During the WCET Annual Meeting Thursday November 11, 2010 Luncheon presentation, during the session the Debate between Dr. Dave Longanecker and Dr. Peter Smith on the topic of Rethinking the Academy in times of Great Change, a question about higher education cost was presented to the debaters from the audience.
Peter responded first, talking about the importance of choice, and that students benefit when there are a variety of options from subsidized to completely tuition driven. Then it was Dave's turn. And this is part of what Dave said:
"If you look at National Center for Higher Education Management data, there's the 250% difference in the cost per degree from one state to ...from the lowest cost state to the highest cost state. And it's not a quality...if you looked at the states you will see that quality is not the determining factor. The most expensive cost per degree state in the country is Alaska. I work with Alaska, I love Alaska, but I wouldn't put it as the most, as the best system in higher education in the country."
If you click here you will be redirected to the Sonic Foundry Mediasite archived recording of the Debate. Move the slider bar to the time-stamp at 45:45. (That's 45 minutes and 45 seconds into the session, less than two minutes before the entire session was adjourned). You can see and hear what Dave said for yourself.
Here is the NCHEMS data that Dave was referencing when he made his comment about most expensive cost per degree state.
This slide was taken from a presentation that Dave had recently given to the CCCCIO conference in San Diego CA on October 28th. You can download the entire presentation here Download Statistics from 101028 - CCCCIO Presentation on Quality Improvement Pretty interesting stuff about higher education that most of us typically don't see about cost, graduation, tuition and so on.
His comments upset several of the WCET attendees from Alaska, who talked to me, talked to him, have written letters and fired off tweets. I know Dave has already apologized. It's not worth pissing people off. Especially when absolutely no harm was intended.
As this issue had been raised to public awareness through the #wcet10 tweet-stream I wanted to be sure people had access to the links to take a look for themselves, and to see some of the data that Dave was referencing.