MMITM Ep 33 - Should Colleges Open In 2020? - The Presidents' View with David Leebron and E. Gordon Gee

00:00:00
Voiceover: From  Curtco Media

00:00:06
Bill Curtis: Two  geniuses  have  commented  on  college  education and  it's  placed  in  our  hearts  first,  a  little  known  fellow  named  Albert  Einstein,  who  said, " The  value  of  a  college  education  is  not  the  learning  of  many  facts,  but  the  training  of  the  mind  to  think."  And  the  other  genius,  whose  words  have  been  gifted  so  often  on  graduation  day,  Dr.  Seuss,  of  course, " Oh,  the  places  you  will  go,  you  have  brains  in  your  head.  You  have  feet  in  your  shoes.  You  can  steer  yourself  in  any  direction  you  choose.  You'll  be  on  your  own.  And  you  know  what  you  know,  you  are  the  one  who'll  decide  where  you  go."  Welcome  to  an  exploration  of  university  plans  to  open  this  fall  while  managing  through  a  pandemic.

 

 I'm  Bill  Curtis,  we've  got  two  lauded  and  renowned  presidents  of  universities  with  us  on  today's  panel.  David  W.  Leebron  President  of  Rice  University  in  Houston,  Texas  for  16  years.  He's  credited  with  overseeing  an  international  and  diversified  student  body  growth  of  over  30%  during  his  tenure.  And  he  is  shouldering  the  responsibility  of  a  combined  student  body  of  around 7, 000,  including  under  and  postgraduate  students,  as  well  as  over  800  faculty.  Prior  to  taking  the  helm  at  Rice,  David  was  the  Dean  of  Columbia  Law  and  he  graduated  from  Harvard  Law.  Thank  you  for  joining  us  President  David  Leebron.

 

00:01:26
David Leebron: Pleasure.

 

00:01:28
Bill Curtis: E.  Gordon  Gee  while  he's  the  award  winning  internationally  renowned  president  of  West  Virginia  University.  He's  also  served  as  president  of  Ohio  State  University  from  1990  to  97.  And  then  they  pulled  him  back  again  in  2007  to  2013.  His  career  also  included  leading  the  University  of  Colorado,  Brown  University,  and  Vanderbilt.  His  first  stint  as  president  of  West  Virginia  University,  was  back  in  the  1980s  and  they  seemed  to  have  pulled  him  back  in  to  do  it  again.  His  JD  and  EdD  degrees  are  from  Columbia  University.  And  here's  one  I  didn't  expect.  He  has  served  on  boards,  including  the  board  of  the  Rock  and  Roll  Hall  of  Fame.  So  many  other  accolades  and  honors,  we  simply  don't  have  time  to  list,  but  Gee's  daughter,  Rebekah,  is  secretary  of  the  Louisiana  Department  of  Health.  So  he  has  got  all  kinds  of  perspective  for  today's  subject  matter  and  on  his  shoulders  stands  and  undergraduate  and  postgraduate  enrollment  of  almost 30, 000  and  1500  faculty.  Thank  you  for  joining  today,  E.  Gordon  Gee.

 

00:02:39
E. Gordon Gee: I'm  grateful  to  be  here.  Thank  you.

 

00:02:41
Bill Curtis: And  of  course  our  co- hosts  connecting  through  Zoom,  Pulitzer  Prize  winning  historian,  bestselling  author,  and  worldwide  lecture,  Professor  Ed  Larson.  Nice  to  see  you  again  Ed.

 

00:02:50
Ed Larson: Thank  you  for  having  me  here,  and  president  Gee  it's  just  great  to  see  your  bow  tie  again.

 

00:02:56
Bill Curtis: And  of  course,  Jane  Albrecht.  An  international  trade  attorney  who's  represented  US  interest  to  high  level  government  officials  all  over  the  world.  Jane,  nice  to  remotely  see  you  today.

 

00:03:06
Jane Albrecht: It's  always  good  to  be  here.

 

00:03:08
Bill Curtis: So  President  Gee,  tell  us  what  led  to  you  serving  on  the  board  of  the  Rock  and  Roll  Hall  of  Fame.

