Monday, November 21, 2011

An Interesting Tale of Two Polytechnic Campuses - USF vs. ASU

UPDATE: USF Polytechnic has achieved independence and is now Florida Polytechnic University, the 12th state university in Florida.

The Florida Board of Governors granted conditional approval for the USF Polytechnic campus to transition into a free-standing state university. One such condition requires a full-time (FTE) student enrollment of 1200+. Yet, ASU Polytechnic already has 3500+ FTE and its location in the Phoenix-Tucson corridor has some similarities to the location of USF Polytechnic along the Tampa-Orlando corridor. In particular, the distance between Tampa and USF Polytechnic is approximately the same (~35 miles) as the distance between Phoenix and ASU Polytechnic.

Despite opposition and controversy, many business and civic leaders in Central Florida expressed their support for an independent Polytech. Here are some interesting links of parallelisms between the proposed separation of USF Polytechnic and ASU Polytechnic:

Here is a link that describes the disadvantages of a university branch campus model:

Here is the website advocating for the vision of the Florida Polytechnic University:
Florida Poly Vision

Monday, June 15, 2009

UPDATE - Revised Arizona University System Restructuring

Due to the extreme legislative budget cuts and weak Arizona economy, I have made some fundamental changes to my original proposal. Instead of contributing to "urban sprawl" by immediately building new campus locations, I suggest that the Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR) first maximize its existing, under-utilized campuses. This saves more money and precious time which results in a more immediate impact for students and taxpayers alike.

I propose that Arizona State University (ASU) be divided into 3 separate universities:
(1) West campus transforms into a low-cost, non-research university (PSU).
(2) Polytechnic campus is a medium-cost, modest-research university (AzTech).
(3) Tempe campus remains as a high-cost, heavy-research university (ASU).
The ASU Downtown Phoenix campus continues as an extension of the ASU Tempe campus.

The majority of ASU West programs are moved to the ASU Polytechnic campus to create a "complete university" (AzTech) having a moderate research level. This approach could establish "2 universities for the price of 1". Common degree programs, departments, and research (e.g., Math, Biology, Psychology, Humanities) between the West and Polytechnic campuses are then combined together. The current ASU West faculty who do not become part of ASU can still continue to pursue their research upon relocating to the newly integrated AzTech University. ASU's Teachers College could relocate to either the Downtown Phoenix or Tempe campus.

Now, this then frees up the ASU West campus to become a free-standing university (PSU) that offers its own complete set of workforce-oriented, academic degree programs on-site (e.g., business, education, human services) while at a noticeably lower tuition rate and at a much lower operating cost structure (e.g., non-research faculty) than ASU & UA. Thus, PSU provides affordable undergraduate access to a public university education for many more Arizonans by offering "low-cost, high-quality" instruction within a university atmosphere.

This decentralization approach removes the fragmentation that is currently present among ASU's campuses and provides a "one-stop" educational experience whereby all programs, faculty, leadership, and administration are housed "on-site". PSU, AzTech, and ASU could each compete and collaborate with one another and with the other state universities and community colleges as its own "separate brand" with local control to further differentiate itself. Not all students want (or need) an ASU education; however, students who desire an ASU education while in Greater Phoenix can still travel to Tempe or Downtown Phoenix.

PSU and AzTech each has a clear identity, culture and purpose [mission], "permanence",
and a "sense of community" which provides a "critical mass" as a "destination campus" to substantially raise enrollments and graduations. In contrast, ASU West and Polytechnic both resemble an "empty shell" under a "remote outpost" as a "pseudo-university", which does not offer enough incentive to discourage many more undergraduate students from attending the high-cost and overcrowded main campuses of ASU & UA in Tempe & Tucson.

Common degree programs offered among PSU, AzTech, and ASU would not be viewed as a redundancy because each institution's cost structure, curriculum, mission, and branding are more clearly differentiated from one another, unlike common programs found among the campuses of ASU's "One University in Many Places". Likewise, each institution has its own separate budget, unique admissions standards, local decision-making authority, and a distinct tuition rate. ABOR exerts direct control over these independent state universities, thus eliminating the "middle man" (ASU) from managing the West & Polytechnic campuses.

