The State of the Public University

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Q. What’s the most important thing for public research universities to be doing right now?

They should be expanding the number of people who graduate, people from the lower half of the family income distribution. That’s what we’ve made huge progress on, more than I’ve even thought possible [the four-year rate is at 49 percent, up from 33 percent pre-eAdvisor].

We’re in a University Innovation Alliance with 10 behemoth schools, including Michigan State, Ohio State and the University of Texas, Austin, to do four things: greatly expand the number of graduates, and of lower-income graduates even more, share every innovation tool any of us has developed and lower the cost of producing a graduate. We’ve got that cost down to about $56,000, from $68,000 in 2008. The state’s investment, which used to be $35,000 a graduate, is now $16,000.