2008 Joint Meeting of The Geological Society of America, Soil Science Society of America, American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies with the Gulf Coast Section of SEPM

Paper No. 8
Presentation Time: 9:45 AM

Thoughts on the Future of Higher Education In Public Research Institutions, with Particular Reference to the Rocky Mountain West

PARRISH, Judith Totman, Dept. of Geological Sciences, Univ of Idaho, P.O. Box 443022, Moscow, ID 83844, jparrish@uidaho.edu

Several trends in the research and education worlds of public research universities may drive substantial changes in how these institutions evolve, particularly in states with smaller populations and large geographic areas. Some of these trends are:

• Growing, but still-scattered populations

• Increasing demands for bachelor's and even master's-level education in locations that do not require students to move

• Increasing population of non-traditional students who are settled in their communities

• Increasing pressure on state revenues by mandated over non-mandated expenditures (e.g., welfare, K-12 education, prisons, state and local government retirement plans and health insurance)

• Increases in overall demand for higher education driven not just by population growth and the addition of non-traditional students but also by public perception of the value of higher education, leading to demand for education of a higher proportion of high-school graduates

• Increasing expectations for faculty to bring in external funding

• Increase in demand on federal research dollars that outpaces the increases in availability of federal research dollars

• Increasing shift of federal research dollars to more-specific, shorter-range research goals

• Increasing persistence of older faculty in tenured positions owing to increasing post-retirement costs, which decreases the opportunity to pursue new federal funding trends

These trends have important implications for workforce development, particularly in the sciences, including geosciences. This talk will compare the trends in Idaho and Arizona, states that fit the criteria of being large geographically but small in population and that are also traditionally favorable to economic geology, and speculate on the results of the convergence of these trends if they persist. I include my perspective as a former associate dean and dean of science in both states.