PSU and AzTech can also develop partnerships with community colleges, high schools, and the surrounding communities. NAU can redirect some of its programs in Maricopa County towards areas in Rural Arizona. ASU and UA can cap enrollments to mitigate their costs and overcrowding. Residents of Greater Phoenix can drive on their expanding freeway system or use mass transit to travel across town to attend a local state university of their choice.
ASU shall no longer use the West and Polytechnic campuses to disguise 3 universities as 1.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Abstract and Brief Summary of my Restructuring Proposal

The Arizona University System urgently needs systemic change and structural reform to provide greater differentiation, efficiency, and performance among its universities while the Great Recession dictates a change in direction to generate economic development. My bold plan is a merger of two university branch campuses (West and Polytechnic) into an independent, research state university that is then housed at the Polytechnic campus location while transforming the West campus into an independent, non-research state university.

My proposal offers greater accessibility and affordability to a state university education for many more Arizonans especially among its non-competitive and under-served populations (since Arizona high school students have low college-going and college-completion rates) while maintaining a lower operating cost structure by not subsidizing the doctoral research programs and parking structures located at ASU Tempe. Furthermore, it strengthens the AZ University System by transforming ASU and UA into powerful flagship universities that can compete aggressively with top-ranked universities nationally and globally by reducing the
"brain drain" of Arizona's best and brightest students and faculty while increasing research.

The West and Polytechnic campuses would have clearer institutional identities and purpose if they are branded and managed as free-standing state universities. Their separate budgets and local decision-making authority shall protect them from the politics and policies of ASU's centralized administrative structure. In addition, they provide a large enough venue away from the high-cost and overcrowded main campuses of ASU and UA to educate a high-volume of undergraduate students at a lower per unit cost to both the students of Arizona and the State of Arizona, with ASU and UA issuing enrollment caps to further reduce costs.

The time has now come for ASU's monopoly as a public, free-standing, four-year university to finally come to an end for Greater Phoenix’s population of 4.1 million. Arizona needs to restructure its university system to provide greater accountability for its residents and to ensure the viability and sustainability of its long-term higher educational and governmental structure while stimulating the regional economies of Greater Phoenix and Greater Arizona. The growing Arizona population of 6.8 million deserve to have more than 3 public universities, too, and Arizona will no longer be the national laughing-stock of having only 3 state universities despite now becoming the 14th most populated state in the nation.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

ASU at the West campus as an Independent State University

Phoenix State University (PSU) can replace ASU West as a regional and urban university. PSU shares a similar title to Chicago State University. Or, it could be called "Central Arizona University" (CAU) or "Maricopa State University" (MSU).

Other universities with a similar mission include California State - Dominguez Hills, Northeastern Illinois University, Metro State University of Denver, Utah Valley University, Weber State University, Adams State University, and Nevada State College.

PSU is a teaching-oriented university that has a "Hispanic-
and Minority-Serving Institution" (HSI / MSI) designation to receive some federal funding.

PSU follows Boise State University, Portland State University, San Francisco State University, San Jose State University, San Diego State University, and Cleveland State University as a public university whose city-named title advertises its surrounding metropolitan area (Phoenix).

As a "low-cost" university, PSU must necessarily offer lower cost degree programs with a higher percentage of faculty having greater teaching assignments while charging tuition rates that satisfy the "as nearly free as possible" clause found in the Arizona Constitution.

IMPORTANT: Click here to view the proposed initial degree program list for UNT at Dallas.
In addition to programs listed in the link above, PSU would offer other workforce-oriented, academic programs such as Allied Health and Public Safety along with popular liberal arts and sciences programs such as English, psychology, biology, earth science, and mathematics.

The table above compares public Regional Universities of major cities with Phoenix.

ASU Polytechnic campus as an Independent State University

Arizona Tech University (AzTech) can replace the ASU Polytechnic campus. Similar universities include Utah Tech, Tennesee Tech, and Louisiana Tech. AzTech is a similar name to Texas Tech.

