Skip to main content









Donation Heart Ribbon

Can Private Partnerships Save Public Universities Struggling With Budget Cuts?


How can the private sector help public universities facing difficult budget cuts? Cal State San Marcos President Karen Haynes talks about how the university has benefited from private partnerships during difficult financial times.

How can the private sector help public universities facing difficult budget cuts? Cal State San Marcos President Karen Haynes talks about how the university has benefited from private partnerships during difficult financial times.


Karen Haynes, president of Cal State San Marcos

Read Transcript

This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Is California still committed to supporting public higher education? I'm Maureen Cavanaugh, coming up on These Days, the president of cal state San Marcos says cuts to higher education are breaking that commitment. She is challenging the decisions that are pushing college further from the reach of low income students. Plus, UCSD researchers uncover another privacy threat on the Internet. This one is calmed history sniffing. That's all ahead this hour on These Days. First the news.

I'm Maureen Cavanaugh and you're listening the These Days on KPBS. Last week in his state of the state address, governor Jerry Brown said he intended to keep up the international reputation of California's colleges. But in his budget, governor brown proposes a $500 million cut to public colleges and universities. At least one local university president is challenging state leaders that they can't have it both ways. And she questions whether California retains its decades long commitment to affordable public higher education. I'd like to welcome my guest, cal state San Marcos University president Karen Haynes. And president Haynes, welcome to These Days.

HAYNES: Thank you, Maureen.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And I want to let our listeners know if they'd like to join the conversation, our number here is 1-888-895-5727. Now, Perez Kent Karen Haynes, you gave a speech last week that didn't pull many punches. In your annual report to the community, you said the California master plan for higher education is dead because the social compact itself is broken. Can you tell us what the master plan you were referring to is?

HAYNES: Yes, I was referring to the -- both the original 1960s master plan that really created for the California state university system the commitment to accessible, quality, public higher education at literally free cost to students. And I was trying to clearly boldly shock people into a sense that in these days we are -- we are trying to maintain the accessibility and the quality, clearly the affordability is at question.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And the second half of that statement, the social contract. Tell us the social contract as it used to be.

HAYNES: When California established the master plan in 1960s, I think the nation woke up and looked at California as a very progressive state that understood the importance and the value of public higher education to the future of any state's economy and well being. A social compact being broken suggests that there are sufficient people in the State of California, its citizenry, its legislatures, who, in a difficult budget time, several difficult budget times, found that we were an easy target to reduce funding and therefore suggests to me a lack of the same kind of commitment and a lack of an happening that in fact public higher education might be more important in 2011 than it was in 1960s, even, to the state of the future of the economy.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Now, I'm wondering too, if it goes -- if your statements actually do go broader than politicians, because you also went on to say that the sense of obligation to the next generation for quality state supported education is sort of threatened. Do you think that goes deep -- let me put it this way. Do you think that a lot of the population does not feel that sense of obligation anymore?

HAYNES: Well, all of the surveys that we see, both in California and nationally, suggest -- and in fact the general population values, and understands the importance of public higher education, however, when state appropriations for public higher education in California have been so significantly reduced as they now have, we do hear, I do hear certainly from the general public some concerns and sometimes even outrage that we are increasing tuition. So it is -- it seems to me sometimes a conflicted message from the public of their understanding of our importance and their concern that in response to decreasing state support, we might actually have to increase tuition.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I'm speaking with cal constitutional right San Marcos university president, Karen Haynes, and talking primarily about her annual report to the community, a speech she gave last week. And you said just now, and you said after the speech that your speech was meant to be a bit shocking. Why is that?

HAYNES: Well, I have felt for the last several years that both the general public and perhaps even those of us in public higher education continue to -- might continue to believe that in fact there will be an easy way out of this economic crisis that will allow both the return of state appropriations to public higher education and also the funding of all kinds of other significant state services without tax increases. So I really need people to be thinking about whether that is in fact a dream now dead and whether we really all have to understand that there are very difficult choices ahead of all of us, and we need to figure out how we both prioritize what's important and then how we fund it is not through state dollars.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Right. What kind of budget cuts is the CSU system facing? How do you think they're gonna come down and impact cal state San Marcos.

HAYNES: Well, at the system level, the governor's budget cuts the CSU by $500 million, brings us as a system, and therefore a cal state San Marcos as well, down to 1999, 2000, state funded levels, and as a system, we're serving 70000 more students of so at our level, we have the same reductions in state appropriation with also increases in the number of students we're serving. How it will affect us is obviously we would today, and we would in the future, be serving, and be able to serve even more students, had we not lost the state appropriations. We are relatively unique in the system in that we are still one of the youngest institutions in the 23 state university system, and we are one of the few of those 23 institutions that still have high demand and capacity. So our ability to grow academic programs, serve more students, and therefore serve our region is being significantly under cut. The other side of my message is, we have been very entrepreneurial [CHECK].

