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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

November 27, 2008 at 5:47 PM

Budget cuts for higher education

Get in the spirit

Editor, The Times:

The likelihood that our higher-education system will not escape serious funding reductions should not necessarily result in reductions in enrollment and class offerings [“20% cuts may be ahead for state colleges, universities as bottom falls out of budget,” News, Nov. 23]. This may be just the opportunity needed to call about the nascent volunteer spirit in our citizenry that President-elect Barack Obama’s election has evoked.

There are likely many former faculty members living near colleges at which they once taught that would, if invited, come back to teach on a part-time, unpaid basis. Although still physically and intellectually active, they’ve hit the state’s mandatory retirement age of 70. They would neither need nor expect a salary since most will have an adequate retirement income. And my guess is that they would enjoy the challenge of re-engaging with students even if for the short-term — until we work our way out of the financial predicament.

Similarly, there are probably many exceptional people who have retired from professional careers who could be recruited to teach in their disciplines.

Given the increasing demand for classroom seats, the colleges and universities of this state need to maintain an open-door policy. Those filled seats represent the human capital on which the state’s future clearly depends.

— Dick Nelson, Seattle

This won’t help

As a senior in high school, I am in the thick of applying to colleges and universities and anxiously awaiting their decisions. Nick Perry’s Nov. 23 story about the proposed tuition increases and budget cuts was alarming for me and was cause for concern on a local and national level.

The cuts would lead to fewer faculty and resources, a tuition increase and lower acceptance rates. The combination of an all-time high in enrollment and applications as well as a decrease in funding leads to a truly awful mix.

I was in complete agreement with University of Washington director of state relations, Randy Hodgins, when he was paraphrased saying, “higher-education officials need to explain to the public the opportunities that might be lost should higher education languish.”

It is counterproductive to reduce educational opportunities for state residents. This is a national problem. The California state university system faces budget cuts and a need to reduce enrollment by a total of 10,000 students statewide. It will be damaging to close doors on many people’s shots at higher education.

— Emuna David, Seattle

Comments | More in Economy, Education, Washington Legislature

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