 

00:03:14
E. Gordon Gee: My  real  interest  was  the fact  that  I  love  rock  and  roll.  And  I  actually  was  on  the  selection committee if you can believe it.  That  would  select  inductees.  So  it  was  fun  while  it  lasted,  but  eventually  I  had  to  get  off  the  board.

 

00:03:29
Bill Curtis: You've  been  quoted  saying  that  your  primary  focus  is  how  to  bring  students  back  to  campus  while  taking  all  necessary  public  health  and  safety  measures.  So  while  you  consider  all  the  possibilities  for  the  opening  of  your  schools  in  fall,  what  are  the  factors  that  drive  your  decision  making?

 

00:03:46
E. Gordon Gee: The  way  that  I  view  it  as the fact that I view it as  a  hammer  and  a  dance.  We've  had  the  hammer  we've  shut  down,  we've  done  everything  we  possibly  can  to  flatten  the  curve,  but  both  for  the  psychology  of  our  students,  for  the  psychology  of  our  country,  we've  got  to  get  into  a  dance.  We've  all  taken  the  flu  vaccine,  but  88,000  people  have  died of  the  flu  this  year.  We  all  drive  cars  and 50, 000  people  have  died  in  car  accidents.  So  we're  going  to  have  to  learn  to  dance  with  this.  And  so  we  have  to  take  appropriate  precautions,  but  we  cannot  continue  to  not  provide  the  kind  of  educational  excellence.  However,  we  do  it  with  appropriate  mass  distancing,  making  our  classes  smaller,  a  variety  of  other  things,  but  we  do  have  to  move  to  this  notion  of  creating  an  environment  in  which  students  can  actually  learn  from  each  other  and  within  the  classroom.

 

00:04:40
Bill Curtis: David,  can  we  ask  you,  and  as  you  open  up,  what  are  some  of  the  needs  of  the  students  that  you're  looking  to  preserve?

 

00:04:47
David Leebron: Well, the students  get  a  tremendous  amount  out  of  things  that  occur  outside  of  the  classroom.  And  even  in  the  classroom,  those  minutes  where  you  enter  a  class,  you're  leaving  a  class  and  a  casual  conversation  with  the  professor.  We  had  one  of  the  lowest  student  faculty  ratios  of  any  university.  So  it's  the  informality  and  the  community.  And  we  know  from  our  surveys  that  students  highly  value  their  classes,  but  they  see  the  classes  themselves  as  constituting,  25%  of  the  value  of  their  education.  And  so  it's  all  those  other  things  that  the  mentoring,  they  can  receive,  the  student  organizations,  leadership,  the  entrepreneurial  opportunities,  and  that  community  also  supports  them  academically.
 And  so  one  of  the  things  that  we're  observing  online  is  that  some  of  the  most  vulnerable  students  are  the  first  generation  and the  low  income  students.  And  one  of  the  reasons  for  that  it's  those  students that  really  need  that  sense  of  community  around  them  to  support  them.  I  think  that  I  agree  with  Gordon  that  our  students  are  really  anxious  to  get  back.  I  think  this  experience  we're  going  through  is going  to  fundamentally  change  higher  education,  but it's  not  going  to  diminish  the  demand  for  the  on  campus  experience  that  the  students  really  want  and  love.

 

00:06:12
Bill Curtis: Ed  Larson, I  know  that  you  have  a  definite  opinion  about  online  education  versus  being  on  campus  and  experiencing  your  courses  in  person.  And  of  course,  living  on  campus  as  well.  You  want  to  dive  in  here  a  bit?

 

00:06:29
Ed Larson: I'm  teaching  a  zoom  class  right  now  and  midway  through  last  semester,  I  converted  from  teaching  a  live  class  and  it's  just  not  the  same  experience.  I'm  trying  to  adapt,  students  are  an  awful  lot  happier  now  than  they  were  in  the  spring  because  it's  redesigned,  but  it's  not  the  same  experience for the  students.  It's  not  the  same  energizing  experience  for  the  teacher.  In  fact,  it's  very  flat  for  a  teacher  as  both  of  our  two  presences  that  interacting  with  each  other  in  the  classroom,  seeing  eye  to  eye, because  it's  not  quite  the  same  of  watching  somebody  on  zoom.  I  agree  with  both  of  them  that  the  classroom  learning  is  only  a  small  part  of  what  goes  on  and  in  university  overall,  people  are  coming  to  school  for  the  entire  experience,  which  is  social  as  well  as  technical  learning.

