Sunday, October 15, 2006

The University of the Artic: A Model for America?

By Richard Vedder

Some 36 years ago, while standing at a banquet at an international economic history meeting in the Taurida Palace in Leningrad (now Saint Petersburg), the chap next to me introduced himself and thereby began a 36 year friendship. Rune Ryden was a young Swedish scholar who later became a distinguished parliamentarian in his country. While in politics, Rune also continued to dabble in higher education, serving on the governing board of the University of Lund and, after retiring from Parliament, running the Latin American research institute at the University of Stockholm. In a recent chat, Rune mentioned he was now on the governing board of one of the world's most interesting universities, the University of the Artic.

The University of Artic is a confederation of several dozen universities located above the 60th parallel, from every nation in that region --Russia, the U.S., Canada, various Scandinavian countries. I believe the current head of the university lives in an Scandianvian country,while the admissions office is in Canada. It is truly a multinational university. Students at the U. of the Artic can take courses at any member institution, The two official languages are English and Russian. Thus the U. of Alaska at Fairbanks may teach a class for its students, and any U. of Artic student can also enroll. Credits are freely transferable between the various members of the broader University. The University serves an area with low population densitites where Internet education is critical, and by pooling resources, the various schools can offer more courses more efficiently.

No doubt there are some problems, but the concept is a sound one. In particular, the barriers between U.S. universities are too rigid, and institutional hubris trumps efficiency and convenience considerations most of the time. We need to make interuniversity student migration more seemless and less costly, and encourage more multi-university cooperative ventures. Perhaps the University of the Artic is a model worth exploring.


TC said...
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Jean Marc Perez said...


Jim said...

From Michael's Desk:

Idaho State suffers big decline in enrollment.

Student total drops 1,300 from last year.

POCATELLO — After four years in a row of enrollment increases and steady overall growth since the 1980s, Idaho State University might have been overdue for an enrollment decrease.

But few outside the university’s inner circle could have predicted 1,300 fewer students than last year, a whopping 9 percent decrease in enrollment.

While ISU seemed poised to crack the 14,000 student mark last fall, its current enrollment of 12,676 after the last day to add and drop classes marks the first time since the turn of the century the telltale figure has dipped below 13,000.

“Am I concerned about it? Yes,” said ISU President Arthur Vailas when reached Wednesday evening in Boise. “Students are my No. 1 priority.”

Jennifer Fisher, the school’s dean of enrollment planning and outreach, said the list of factors contributing to the downturn is substantial.

A low unemployment rate, rising tuition that now costs fulltime undergraduates $4,000 per year and Brigham Young University-Idaho’s decision to go to three semesters per year all likely played a part, Fisher said.

In addition, nearby institutions like Utah State University are openly poaching students in traditional ISU territory.

“We had some out-of-state schools come in and give bigger scholarships than we were able to offer,” Fisher admitted.

Vailas, who took over at ISU’s helm on July 1, said the school will have to look more outside Idaho and step up its marketing efforts in order to compete.

“We’re aggressively increasing our efforts to give more scholarships and make scholarships continuing,” Vailas said. “Before, (enrollment) was not part of each college’s strategic plan and now it is part of the strategic plan.”

While ISU’s situation mirrors a national trend of decreased college enrollment, it also includes many unique characteristics.

Fisher pointed out much of the decline can be blamed on a decrease in part-time student enrollment.

“I think what’s important to note is the biggest decrease is 730 fewer continuing students,” she said.

Recognizing many of that type of students hadn’t re-registered by this summer, Fisher’s office began calling students to find out the reasons.

Their findings — a robust economy, increased cost and religious missions — might seem to be beyond the control of a university president.

But Vailas said he wants ISU enrollment to rise regardless of national trends and state funding limitations.

“You can’t affect enrollment instantly,” he said. “It takes a few years — it doesn’t happen overnight.”

Katie E. Potter said...

I didn't know cowboys wore diapers.

TC said...
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Sherman Dorn said...

Several inter-institutional compacts exist in the U.S., but they're very specific arrangements. They exist among private institutions (Penn-Swarthmore-Bryn Mawr-Haverford is one example) and among public networks (the common course-numbering system in Florida, which allows for transfers of credits among all public postsecondary institutions in the state). The common thread is some basis for trust that the credits are transferable. That's much easier to do in a limited arrangement, which I consider the U. of the Arctic to be. I don't think it's generalizable.

Katie E. Potter said...

To buy more diapers?

TC said...
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Katie E. Potter said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Katie E. Potter said...


No, I'm not trying to "kiss Vedder's ass" by posting on here. Quite frankly, I don't care whether he likes me or not. However, I do respect him and what he has to say. I thought it was rude that you alleged that he has "ICE AROUND HIS HEART"!1!!!1!1one

Any comments about diapers were in playful jest! Apparently you didn't understand and took to insulting my intellect, my school, and my apparent lack of "sense of humor".

