Wednesday, March 28, 2007

ABC News To Highlight College Costs

By Richard Vedder

ABC nightly news with Charles Gibson (6:30 p.m. EDT) on Thursday, March 29, is planning to feature a segment on college costs, including interviews with the president of the University of Connecticut and with yours truly. Angst over rising college costs is not dissipating indeed is increasing, and ABC will offer a look at the issue. My guess is it will necessarily be a somewhat superficial look of the problem given time limitations, but a useful one nonetheless, calling more attention to the issue that is the focus of our professional lives at CCAP. Join us in watching the show.


Speaking of CCAP, we are on the verge of some expansion and the beginning of several new initiatives to intensify the debate over American universities and the way they operate. I prefer do things rather than talk about doing them, so I am not going to give you a list of all we hope to accomplish. Nonetheless, we are taking steps to enhance what we at CCAP do. Stay tuned.


D.S. Franklin said...

I submitted this e-mail to ABC World News with Charles Gibson.

Dear Producers:

Yesterday morning a television news crew was granted access to film the climbing wall in our student recreation center on the Ohio University Campus in Athens, OH. The purpose was to provide footage for last evening’s presentation of College Costs on ABC World News with Charles Gibson. We are pleased to accommodate these types of requests because we are proud of our facility and believe it to be one of the best elements of the college experience. However, linking our facility with Dr. Vedder’s comments regarding the rising cost of higher education provides your audience with a narrow view of the dilemma of college affordability. Dr. Vedder uses our recreation center, particularly the climbing wall, to provide a simplified view of a very complex issue of college costs. This is now the second time our facility has been used by Dr. Vedder for his limited and uniformed view of college life. The first time was for a Fox News Special on College Affordability.

Unfortunately Dr. Vedder has never asked me or anyone on my staff to discuss what we do or what goes on in this magnificent place. I assume he thinks we are all about fun and play and while that is important, this place and these programs are so much more. Had Dr. Vedder, or anyone else, asked why we spend money on recreational activities perhaps they would have heard about how students learn and develop on a residential college campus. Our campus recreation program is grounded by student development theory and research that indicates engagement and involvement in co-curricular activities, such as recreation, lead to greater levels of retention, achievement and success in college. Had anyone asked, we would have gladly informed them of the fact that over 75% of the students on the Athens campus of Ohio University are actively engaged in our program. This is especially important for colleges located in rural communities, such as Athens, OH. Research indicates these programs help students establish healthy behaviors, team work and social skills. They also would have been informed that over $1 million dollars of our budget goes to employ 520 students to run our facilities and programs and gain valuable learning outcomes such as leadership development, effective communication skills, personal responsibility and intellectual growth, among a host of others determined to be essential by the Council for the Advancement of Standards (CAS) in Higher Education. Research also indicates on-campus employment leads to retention and success.

Dr. Vedders fixation on the climbing wall is of special interest. We believe he attempts to link the wall with his view of what is unnecessary and excessive to colleges. An article a few years back entitled The Ivory Climbing Tower, used climbing walls as a metaphor for rising costs in higher education. We would offer the wall as a different metaphor for parents sending their children to college. Nevitt Sanford posited the theory of challenge and support that underlies our approach to student development in the Division of Campus Recreation at Ohio University. The general concept is student growth is optimized by creating an environment that provides a balance between positive pressure and encouragement while holding students responsible for their behaviors, either as employees or participants. For our staff the climbing wall provides a metaphor for a student’s struggle to rise higher and higher while being supported by a caring and thoughtful staff managing the support lines.

Douglas Franklin
Assistant Dean, Recreation and Wellness
Ohio University

TC said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
TC said...

Dear Mr. Franklin:

I can't let this one slide because it is so wrong and foolish.

"This is now the second time our facility has been used by Dr. Vedder for his limited and uniformed (sic) view of college life."

I believe the Distinguished Professor of Economics has been teaching at the university level for over 30 years now - although lately it may be part time. I wonder how many thousands of students he has taught over the years? So just how long does an engaging professor have to teach at a university and participate heavily in other scholarly events outside the scope of his defined responsibilty before he becomes aquainted, or informed with "college life". And I do take it he went to college himself.

"Unfortunately Dr. Vedder has never asked me or anyone on my staff to discuss what we do or what goes on in this magnificent place." That's because the wall creates niether a productivity gain nor does it make college more affordable. It may play an infinitesimally small part in a decision to attend OU. But, it would not have anything to do with my decision.

Dr. Vedder does not need to talk to you - although I would put money - a lot of money, on Vedder to talk to you and debate the merits of your HPER program versus college affordability and productivity. Do kids go to college to learn or climb walls? Let the private sector build climbing walls.

I believe Vedder uses the wall exactly because it is an easy way to understand where college priorities are. And also because he knows as well as you and I, that thousands upon thousands of students (including this surely young whipper-snapper) have graduated from OU without a climbing wall.

I think Vedder is one of the last people I know that would foment ill will towards his university.

As a parent ot two kids that will attend a college or university, I am quite sick and tired of tuition increasing for NO reason, I can say that because colleges and universities will not tell me what is driving tuition cost higher and higher.

I would bet you that if I attended Ohio University today with all the new buildings and recreation stuff and the nice park, I would not learn anymore than I did when I was a student at OU for 4.5 years.

Also, don't confuse "metaphor" with "simile".