 

00:07:18
Bill Curtis: Gordon,  do  you  agree  with  Ed?

 

00:07:20
E. Gordon Gee: Well,  I've  never  thought  that  anyone  could  get  a  real  education  in  their  pajamas.  The  way  I  think  about  it  is  the  most  important  learning  experience,  and  this is not  to  in  any  way  take  away  from  our  faculty,  but  it  really  is  that  150  hours  of  relationships  is  those  late  night  pizza  parties.  It's  all  the  conversations  that  take  place.  It  is  a  social  engagement,  it's  the  human  contact.  So,  and  I  believe  with  David  that  this  virus  is  going  to  accelerate  the  change  in  higher  education  dramatically.  I  believe  that  we'll  see  many  more  of  the  hybrid  kind  of  models  where  some  of it  is  online.  Some  of  it  is  in  person,  a  variety  of  other  things,  but  I  do  believe  that  at  least  for  the  vast  majority  of  students,  the  educational  experiences  that  which  takes  place  in  the  brick  university  in  some  form  or  other.

 

00:08:12
Bill Curtis: So  David,  if  you  don't  mind  me  putting  you  on  the  spot  a little  bit,  because  I'd  like  to  take  this  from  the  parent's  perspective  for  a  minute,  there's  no  question  that  parents  are  looking  for  excellence  in  academics  when  they  send  someone  to  Rice.  Also  dorm  living  is  part  of  the  education  process.  And  you  kind  of  feel  that  you're  passing  your  kids  onto  a  somewhat  safe,  reasonably  supervised  environment  where  your  kids  can  learn  how  to  get  along  in  society.  Would  you  agree  that,  that's  one  of  the  main  goals  of  parents  as  they  bring  their  students  to  Rice?

 

00:08:51
David Leebron: Yeah.  I  mean,  this  is  a  critical  time  in  the  lives  of  our  students  and  particularly  our  undergraduates  this  time  when  they're,  typically  18  to  22  year  old  and  you  really  want  them  to  learn  a  lot  of  things.  It's  one  of  the  reasons  diversity  is  so  important  to  us  because  we  want  our  students  having  that  experience  in  a  very  diverse  environment.  But  I  want  to  both  agree  with  what's  been  previously  said,  but  maybe  also  qualify  it  a  little  bit.  We  have  online  degree  programs  that  we  offer  in  computer  science  and  in  business.  Those  are  excellent  programs  that  are  offered  for  the  same  price  as  the  residential  degree.  I  think  what's  important  is  that  you  tailor  the  delivery  to  the  particular  mode.  I  think  as  Ed  said,  going  on  all  of  a  sudden  in  the  spring.  And  we  went  from  three  courses  to  something  over  1900  courses  in  the  space  of  two  weeks.

 

 We  were  well  prepared  for  that  because  we're  already  engaged  in  the  online  space.  And  so  we  have  the  kind  of  training  and  resources  that  others  have  mentioned,  but  at  the  same  time  we  heard  from  instructors,  we  heard  from  a  instructor  and  art  who  said  initially, " I  can't  take  art  instruction  online.  I  can't  do  that."  And  yet,  by  the  time  she  got  instruction  and  went  through  the  process,  she  said, " You  know  what?  I've  learned  new  things  about  teaching  in  this  process."  We're  hearing  from  students  and  faculty  who  say, " Students  are  participating  in  different  ways.  Students  who  didn't  use  to  participate  are  now  participating  in  this  online  environment."  We  heard  from  students  about  the  online  delivery  of  services  where  they're  saying, " Can  we  keep  this  as  an  available  channel  to  us?  We  like  being  able  to  access  some  of  these  services  online."

 

00:10:41
Bill Curtis: So  Gordon,  I  wonder  if  I  could  really  put  you  on  the  spot  for  a  minute.  There  was  recently  frankly,  a  Rice  student  body  president  quoted  on  CNN,  comparing  student  housing  with  cruise  ships.  Tell  us  a  little  about  how  you  propose  to  manage  students  in  dorms  and  also  within  your  local  community.

