Cal Poly administrators working to divorce the state

November 18, 2011

By KAREN VELIE

UPDATE: Public Relations spokesperson Stacia Momburg said the university is denying Provost Robert Koob said the university is working to privatize. In addition, she said he did not say they plan to have students teach classes as part of the plan. There were 50 people at the luncheon including A CalCoastNews reporter. Several attendees confirmed earlier that Koob said the university was working to privatize and explained that students would teach classes as a way of implementing plans.

ORIGINAL: California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo is planning to change its affiliation with the CSU system, Provost Robert Koob said Wednesday at a Retired Faculty Association luncheon. Koob told attendees the administration is working to privatize the university.

It would be the first time a CSU school has turned away from the state.

Critics are raising questions about how the university will be able to take state property as it becomes a private corporation, what will happen to faculty and staff retirement accounts, and the direction the university will take as a private institution.

“Cal Poly is on its way to becoming a private university,” Koob said. “That is where much of the nation is going and that is where Cal Poly is going.”

This is Cal Poly’s response to cuts in state funding. Currently, the university relies upon private funding and tuition for more than half of its budget and President Jeffrey Armstrong has said on a number of occasions the university needs to look to new models to raise money for its operations.

Privatization attempts throughout the nation include semi-privatization with campuses having the ability to set tuition levels and then keep the earnings, investments from private industry, and privatization through legislature. Cal Poly has not yet disclosed how it plans to privatize.

Several national attempts at semi-privatization have resulted in higher tuition costs such as at Penn State which is ranked the least affordable public campus in the United States.

Not all attempts have been successful. Miami University of Ohio was the first U.S. university to adopt the tuition model. in 2004 under a campus run tuition base, tuition more than doubled from $11,000 to $23,000. By 2008, dwindling enrollment forced the university to abandon its attempt to privatize.

At Wednesday’s luncheon, Koob touted Cal Poly’s more than 75 percent graduation rate which he said was 18 percent higher than any other campus in the CSU system. He lamented that the cost of higher education is going up while state funding is dwindling.

“When students say I am paying more and getting less that is because they are,” Koob said

When asked how Cal Poly could afford to let go of the 41 percent of the campus’ operating budget paid by the state, Koob said that the university’s sustainable resource is its students. Higher level students would learn through teaching classes.

“To really understand something you have to teach it,’ Koob said. “They can add to the workforce which is being disseminated. The union won’t like it.”

Tim O’Keefe, a political action chair for the local California Faculty Association and a member of the Retired Faculty Association who attended the luncheon did not agree with Koob’s plan to corporatize the university.

“Of course we don’t like it,” O’Keefe said. “The idea of using undergraduate students to teach undergraduate students is crazy.”

Because of Koob’s history of supporting the CSU administration, O’Keefe said he thinks this is a larger effort to privatize the CSU system.

“I think what Koob said was honest and an admission that corporatization is a goal of Cal Poly and the CSU system so they can privatize and make money on the campuses,” he said.

Numerous requests for comment to the CSU Chancellor’s Office were not returned.

Faculty and staff at Cal Poly rely on CalPERS to provide retirement and health benefits. CalPERS information officer Amy Norris said that if a public facility terminates its public status, the employees’ accrued benefits are safe.

“Pension benefits are a vested right,” Norris said. “Cal Poly employees that are CalPERS members are guaranteed currently accrued benefits upon retirement.”

Last week, Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong signed an agreement to place a Cal Poly campus in China in a move projected to be a financial bonus for the university, several administration sources told CalCoastNews. Other than to confirm that there are talks of an overseas campus, Koob did not elaborate.

“There in no plan, there is lots of talk,” Koob said.

Critics warn that university privatization generally results in much higher tuition costs, less transparency, and fewer low and middle-income students. Also, critics contend research selections can be clouded by financial interests.


48 Comments

  1. JonnyB says:

    ALEC bills and resolutions also attempt to change college education by:

    Promoting right-wing ideology in public universities through the Academic Bill of Rights, a document supported by extremist David Horowitz.
    .
    Requiring universities to annually report to the legislature on “intellectual diversity”– a term that is code for right-wing ideology, an odd requirement considering ALEC’s antipathy toward regulation.

    Giving tax advantages to wealthy families who fund their children’s college education by allowing exemptions from taxation for college savings accounts

    Penalizing college students who study for more than four years

    Subsidizing private universities by offering taxpayer-funded vouchers to for-profit and religious institutions of higher education, and Treating universities like manufacturers and setting aside significant portions of the legislature’s higher education budget to reward institutions for students who complete courses and graduate in greater numbers at lower per-unit expense.

