Dear Governor Ducey,
I feel like there’s a sense that the universities are somehow making you mad. The way you said, “"I urge you to approach this endeavor in a businesslike fashion when considering whether to raise price. Price and value matter in business. Making a quality product that fewer can afford does not often make sense" to the board of regents makes me think that the university’s product is education. Like resolve and patience and claustrophobia, we should bottle this substance. As a product, it should be easy to fill up the students’ minds with our delicious, good smelling education. Brand ASU, U of A, NAU, each a slightly different flavor. $10,000 a year gets you a bottle of this fine stuff. And, as you say, it’s really only worth what people are willing to pay for it. And, to you, it’s not worth much. Arizona has cut universities budgets more than any place in the country and yet somehow, you seem surprised when we’re not ranking so high on any of the charts. Maybe we need new labels on our bottles. Or new caps. Or possibly bottles.
Maybe we should just stop trying, as you have obviously stopped caring. We could turn the universities into great breweries. Everyone likes beer. We can sit on the lawn and drink beer. In the union and drink beer. The swimming pools can be filled with beer. We can bottle beer in the science labs.
The only problem I see is that unlike education, once your beer is gone, it’s gone. Education is this strangely uncontainable product. It grows exponentially. Kind of like a chia pet. You can share it without giving up any of your own. Once you have a little, you can make some more. In some ways, it’s a poor product because no one owns it. You can invest in it for yourself but everyone benefits from it. In fact, it’s almost so much not like a product, that perhaps a university can’t be run exactly like a business.