 

00:11:00
E. Gordon Gee: Well,  I  think  that  of  course  is  an  immense  challenge.  We  are  already  putting  in  place  a  lot  of  protocols  and  also  tracing  opportunities.  We  have,  one  of  our  researchers  is  actually  figured  out  a  way  on  the  telephone  app.  How  we  can  track  these  students  and  those  that  are  may  be  coming  down  with  some  sort  of  a  fever  or  the  things  that  they  immediately  though,  we  can  immediately  get  to  them.  And  then  also  I  love  what  David  said,  because  I  do  think  that  there's  going  to  be  certain  number  of  parents  who  don't  want their  kids  to  start  off  in  that  kind  of  a  Petri  dish,  if  you  want  to  call  it  that.  And  so  we  need  to  make  this  kind  of  flexible  approach  for  their  education  available  to  them.  There's  no  doubt  that  the  Coronavirus  is  going  to  is  going  to  crop  up  on  our  campus.

 

 The  question  is  not  that,  the  question  is,  do  we  panic  or  do  we  deal  with  it?  And  that's  what  we're  trying  to

 determine  and  try  to  get  ourselves  prepared  for.

 

00:12:05
David Leebron: But  what's  really  different  about  this  is  the  length  of  time  and  the  uncertainty  at  every  stage.  And  so  it's  really  critical  here  is  that  frankly  we're  constantly  prepared  to  change  course  back  in  the  spring  within  24  hours,  I  had  announced  a  complete  reversal  of  something  I'd  announced  earlier,  but  I  have  constantly  been  saying  people, we are  going  to  reevaluate  consistently  reevaluate.  And  so,  right  now  what  we  would  say  is  we're  going  to  have  social  distancing  in  the  dining  halls,  recognizing  that  that  people  who  live  together  as  roommates  are  like  a  family  and  they're  going  to  be  in  contact  with  each  other.  And  so  we'll  have  to  measure  the  way  that  people  come  into  the  dining  halls.  That  probably  also  means  that  we'll  need  to  rethink  the  way  classes  are  scheduled.  And  then  we  also  have  to  recognize  the  particular  populations  that  are  vulnerable.  And  frankly,  the  people,  our  food  service  workers  are  more  vulnerable  than  our  students.  And  we  have  to  figure  out  what  are  we  going  to  do  to  make  sure  that  our  food  service  workers  and  others  are  protected?

 

00:13:10
Bill Curtis: Are  you,  Gordon  finding  any  challenge  with  some  of  your  faculty  not  really  wanting  to  reengage  this  fall?

 

00:13:19
E. Gordon Gee: Yeah,  absolutely.  I  think  that some of  them  are  very  fearful  and  so  who  we  have  to  recognize  that.  And  if  someone  just  feels  very,  very  vulnerable  and  does  not  really want  to  be  teaching the  course  and  we  have  to  accommodate  that  too,  by  that,  I  mean,  if  they're  going  to  teach,  then  maybe  we  have  to  put  it  online  or  do  some  other  kind  of  a  format  or  change  the  faculty  perspective  or  the  faculty  person.  Anything  we  have  to  do  to  make  sure  that  we're providing a broad based and excellent academic experience, is what  we're  going  to  do.  So  like  planning  the  Normandy  invasion,  we're  just  going  to have  to  be  very  cognizant  that  things  will  change,  but  it's  very  complex.

 

00:14:01
Jane Albrecht: I  think  it's  probably  relatively  safe  for  the  students.  What do  you  do  about  the  students  when  it's  time  to  go  home  and  they  have  grandparents  and  others,  I  don't  know  that  there's  a  way  to  sort  of  quarantine  them  for  10  days  or  two  weeks.  Have  either  of  your  universities  thought  about  that  fact?

