Isn’t This Kind of a Bad Idea?

Earlier this month, I wrote a post about my horror that the president of our largest state university believed that separation of church and state (specifically the secularism of public institutions and law) endangered religious rights and freedom.  (*cough*idiot*cough*)  More recently it was announced that said president would be leaving to head up the presidency of the University of Washington, which while good for the University of Utah, was probably bad news for Washington.  Fantastic feminist/skeptic blogger Jen McCreight expressed a certain wariness at this development, but hoped for the best.

Many were willing to give the man the benefit of the doubt because the main job he has been hired to do is raise funds for the university, and so his bad ideas about religious forays into public policy probably wouldn’t go anywhere.  While so far this has been true, based on Mr. Young’s first days on the job, he seems willing to sacrifice long-term financial sources (plus goodwill) for immediate gains in revenue.

Young has decided that he can immediately increase the amount of funds coming into the University of Washington by lowering the number of in-state students (Washington students) that will be accepted in order to get more out-of-state students, who pay significantly higher tuition.  That Mr. Young doesn’t understand the importance of a state university serving its taxpaying, local public is itself troubling.

I think there’s a concern about how we make sure the university serves the state, the university certainly serves the nation as well.

But when I consider the alumni most likely to feel kinship for a university, those willing to financially invest in its future, I can’t imagine anyone feeling more connected with an institution than those who live in state.  People donate to their alma mater in the hopes of sending their children and grandchildren there; how will those donors react when they’re told that the University of Washington doesn’t feel the need to serve the people of Washington first and foremost?  Are they going to be likely to donate funds in the future?

This feels a bit like short-term gains at the potential expense of long-term ones.  I hope I’m wrong.


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