state support during this period. What was learned from this study is that public engagement does indeed play a role in relation to state support for these campuses. Presented here are the key findings from the study and what they might mean for campus leaders. A list of resources is included.
Descriptors: Higher Education, Colleges, Educational Finance, Financial Support, Partnerships in Education, School Community Relationship, Citizen Participation, Longitudinal Studies, Classification, Demography, Predictor Variables, Models, State Government, Government Role, School Location, Educational History, Institutional Mission, Governance
Routledge. Available from: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. 325 Chestnut Street Suite 800, Philadelphia, PA 19106. Tel: 800-354-1420; Fax: 215-625-2940; Web site: http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Authoring Institution: N/A