You are the one with no sense of humor, mon ami.

ANDDDDDDDDDD... I'm not a freshman.

THANKS MUCH! <3<3Kate.

Jim said...

katie e. potter

Your comments don't seem at all to me to be "in jest". I think your comments are curt and provocative. The fact that you mention you don't like cowboy's comment about Vedder leads me to believe that your comments were in no way in jest. AAANNNNDDDD they are immature.

I looked at your webpage and you do seem to be a vain angry biatch that looks like a french slut. Ha!

Katie E. Potter said...

I didn't like his comment. It doesn't mean what I said was meant to get everyone all pissy! I was completely joking.

I don't even think whatever was in the picture was a diaper. It looked like gauze or something.

Trying to attack me for being "immature" is slightly hypocritical considering that you just called me a "bitch" who looks like a "french slut".

I wasn't aware blind misogyny was back in vogue.

Now can you please stop attacking me and go on giving me stuff to read like your last comment? I'm here to be enlightened, not to defend myself.

And for what it's worth, I'm truly sorry if I hurt anyone's feelings. That was not my intention, despite what you may thing. If you have anything else to say to me, I welcome your instant messages or emails. I prefer not to continue such a stupid argument on a comment board.

Karen said...

Katie: Your email on your blog doesn't work and I'd like to send you an email.


demosophist said...


"Arctic" is spelled with two "c"s. I thought there might be an alternative spelling because MS Word's spell check doesn't catch it, but there's no such word as "artic" in Webster's Collegiate or Websters New World. OED lists it as an obsolete form of "arctic" along with "artik". Guess Microsoft considers it a "feature" of their word processor.

Big Blue said...

Richard Vedder:

The great thing about the Mises University is that I feel liberated to teach the way I want to, without fear of reprisal. Like all professors these days, I feel somehow limited in what I can say in my own university, even though I have never been threatened. I have just finished reading The Shadow University, a book by Alan Charles Kors and Harvey A. Silverglate (The Free Press, 1998). I could only read 25 pages per night because it made my blood pressure too high.

What the authors describe is an overall atmosphere on campus of intimidation, brainwashing, political indoctrination, and browbeating, of both students and professors, by an entrenched university bureaucracy. The biggest surprise is how oppressed the students themselves are, with disciplinary boards, dormitory social police, etc. My university is better than most, but even here you worry about taking particular positions on affirmative action and the like.

Big Blue said...

Richard Vedder:

I have never understood the appeal of a goal like "equality." People are inherently different. They have different talents, different interests, different degrees of marginal productivity. This is what makes exchange possible. It's what makes life interesting and complex. Variety is the spice of life. Cindy Crawford makes much more money than I do, but I don't resent it. I don't think everyone in the world ought to be forced to look like Richard Vedder.

This obsession with equality is very destructive for the human race. Mises is correct that free societies need to learn to deal with and even celebrate the existence of enormously wealthy individuals. They are a driving force behind rising wealth of the whole society.

By the way, I could give a two-hour lecture on the fallacies inherent in income-equality statistics. In brief, what is the point of taking a snapshot of a one-year period as opposed to a ten-year period? Some people who win the lottery one year are digging ditches the next year. Some people who are college students go from $3,000 to $100,000 per year.

Big Blue said...

Mackinac Center
140 West Main Street Midland, MI 48640
Phone: 989-631-0900
Fax: 989-631-0964

Formerly the Michigan Research Institute, the Mackinac Center is a free-market, anti-regulatory and pro-business think tank that "promotes private sector solutions to government problems in Michigan."

Mackinac Center is associated with the Heritage Foundation and is part of the State Policy Network. Mackinac publishes the Impact newsletter, Michigan Education Digest, Michigan Eduation Report, Michigan Privitization Report, and Viewpoint on Public Issues. Mackinac has been particularly active in promoting school vouchers.

Mackinac Center has received $30,000 from ExxonMobil since 1998.

$15,000 ExxonMobil Foundation
leadership program
Source: ExxonMobil Foundation 2000 IRS 990

$5,000 ExxonMobil Foundation
Source: ExxonMobil 2001 Annual Report

$10,000 ExxonMobil Foundation
Source: ExxonMobil 2002 Annual Report

Richard Vedder
Board of Scholars member, Mackinac Center
Source: Mackinac Center website 3/04

Big Blue said...

The American Enterprise Institute
1150 Seventeenth Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20036

Center for College Affordability and Productivity
1150 Seventeenth Street, N,W.
Washington, DC 20036


The Heritage Foundation celebrated in 1998 the 25th anniversary of its establishment in 1973 by three right wing billionaires: Joseph Coors, Richard Mellon Scaife and Edward Noble, together with right wing activist Paul Weyrich. The Heritage Foundation Annual Report for 2003 (34 pages PDF format) gives its operating expenses for that year as US$34,615,493 . That's a lot of money for right-wing political propaganda.

