Friday, December 22, 2006

The Houston Chronicle, December 21, 2006, Thursday

Copyright 2006 The Houston Chronicle Publishing Company
All Rights Reserved
The Houston Chronicle

December 21, 2006 Thursday


HEADLINE: Janitors union shops for a mall worker contract


AFTER weeks of loud protests and traffic tie-ups, many Houstonians are familiar with the SEIU's Justice for Janitors campaign.
But the Committee for Justice for Mall Workers?
It turns out that the same union that recently led a monthlong strike on behalf of the 5,300 janitors who clean office buildings in Houston has been quietly leading a campaign against the nation's biggest shopping malls.
The Service Employees International Union's initial targets have been the Simon Property Group, the Galleria's owner, and Westfield Group. Together, the two own 373 malls in the U.S.
The union's efforts appear to be paying off, as the SEIU said it has already signed a nationwide deal with the two companies. According to the union, the mall owners have agreed to absorb the cost of higher wages and health insurance incurred by cleaning and maintenance contractors.
"Westfield has a long-standing dialogue and relationship with SEIU and the company is supportive of SEIU's efforts on behalf of its membership," said Katy Dickey, executive vice president of corporate communications in Los Angeles. The company owns no malls in Texas.
Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group did not have a comment Wednesday.
The national agreement, according to union officials, means the malls, which are cleaned and maintained by 5,000 workers, won't stand in the way of organizing efforts.
And that's a big coup, according to Stephen Lerner, head of the SEIU's Justice for Janitors campaign.
That's because it's the mall owners who ultimately foot the bill. Contractors just pass along their costs.
The SEIU focused on that same owner-contractor relationship during the Justice for Janitors strike in Houston. Officially, the union went on strike against the five large building contractors. But union leaders really targeted the building owners.
A key turning point for the union was when Hines Interests, one of the city's largest building owners, said before the strike began that janitors deserved health benefits and should earn more than minimum wage. That drew praise from Mayor Bill White, who called Hines the "MVP" for leading the way among building owners.
Likewise, the two biggest mall owners have agreed to pay more, Lerner said. That allows the contractors to agree to higher wages and benefits. It also acts as a bulwark against lower-wage contractors stealing business from them, he said.
The union intends to focus its negotiating on a couple of cleaning companies that specialize in malls, including the Millard Group, which cleans the Houston Galleria.
The 35 or so janitors who clean the Galleria earn $5.15 an hour and receive no health insurance, according to SEIU spokeswoman Lynda Tran.
The vice president of human resources for Millard confirmed the company has labor agreements with the SEIU in Chicago but wasn't familiar with the wages paid in Houston.
Lerner said the next step will be to ask the mall janitors to sign cards saying they want the union to represent them.
The gain their support, the union will point to the new three-year contract it negotiated for the 5,300 janitors who currently earn $5.30 an hour and receive no benefits.
In two years, the janitors will be up to $7.75 an hour and will receive individual health insurance.
If a majority of mall cleaners sign up, Lerner said he anticipates bargaining to begin both on a national and regional scale.
Growth expected
Though the union may be celebrating, some labor experts said the deal isn't guaranteed to bring in new members.
The SEIU will still have to deal with the contractors, said Richard Hurd, a labor studies professor at Cornell University.
He doesn't expect immediate results, but he said the effort will surely lead to some union growth.
How does he think the workers will react? They almost always go along because it means higher pay and benefits, Hurd said
But just because the mall owners are willing to pay higher wages, don't expect the cleaning contractors to necessarily go along, said Mark Jodon, an employment lawyer who represents companies with Littler Mendelson in Houston.
"If I'm an employer, I'm not so sure I'm ready to sign on the dotted line," said Jodon, referring to a neutrality agreement.
Like other labor experts, Jodon was surprised to hear about the SEIU's mall campaign.
"Going after the malls is a pretty good strategy," he said, adding that it's another big but sometimes overlooked segment of the commercial cleaning business.