    ALEC Exposed is a project of the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD).
    http://alecexposed.org/wiki/Privatizing_Public_Education,_Higher_Ed_Policy,_and_Teachers

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 12

  2. JonnyB says:

    Privatizing Public Education, Higher Ed Policy, and Teachers

    This page reveals how ALEC bills would privatize public education, crush teacher’s unions, and push American universities to the right. Among other things, these bills make education a private commodity rather than a public good, and reverse America’s modern innovation of promoting learning and civic virtue through public schools staffed with professional teachers for children from all backgrounds. Through ALEC, corporations have both a VOICE and a VOTE on specific state laws to change the American education system. Do you?
    http://alecexposed.org/wiki/Privatizing_Public_Education,_Higher_Ed_Policy,_and_Teachers

    None Dare Call It Privatization
    Tom Tresser reports from a high-powered conference spelling out a new strategy for raiding the commons
    http://onthecommons.org/none-dare-call-it-privatization

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 9

  3. Scarlet says:

    “The university is denying Provost Robert Koob said the university is working to privatize. In addition, she said he did not say they plan to have students teach classes.”

    I remember you, Stacia. You publicly denied that the College of Engineering was in the red and I also recall a little incident that received national attention involving a partnership with Saudi Arabia. You denied there was a plan in the works there, as well.

    So the reporter and 50+ guests didn’t just mis-hear Koob; they all lied? Gotta love those PR flacks.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 28 Thumb down 4

  4. bobfromsanluis says:

    “Critics warn that university privatization generally results in much higher tuition costs, less transparency, and fewer low and middle-income students. Also, critics contend research selections can be clouded by financial interests.” This, in a nutshell should give anyone who thinks that this “might” be a good idea some reason to pause and consider. “Less transparency”, like who is running the Cal Poly Foundation, where the funding comes from, how much property the Foundation owns, who do they pay and how much, do they own rentals that either students or faculty occupy; there are so many questions that currently the Foundation is not required to report and if a privatization can take place, there will be even less transparency, if that is possible. Privatization is the worst possible scenario for Cal Poly, instead we should be pushing for more transparency, a means of requiring that the administration shrinks their operation with less high paying administrators and more interaction with faculty and students. Every single time a government function is privatized, the tax payers end up paying more for less services, whether it is military contractors, toll roads, private prisons or universities.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 20 Thumb down 5

    • The Gimlet Eye says:

      But bobfromsanluis, more government does not mean more transparency! In fact, it is just the opposite!

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 6

      • bobfromsanluis says:

        I cannot disagree with you on the face of your statement; private industry has no requirement for transparency, however. I am disappointed that President Obama has followed through on his pledge to make government more transparent; other than law enforcement agencies or some of the Defense Department operations, EVERY SINGLE AGENCY SHOULD BE COMPLETELY OPEN FOR TAXPAYER/CITIZEN INSPECTION OF THEIR RECORDS AND CONTRACTS, PERIOD. Sorry about the all caps, I just don’t want to be misunderstood.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 1

        • The Gimlet Eye says:

          bobfromsanluis, I have to agree with you there. I don’t know exactly what you mean by “transparency.” Maybe that word is getting a little overused here. If it means obeying the rule of law, I would certainly agree. If it means honesty, a good code of ethics, and due diligence, again, I would agree.

          The great virtue of a free markets is that they force businesses to practice due diligence. If they don’t, they will lose their customers and go out of business as news spreads of their mediocrity or crimes. This type of market discipline is absolutely necessary for a healthy economy, but is severely eroded when government takes over. This is because discipline goes to hell as the government employees don’t have to make a profit. The vast, unresponsive bureaucracy with its endless obstacles put up to bar curiosity seekers makes it almost impossible for the average citizen to find out what is really going on, or to make rational judgments about the wisdom of having his tax dollars taken from him to run such a system.