Or, the new name could be "Arizona Institute of Technology" (AIT) or
"Arizona Polytechnic University"
(APU) which sounds similar to the new Florida Polytechnic University.

Most other states have a free-standing Polytechnic or Science & Technology public university. AzTech as a Polytechnic research state university would then have its own complete set of STEM-oriented academic degree programs with a mission and curriculum that could then mirror Cal Poly. It contains some of the relocated liberal arts and sciences programs from the ASU West campus plus the existing science, technology, engineering, and other programs at the ASU Polytechnic campus, thereby effectively doubling Polytech's existing research output. AzTech can then continue to expand its curriculum towards becoming a "complete university."

The table above compares public Technological Universities of nearby states with AZ.

Expanding the Membership of the Arizona Board of Regents

The addition of Regional (PSU) and Technological (AzTech) state universities (as separate brands) further strengthens and diversifies the Arizona University System portfolio by providing the necessary flexibility for each institution to optimize its mission, innovation, and performance while maintaining local control. This discourages any university from "trying to be everything for everybody" while allowing each to better compete nationally with other universities in the same class. Each university maintains its quality control to avoid the perception of a "diploma mill."

Increasing the membership size from 3 to 5 reduces the likelihood of any single university from having an overbearing influence and its necessity for empire building. Many students can then choose to "opt out" from attending the overcrowded, heavy research universities (ASU and UA) which can increase overall enrollments and graduations for the Arizona University System.
Most other states with smaller population sizes already have more than 3 public universities each. It is unethical for the Arizona University System to intentionally limit the supply of public universities to artificially inflate the enrollment statistics at ASU and UA.

ASU and UA would explicitly behave as Arizona's flagship universities and can choose to adopt selective admissions policies to its entire university (not just the business schools). ASU, UA, PSU, and AzTech transform into Arizona's version of UCLA, UC Berkeley, CSUDH, and Cal Poly, respectively, but with a much more open admissions policy than these California universities. Arizonans will have more clearly defined state universities to choose from at various tuition price points and admissions standards which allow students to gauge "which one is right for them."

Increasing Access and Performance among Arizona Universities

Headcount and Full-time (FTE) student enrollment data are found in this ABOR document.


Split the ASU Monopoly into 3 Universities for Greater Phoenix

PSU replaces ASU West campus and AzTech replaces ASU Polytechnic campus.
Changing Directions: Each campus adopts a separate mission, branding & cost.

To put Greater Phoenix's population of 4.1 million into perspective, consider that Oregon's population of 3.8 million and New Mexico's population of 2 million each has several public universities while Arizona only has 3. And, Utah has two more public universities than AZ. Moreover, San Diego County has 3 public universities within its 3.1 million population, the Austin-San Antonio Corridor has 4 public universities within its 3.7 million population, and Colorado's Front Range has several public universities within its 4.1 million population base.

Although Oregon and New Mexico established their state universities across rural locations throughout their large-size areas, it is still more cost-effective to establish a university in an urbanized setting than in a rural location. Moreover, it is certainly cheaper and quicker to convert an existing university branch campus into a free-standing state university than it is to construct from scratch a brand new public university that is located somewhere else. The majority of students in Arizona prefer living and studying in the urban, metropolitan areas.

Other conservative states (Oklahoma, Kentucky, Kansas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Carolinas, Dakotas) have 6 or more public universities each despite each having a population size that is less than or slightly more than that of Greater Phoenix. In addition, Indiana, Missouri, Tennessee, Washington have population sizes similar to Arizona while also having 6 or more public universities each. Thus, it is quite a bargain and without extravagance to have 3 public universities in Greater Phoenix for a total of 5 state universities in Arizona.

Arizona's population distribution is heavily skewed since an estimated 70% of the statewide population resides in Greater Phoenix. As such, since more than 3 out of every 5 Arizonans live in Greater Phoenix, it then makes sense if 3 out of the 5 state universities are located in Greater Phoenix, too. Likewise, having 4 out of the 5 state universities located in Greater Phoenix and Greater Tucson combined remains consistent with 4 out of every 5 Arizonans (80%) living in these urbanized areas as part of a fast-growing, but disconnected Sun Corridor region.

