[Excerpt] Every year I come across a few books or papers that I wish that I had written. Public No More: A New Path to Excellence for America’s Public Universities clearly is one of them. Coauthored by Gary Fethke and Andrew Policano (henceforth F&P), two longtime public business school deans (one of whom was also acting president of the University of Iowa), who are both very serious scholars with long publication records, Public No More paints a picture of a future for public research universities that is very different than what many people will want to see. And although its message is that the financial and governance models under which public research universities have operated under have broken down and that new models are required, I will argue at the end of this piece that private higher research universities face many of the same issues as their public counterparts, so their message is relevant to private research universities as well. While I do not always agree with F&P’s prescriptions, this is a book that deserves to be widely read by all people concerned with the future of higher education in the United States.
In what follows, I outline the arguments found in Public No More interjecting my comments and concerns as I go along. As an economist specializing for many years in the economics of higher education, a former Cornell vice president and trustee, and most recently a member of the board of trustee of the 64 campus State University of New York (SUNY) system, I view higher education from a number of different perspectives and these will all be evident in this essay.