 

00:14:18
David Leebron: There  are a lot  of  different  scenarios  that  could  develop.  We  could  see  as  we  saw  in  the  spring,  students  going  home  quite  quickly  and  making  fast  decisions  around  that.  And  we  have  to  be  very  prepared  when  we  did  this  in  the  spring,  we  gave  our  students  lots  of  notice  because  that  seemed  to  be  the  thing  that's  appropriate  under  the  circumstances.  And  then  we  have  to  recognize  that  for  a  variety  of  reasons,  going  home  may  not  be  the  best  thing  for  students.  And  so  we  had  students  who  for  one  reason  or  another  felt  their  home  environment  was  it  would  not  be  supportive  of  online  learning  and  we  permitted  them  to  stay  on  campus.  We  had  international  students  for  a  variety  of  reasons  might  not  want  to  come  home,  including  as  it  turns  out,  the  difficulty  of  coming  back.

 

 And  so  that's  a  little  bit  the  adaptability  aspect  of  it.  It's  not  enough  to  say  here's  our  plan  and  everybody's  subject  to  the  plan.  It's  here's  the  plan,  here's  how  most  people  are  going  to  be  treated  under  the  plan.  And  here's  the  process  for  applying  to  be  treated  differently  than  most  people  are  treated  under  the  plan.  And  all of  those  are  critical  all  the  time  in  an  academic  institution.

 

00:15:25
Bill Curtis: We're  going  to  take  a  quick  break  if  you  don't  mind.  And  when  we  come  back,  we're  going  to  look  at  the  other  side  of  the  question  and  how  colleges  and  universities  are  doing  from  a  financial  perspective now and  how  they're  meeting  the  challenges  that  this  pandemic  has  brought.  We'll  see  you  in  a  minute.

 

00:15:50
Voiceover: On  Medicine,  We're  Still  Practicing  joined  Dr.  Steven  Taback  and  Bill  Curtis  for  real  conversations  with  the  medical  professionals  who  have  their  finger  on  the  pulse  of  healthcare  in  the  modern  world.  Available  on  all  your  favorite  podcasting  platforms  produced  by  Curtco  Media.

 

00:16:09
Bill Curtis: We're  back.  And  guys,  one  of  your  associates  in  another  school  said  to  the  New  York  Times  this  week  that, " If  schools  were  to  remain  closed  this  fall,  it's  not  a  question  of  whether  institutions  will  be  forced  to  permanently  close  it's.  How  many."  How  has  this  time  with  the  coronavirus  affected  your  institutions  financially?

 

00:16:35
E. Gordon Gee: Well,  I'll  start  with  that.  You  know,  large  public  universities are,  of  course  are  dependent  on  a  couple  of  things.  First  of  all,  we're  dependent  on  tuition,  our  institution  which  is  about  a $ 4  billion  institution,  only  about  10%  of  our  money  comes  from  the  state  piece.  So  therefore  tuition,  the  other  revenue  generating  aspects  of  an  institution  are  very  important.  And  so  those  depend  on  numbers.  Those  depends  on  retention,  those  demand  on  the  quality  of  the  delivery  systems  are  able  to  put  together  and  how  we're  able  to  manage  that  financially.

 

 We  have  certainly  prepared  for  significant  financial  disruption.  About  six  or  seven  years  ago.  I  chaired  the  American  Council  on  Education.  They  commission  on  the  teacher  to  the  American  university,  all  of  them.  And,  and  at  that  time  it  was  readily  apparent  to  me  from  our  commissions  work,  that  this fall  tuition  driven,  particularly  private  institutions,  although  some  publics  also  are  very  vulnerable.  And  so  I  think  that  there  is  the  possibility  of  somewhere  in  the  neighborhood  of  1000  institutions  that  may  not  be  able  to  survive  this  out  of the  5000  universities and  colleges  that  we  have  this  contract.

 

00:17:50
David Leebron: Wow,  that's significant.

 

00:17:53
E. Gordon Gee: I  think  it  is  a  significant,  significant  potential  of  economic  disruption  for  a  number  of  small  institutions.

 

00:18:01
Bill Curtis: Ed?

 

00:18:02
Ed Larson: I  think  it's going  to  fundamentally  change  education,  higher  education,  the  successful  universities  are  going  to  expand.  As  a  historian,  I  look  back  to  what  did  the  Great  Depression  do  for  education?  Well,  what  we  saw  was  higher  education  expanded  during  the  Great  Depression,  because  more  people  went,  the  percentage  went  up  from  about  five  or  six  to  about  10,  but  smaller  private  universities  sort  of  died  away.
 And  what  exploded,  were  the  high  quality  top  elite  schools  like  the  Rices  and  Harvards  of  the  world  and  the  state  universities  just  exploded.  Places  like  Ohio  State  tripled  in  size,  I  think  during  the  Depression,  I  think  just  like  during  the  Depression,  we're  going  to  see  a  growth  in  the  elite  institutions  and  the  state  universities.  And  we're  going  to  see  a  weakening  of  the  sort  of  middle  lower  level  private  schools.