An Interesting Tale of Two Cities - San Antonio versus Phoenix

IMPORTANT: Click here to view the planning document for the new Texas A&M - San Antonio.
The arguments presented in the link above are also applicable towards establishing PSU and AzTech.

Raleigh-Durham also has North Carolina Central University, Houston has University of Houston and Texas Southern University, Greater Atlanta has Kennesaw State University, and Greater Denver has University of Colorado and Metro State University.

Consider the following facts between San Antonio and Phoenix, as referenced from the link above:

(1) UTSA (University of Texas at San Antonio) is a doctoral university analogous to ASU, but with a smaller research budget and lower enrollment size.

(2) UTSA recently built a new downtown campus in downtown San Antonio, analogous to ASU's new downtown campus in downtown Phoenix.

(3) UTHSC (University of Texas Health Sciences Center) has a location in San Antonio; similiarly, the University of Arizona Health Sciences Center has a location in Phoenix.

(4) The 25 to 30 mile distance between ASU Tempe and its branch campuses (ASU West and Polytechnic) is about the same as the distance between UTSA and Texas A&M - San Antonio.

(5) The Westside of Phoenix and the West Valley both are underserved in higher education, economically disadvantaged, and have larger Hispanic populations compared to both East Phoenix and the East Valley. Metro Phoenix also has large Native American populations.

(6) PSU and AzTech are conversions of existing university branch campuses (ASU West & Polytechnic), whereas Texas A&M - San Antonio and UNT at Dallas are built from scratch.

(7) ASU West already has a FTE student enrollment of 6000+ which is much higher than the 1000+ FTE threshold Texas used to establish Texas A&M - San Antonio and UNT at Dallas.

(8) Phoenix is the 6th largest city whereas San Antonio & Dallas are the 7th & 9th largest.

(9) Phoenix's Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) population of 4.4 million is already double that of San Antonio's MSA of 2.2 million. Furthermore, the Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale MSA is the 12th largest in the nation, thereby resulting in Arizona being a heavily urbanized state.

Notice the many similarities between Phoenix and San Antonio as mentioned above? PSU and AzTech will result in a stronger impact for Greater Phoenix and the State of Arizona.

Responses to Some Frequently Asked Questions and Concerns

Do I (author) have something personal to gain from this proposal?
No, there is nothing of value (financially or politically) for me to gain as I am neither a lobbyist nor an employee of any university or municipality. Rather, I am a concerned Arizona resident and a recent graduate of ASU who is interested in promoting increased access, competition, and accountability to a public university education for many more Arizonans. I already shared this proposal with ASU, ABOR, and the Arizona Legislature.

How is this different than ABOR's 2004-2005 proposal to separate ASU West?
My restructuring proposal merges two ASU branch campuses (West and Polytechnic) into a "complete", free-standing state university (AzTech) that is then housed at the Polytechnic campus location. It is not financially feasible to put this new university at the West campus because relocating the engineering and technology programs is expensive and impractical. Moreover, the Polytechnic campus is better positioned along the growing Phoenix-Tucson
"sun corridor" for this merger to succeed. ASU's Tempe & Downtown Phoenix campuses are still accessible to the West Valley via freeway, and upcoming light-rail and bus rapid transit links connecting the East & West Valleys will make ASU feel even closer for the West Valley.

The current ASU West faculty would not have to lose their research responsibilities upon relocating to AzTech. ASU already "gutted" the West campus by disestablishing many of its original degree programs, including business and human services. There are no separate governing boards under my plan because all public universities within Arizona would still report directly to the existing governing board (ABOR). Transforming ASU West into a "low-cost" state university remains consistent with ABOR's previous attempt and publicly stated goal of establishing an instructional-based state university to increase bachelors degrees.

What about accreditation?
The Arizona University System shall initiate a Change of Control request with the Higher Learning Commission to begin the accreditation process for PSU and AzTech. Likewise, a separate ABET acceditation process must occur to transfer ASU Polytechnic's Engineering and Technology programs to AzTech. During this time, it is expected that PSU and AzTech would share ASU's accreditations thereby allowing students to remain eligible for financial aid. Currently enrolled students would have the option to graduate with a degree from ASU within a reasonable time period or they can graduate under the new university. It will take at least a few years before separate accreditations are officially awarded to PSU and AzTech.

