Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Dear Mr. Gates: Brick and mortar colleges need love, too

Dear Mr. Gates,

The Chronicle reported today that in a time of huge cutbacks and givebacks for brick and mortar state universities, where students learn by talking to one another and their teachers face to face, you have given $4.5 million to Western Governors University:
Western Governors University, the online institution emphasizing competency-based learning, has received $4.5-million to support its recent expansions into Texas, Indiana, and Washington State.
What's that you say? You support online-only educational ventures even if brick-and-mortar state universities, which are really, really hurting in this economy as states claw back money already allocated, have existing and well-established online learning programs?

Then why did you give the money for this, which is definitely not online-only?
The money, from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, will be used to open brick-and-mortar offices, to market the university to prospective students, and to finance any future expansion in other states.
So let me get this straight: at a time when universities, including one to which you have been generous in the past, have taken percentage cuts in the double digits to their budgets once or twice a year for the past several years, you have decided to fund a new bricks-and-mortar building and to pay for marketing this (now not so much online-only) university? And you're going to give it money to compete with the definitely hurting state universities?

Does this mean that your company is going to hire more graduates from online-only universities and stop maximizing its use of H1B visas for those who went to brick-and-mortar universities elsewhere?

Anyway, at least you are interested in investing in education, even if we don't see eye to eye on how your money should be spent.

Love and kisses,


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