Summary of Feedback to Cornerstones Task Force II from 1997 Academic Conference Discussion Groups


Issue 1: In its "Shared Responsibility" report, the California Higher Education Policy Center proposes that any new state funding for enrollment growth should be directed at the undergraduate level and based solely on the cost of undergraduate education. Should the CSU accept this position? If not, what would an alternate stance be?

Both groups disagreed with CHEPC's assertion that any new state funding for enrollment growth should be based solely on undergraduate enrollment/costs. They cited the importance of the graduate education programs provided by the CSU to the state's economy, particularly our professional and credentialing programs, as the basis for requesting additional state funding for graduate education. Our service to "non-traditional" and "first-time" collegiate student populations and the potential for "Tidal Wave II" spill-over growth in graduate education were also listed as reasons for expanded state support for CSU graduate education programs. The groups disagreed over the use of a graduate fee differential as a mechanism for expanding funding for graduate programs, with one group citing the nature of our student population as making such a differential a barrier to access while the other specifically listed a "student fee differential" as an alternative funding source. Other suggested options for improving support for graduate education included developing structures and incentives to encourage the formation of cooperative degree programs (both within the CSU and between CSU campuses and other institutions), moving graduate programs into Continuing Education, charging full cost for repeated courses, and charging by the unit/credit. The importance of effective shared governance, specifically including faculty engagement in the budget-making process, was stressed as well, along with the need for developing sound data on the relative costs of graduate versus undergraduate programs.

Issue 2: Understanding CSU's projected capacity and financial "gaps" - Do the baseline scenarios present a realistic range for the magnitude of the problem facing the CSU? If not, what additional assumptions should be explored?

One group focused on the technical aspects of this set of issues and sought clarification of the assumptions behind the task force's "gap" projections. Regarding CSU's enrollment projections, the following questions were raised:

This group questioned the assumption indicated in Task Force II's draft report that alternative scheduling would produce enrollment increases. They recommended that the CSU evaluate the potential impact of limited capacity at private and proprietary institutions on our enrollment growth, and they also suggested that the system should analyze the potential consequences of: 1) refusing to accept students without concomitant state support and 2) losing market share.

In terms of evaluating costs, this first group requested an analysis of accepting funding at marginal cost per FTES rather than full cost. They also wised to see an expanded discussion of capital cost projections, including technology infrastructure and physical plant maintenance, which the group suggested might be underestimated in the current draft. The group felt that an estimate of the costs of training and support for technology-mediated instruction should be included in the draft report, along with a more developed discussion of faculty staffing and compensation issues.

The second group focused primarily on the need to redress the public's misperceptions regarding institutional and faculty productivity. The need to make the case for additional resources for the CSU was also an important concern of this group. They felt that the Cornerstones campus consultation process needs greater definition, including a more explicit structure for soliciting and utilizing campus/faculty input.

Issue 3: What incentives would be appropriate for encouraging individuals, departments, and campuses within the CSU to pursue productivity initiatives? How should such incentives be structured?

One group focused on the difficulties surrounding the development of an appropriate definition for "productivity" as it pertains to higher education. The group was opposed to applying a "corporate model" of productivity assessment to higher education, but did note the need for greater effectiveness in defining, measuring, and articulating the value added to the economy and society by the CSU. In terms of specific incentives, the group suggested greater use of assigned time, travel funds, and equipment/resources in support of productivity initiatives. The group expressed substantial support for the view that higher education institutions must "get out in front" of efforts to develop standards for defining and measuring learning productivity. This group also echoed concerns similar to those expressed by other faculty members regarding faculty compensation and PSSI's.