          I have no idea whether the Cal Poly personnel are motivated as ethical free market players or not. I wish they were, but fear it may be otherwise. We need more information about this before passing final judgment. This is a very significant story in any case.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 3

  5. JorgeEstrada says:

    It would seem easier for Cal Poly to incorporate as a city that is own by China. With that a Chinese Embassy could be established to generate revenue as a U. S. clearing house. Now we are talking real money, that is what this is all about, right? Just think of the big fat salaries that could be paid in lieu of a State Pension. Sounds ridiculous??, how about droping by my tent at Sunniest Acre, Monterey St., SLO.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 7

  6. ososkid says:

    If they do privatize I certainly hope they are forced to pay for the cost of bringing their product to the market place. I.E. they should have to pay for the cost of policing all these students. They should have to house 75 percent of the students rather than dumping them on the community and artificially driving up the cost of housing. Somehow I doubt that will happen

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 6

    • The Gimlet Eye says:

      “They should have to house 75 percent of the students rather than dumping them on the community and artificially driving up the cost of housing.”

      osokid, the solution to that problem is to build more housing.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 2

  7. SLO John Doe says:

    Great, do it! Then FINALLY people who live in SLO will have more say over the development and growth at Poly since they won’t be approving their own EIR’s.

    No more unmitigated impacts, no more hodge podge or gargantuan buildings that are completely out of character with not just SLO but their own property, and hopefully some consequeces for bad behavior and code violations.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 16

  8. panflash says:

    Hmmm…. interesting… I’ll have to mull this over a bit, but initially, at least, I have to say that I’m impressed- an education administrator who is actually reviewing the present and contemplating the future and isn’t afraid to take on the “resist any reasonable change at any cost” unions.
    I don’t know anything about Koob, but I’m glad that somebody over there is actually doing some thinking. Clearly, there will be massive details to address in depth, but at least he’s gotten the discussion started.
    Let’s toss this around a bit and see what everyone thinks.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 10 Thumb down 28

    • JonnyB says:

      Yeah, privatization has always worked :(

      “military contractors, toll roads, private prisons”

      It’s those evil unions that are the problem, even though the US had 30% unionized workforce when we created the middle class but are down to about 8% today!

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 9

      • r0y says:

        It’s not all unions that are evil, just the public employee ones.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 21

        • slobody says:

          Are there any others still left? So, of course all unions are bad, according to you. Geez. You must be the 1%. The 99% are better off with strong unions. Who’s going to buy all the cheap junk from China if nobody makes any money to spend on it?

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 4

  9. Scarlet says:

    This must be some sort of joke! The taxpayers paid for the property, the buildings and the improvements in order to educate our STATE students. I don’t consider myself an activist but I would join the fight to make certain this never happens. Does the new administration not understand that Cal Poly is know for small classes taught by professional educators? That is the beauty of it, along with the learn-by-doing philosophy. So they came on-board to dismantle this? Are only wealthy students entitled to a solid education? I can only imagine how alumni and donors will feel about this…

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 48 Thumb down 9

    • The Gimlet Eye says:

      Scarlet, students will get a far better education in a free market.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 23

      • slobody says:

        That’s why the highest default rates on student loans are for students in for profit colleges, eh? They are SOO much better!

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 2

        • The Gimlet Eye says:

          Are you saying that the profit motive is incompatible with providing education services? You make it sound like a crime! That’s preposterous! So then our private colleges and universities are providing INFERIOR education because they seek to make a profit from it? Then what the hell is Cal Poly paying its president $350k a year for? What are they paying their administrators six figure salaries for? Sounds pretty gd “profitable” to me!

          The TOP rated schools in our country are nearly all private institutions, aren’t they?

          “Public education” in all its manifestations is a gd albatross, a gross waste of resources, and the last bastion of socialism in this country. It has been a colossal failure and will only eat up more of our resources and give less and less in returns.

          As for corruption in education, I’ll go you a hundred times better and recommend that the readers watch this excellent documentary video which has, to date 2,638,697 views, by the way. It also has 26,362 likes, and only 3,171 dislikes. Since the vast majority of people in this nation currently attend “public schools,” the state of affairs is suggestive:

          College Conspiracy

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 12

          • slobody says:

            Gimlet, while the top schools in the country are indeed mostly private, that doesn’t make them for-profiit. In fact, almost all American colleges till recently have been non-profits, whether public or private. Colleges established for the sole purpose of making a profit have come to life largely since the internet made it possible for them to rip off the masses. (There have been for-profit trade schools for a long time, but they’re not really “colleges.”) None of the for-profits are among the distinguished colleges of the USA, except on Wall Street. So, quality in education does not reside with the profit motive.

            If you think public education is so bad, well, you’re very ignorant. It is literally the mainstay of California’s economy. Without it we’d be Mississippi on the Pacific, populated by a lot of really uneducated people and an economic backwater. We’ve attained economic heights not because of our nice climate, but because for a half century the state has sought to educate its people better than almost any other state, and thus made its workforce very attractive to employers who need good people.

            As for “socialism,” it appears you don’t know what it is.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

            • The Gimlet Eye says:

              slobody, voice from the Matrix….babble, bobble, twiddle, twaddle.

