I have been writing higher-education columns for Slate for just under a year. In that year, I have tried more times than I am willing to admit to get in a jab at St. Ronald of the Reagan, avowed racist, geopolitical jackass, and one of the main reasons that the public higher-education system in the United States is the nearly-unfunded mess that it is. I have never, until this blessed day, been able to sneak one of those Reagan jabs in. Today, friends, is my day.
My latest article is on the furor surrounding the appointment of John Thrasher as new president of Florida State. The gimmick of the article is that I am a fat, frumpy Olivia Pope out to rehabilitate the man’s thrashed image in the wake of the dubious circumstances surrounding his hire. But I also got in quite a lot of substantive critique of university administration today, and the misguided emphasis on private fundraising as a replacement for public support (hint: it’s a terrible one). And, of course, a Reagan jab. A REAGAN JAB. THIS IS THE GREATEST DAY OF MY LIFE.
Here’s a taste (for the Reagan jab you’ll have to read the whole thing):
The private fundraising model is an unfortunate result of the consistent decrease in public funds for higher education—and it seems to fall far short of what universities actually need. Perhaps instead of capitulating to that model, the next generation of presidents should come up with an alternative. Thrasher was hired precisely becauseof his political influence and acumen. So if he really cared about the Florida state system of higher education, he would be using that acumen to persuade the legislature and the voters to return public education to the hands of the public (yes, that means taxes, egad), not to raise a comparatively paltry sum that can be (and often is) earmarked for luxurious building renovations and better skyboxes at the football stadium.
Hooray! I mean, not for the realities the piece describes, but for me getting to write about this important issue, which I am so grateful I got to do.