US States News, December 19, 2006, Tuesday

Copyright 2006 HT Media Ltd.
All Rights Reserved
US States News

December 19, 2006 Tuesday 10:40 PM EST


BYLINE: US States News


The office of the Portland Mayor issued the following news release:
The Portland Development Commission (PDC) has appointed Lolita B. Burnette of Portland as the new Director of Business and Community Relations. Ms. Burnette will be responsible for implementing and directing strategies and programs to ensure PDC supports community values, goals, equity and diversity. She will be the primary representative between PDC and community groups, helping to cultivate positive relationships with these stakeholders.
Ms. Burnette will also direct PDC's public participation and community outreach efforts.

She will have responsibility for PDC's minority-owned, women- owned and emerging small business (M/W/ESB) and construction workforce diversity initiatives. She starts her new job on Monday, January 15, 2006 and will report directly to Bruce Warner, PDC Executive Director.
"We heard directly from the community and our own staff that community relations and diversity needed to be represented at this highest levels of the agency-and we have responded," said Bruce Warner. "I am very excited to have Lolita joining the PDC team. She is the right person to build upon our outreach efforts as well as manage our important contract compliance and workforce hiring program," Warner added.

Ms. Burnett is a program manager at Providence Health Systems, where she assists the Office of Diversity with workforce diversity, community partnering and cross cultural care giving. She led the marketing and communications efforts for the Providence internal diversity website and the branding of all diversity products and developed the first diversity marketing and communications plan. She also developed the diversity/cultural competence education program for Providence in Oregon and managed the training of over 3,000 employees.

She served as a consultant specializing in leadership and executive coaching, strategic change initiatives including diversity/cultural competence, public involvement and the design and delivery of related educational programs.

Ms. Burnette has been a small business owner and external consultant helping engineering firms increase their M/W/ESB capacity. She also conducted organization and team assessments and facilitated planning discussions leading to organizational change for clients such as the City of Portland, Clackamas County, Washington County, City of Eugene, and King County in Washington. She has also served as Director of Public and employee Relations at the City of Gresham and spent 20 years in a series of leadership positions at US West Communications, AT&T Communications, Pacific Bell and Pacific Northwest Bell.

Ms. Burnette has a BA in Behavioral Psychology from Reed College in Portland, Oregon. She is a lifetime member of the Oregon Association of Minority Entrepreneurs and has memberships in the Northwest Diversity Leadership Forum and American Society for Training and Development. She is a member and past Diversity Director for the Society for Human Resources Professionals. She holds a certificate in Equal Employment Opportunities Studies from Cornell University.

PDC was created by Portland voters in 1958 to serve as the city's urban renewal agency as laid out in Chapter 15 of the City's Charter. PDC provides comprehensive housing, development and economic development programs within the Portland region.

US States News, December 18, 2006, Monday

Copyright 2006 HT Media Ltd.
All Rights Reserved
US States News

December 18, 2006 Monday 11:49 PM EST


BYLINE: US States News


The Cornell University College of Industrial and Labor Relations issued the following news release:

If ILR is in your year-end charitable giving plans, please be aware that the University is officially closed from December 22 through January 1.

Questions about making a gift before year-end can be directed to the following toll free number: 1-800-279-3099. This line will be staffed by Cornell Annual Fund staff during the holiday break. If you have questions specific to ILR, Chris Crooker in ILR Alumni Affairs and Development will be available at 607-255-5827. (If you do not reach him directly, please leave a message; he will get back to you.)

You can make a gift online at: Thank you for your interest, your involvement and your support, and please remember to CHECK THE ILR BOX to direct your giving to ILR. Happy holidays!

** Please Note: The IRS defines the transfer of ownership as the date of mailing if done through US Mail. For other forms of mail (i.e., FedEx), the date of transfer of ownership is the date the FedEx arrives at Seneca Place, where gifts to Cornell are handled. (The address is noted below. **) Therefore, checks sent via FedEx need to be in their hands by December 29th to count for tax year-end. It is preferable to have someone mail a check via US Mail, making sure it is postmarked on Dec. 30th, rather than sending it FedEX on Dec. 30th.

Credit Card charges:
* Per Nova, Cornell's credit card processing company, gifts charged to credit cards are only guaranteed until 12PM EST 12/22/06. The University's Information Services staff will continue taking and processing gifts until noon on Dec. 29th, but will not be able to guarantee that the charge will be reflected on the donor's credit card statement for 2006.

