In many if not all conservative states, you find that the universities are run by people who are cut from “progressive” cloth even though the government is dominated by Republicans. Usually, the leftist administrators get their way, blowing through money as if they were in California. Few of the politicians have the backbone for a fight with them.
But there’s at least one cheerful counter-example: Idaho. As Boise State professor Scott Yenor explains in today’s Martin Center article, the leftists provoked a fight recently when they wanted more spending (especially for “diversity”) and the politicians wanted frugality.
The battle over the budget began last year. Yenor writes:
In June 2019, for instance, Boise State University (BSU) interim president Martin Schimpf sent a letter to Boise State faculty and staff boasting of BSU’s accomplishments in promoting diversity and inclusion. He promised more to come, including scholarships for DACA students (illegal under Idaho law), graduate fellowships designed for “underrepresented minority students” (which BSU then did), and the hiring of a chief diversity officer (which BSU also pursued).
That aroused opposition in state government. One representative took the lead in declaring that diversity programs are divisive and merely drive up the cost of education.
A budget fight ensued, which the defiant educrats lost. Yenor states:
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The final budget contained a provision requiring universities to undertake “budget reduction” and “cost containment.” The legislature wants schools to prioritize reducing “administrative overhead” and to eliminate spending that is “not integral to each institution’s core instructional mission.”
Idaho leftists wanted to transform the state through their control of the public universities. For now, at least, their plans have been defeated.
Professor Yenor concludes,
Budget cuts will be coming to public higher education. They can leave higher education better than it was before — if state legislatures are vigilant in requiring public universities to prioritize the public good. Cutting budgets is not enough, and neither are reporting requirements. Only state legislatures alert to the possibilities of reform can ensure that cuts serve the priorities of the public.
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