Why break-up ASU and change its direction?
ASU West's emergence in the 1980's came about when ASU was in a different stage of its development. Back then, ASU was not a Research I institution but more like a regional university with a lower cost structure. There was little emphasis on rankings, research grants, and endowments. Today, ASU (Tempe and Downtown Phoenix) is a heavy research institution with a higher cost structure that competes aggressively with highly selective universities across the country for exclusive research grants and top national rankings. The founders of ASU West (Barbara and Sterling Ridge) told me that they originally envisioned the West campus as a free-standing and non-research state university; however, politics later resulted in its beginnings as an upper-division, branch campus connected to ASU.

ASU's per pupil funding during the housing boom was about double its rate today. During that time, ASU supported a large variety of programs at the West & Polytechnic campuses while competing directly with the local community colleges for new student enrollments despite receiving a lower per pupil funding level than UA. However, the Great Recession has severely reduced funding to the university system with ASU at risk of even lower per pupil funding in the near future. Moreover, public university enrollments have reached record levels and are projected to increase into the future. As a result, ASU's tuition rates have skyrocketed during these last few years, in part to subsidize some low-income students and has created a huge financial hardship for other low income and middle class AZ residents. And, Arizona's poverty rate has since grown and it is now among the highest in the nation.

With this new funding level reality, it is difficult for ASU to operate the West and Polytechnic campuses while still serving its core mission as a heavy research institution. In other words, the State of Arizona cannot afford to put research at both the West & Polytechnic campuses for a large volume of undergraduate students. Hence, my proposal merges the West campus academic programs and research with the Polytechnic campus, thereby freeing up the West campus to transform itself into an independent, low-cost, and non-research state university (which is found in many other large metro areas) to increase affordability, accessibility, and capacity to a public university education for many more Arizonans. While working adults may find on-line education to be convenient, most traditional age students want to receive their on-campus education and these student populations are much larger and still growing.

What about the money and costs necessary for this restructuring?
Yes, extra funding and cash infusions are necessary. However, additional funding is also necessary to maintain the status quo. Instead of pumping more money into supporting a fragmented, mega-university (ASU) whose existing resources are already stretched out too thin, this money is better used to consolidate the university system (PSU and AzTech) to educate more undergraduate students at a lower per-unit cost. Irregardless of funding levels, it is still inefficient and costly for any state (Arizona) to educate a supermajority of its undergraduate students with its heavy research institutions (ASU and UA), especially with high costs that will continue to increase as they compete with other peer universities.

The goal is to reduce the undergraduate admissions and overcrowding at the higher-cost UA and ASU Tempe campuses by providing sufficient alternatives for many students who still want a university education while in an urban area, but at a lower tuition rate and separate brand than ASU, NAU, and UA. As a result, taxpayers can support many more students who attend these lower-cost state universities (PSU and AzTech) and overall affordability then increases for all students throughout the university system. Elevating the West and Polytechnic campuses into free-standing state universities reflects a commitment and investment from the State of Arizona to continue funding public university education.

The Arizona University System should begin restructuring itself now and not "stall for time" to pursue some other agenda or ideology, especially since the federal stimulus dollars expire in fiscal year 2012, the sales tax rate decreases by 1% in 2013, and the business tax cuts are then activated soon thereafter. Middle class and working class Arizona families cannot afford the state universities' "high-tuition, high-aid" tuition discounting model, unlike the wealthy who can still afford the luxury of enrolling their children into private and out-of-state institutions.

What is the effect of the growing population?
Greater Phoenix's current population of 4.3 million is already too big for any one university (ASU) to have monopoly power as a free-standing state university and its future population by 2025 is projected to have grown by 1 million. The varying demographic and geographic differences necessitate separate public universities that further diversify and specialize as a function of cost structure, learning style, mission, rankings, and branding so as to maximize student success and institutional innovation. Also, a large percentage of people still migrate from rural Arizona and from outside of Arizona into Greater Phoenix who seek educational and employment opportunities. PSU and AzTech can assist with this population expansion.
And, unlike ASU, PSU and AzTech need not require first-year students to live on-campus.

