Starving of public universities is a national problem


In his May 21 Metro column, “Rich resource, poor treatment: We are starving our public universities,” Thomas Farragher addresses a significant challenge for Massachusetts: the poor funding of public higher education.

Farragher notes that the Commonwealth now ranks 21st among states in terms of per-student spending. We can and should do better. I would only add that there really is no front-runner in this competition. As the American Academy of Arts and Sciences has highlighted in its new report on public research universities, “Recommitting to Lincoln’s Vision: An Educational Compact for the 21st Century,” all 50 states have reduced their contributions to public higher ed over the past decade, with predictable consequences, including rising tuitions.


The academy’s report offers a variety of options for rebuilding university budgets, but Farragher points to the most important recommendation of all: a restoration of national political will and a recommitment to a broadly educated people.

Jonathan F. Fanton


American Academy

of Arts and Sciences