The other group addressing this set of questions emphasized the need for greater staff support to free faculty from clerical/secretarial tasks as a vehicle for increasing faculty productivity. Other specific suggestions included defining and maintaining faculty-to-staff ratios and utilizing student aid resources to increase the number of student assistants available to absorb staff responsibilities. The group expressed the view that measures of faculty productivity need to include an expanded emphasis on faculty's community service, advising, and teaching activities relative to research efforts. However, the group also felt that the draft report should identify how research efforts would fit into alternative scheduling options (e.g., YRO). They echoed the thoughts of the first group regarding the importance of increasing the resources and support dedicated to faculty-based productivity initiatives. They recommended that the balance between larger class sizes and appropriate classroom space should be evaluated, and they stressed that increasing class sizes further was not an effective means for increasing productivity. They finished their discussion by emphasizing that the inconsistencies between the reports of the various task forces need to be resolved.

Issue 4: Public policy rationale for financing higher education - What are the strengths and weaknesses of the framework? Do the principles and disconnects stated provide a solid foundation for justifying public financing of higher education?

Both group addressing these issues felt that the draft report should contain an expanded discussion of the state's responsibility for addressing the CSU's potential "gaps." The first group advocated that this discussion be informed by the changed political dynamics regarding public investment facing all public entities, including higher education. They noted that the policy framework should be linked to a comprehensive plan for financing the Master Plan in its entirety. This group also stated its desire to see a broader discussion regarding the relative costs and benefits of technology as applied to higher education in the report. They further requested that the report's discussion of learning productivity explicitly address concerns that the term "learning productivity" is simply an euphemism for increased faculty workloads, and that the whole of the report place greater emphasis on institutional productivity and the limited possibilities for financial savings from increased utilization of technology.

The second group noted the difficulty public entities might have in pursuing increases in private giving due to targeted donations and potential donor attitudes regarding public responsibility for financing public universities. They also expressed their view that there is limited potential for savings from reductions in remediation.



Issue 5: The California Higher Education Policy Center advocates linking student fees to a percentage of the cost of education in a "shared responsibility" model. Task Force II's public policy framework also supports this concept. Is such a linkage viable, and if not, what should be the guiding principle behind CSU's student fee policy given the state's reduced support for higher education?

The first group addressing this set of questions generally felt that linking fees to costs in a predictable fashion that would allow for student planning is appropriate. This group also noted general support for the goal of assuring access and the view that higher fees may be necessary for assuring quality. The point was made that students will accept higher fees if they directly receive the benefits, but that financial aid needs to be closely linked to whatever fee policy is developed. The importance of making the case to the public and legislature for investing in higher education was stressed by this group as well.

The second group was of a mixed mind regarding these issues. Some expressed the view that higher fees would negatively impact access for lower-income students, while others felt that higher fees would improve student motivation to reduce time-to-degree and better link the direct benefits received by students from higher education to the costs associated with providing that education. Still others appeared to agree with the perspective of the first group that planned, predictable fee increases should be given reasonable consideration. However, these participants also expressed concern that the potential impact of higher fees on enrollment growth needs to be carefully evaluated. The overall group felt that the CSU should not make a non-negotiable commitment to meet enrollment demand within available resources, and that the draft report should make a stronger case for greater state support.

Issue 6: Again, both CHEPC and Task Force II reports argue for differential fees at the graduate level driven by the higher costs for graduate education and the state's fundamental interest in ensuring maximum availability of undergraduate education. Furthermore, CSU's graduate fees are well below the national average, perhaps limiting an important source of funding for enhancing the quality and quantity of graduate education in the CSU. Should the CSU pursue a graduate fee differential on this basis? What principles should guide the development and implementation of a graduate fee differential? To what extent and in what form would graduate financial aid need to be expanded to make a graduate fee differential viable?

