How the Political Class Fails American Higher Eduation


Hillary Clinton, making a $225,000 speech at a University of Nevada-Las Vegas fundraiser, didn’t precisely say how she hopes the problem of tuition costs can be addressed.  She kind of gave a hint, nevertheless; namely, hire her to make more $225,000 speeches.

     It sounds like a lot, but consider:  The University raised $350,000 at the event just from donors who paid between $3,000 and $20,000 each to attend. An additional $235,000 came in from a pledge drive that took place at the dinner, held at the super-swanky Bellagio hotel and casino.  Deduct Mrs. Clinton’s costs just from the pledge drive and you’ve still got a $10,000 profit.  Do they know money in Vegas, or do they know money?

     Various UNLV students were outraged. With the $225,000 shelled out for the privilege of hearing Mrs. Clinton say, “Higher education shouldn’t be a privilege for those able to afford it,” one student leader complained, “You could give scholarships to thousands of students, benefit research on campus, [and] give more students grants for research and studying.”  But this is government we’re talking about.  As the Corleone family, those experts in Vegas culture, understood so well, purity of motives butters no parsnips.

    Truth is, UNLV has academic company aplenty among Clinton suitors. All told this year, Mrs. Clinton – doubling as higher-education fundraiser and presidential candidate – has collected an estimated $1.8 million speaking at different campuses. She apparently got out to Vegas just in time.  Think how much higher UNLV’s planned 17 percent tuition jump over the next four years might be without Mrs. Clinton’s ringing challenge to make college “widely available for anybody with the talent, determination, and ambition.”  You do well by doing good in these political environments.

     Not that you solve the problem.  With $1.2 trillion of federal loans outstanding already to U S. collegians, the need to look beyond Mrs. Clinton’s rhetorical exhilarations grows regularly. What if she becomes president?  Fighting ISIS and Ebola cuts down on available time for college fund-raisers.  That would appear to leave space for more practical proposals; maybe looking at what goes on in Indiana, where former Gov. Mitch Daniels now president of Purdue, has been applying what the Wall Street Journal summarizes as “systemic cuts, organizational realignments and cash incentives” aimed at moving away from “a 19th-century business model.” Among his innovations: classes meant to expedite progress toward a degree as well as generate revenue.

     Gee whiz: Wonder what a Daniels fundraiser would look like and bring in.

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