In an article published on the Slate Website in 1998, Jacob Weisenberg pointed out that the "rightwing agitprop machine" had much to celebrate - and why:

Happy Birthday, Heritage Foundation

Jacob Weisberg - 9th January 1998

By all measures, Heritage has much to celebrate. From across the political spectrum, opinion appears to be unanimous that the organization has been singularly effective in accomplishing its mission of dragging American politics to the right. Since the 1980 release of its Mandate for Leadership, a detailed program for the incoming Reagan administration that the Reagan administration actually took seriously, Heritage has played a central role in setting not only the broad conservative agenda but also the details of legislation. Edwards' book delights in quoting envious encomia from the enemy camp. Michael Shuman of the left-wing Institute for Policy Studies credits Heritage with a bigger influence on American politics and policy than any other conservative institution. Will Marshall, president of the New Democratic Progressive Policy Institute, says Heritage "wrote the book on how to market and popularize political ideas." The Nation, among others, keeps up a steady drumbeat on this theme: Why doesn't the left have an advocacy organization as influential as Heritage? Well, why not?

The most obvious explanation is money. A right-wing "advocacy tank" like Heritage is able to raise much more than its liberal counterparts for the same reason that Republican candidates out-raise Democratic ones. Those who have a lot to give--corporations and rich individuals--give primarily in their own self-interest. (And, unlike political candidates, organizations like Heritage can accept donations directly from corporate treasuries.) Self-interested money goes to organizations that promote lower taxes and less regulation, two topics on which Heritage is absolutely unflinching. To be sure, there is disinterested conservative money, and self-interested liberal money, such as the union funds that go to the Economic Policy Institute, a think tank that opposes free-trade agreements. But such exceptions don't change the rule. The Brookings Institution, often cast as Heritage's liberal counterpart, could never dream of raising $85 million in two years.

New Right conservatives, on the other hand, as exemplified by Heritage, are quite explicit about viewing politics as combat. In the words of Heritage's president, Ed Feulner, "We conduct warfare in the battle of ideas."

Because of its combat mentality, Heritage has never been a place with very high standards. Like other conservative outfits, it loves the lingo of academic life. Its hallways are cluttered with endowed chairs, visiting fellows, and distinguished scholars. The conceit here is that as a PC Dark Age has overcome the universities, conservative think tanks have become the refuge of thought and learning.

At Heritage in particular, this is a laugh. AEI and the Manhattan Institute frequently produce stimulating books and studies and occasionally arrive at unexpected positions. Even the more dogmatic Cato Institute has cultivated a reputation for rigorous research and analysis from a libertarian point of view. Heritage, however, is essentially a propaganda mill. There are exceptions. Stuart Butler, a Brit who runs the domestic-policy shop, has done solid work on enterprise zones, and took pains to develop a conscientious conservative alternative to the Clinton health-care plan. But on the whole, Heritage is focused on selling and promoting its views rather than on developing thoughtful or nuanced ones. It spends nearly half its $29 million annual budget on marketing.

It prides itself on producing reports with concision and speed. According to Edwards, one recent innovation is the colored index card summarizing a conservative position in "short, punchy sentences." According to Heritage's "Vice-president for information marketing," these cards have been "wildly successful" with Republicans in Congress.

Its ethical standards are as lax as its intellectual ones. Heritage is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization, which means it is not supposed to lobby Congress. Edwards notes that a disclaimer appears at the foot of all its publications. "Nothing written here is to be construed as an attempt to aid or hinder the passage of any bill before Congress." This is an evident absurdity. Heritage exists to aid and hinder legislation before Congress and often boasts about doing so.

As Weisenberg points out, Heritage clothes itself in the apparatus of the think tanks. It has a distinguished roster of Fellows and Scholars. But it is at one and the same time a policy making group and a marketing organisation.

It is a unique example of the exercise of the skills of formulating, or at least of packaging, policies and then marketing them to the public with techniques akin to those used for selling washing powders. In its last annual report it stated that it was supported by 87 top USA corporations.

Again, that overworked epithet "nonpartisan" is prominent and it is a tax-exempt institution.

In the light of the importance Heritage gives to shifting public opinion towards its agenda and marketing its ideas to Congress, it must be questionable whether Heritage would qualify for tax-exempt charitable status were it operating in the United Kingdom.

Perhaps, if civil liberties and human rights are to be restored in the United States of America, an early objective should be to end the eligibility of this kind of political foundation to benefit at all from tax payer funding through tax exemption.

According to Media Transparency "the creation of the influential Heritage Foundation was probably the single most important event in the development of a national network of conservative policy-institutions". What is noticeable from its web site is that Heritage first develops a policy as a product and then diligently markets that product to the American public, to legislators and to the administration..