 

00:18:56
Bill Curtis: Are  you  allowed  to  use  your  school's  endowment  funds  in  case  of  an  emergency  like  this?

 

00:19:02
David Leebron: We're  draw  about  40%  of  our  resources  from  the  endowment  and  tuition  accounts  for  something  like  20%  and  undergraduate  tuition  is  only  somewhere  around  maybe  13%  of  our  overall  budget.  Regarding  the  question,  the  endowment  there  is  this  sense  of  the  endowment  is  a  piggy  bank,  a  rainy  day  fund,  or  emergency  fund.  That  is  the  one  thing  it  is  not  right.

 

 The  endowment  is  there  to  sustain  the  university  year  in  and  year  out  into  the  future.  And  the  necessity  is  to  make  sure  the  resources  are  there  to  continue  providing  the  same  level,  although  adjusted  for  inflation  that  it  has  provided  in  the  past,  otherwise  we  won't  be  able  to  deliver.  What  the  endowment  can  do  is  enable  us  to  smooth  the  transition.  So  if  we  think  we've  lost  significant  resources  on  the  endowment  or  other  things,  we  don't  necessarily  have  to  turn  around  and  say,  we  need  an  immediate,  substantial  reduction  on  our  endowment  payout.  We  can  phase  into  that  reduction.  And  that's  what  we  did  in 2008,  2009,  where  we  had  a  substantial  market  correction  in  a  very  significant  recession  in  the  country.  And  we  had  to  reduce  our  expenditures  at  that  period  of  time.  Now, at  the  same  time,  we  also  increased  our  income.  We  had  already  put  in  then  a  plan  to  grow  so,  we  were  in  the  midst  of  growing  our  student  population  30%,  and  that  turned  out  to  help  us  a  great  deal  under  those  circumstances.

 

 So  the  challenge  now  is  to  sort  of  phase  into  the  reductions.  We  need  using  some  limited  flexibility in  the  endowment,  cut  expenses,  where  we  can  and  grow  revenues  where  we  can.  But  there's  fundamental  notion  that  the  endowment  is  a  rainy  day  fund  or  piggy  bank  that  the  university  can  just  go  to.  It's  just  fundamentally  wrong  in  terms  of  what  an  endowment  actually  is  and  how  it  is  used  to  foster  the  success  of a college or  university.

 

00:21:06
Bill Curtis: On  this  show,  we  very  often  endeavor  to  get  multiple  sides  of  a  question,  to  see  the  other  side's  position.  Students  have  a  bit  of  a  groundswell  where  they're  complaining  that  their  education  might  not  be  worth  the  tuition  that  they're  paying.  And  part  of  the  support  that  you  really  need  is  students  willing,  and  their  parents,  to  pay  the  kind  of  tuition  necessary  to  keep  these  schools  vibrant.  How  are  you  communicating  as  presidents  of  both  of  your  schools  with  the  base  of  parents  and  students  that  have  those  issues  foremost  in  their  minds?

 

00:21:46
E. Gordon Gee: We're  not, bullyish  on  tuition.  In  fact,  we  will  not  raise  tuition  this  year. And,  and  then  of  course  that  represents  potentially  a  significant  loss  of  revenue  for  us.  But  we  think,  and  particularly  as  a  land  grant  institution,  the smallest thing  we  think  is  very  important  for  us  to  make  sure that  the  institution  remains  very,  very  affordable.  Now,  the  issue  of  cost  and  quality  is  immensely  important  in  these  kinds  of  institutions  that  I'm  in  right  now.  And  so  we  work  very  hard  to  keep  our  cost  to  the  families  as  low  as  we  possibly  can.

 

00:22:27
Bill Curtis: And  there  is a  real  need  for  a  certain  level  of  financial  viability  so  that  you  can  function.  It's  not  a  desire  to  charge  parents  full  price  for  an  education  that  may  be  rather  different  this  year.