* Donors can call the Cornell Fund 800 line (1-800-279-3099) or make a gift on-line. On-Line Giving:

* Gifts charged to credit cards through the on-line method are guaranteed only until 12pm EST 12/22/06.

* Automated Payment or Sallie Mae: donor can make donations until 11:59pm their time zone, again, only guaranteed until 12/22/06.

Should you have any questions regarding the University's policy for accepting gifts, please refer to: or call Information Services, 607-254-7172 or 607-254-6163.

More information is available on Cornell's web site at:

Additional information can be found at:

** As indicated above, the address for mailing gifts to Cornell is:
Information Services
Attn: David J. Pinker, Director
Cornell University, Seneca Place
130 E. Seneca Street, Suite 400
Ithaca, NY 14850-4353.

Monday, December 18, 2006

The Wall Street Journal, November 2, 2006, Thursday

The Wall Street Journal
Home & Family: Work & Family Mailbox
By Sue Shellenbarger
2 November 2006
The Wall Street Journal


(Copyright (c) 2006, Dow Jones & Company, Inc.)
[Columnist Sue Shellenbarger answers readers' questions]

Q: I have a 10-year-old daughter who is struggling in school with a memory disability. My wife and I have provided diagnostic testing, counseling, educational therapy, special services at her school and home-schooling. My greatest hope is that she will go to college. Are there universities that admit students with learning disabilities?
-- B.C., Redondo Beach, Calif.

A: Hundreds of colleges have programs to serve students with learning disabilities, says Dale S. Brown, an advocate and author of five books for people with learning disabilities. Check out "The K&W Guide to Colleges for Students with Learning Disabilities or Attention Deficit Disorder," published by the Princeton Review, and "Colleges for Students With Learning Disabilities or ADD," published by Peterson's.

The Web site of George Washington University's National Clearinghouse on Postsecondary Education for Individuals with Disabilities, , offers a wealth of information. Available free there is a new "Guidance and Career Counselor's Toolkit," which is useful to parents, says David Brewer, a program leader at Cornell University's Employment and Disability Institute.

You've done a great job so far getting help for your daughter. Start in middle school to work with her school guidance counselors to identify and track her interests and talents, Dr. Brewer says. In high school, set up visits to colleges with programs that might be a good fit, he suggests.

Her learning differences may mean that she will have trouble winning good grades and teacher approval, Ms. Brown says. To counter that, encourage her to discover her interests and play to her strengths; "the parents must light the lamp of their child's love of learning," she says. You might encourage her to do community-service work. This could kindle her interest in the world and yield rewarding achievements and connections, Ms. Brown says.

Q: I'm a single baby boomer with no kids, siblings or younger relatives with whom I'm close. My friends are all around my age. I have long-term care insurance, but I'm concerned about what will happen if I get Alzheimer's or just become forgetful. How can I find a trustworthy person who will put me in a nursing home if I need it, pay my bills and so on?
-- M.M., Old Tappan, N.J.
A: Consider talking with your friends about sharing responsibility for helping each other. You will age differently; some of you may still be able to help when others' health declines, says Donna Schempp, program director for the Family Caregiver Alliance, San Francisco, a nonprofit research, support and advocacy concern. You might line up one friend and one or two backups to assume control over your health care and financial affairs if needed, Ms. Schempp says. Your attorney can draw up power-of-attorney documents and help determine the circumstances under which that control would pass to the designated person. Another approach is to retain a case manager to help arrange services as health issues arise. Check for referrals.
Among alternative housing options, retirement or assisted-living facilities offer tiered levels of care, with access to greater support as needed. In senior co-housing, residents have private townhouses or condos but share some central common facilities, Ms. Schempp says. Informal retirement communities are buildings or neighborhoods that have evolved into age-segregated communities of older persons who support each other. Many friends are buying homes together in informal communal arrangements. For more information, contact your local aging agency, findable through .