              How you have a talent for missing the point entirely! For that, you get an A+.

              As for understanding, you get an F.

              California ALREADY IS “Mississippi on the Pacific.” It is ALREADY “populated by a lot of really uneducated people and an economic backwater.” (thanks for those words, I couldn’t have said it better myself). With millions of illegal aliens here, how could it be otherwise?

              As for knowing what socialism is, you wouldn’t know it any more than a fish knowing what water was. That’s life in the Matrix. Fine, stay there, enjoy yourself, pat yourself on the back, indulge yourself. Self-deception is the surest and most blissful form of slavery that there is.

              However, I DON’T LIVE IN THE MATRIX. So, nothing I say is going to make any sense to you, so I won’t bother arguing with you anymore.

              Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3

    • The Gimlet Eye says:

      Scarlet, socialism is not “beautiful.” It is a political and financial weapon of mass destruction. It is a giant criminal enterprise. Don’t think so? Then use that great “public education” of yours and explain to me where all the MISSING MONEY in this country went? Never heard of it? Google “missing money” and find out!

      “Public schools” have nothing to boast about. Look at the mass hysteria over the Obama presidential campaign, the complete lack of objectivity of the typical voters, the fawning, feinting, emotional, brainless reactions of so many people to his speeches.

      What does that tell you about our “public education” system? I’ll tell you what it tells me: that public education is nothing but an elaborate scam to train people to be obedient robots, to fill their appointed places in a crony economy and a police state which will brook NO DISSENT!

      Get on YouTube and look at the “stupid people” videos. Get on YouTube and watch “The Obama Deception.” The “public schools” are dumbing us down because that is their secret agenda and true mission.

      Ah, yes, you argue that ALL students, rich and poor, are entitled to the best education that they can get. I couldn’t agree with you more. But the best delivery system is not the fat, bloated, opaque, irrational, wasteful, corrupt, gd albatross of “public education.” It is the FREE MARKET which will best accomplish that. IT WORKS EVERY TIME IT’S TRIED!

      YOU PROVE MY POINT EVERY TIME YOU GO SHOPPING!

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 10

      • zaphod says:

        “Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.’”
        Issac Asimov

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 2

    • The Gimlet Eye says:

      An outstanding explanation of CSU’s plight:

      Higher Education: The Impossibility Of Reform

      By F. Roger Devlin on November 15, 2011

      http://www.vdare.com/articles/higher-education-the-impossibility-of-reform

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 5

      • zaphod says:

        About that link

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 4

        • The Gimlet Eye says:

          The Southern Poverty Law Center is a joke, a NWO front, a bunch of Nazis in sheepkins. That show how your brain has been thoroughly washed for you. Fine stay right in the Matrix. It’s where you belong.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 7

          • zaphod says:

            I know that the John Birch Society and the extreme right wing including the neo nazis have problems with SPLC ,

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 5

            • KimM says:

              SPLC is a scary, scary institution that should not exist.

              “SPLC Morris Dees linked to the Oklahoma City Bombing”
              http://www.apfn.net/messageboard/01-11-04/discussion.cgi.29.html

              SPLC Declares Paul and Napolitano “Extremist” Enablers
              http://www.infowars.com/splc-declares-paul-and-napolitano-extremist-enablers

              Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 3

              • zaphod says:

                Alex Jones!! info wars prison planet rex84 9-11 truth and more shortwave presence than anyone except Dr.Gene Scott.
                splc did the Oklahoma city bomb !! ??
                interesting.

                1994 – The SPLC begins investigating white supremacist activity within the anti-government militia movement. Six months before the April 1995 Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 people, Morris Dees writes a letter warning U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno of the danger posed by militias.

                1998 – A South Carolina jury awards the largest judgment ever against a hate group in Macedonia v. Christian Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. The Christian Knights, its state leader and four other Klansmen are ordered to pay $37.8 million (later reduced to $21.5 million) for conspiring to burn Macedonia Baptist Church, an African-American church.

                1998 – A homeless African-American teenager is enrolled in an Alabama high school after being denied admission to a school because of her homeless status and steered away from another because of her race. The SPLC lawsuit, Penny Doe v. Richardson, led to a state policy that complied with federal law and ensured that local schools live up to their responsibility to educate homeless children.

                1999 – Klansman Wallace Weicherding and New Order leader Dennis McGiffen are sent to prison for conspiracy in connection with a plot to kill Morris Dees by bombing the SPLC office.

                “by their fruits shall ye know them.”

                Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 3

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