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Budget Cuts “Devestating” Says School

graham_and_rendellGraham Spanier is calling in favors… or trying to, at least.

He sent a letter (PDF) to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan about Governor Rendell’s recent exclusion of Penn State and other state-related universities from federal stimulus money.

By arbitrarily re-defining The Pennsylvania State University as non-public, simply because we are not “under the absolute control of the Commonwealth,” the Governor is setting a dangerous precedent that the Department of Education should address. If the Department approves this application as it is written, it gives governors in every other state the ability to pick and choose which public institutions they may support with federal dollars.

The state should not be able to arbitrarily exclude a public institution from receiving congressionally-appropriated federal money- Veblen would probably even agree with that- but frankly, that’s not the issue at hand. Update: here’s the link to the blog post that played a large part in this discussion, we forgot it in the first go.

The core debate is whether Penn State is more of a public or private institution. Read: what exactly does state-related mean?

Graham has seemingly argued for both sides.

In an editorial written in 2007, he explained how Penn State and other state-related should be exempt from certain Right-to-Know legislation because disclosing certain data would weaken Penn State institutionally. More specifically, he said that Right-to-Know laws being enforced on Penn State would force the school to release information on technology licensing, donors, and salaries to the public. That information, he says, could make alumni more hesitant about donating and would take away some of Penn State’s competitiveness in negotiations.

In that 2007 editorial, he said simply,

Should such legislation pass, we would be treated as if we were part of state government, as if we were a state agency.  We are not.

Juxtapose that with some lines from the article released by Penn State Live yesterday,

In removing the state-related universities from eligibility for stabilization funds, Rendell has declared that they are not public universities, contrary to their missions and history of state support. Penn State is Pennsylvania’s sole land-grant institution and carries out multiple missions in service to the state and its citizens. Its character as a public institution has been supported by 154 years of history, legislative action and legal documents.

And in the letter to Arne Duncan, Spanier said,

Penn State’s role as a public institution of higher education is clear in Pennsylvania statutory and case law.

So let’s break it out in the comments… are we public or private?

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About the Author


Creator of @OnwardState. Big fan of sweaters.

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