As the population rates of Greater Phoenix and Greater Arizona continue to increase, the existing higher education infrastructure of 3 public universities remains insufficient even for the current population size. PSU and AzTech (along with the AZ community colleges) provide the physical space and capacity to educate tens of thousands of undergraduate students at a lower per unit cost while permitting the heavy research universities (ASU and UA) to limit enrollments by issuing enrollment caps to further control their excessive costs and student overcrowding. For example, ASU recently capped new student enrollments in March 2009 due to a lack of state funding for its higher per-student costs. PSU, AzTech, and NAU emphasize undergraduate access and can serve as a pipeline for Arizona residents to pursue their graduate/doctoral studies at a heavy research university in-state (ASU or UA).

Does this separation result in low-quality institutions?
Absolutely not! The curriculum and faculty at PSU and AzTech will each promote academic excellence and increased access to an undergraduate education. Although their rankings will not equal the national reputations of ASU & UA, neither does NAU and yet NAU is still considered a quality university. And, the presidents of PSU and AzTech (along with ASU, NAU, UA) would each report directly to ABOR, thereby ensuring parity, quality control, and legitimacy for all AZ universities. If many Arizonans perceive four-year degrees from community colleges as being "reputable", then it is reasonable to assume that significantly more Arizonans would perceive four-year degrees from PSU as being "highly reputable." Likewise, most people would rank PSU "more highly" than many for-profit universities.

Students who are picky about the name of a university can still apply to a "national brand" university (ASU or UA); however, other students are happy to enroll in a "regional brand" university (PSU, AzTech, NAU) if this results in having greater choices, accessibility, and affordability to a university education. For example, two universities in Utah and Colorado with the largest undergraduate enrollments are low-cost, non-research state universities called Utah Valley University and Metropolitan State University. Both are popular despite each having a name and a brand that is less recognizable and less prestigous than Utah State University & University of Utah and Colorado State University & University of Colorado. Moreover, a generic university education is still more reputable than having no university education, especially since Arizonans have a low university education attainment rate.

PSU and AzTech shall each promote student success to a public university education for additional Arizonans, especially among its under-served and non-competitive student populations. For example, PSU (as an instructional university) would embrace a stronger teaching emphasis, which allows many students who might otherwise have difficulty when attending a heavy research university (ASU and UA) to thrive in such a stronger learning environment. Likewise, AzTech (as a polytechnic) would offer students a stronger applied problem solving approach to learning compared to ASU and UA. PSU and AzTech will then increase the enrollment, retention, and graduation rates for the Arizona University System.

Isn't this just creating additional burreacracies?
Not exactly, because these campuses become free-standing state universities under local control (via coordination through ABOR) instead of following the decision-making from a central university (ASU). Arizona already has too few public universities for its population size; thus, this restructuring plan presents an opportunity to close the gap in the number of available public universities while saving the West & Polytechnic campuses from collapse. This is analogous to a large county having multiple high schools and community colleges, including Maricopa County's 10 community colleges each having its own administration and accreditation. A centralized administration does not guarantee efficiency since it can still use multiple layers. Some critics accuse ASU and UA of having "administrative bloat."

Greater Phoenix's large population size and the conversion of existing university branch campuses then provide the necessary cost-effectiveness for operating additional public universities, especially if each university has a different cost structure. For example, the corresponding senior administrative expenses at PSU and AzTech would each be less than ASU and UA and are partially offset by spreading those costs across tens of thousands of students at PSU and AzTech along with the savings from educating not too many students at the higher cost ASU and UA. In addition, ASU and UA can reduce expenses and layers from their own centralized administrations, thereby reducing their existing burreacracies. And, new administrative services at PSU and AzTech could be phased in over time, as needed.