New York Times, December 17, 2006, Sunday

New York Times
December 17, 2006

On the Job, Learning Disabilities Can Often Hide in Plain Sight

When Donna Flagg was growing up in suburban New Jersey, she struggled through reading and math in school and had trouble following directions. It was not until she took a college course from an instructor who was dyslexic — and who sensed that Ms. Flagg might also have a learning disability — that she discovered she had a form of dyslexia. The disability affects her brain’s ability to process what her eyes see.
“If I could be tested verbally, or if we could talk about the chapters I’d read, I performed well,” said Ms. Flagg, 42. “If I can put a sound to something, I’m fine. But if I read something only with my eyes, it doesn’t sufficiently register.”
When she got her first job as a sales representative for Chanel in Manhattan in the late 1980s, Ms. Flagg kept quiet about her disability. She phoned her father frequently for help with sales-related math and closed the office door to talk out loud.
Her decision to work around, rather than reveal, her disability is common. Lynda Price, an associate professor of special education at Temple University, estimates that as many as one in 10 adults may have a learning disability and that the vast majority conceals it from workplace supervisors. “They are afraid their co-workers will think they are mentally retarded or that their employer will fire them,” she said.
In May, Ms. Price and a colleague, Paul Gerber, a professor of education at Virginia Commonwealth University, completed a two-year study of adults with learning disabilities. The study, financed by the Learning Disabilities Association of America, involved 70 adults throughout the country. The results showed that 90 percent had not heard of the Americans With Disabilities Act and did not know it protected them from workplace discrimination. Ms. Price said that even when the protections of the A.D.A. were explained to study subjects “most said they wouldn’t use it anyway.”
It took Ms. Flagg nine years to disclose her disability to her boss, the same one she had at Chanel, whom she followed to several other companies. A few years later she left to start a human resources training firm, the Krysalis Group, in New York.
Ms. Flagg’s decision to tell her boss about her learning disability is unusual. “The majority of the adults in our study said they would absolutely never talk about their disability at work, and a quarter of them were in management,” Ms. Price said.
Learning disabilities include dyslexia, which affects language processing; dyscalculia, which affects math calculations; and dysgraphia, which leads to difficulty with spelling and writing. These are neurological disorders that affect the brain’s ability to store, process or communicate information.
These disabilities are frequently confused with mental retardation, Mr. Gerber said. As a result employees should look carefully at their individual situations before deciding whether to tell a supervisor or co-worker about their disability.
Some companies have a “culture of acceptance” where disabled workers feel comfortable, Mr. Gerber said. But in other companies, “the risks of disclosing are sometimes too great,” he said. Yet in order to receive workplace accommodations under the A.D.A., employees must disclose their disability.
When a 26-year-old literary publicist in Washington, with a language- processing disorder and attention deficit disorder disclosed her disability two and a half years ago to a supervisor at a previous job, it was not taken well. “I was told, basically, ‘We’re not going to hold your hand,’ ” she said.
The publicist, who did not want her name used because she feared the reaction of current co-workers, switched to an entry-level job at the company, rather than continuing in the event coordinator position she had been hired to do.
This kind of “underemployment” is common, Mr. Gerber said. “Employees with learning disabilities hold back as a way of protecting themselves and are often overqualified for the job they are doing.”
About nine months ago, the publicist landed her current job and a few months later told her new boss about her disability. “I was tired of struggling in silence,” she said. “Fortunately my boss was very accepting and open. Now we meet once a week to go over my projects because there is a lot of information to remember. I feel less overwhelmed and am more productive.”
Accommodations for those with learning disabilities are usually inexpensive, generally under $500, with many costing nothing at all. For example, Ms. Flagg at Krysalis reads everything out loud, either to herself or her partner, and organizes things by color rather than alphabetically. Other accommodations can include allowing employees to make audio recordings of information, having reading materials presented in an audible format or extending the time allotted for learning job tasks or performing work.
But Susanne M. Bruyère, director of the Employment and Disability Institute at Cornell University, said accommodations would not solve the biggest problem facing these employees. “It’s the attitudes of coworkers, supervisors and managers that are the biggest barriers to success in the workplace,” she said.
Ms. Bruyère said corporate America had become a bit more sensitive toward workers with learning disabilities, but that the record was spotty at best. A positive sign, she said, is the number of companies opting to become members of the Business Leadership Network, a nonprofit trade association of companies that seek to hire and retain people with disabilities, as well as market products to them. The network now represents about 5,000 employers.
Highmark, a health insurance company based in Pittsburgh, joined the network in 2000. It took the company two years to create a corporate culture that encouraged acceptance of learning disabilities, said Tammie McNaughton, director of corporate diversity for the company. “Now employees feel safe in identifying themselves,” she said.
Companies that allow workers with learning disabilities to thrive may reap unforeseen benefits. Ms. Flagg said workers like her often brought a fresh perspective to the job. “I don’t see the world the way everyone else does and that has enhanced my ability to innovate,” she said.
Arlyn Roffman, a special education professor at Lesley University and author of “Meeting the Challenge of Learning Disabilities in Adulthood,” said employees with learning disabilities were often “incredibly hard workers.”
“They also tend to be creative problem solvers,” Ms. Roffman said. “It’s the yin and yang of the disability — along with the challenges, there are gifts.”
But despite the small steps forward, learning disabilities are still widely misunderstood, Ms. Roffman said, and until that changes, workers will remain reluctant to speak up.