One of the groups discussing this set of issues was split over the question of whether or not the CSU should institute a graduate fee differential. Some members of that group felt that the benefits accruing to the state from graduate education, and therefore the state's responsibility for funding access to graduate education, were just as great as those derived from undergraduate education, if not greater. Other members of the group took the position that graduate programs do consume a greater level of university resources, and therefore a graduate fee differential would be justified to offset those additional costs. The group as a whole recommended that if a graduate fee differential were instituted, systemwide graduate fee differentials should be developed by type of program, based on the relative costs of the type of program and the relative benefits accruing directly to students in a particular field. This group also felt that any increased revenues from such differentials should be funneled back into graduate programs, and that the state should identify "critical" professions (e.g., teaching) for special treatment in the setting of differential fees. They stressed the importance of providing graduate financial aid in a variety of forms (e.g., fellowships, grants, scholarships, teaching assistantships, internship partnerships with companies/organizations) in order to assure access to graduate education. Partnering with employers to support their workers' further educational development was particularly emphasized, as was aggressively pursuing "whole contract groups" and foreign graduate students. It was also suggested that Continuing Education programs could "buy out" faculty time for graduate/ postbaccalaureate courses, which would enable graduate programs to acquire funds directly. General consensus was reached that the campuses should be relieved of restrictions that prevent them from being more entrepreneurial in graduate/postbaccalaureate education.

The second group agreed that differential fees at the graduate level could be justified if a large portion of the additional revenue was retained at the campus level and the higher fees would not hurt our competitiveness. This group agreed with the first group that differentials should be explored on a program/discipline basis that more closely links the fee level to actual program costs. They also felt that additional factors should be considered in setting differential fees by program area, including student's instructional needs and earning potential within the field. The group recommended charging fees on a per-course basis as opposed to the current fee structure. They agreed with the first group that graduate education is an important part of CSU's mission and of critical importance to the state, and that the CSU needs to do a better job of making this case to the public and marketing our services to other organizations/companies. The possible need for greater campus specialization in specific program areas was also noted. This group opposed the diversion of increased revenues from fee differentials to financial aid, stating that financial aid resources should come from other areas.

Issue 7: How might the CSU assist campuses in pursuing more complete utilization of their existing facilities? What are the important implementation issues that will need to be evaluated, including mechanisms for overcoming structural and cultural barriers to options such as year-round operation and extended scheduling? How might the CSU most effectively assist the campuses in their individual processes for developing and implementing capacity plans that reflect their unique missions and contexts?

The first group addressing these questions expressed concerns about the availability of state support for "regular" summer sessions and their potential impact on Continuing Education programs and the revenues they generate. They felt that the decision to institute year-round operation should be campus-based, and that campuses should look to best practices from the private sector for guidance on such issues as variable fees and discounting fees to promote more complete use of facilities. The group also had concerns regarding the need to renovate existing classroom/instructional space to accommodate the application of technology and distance learning techniques to the teaching/learning process. They suggested that private sources of funding be explored to finance the needed renovations. The group addressed faculty workload and composition (part-time vs. full-time) issues and suggested that greater creativity was needed in developing incentives and flexibility in faculty retirement options.

The second group emphasized that course scheduling must be based first on educational considerations as opposed to faculty/student convenience or facility utilization patterns. However, they also recognized the need to remain flexible and consider different options; in this regard, they requested greater information about space utilization options tried by other institutions and their successes/failures. They advocated the development of partnerships with other organizations to fund new facilities. In terms of current space utilization at the campus level, the group suggested that space planning and scheduling was fragmented and needed to be pursued in a comprehensive, campus-wide fashion. They, too, identified the need for renovating classroom/instructional space to accommodate technological applications for instructional purposes. The group also recommended the greater utilization of off-campus space, including renting facilities and on-site instruction, as a means for handling the campuses' capacity needs.

Regarding scheduling issues, this group recommended that incentives be developed to encourage faculty to teach and students to take courses outside of "regular" hours, and that new course formats besides the traditional "TTh, MWF" schedules be explored. They noted the need for campus and student-support operations to be scheduled and available at the same times as courses offered at "non-traditional" times and places. The group also discussed concerns regarding the impact of year-round operation on faculty governance, Extended/Continuing Education, student financial aid, and facilities maintenance/renovation.

Issue 8: How might the CSU assist campuses in most effectively managing their faculty resources and developing faculty renewal/reinvestment strategies?