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I'm speaking with presidents Karen Haynes, she's president of cal state San Marcos university, and I do want to get to that, because you have been very active in trying to generate private patterns to contribute funding for various programs at cal state San Marcos, and I'm wondering, can you give us an example of that?

HAYNES: Well, there are -- there are two wonderful examples. When we began our school of nursing program in 2006, we did it as a response to, obviously, the shortage of nurses in our region, and we did it with the help, initially of pal marpomrawedo help, who provided us lease free space, and continues to, two and a half million dollars to renovate and provide equipment, and we have continued to every year have two thirds of our hundred and 25 nursing graduates go through the program not on state appropriations because of the support from, for example, Kaiser Permanente who was just named our community partner of the year. Second one is our Temecula off campus center, entirely funded through private philanthropy, the cities of Temecula and murrieta, and the Temecula unified school district. Soap those are two and a halves of how we continue to provide access even -- access and affordability even with reduced state funding.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: So some people might say, okay, well, that's the wave of the future then, these public private partnerships with public universities. You should get schools that are, you know, sort of donated by corporations and so forth. What do you see as the down side of going further into that?

HAYNES: Well, I certainly don't want to take the state off of the ability to significantly and substantially fund public higher education. Secondly, certainly in nursing, there are -- there is the availability of partners where there are funding strains. There are many of our academic programs that are essential to the preparation of professional or graduate programs for which there would be not community partnerships: Two, corporatization or privatization of public higher education is not what I am promulgating because I also believe we have to be driven by our own set of values, and our own set of qualifications for what academy degrees should be, not driven only by a philanthropist or a corporation who would determine and drive that curriculum. But it is a youthful balance in areas where it is both possible, and where we can provide access to students and retain the control of our academic programs and retain similar quality.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: How much of an effect do the private partners since they are actually footing the bill for a lot of the activity in the nursing school, and in Temecula, how much of an effect do they have in making decisions that affect students and faculty?

HAYNES: In our cases, what they have been is certainly partners in terms of providing us information of what might be specializations in our degree programs that might need southwest Riverside County, [CHECK] that would be reasonable and in demand in this region. They are -- and so the notable words there are advisory and regional demand information.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I'm wondering, president hane, how do you make the argument -- because what you told me just a little while ago was that it's gonna get down to whether people want to pay more in taxes to finance higher education, in fact all education in California, and I'm wondering how do you make the case to a very reluctant public to spend more of their tax dollars to actually pay more in taxes to support education?

HAYNES: Well, first I would say I'm not just saying increase taxes. I'm saying that, you know, legislators do have other options of reducing funding to other parts of the state budget. So there is that, but if I were making the argument of increased taxes, one, I would say that public higher education is, in fact, the best investment, has the best return on investment, that taxes might generate in any state. And two, I would say that for what data shows us over and over again is that not only is an educated fork force essential to economic vitality in a region, but the absence of an educated work force likely will mean that we increase populations in prisons, in mental health services, domestic violence, healthcare, and so we understand that the -- they're a cost one way or another. And I think it's much more supportive to talk about supporting [CHECK] public education rather than looking at public education as an expense.

CAVANAUGH: I thought it was very interesting, the comment that you made about the social compact and reminding us of the California master plan for higher education. In the wake of president Obama's state of the union address, where he spent an awful lot of time talking about increasing the number of college graduates in the United States , and how important it was for the United States to regain an academic advantage in approaching the innovations of the future. I'd like to get your impression of that speech and how it relates to the situation that you find yourself in now at cal state San Marcos, you know, with these budget cuts coming.

HAYNES: Well, obviously those parts of his speech both resonated for me and brought some of my conversation which has remained more local or state to a national and global level. I would also say that, you know, as he talks about that, California has reduced and dropped in competitive advantage even within this nation in terms of college graduates. And so the less support for public higher education in California, California will lose any national and likely global advantage. And if we don't as a nation start looking at how we need to educate more students and educate those students better, and I'm talking now, some of the stems, you know the mass science engineering. There are gonna be I think long-term, and what the president was saying, you know, international consequences of falling so behind. California several years ago understood that it needed to almost double the number of college graduate it is by 2025, reducing public start for public higher education is gonna make that goal much les achievable.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Well I want to thank you for your time this morning.

HAYNES: You're most welcome.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I was speaking with cal state San Marcos university president Karen Haynes.

Want more KPBS news?
Find us on Twitter and Facebook, or subscribe to our newsletters.

To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.