What about the role of the community colleges?
Although the community colleges do not offer upper-division courses or four-year degrees, they still play an important role in Arizona higher education and are expected to form even stronger partnerships with the state universities to provide for more seamless transfers. However, the community colleges should avoid conflicting their mission on providing Arizonans with open access to remedial, vocational, community, and transfer education (especially since Arizona's K-12 per pupil expenditures are among the nation's lowest) and should increase the percentage of full-time faculty for the lower-division academic courses.

The Arizona University System is dumping too many students onto community colleges which is noteworthy since the community college graduation rate is not high and transfer students are generally less likely to graduate in a timely manner. Many students attending community colleges are already capable of handling university-level instruction but are not doing so to avoid the expensive tuitions and crowded conditions at ASU and UA, including many students who "reverse-transfer" from these universities to a local community college.
Thus, community colleges should not replace the role of having a regional state university.

PSU and AzTech would provide the capacity and the economies of scale to educate tens of thousands of undergraduate students across dozens of degree programs for many students who still expect a university experience at a traditional campus location. Congestion is then reduced at the Pima and Maricopa Community Colleges because college-bound, high school graduates could directly enroll at PSU or AzTech as a lower cost alternative to ASU and UA. And, full-time students who begin at a regional university generally have higher completion rates of bachelors degrees than students who begin at a community college. Nevertheless, community college students will have more state universities to consider transferring into.

What about attracting more private colleges and universities?
More private higher education institutions should certainly be encouraged and recruited to come to Arizona, especially since Arizona historically has had too few private colleges and universities, particularly the not-for-profit ones. However, Arizona still has too few public universities for its population size and private institutions alone cannot provide the extra capacity necessary to meet the demands of tens of thousands of students within Arizona.

What about the economic impact of PSU and AzTech?
PSU offers Arizonans with increased access to an affordable, general academic university in an instructional-intensive environment. PSU's proposed specialty programs in allied health and public safety can support the growing healthcare and emergency services industries in Arizona. PSU can also produce a high volume of low-cost business and education degrees to satisfy the growing demand for small business professionals and K-12 school teachers in AZ. PSU can attract Industry and jobs to the West Valley and should it offer any intercollegiate athletics, it could potentially use the existing arena and stadiums located throughout the West Valley.

AzTech's specialty programs in aviation and technology are consistent with initiatives from Science Foundation Arizona and the Arizona Technology Council to attract high-paying aerospace, energy, and technology jobs by educating more Arizonans in STEM programs. AzTech continues Polytechnic's existing research programs and partnerships including algae biofuels, unmanned aircraft, and Air Force Research Lab and the relocated liberal arts programs offer new, complementary research areas such as food safety and global security.

PSU & AzTech will serve as reliever institutions and alternative choices away from the high-cost and overcrowded ASU & UA, especially since 80% of all Arizonans live in the Greater Phoenix and Tucson regions. This allows ASU & UA to each focus on generating additional heavy research and achieving top national rankings for its entire university (with the whole being greater than the sum of its parts) with positive results still benefiting all Arizonans.

Arizona high school students have among the lowest college-going and college-completion rates in America. PSU and AzTech can help satisfy the state goal of doubling the production of quality bachelors degrees to increase Arizona's higher educational attainment, which is necessary if Arizonans want to stay competitive in the national and global marketplace. Thus, Arizona can substantially increase its recruitment and retention of high-paying jobs.

What about PSU and/or AzTech being part of ASU (or any other university)?
No, the point is to establish autonomy and not subsidize the expensive operations of ASU, NAU, & UA while providing healthy competition and greater choices. A branch campus or subsidiary does not provide the necessary institutional independence, thereby resulting in manipulation and exploitation. As a recent example, "piggybacking" off ASU's name resulted in the loss of academic programs, leadership, students, and appropriations funding at the West and Polytechnic campuses. In addition, universities do constrain enrollments at their branch campuses; however, PSU and AzTech could substantially increase their enrollments as free-standing state universities, thereby allowing additional appropriations dollars (per-pupil) to flow directly into PSU and AzTech, especially with enrollment caps at ASU and UA.

