A New Sponsor for Higher-Ed Journalism

I am pleased to announce that Partners 4 Affordable Excellence @ EDU has begun sponsoring Bacon’s Rebellion effective January 1 this year. Under terms of the agreement, Bacon’s Rebellion will provide in-depth coverage of higher education issues in Virginia, with a particular emphasis on the cost of attendance of Virginia’s public colleges and universities.

Partners 4 Affordable Excellence @ EDU, a not-for-profit organization, was founded in 2014 in response to soaring tuition, fees and other costs associated with attending U.S. institutions of higher education. The philosophical viewpoint of the group and Bacon’s Rebellion are closely aligned. Readers will find the following statement from the group’s “About Us” page to hit familiar themes:

The public insists that new answers be found to preserve and protect the core American belief that anyone can succeed with talent and hard work. Yet, many public university leaders maintain that tuition increases are inevitable and irreplaceable. Rankings, they contend, count more than affordable excellence.

The chances of “fixing” the system from inside seem increasingly unlikely. Progress seems incremental at best, particularly at “flagship” public research universities who set the pace for cost and the standards for excellence.

Concerned by the rising cost of higher education, a group of “philanthropists, edupreneurs, and researchers” created Partners for Affordable Excellence @EDU with a mission to enhance academic excellence in higher ed while maintaining affordable tuition. Partners has helped draft legislation to make more transparent how colleges spend the tuition & fees they receive and how efficiently they operate. Additionally, the organization is developing an online training tool to instruct newly appointed board members on the fundamentals of college and university governance.

The Partners board of directors includes three Virginians, at least two of whom are readily familiar to readers of Bacon’s Rebellion: Gilbert T. Bland, past chairman of the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia and former member of the boards of Old Dominion University and the James Madison University Foundation; Helen E. Dragas, former rector of the University of Virginia; and James V. Koch, former president of Old Dominion University.

The terms of the sponsorship, as with all Bacon’s Rebellion sponsorships, ensure the editorial independence and integrity of the blog.

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14 responses to “A New Sponsor for Higher-Ed Journalism”

  1. Steve Haner Avatar
    Steve Haner

    From your new sponsor’s website:

    “We insist that America’s public universities remain critical public assets responsible first and foremost to state taxpayers and students. Their priorities outweigh all others.”

    I would be amazed if a majority of members of Board of Visitors at any of the larger Virginia schools agreed with that statement, and it would spark a pretty good debate among the members of the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia. The current prevailing attitude at these schools is that the taxpayers may be making some contribution, but it is not significant and they sure don’t view the taxpayers as their bosses or even their customers. It’s not unanimous by any means, but it is the prevailing view.

    1. LocalGovGuy Avatar

      57% of the University of Michigan’s undergrads are “in-state” and 43% are “out of state” even though UMich receives a greater percentage of its funding from the state of Michigan than either U.Va. or William and Mary receive from Virginia.

      U.Va. and William and Mary are bargains for this state considering the pittance that the General Assembly provides them. Imagine if both had 43% out-of-state undergrad populations.

      Numbers don’t lie:


      State appropriations funding per student:
      UNC-Chapel Hill $22K
      University of Maryland $17K
      University of Michigan $13K
      U.Va. $8K


        1. LocalGovGuy Avatar

          You are likely to hear politicians like Chap! Petersen and Scott Surovell bemoan tuition at state universities this year at the General Assembly.

          U.Va.’s tuition is $15K a year. If Virginia funded U.Va. like Maryland funds the University of Maryland, tuition at U.Va. would be $6K a year. If Virginia funded U.Va. like North Carolina funds UNC-Chapel Hill, tuition at U.Va. would be $1K a year. If Virginia funded VPI like North Carolina funds UNC-Chapel Hill, a Virginia resident could attend a great engineering school …..TUITION-FREE.

          But Petersen and Surovell will never address such an argument. Why? Because they know that the tuition problem in Virginia isn’t U.Va. or W&M or VT or Norfolk State. It’s the legislators themselves who refuse to fund the state’s universities at the same level as neighboring states.