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City Limits Online, December 15, 2006, Friday

City Limits ONLINE
Posted: December 15, 2006

Ballots counted today will determine the future of the man who led the TWU into a landmark strike one year ago.

By Magdalene Perez

When the Transport Workers Union called a citywide strike over work contracts last winter, Bo Muniz, a veteran subway conductor, wasn’t overjoyed by the news. He knew that a single day on the picket lines would cost him two days’ salary in fines for breaking state law.

Now, with no contract and little else to show for the strike a year later, Muniz and other workers say Local 100 President Roger Toussaint faces a tough run in union elections. The official count of the mail-in ballots begins today, with results expected next week.

“He’s going the way of Bush,” Muniz said recently after a long shift on the 2 train, comparing Toussaint’s unpopularity to that of President Bush.

Toussaint’s leading opponent, Barry Roberts, a former bus driver who is now the union’s Manhattan and Bronx vice-president, is capitalizing on the discontent. He collected 13,000 election petition signatures in November, indicating strong support among the local’s 37,400 members.

Three other candidates, Michael Carube, Ainsley Stewart, and Anthony Staley have slimmer chances of winning, union members say. One dismissed them as “upstart candidates,” though the crowded ballot could split the vote to favor Toussaint.

Derrick Henry, a bus driver for 12 years, could be among the swing voters. “I was never a Toussaint fan,” Henry says, steering along Broadway on a rainy afternoon and stopping to pick up soaked passengers at 110th Street. “He was always talking about, 'Strike, strike, strike, strike, strike.’ He was the more militant one.”

Instead, Henry leans toward the opposition. Though he can’t say much about Roberts, he knows he isn’t happy with the current leadership. Years ago, he points out, Toussaint agreed on a contract that provided no raise the first year; instead, workers got a $1000 bonus. “I felt like a hooker,” Henry says, looking indignant. “We’d be doing better if we got one percent!”
“I’ll probably vote for Barry,” Henry concludes.

Whatever the outcome, the union can’t expect to hold much negotiating power anytime soon. Today the contract sits before an arbitration panel led by George Nicolau, who mediated a settlement for Major League Baseball in 1992.

Nicolau has the authority to come down on either side, most likely taking “the least controversial route,” according to Lee Adler, a labor expert at Cornell’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations.

The panel can choose to ignore hot-button issues, Adler says, because it has no mandate to resolve every aspect of a dispute.

TWU spokesman David Katzman predicts a decision this month. MTA officials refused to comment.

Health care and pensions are still the biggest issues for workers, who hoped the strike would raise wages and protect benefits that sounded generous to many non-union workers. They currently earn an average of $50,000, and don’t have to make a contribution for their health care plans.

Despite news of a $1 billion surplus last year, the MTA said benefit packages hurt the bottom line. It proposed that new hires contribute 6 percent to retirement, or three times the 2 percent workers pay now. After backing down on that issue, MTA settled for a 1.5 percent contribution toward health costs.Toussaint was triumphant. The package he announced five days after the strike provided a 10.5 percent raise over three years, paid maternity leave, and millions in refunds to workers who’d overpaid into their retirement accounts.

