I've already talked about how here in Kentucky GOP Gov. Matt Bevin wants to dismantle state employee pensions and post-retirement health care benefits, as well as his across-the-board austerity cuts to the state budget. Bevin says his cuts won't affect public education, but apparently that doesn't include the UK system, where the governor is warning the state's colleges and universities that the time has come to eliminate majors that don't produce money-making graduates as all of the state's higher education system faces Bevin's chainsaw austerity cuts.
Gov. Matt Bevin bluntly suggested Tuesday that some academic programs on Kentucky’s college campuses have outlived their necessity in times of tight state budgets.
With a pointed jab at the job prospects of interpretive dancers, the Republican governor challenged public university boards and presidents to consider eliminating some courses that don’t produce graduates filling high-wage, high-demand jobs.
His message comes as the state tries to fix its failing public pension systems, and economists estimate Kentucky faces a $200 million shortfall when the fiscal year ends in mid-2018.
“Find entire parts of your campus … that don’t need to be there,” Bevin said in a speech to a higher education conference. “Either physically as programs, degrees that you’re offering, buildings that … shouldn’t be there because you’re maintaining something that’s not an asset of any value, that’s not helping to produce that 21st century educated workforce.”
Education, critical thinking, pushing boundaries, scholarship? Screw that, we're here to make money, you ivory tower nerds.
Bevin acknowledged such comments would be seen as “sacrilege” by some.
It’s not the first time Bevin has urged the state’s colleges and universities to refine course offerings to create more graduates moving on to jobs “that matter” and are in demand.
“If you’re studying interpretive dance, God bless you, but there’s not a lot of jobs right now in America looking for people with that as a skill set,” he said Tuesday.
In comments that echoed an earlier snipe at French literature students, Bevin said educators from middle school on up need to do a better job of steering students toward high-demand jobs. They need to stop perpetuating “this idea that simply going to college is enough,” Bevin said. A college degree isn’t sufficient if students “aren’t studying the right things,” he said.
“There’s a whole lot of kids sitting in their parents’ basements and competing with people for jobs that are minimum wage or a bit better who have four-year degrees, some of them graduate-level degrees,” he said. “Some from the very universities that you all represent.”
Bevin has made workforce development a priority of his tenure as governor. He said Tuesday he wants Kentucky to become the nation’s engineering and manufacturing epicenter, and urged the state’s engineering programs to embrace the challenge.
“I challenge you to say to yourselves, ‘If we’re graduating 250 people out of our engineering school … why is it 250 and not 1,000? And what are we going to do between now and 2030 and a whole lot sooner to make sure it’s 1,000?’ ” Bevin said.
The University of Louisville’s interim president, Greg Postel, said the school’s engineering program has been growing, and continuing on that trajectory would be a “natural fit.”
“Universities have to be aware of where the jobs are, and that has to advise us as to which programs we choose to grow and put resources in,” he said in an interview after Bevin’s speech.
Asked about Bevin’s suggestion that universities look for academic programs to eliminate, Postel said: “That requires an awful lot of thought before one would do something that dramatic.”
U of L President Postel ought to know by now that "giving things a whole lot of thought" isn't Bevin's strong point. If the only point of education is to make money as a member of the work force, then what's Bevin doing being employed?
We ain't gonna have no damn interpretive dancers in Bevinstan, ya hear?