          Parents, do NOT let politicians like Petersen and Surovell “pass the buck” (literally) and blame the universities for your high tuition. The fault rests entirely with the General Assembly not funding our state universities. Note: this isn’t partisan. Maryland is Democrat-heavy and North Carolina is Republican-heavy. Both states spend much more heavily on their state universities than the Commonwealth.

          1. ssurovell Avatar

            I’m not sure what you’re talking about LocalGovtGuy.

            I’d be happy to send more money to our schools and get their funding back up to 70% as it was when I went to JMU and UVA Law. I’m only one person out of 140 and neither Chap or I are on the Finance Committee that sets the policy on these issues. Plus, until Virginia raises taxes, there’s a line that’s about $5-8 billion long of unfunded state needs.

            In the meantime, I think it’s unforgiveable that one of our schools can bank $2.1 BILLION of cash while jacking up tuition by 50% on in-state students. I’m glad the administration managed their funds well, but I don’t understand why they were telling everyone we needed to increase tuition while the reserves increased by $100+ million every year for the last 10 years.

  2. LarrytheG Avatar

    wasn’t this organization created by Dragas?

    I note that one of their stated missions is to “train” BOV members!!!

    ” Further we will help create and disseminate a multi-faceted board governance training tool that taps an array of respected voices to offer guidance on how to lead and achieve high quality at a reasonable cost.”

    I give her credit – she’s following through on her commitment which I doubted at the time she was firing parting shots… going out the door.

    And I agree with Steve – if there ever was an entrenched group – higher ed has to be one of the front runners and we need to move from direct aid to Higher Ed to vouchers that follow the students.. and then let higher ed compete on price and value.

    The “College Experience” Dinosaur is dying. The world is changing. Most folks simply cannot afford what amounts to an obsolete education model.

    no one – should be getting loans for room and board.. that they’re going to have to pay back over decades.

    1. CrazyJD Avatar

      Damn, Larry. You woke up and smelled the bacon, ..er, roses. Dragas had it right. She always had it right. Sullivan must go. But no, everybody had to get their knickers in a twist about poor benighted Teresa. Bmmmmph. I will hold the door so that it doesn’t hit her in the ass on the way out.

  3. LarrytheG Avatar

    Geeze, Crazy… I always found Dragas to be not suited as a change-agent.

    and have my doubts about the basic concept of the Govt telling higher ed what to charge… it seems totally out of character sort like telling insurance companies what to charge… or auto dealers… who is that guy that said the rent is just to damn high?



  4. LarrytheG Avatar

    Interesting that different commentators blame different folks.

    some say it’s higher ed fault and others blame the state.

    Do people in NC and Md pay substantially higher taxes to fund higher ed better?

    where does NC and Md get the extra money to pay more to higher Ed?

    Is Virginia paying more for other things that Md and NC don’t pay as much for?

    so I’m still not convinced that Md/NC fund higher ed better until I see some real numbers in state budget numbers that show how that happens.

    Dragas seems convinced that it is UVAs responsibility not the states.

  5. Well, it’s not like the followers of BR are polite and retiring sorts who never call it like they see it (and other ways as well). Opinions you want, opinions you’ll get.

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      yes, opinions… what are the facts? you know those messy things! 😉

      I don’t see how NC or MD can be funding THAT MUCH MORE without higher taxes – no? so what are the facts.. are taxes higher or are they talking money from other categories, i.e. underfunding something compared to Virginia?

      the numbers are so disparate it should be obvious in comparing the taxes and/or budgets. And in Virginia’s case there would have to be a substantial increase in taxes to match NC and Md numbers..

      so what are the facts? why are the numbers so disparate?

      and if they are THAT disparate for UVA – is it the same for the other Universities in Va? Does Va truly way underfund higher ed – in general compared to other states?

      do our students have higher levels of debt that students in other states?


  6. Peter Galuszka Avatar
    Peter Galuszka


    Maybe you can explain what firing Teresa Sullivan was all about.

    1. There was a coherent reason?

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