Both of the groups discussing this question reiterated the call of the other groups for a broader, more effective effort towards educating the legislature and public regarding the wide range of benefits accruing to the economy and society from the state's investment in the CSU. The first group also stated, however, that the CSU should not depend on the "good graces" of the legislature alone, but rather should become more entrepreneurial and more effectively cultivate the financial and political support of CSU alumni. This group indicated that it did not believe that Task Force II's "renewal/reinvestment" strategy would result in more resources for the campuses, although they did acknowledge that "some" savings might be generated through the use of junior and part-time faculty. They also expressed concern that the task force's recommendations for greater utilization of existing facilities might actually be more expensive than current operations due to increased staff and maintenance expenditures. Some members of this group felt that the university may not be able to effectively integrate "mediated instruction" into its educational environment without sacrificing more "humanistic" values, and that more needed to be said in the draft report regarding how the CSU plans to address the needs and expectations of a more ethnically, socially, and culturally diverse student population. They also expressed the view that decisions regarding the allocation of resources from faculty retirement should be campus-based and involve faculty in establishing expenditure priorities.

The second group rephrased the question as follows: "How might the CSU assist campuses in using CSU resources more effectively, both existing and newly identified, to assist and enhance faculty in serving the educational vision of the system through continuous development of faculty throughout their careers?" Their decision to restate the question grew out of their concern for addressing the development of existing faculty in terms of the effective use of new technologies and maximizing their teaching effectiveness. The group recommended that this be accomplished through the identification and dissemination of productive faculty development efforts systemwide, as well as the review and clarification of retention-tenure-promotion criteria across the system to remove obstacles to faculty innovation in teaching. They also listed a variety of ways in which faculty development could be pursued, such as training workshops, cross-disciplinary team teaching, and mentoring of new faculty, and emphasized the importance of release time to make these activities possible.

Issue 9: Are the goals and policies regarding institutional and learning productivity complete, or do additional considerations need to be included? How might the CSU and its campuses most successfully pursue increases in institutional and learning productivity? What kinds and levels of support might be necessary to realize the full potential of technological applications in increasing productivity?

For this issue set, only one of the two groups returned its record-of-discussion form. This group questioned the usefulness of the definition of productivity provided in the draft report and wondered whether a good definition of learning productivity has yet been developed. They provided a list of potential ways to increase productivity that included the following:

Though the group indicated support for the concept of competency-based learning, they expressed concerns regarding funding issues related to implementing the necessary changes. They wondered how academic programs incorporating competency-based learning would correlate with state funding modes, financial aid structures, and student fee policies.

Issue 10: Does Task Force II's draft report effectively illustrate the capital budget picture facing the CSU? Given Task Force II's report, what should CSU's priorities for capital spending be - increased technological infrastructure/capability or additional buildings/campuses? Is the emphasis on studying the technology versus new capital construction options available to the CSU well-placed? What other capital options should be considered?

As with the previous set of questions, only one group returned its record of discussion. This group stated its view that areas of instruction are more amenable to the application of technology than other areas of the university, citing the ability of CSU libraries to utilize technology to share access to their collections. They argued that decisions regarding instructional technology should remain under the auspices of Academic Affairs and that faculty should play a role in the allocation of funding for technology. The group agreed with the task force's view that the system should not pursue additional new campuses, but also felt that the report was skewed against construction projects in general. They recommended that campuses expand their ability to serve through the development of satellite campuses and space sharing arrangements with community colleges, and through greater utilization of existing space. In addition, they echoed the views of the other groups that the CSU should vigorously pursue additional funding from the state.

The group did not feel that the draft report effectively illustrates the capital budget picture facing the CSU. They expressed the view that the draft report's discussion of technology costs should include an analysis of the operational, training, technical support, and replacement costs associated with the application of various forms of technology to the instructional environment. They also suggested that the report include enrollment projections by geographic region and/or campus in relation to capacity/capital/technology needs. This group highlighted the need for effective assessment of technology as applied to the teaching/learning process.