 

00:22:45
David Leebron: We  don't  charge  for  price  by  any  measure,  we  don't  charge  for  price  in  terms  of  what  the market would bear. And we  don't  charge  full  price  in  terms  of  the  cost  of  providing  the  education.  The  tuition  actually  covers  perhaps  a  little  more  than  half  the  cost  of  providing  the  education.  We  have  very  aggressive  scholarship  and  financial  aid  programs  for  us,  for  any  student  from  a  family,  earning  less  than  I  think $130, 000.  They  pay  nothing  toward  their  tuition  to  come  to  Rice.  And  so  everything  we  do  in  effect  loses  money,  the  one  exception  to  that  really  has  to  be  the  endowment,  but  it's  really  vitally  important  that  we  continue  doing  what  we  contribute  to  society.

 

 And,  and  we  think  we're  ultimately  about  three  things  which  are  excellence,  opportunity  and  impact.  And  all  of  those  come  at  a  very  high  cost.  And,  and  you  can  see  now  more  ever  in  this  pandemic  every  time  there's  a  crisis  of  this  time,  what  really  becomes  apparent  is  the  importance  of  the  universities,  and  particularly  the  research  universities.  This  problem  will  be  either  solved  by  universities,  or  if  not  directly  solved  by  universities  as  a  result  of  knowledge  that  came  out  of  universities.

 

00:24:04
Bill Curtis: Both  Gordon  and  David,  the  statistic  is  that  education  employees,  about  3  million  people  and  accounts  for  600  billion  annually  in  spending  in  a  GDP.  What's  the  message  that  you  would  like  to  send  to  congress  as  they  hack  out  the  next  stimulus  package  on  how  they  should  consider  structuring  the  helping  of  colleges  and  universities.

 

00:24:25
David Leebron: I  think  our  institutions  of  higher  ed  are  engines  of  opportunity  and  engines  of  impact  for  our  society.  And  if  we're,  we're  building  in  difficult  times,  enabling  people  to  shift  gears,  in  some  sense,  people  already  out  in  the  workforce  to  get  education  they need  to  go  into  the  sectors  where  they  can  be  more  productive  in  the  future.  Enabling  students  to  go  to  schools  who  might  not  have  other  opportunities  right  now.  And  that's  the  full  range  of  institutions.  I  think  taking  a  special  care  of  the  Historically  Black  Colleges  and  Universities,  which  have  provided  incredible  opportunities  to  people  who  haven't  otherwise  had  those  opportunities.  They  continue  to  play  an  important  and  vibrant  role  in  our  society.  We  want  to  be  internationally  competitive.  Supporting  the  research  universities  of  this  country.  And  I  have  literally  a  self- interest  there,  but  that's  where  the  new  ideas  and  new  technologies  and  new  industries  come  from,  and  that  needs  to  be  invested  in.

 

 And  that's  an  area  where  we've  been  losing  ground.  We're  about  to  enter  a  kind  of  new  stage  for  our  country  and  new  industries  are  going  to  emerge.  And  people  were  really  thinking  about  problems  in  different  ways.  And  a  lot  of  the  solutions  for  that  are  going  to  be  coming  from  our  universities.  So  if  we  really want  to  invest  in  the  future,  whether  that's  future  as  a  few  years  from  now,  or  whether that  future  is  50  or  100  years  from  now.  These  are  vital  institutions  to,  to  invest  in.

 

