Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Bringing it all Together: State and Federal Funding

Dear Readers,

A multitude of federal laws were passed pertaining to the development of higher education. The number of public laws regarding higher education is equally overwhelming. Despite the fact that this galaxy relevant documents exists- I have documented some of which I believe to be the most significant. Rather than the acts themselves, I found the common themes of the decades to be more insightful. I also found the reaction to federal laws equally fascinating.

A general trend emerged through examining the relationship between the federal government, state government, and higher education institutions. After Sputnik- the federal government was the driving force behind the development of higher education institutions. Access to higher education was expanded as well by means of federal grants. The Higher Education Act of 1965 exemplifies this type of federal support. However, this resulted in what many consider the over-regulation of institutions. This issue arose most notably in the mid 1970s. Government grants were given to universities but with a flawed administrative system. These universities had lost a great deal of autonomy due to the fact that the funds granted to them by the federal government were geared towards specific programs. A bureaucracy emerged that overpowered the needs of particular universities. A significant shift emerged by 1980 when the state government- particularly the governor- became the central source of authority with respect to the regulation/funding of public universities.

This lack of federal support and bureaucracy increased the power of the university president. For example; Arizona State University President Russell Nelson had to compensate for this lack of federal support by making significant policy changes. A large part of that had to do with his capabilities as a leader. This represents the relationship of philanthropy to higher education in America as a whole. The foundations of public universities were built by private gifts that were either given by a single individual or organization. As the federal government invested itself- a bureaucracy resulted. Economic circumstances (especially in the 1980s) redeemed a more individualistic and local authority and influence.

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