Congressional education panel invites CMU president to testify

Tim Foster

Colorado Mesa University President Tim Foster will testify before the Congressional Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training today in Washington D.C.

Foster is one of four people the subcommittee invited to testify during a hearing labeled “Keeping College within Reach: Discussing Ways Institutions Can Streamline Costs and Reduce Tuition.” Foster will talk about cost-saving measures at the university, including the elimination of all dean positions and 12 degree programs, and how Colorado Mesa raised tuition by 5 percent this year when the average tuition increase was 13 percent year-over-year at other public Colorado colleges and universities.

Foster said he has been asked to discuss an idea the university plans to pursue in the Legislature this spring to have the state give the university a one-time endowment and allow the school to live off the interest in perpetuity. The public-private model would allow the school to have less government oversight. Foster said he hopes to convince members of the subcommittee to trust college and university presidents more and regulate less.

“State budgets are declining, so we’re going to have to find ways to go off on our own to decrease tuition increases,” Foster said. “Students will communicate with us so much more quickly if we aren’t measuring up than the federal government will.”

The subcommittee is hosting the hearing to learn reasons behind recent tuition increases and hear ways some schools are avoiding steeper increases.

Others providing testimony will be Ronald E. Manahan, president of Grace College in Winona Lake, Ind.; Jane Wellman, executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based Delta Project on Postsecondary Education Costs, Productivity and Accountability; and Jamie P. Merisotis, president and chief executive officer of the higher-education-focused Lumina Foundation in Indianapolis.

Foster said he believes he was asked to testify because he spoke with education-committee staffers during the Colorado Capitol Conference in June. The conference brought Colorado leaders and students to Washington, D.C., to learn more about the federal government and interact with politicians.


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