00:25:59
E. Gordon Gee: Obviously  David  makes  a  very  strong  case  of  which  I  fully  concur,  which  is of  the  power  of  the  universities.  We  are  the  economic  engine  in  many  instances,  but  I  also  think  that  there  is  this  reality  and  I'm  going  to  talk  about  from  the  large  public  university  and  particularly  land  grant  institutions  that  we  need  to  be  much  more  cognizant of the fact  that  we  have  responsibility  for  our  communities  and  that  we  have  responsibility  for  the  economic  development  in  the  state,  not  simply  by  creating  ideas,  but  also  by  generating  economic  vitality  through  a  number  of  things  that  universities  should  and  could  be  doing.
 The  truth  of  the  matter  is,  universities  live  in  a  bubble,  there  quite  arrogant,  they're  very  good  at  telling  other  people  how  to  do  their  business,  not  terribly  good  about  doing  business  themselves.  And  so  I  think  that  this  pandemic  is  going  to  bring  to  the  floor,  through  federal  funding  and  through  state  funding.  And  David  used  the  word  impact.  People  want  to  see  that  their  university  has  an  impact  on  their  lives  and  it's  embedded  in  their  hearts  and  minds  that,  that  university  is  making  a  difference.  And  so  I  think  that  any  package  is  going  to  have  to  look  at  the  immediate  impact  that  universities  can  have  in  job  creation  and  the  variety  of  other  activities  that  go  to  the  heart  of  the  economy,  of  the  state  or  of  the  nation.

 

00:27:23
David Leebron: And  even  though  we're  comparatively  small,  we're  located  in the  great  city  of  Houston,  we're  deeply  involved  in  it  in  the  city.  We're  building  an  innovation  hub  near  the  center  of  the  city  to  foster  new  technologies  and  industries  in  Houston.  And I think  that's  true  of  almost  all  of  us  that  we,  I  think  as  Gordon  says,  we're  all  deeply  engaged  in  our  communities.

 

 And  we  can  provide  a  lot  of  that  vibrancy,  but  first  and  foremost,  to  invest  in  the  opportunities  for  our  students  to  make  sure  that  all  potential  students  have  the  means  to  go  to  our  institutions.  And  it's  a  vast  variety  of  institutions.  And  then  I  think  second  is  this  possibility  of  sort  of  the  short  term  job  creation.  How  do  we  work  with  industry?  What  are  the  ways  to  invest  in  that  collaboration  that  can  really  foster  rapid  development.  And  then  third,  investing  in  fundamental  knowledge.  It  turns  out  location  does  matter.  Where  ideas  emerge  does  matter.  Where  new  technologies  emerge  does  matter.  And  if  we  want  to  be  as  fast  on  the  other  side  of  this  crisis  and  really  a  vibrant  growing  nation,  we  need  to  continue  to  be  the  place  where  new  ideas  and  new  technologies  emerge.  We  need  to  be  the  place  where  solutions  to  pandemics  are  going  to  emerge.  We  need  to  be  the  place  where  new  ways  of  doing  things  virtually  online  are  going  to  emerge.

 

00:28:55
Bill Curtis: Well,  I  think  we're  going  to  leave  it  there.  There's  no  doubt.  This  is  an  absolutely  crucial  subject  for  parents,  for  the  students  that  we  see  as  the  future  of  our  society.  Let's  keep  in  mind.  We  don't  tend  to  be  longterm  thinkers  in  this  country.  And I think  that's  one  of  our  greatest  failings  things  will  change,  but  we  know  that  this  isn't  forever.  We  know  that  we're  trying  to  figure  out  a  way  to  get  to  the  other  side.  And  we  wish  Gordon  Gee,  West  Virginia  University  and  David  Leebron  from  Rice  University.  We  wish  you  much  success  this  fall.  Thanks  so  much  for  joining  Ed  Larson  and  Jane  Albrecht  and  myself.  This  is  politics.  Meet  me  in  the  middle.  Thanks  for  listening.

 

 If  you  like  what  you  hear,  please  tell  your  friends  and  let  us  know  how  we're  doing  by  leaving  a  comment.  It  really  helps  if  you  give  us  a  five  star  rating  and  we  really  appreciate  it.  You  can  also  subscribe  to  the  show  on  Apple  Podcasts,  Stitcher,  or  wherever  you  listen  to  your  favorite  podcast.  This  episode  was  produced  and  edited  by  Mike  Thomas  audio  engineering  by  Michael  Kennedy  and  the  theme  music  was  composed  and  performed  by  Celleste  and  Eric  Dick.  Thanks  for  listening

 

00:30:23
Voiceover: From  Curtco  Media,  media  for  your  mind.

Media for Your Mind
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Twitter
  • YouTube

Home      Podcasts      News       Music       About Us       Contact      Media Inquiries      Press      Partnerships     Careers      Creators     Terms of Service       Privacy Policy

© 2020 CurtCo Media Labs, LLC