Local control allows students, faculty, philanthropists, and the neighboring communities and municipalities freedom "to take ownership", which includes providing advocacy, partnerships, fundraising, and bonding towards university development. Although the West & Polytechnic campuses each receive separate line-item appropriations funding, PSU and AzTech would then have its own budget, a complete set of programs housed on-site, and local control of its curriculum which could support local and regional economic development while avoiding the power struggles and controversies from association with ASU (or any other university).

Why not keep the existing ASU differentiated campus model?
Separate institutional identities and branding with local control are important because all universities rely on alumni, fundraising, endowments, and local partnerships as indicators of performance and community involvement. A fragmented, jumbo university (ASU) might not attract enough support to substantially increase these indicators at all (four) campuses; however, PSU and AzTech (as separate universities) could each do this for its own campus. The West and Polytechnic campuses had lost some influence because many of their original degree programs were either disestablished or relocated to the Downtown Phoenix campus.

Furthermore, the West & Polytechnic campuses are each located too far away for students to take classes back and forth between either campus and the main campus in Tempe. In contrast, the Tempe and Downtown Phoenix campuses are located near one another and have relatively short travel times especially with the convenience of light rail transit. It is unrealistic and impractical to expect full-time faculty to travel among the campuses. Also, many students at the West and Polytechnic campuses cannot find all of their classes at one campus, thus requiring them to travel to either the Tempe or Downtown Phoenix campus.

On the other hand, the West & Polytechnic campuses are not located far away enough for students to avoid the high-cost Tempe campus because under ASU's "One University in Many Places", there is not a strong enough incentive for students to attend the West or Polytechnic campus. Why would many students want to attend the "Fake ASU" (West or Polytechnic campus) when within driving distance the "Real ASU" (Tempe or Downtown Phoenix campus) embraces the same institutional identity at a very similar tuition rate while offering many more amenities and higher ranked degree programs and faculty?

It is easier to self-contain costs and charge a different tuition rate for a specific campus if the West & Polytechnic campuses are encapsulated and branded as separate, free-standing state universities (PSU & AzTech) instead of sharing the high overhead costs of ASU. This results in each campus having an unambiguous identity with a separate mission and cost structure that can better account for the variance in operating expenses, types of degrees offered, levels of services provided, and the intensity of research to be incurred at each institution.

Is my proposal a solution in search of a problem?
My solution is not in search of a problem, because the problem of not having enough public universities to educate Greater Phoenix's population of 4.1 million people and the State of Arizona's population of 6.8 million is very real. Arizona still has the same number of public universities as it did 50 years ago and yet look at the population change. The ASU West and Polytechnic campuses are under-utilized and must necessarily expand to take advantage of the available space to accomodate the tens of thousands of current and future AZ students since the main campuses of ASU, NAU, UA and the community colleges do not have room.

ASU's "One University in Many Places" is a myth because it is too expensive to put the heavy research programs at the branch campuses and ASU does not want to do this anyways. Likewise, ASU will still keep its top-ranked programs and faculty at the Tempe & Downtown Phoenix campuses. The West and Polytechnic campuses should each offer its own complete set of programs on-site; however, they cannot do so while affiliated with ASU because the Tempe & Downtown Phoenix campuses will see this as a redundancy and as a direct threat to their own rankings. Moreover, ASU does not want its branch campuses to provide direct competition and during budget downturns, West & Polytechnic are likely to get cut first.

ASU is using the West & Poly campuses to establish a "mighty empire" by hoarding student enrollments and milking its state appropriations funding and federal financial aid dollars to satisfy a silly marketing slogan such as "the largest public research university under a single administration" or "nation's largest public university by enrollment" while having those students subsidize the costly doctoral research programs, intercollegiate athletics, and parking structures at the main campus in Tempe. ASU had also inflated student enrollments at certain campuses by manipulating its accounting of students attending other campuses and online programs.

Arizona prides itself in promoting school choice for public K-12 education and should now extend this courtesy for public university education by breaking-up the ASU Empire. My proposal offers more choices, greater access, and healthy competition among Arizona's public universities using a traditional model that already works in many other states. Arizonans cannot afford any more "grand experiments" or "gimmicks" and they expect greater accountability to keep faith in their state government and university system.