The deal would give workers a "greater degree of respect and appreciation,” he said when announcing the deal from the union’s West End headquarters.

But some union members weren’t happy, fearing health concessions would lead down a slippery slope. “Put it this way,” Muniz said after a long shift in his tiny conductor’s cab. “They say 1.5 percent now. In three years, what’s that going to be? In six years? In nine years?”

Ultimately opposition led members to split their vote on the contract, defeating it by just seven votes out of nearly 22,500. A revote in April came too late. With the MTA petitioning to place the issue before arbitration, hope that the contract would take effect stopped dead on the tracks.
Now the union is taking a beating for defying a state law banning the strike. On top of paying $233,000 a month to cover the $2.5 million in fines, one of the union’s most important income sources – automatic dues – will be cut off in January.

Union leaders are scrambling to enlist members for voluntary payments. A union spokesperson couldn’t supply an exact figure, but said enrollment “runs well into the thousands.” Most members interviewed for this article said they plan to contribute, though some disliked the union’s idea of direct bank account deductions.

Pension refunds and other deal sweeteners may be slipping away, but some members still hope changes in Albany will bring better fortunes.

Eliot Spitzer was happy to cultivate ties with the union before his election, marching shoulder-to-shoulder with Toussaint in the West Indian Day Parade in September. But now that he’s ready to take the governor’s office, it’s difficult to say whether Spitzer will be the leader bus and subway workers expect: an advocate willing to intervene aggressively on their behalf.
Nonetheless, Henry has high expectations for next year. “Spitzer is such an on-point type of guy as far as corruption,” Henry said, steering along Broadway. “Hopefully there will finally be someone to hold the MTA accountable.”
- Magdalene Perez

PBS (NOW), December 15, 2006

December 15, 2006
Interview: Kate Bronfenbrenner on American Labor Unions

Kate Bronfenbrenner is the Director of Labor Education Research for Cornell University's School of Industrial and Labor Relations

NOW: How have labor unions changed in the past decade?
Bronfenbrenner: The big change is that unions are organizing in the service sector, meaning hotel employees, home care workers, janitors and healthcare workers, for example. As manufacturing jobs have been increasingly outsourced, more jobs have gone to low-wage service sector workers.
There's also been a change in gender and demographics. The workers in the 1930s were mostly immigrant workers from eastern and southern Europe. Today the workers who are organizing are immigrants from Asia, Latin America, and African-American workers and they're overwhelmingly women.

NOW: Is this because of the increased focus on the service sector?
Bronfenbrenner: No, it's because women and workers of color are more likely to vote for unions. Women are more likely to make gains by social networks, as are workers of color.

NOW: Do unions today by and large represent low-wage workers?
Bronfenbrenner: Well, they're organizing more professional workers than ever before and many are women. In fact, professional women workers represent one of the fastest-growing segments of the workforce and the labor movement. Today, women increasingly dominate professions such as health care, law, social services, and education. These are also sectors where there has been a great deal of organizing activity: among adjunct faculty and graduate students in public universities, nurses and other professional workers in hospitals and nursing homes, researchers, agency staff, librarians and social workers in state and local government, and, of course, teachers in elementary and secondary schools.

NOW: Are unions as strong today as they were in the past?
Bronfenbrenner: There's no question they've lost power, but they have the potential to fight back. They had high union density in the 1950s and they missed their chance. Then the oil crisis happened in the 1970s and labor costs needed to be cut and employers started fighting unions. But by the late 1980s and early 1990s, unions were fighting back, winning major strikes and lockouts at Pittston Coal, Ravenswood Aluminum, UPS, and Bridgestone Firestone. They chalked up organizing gains among health care workers, janitors, public sector workers, hotel workers, and textile and garment workers.

NOW: Some suggest that unions are no longer relevant. What would you say?
Bronfenbrenner: To get the answer to that all you have to do is look at the last election cycle where unions led the way in shifting the focus in the last election cycle away from wedge issues towards health care, economics, and the toll the war was taking in Iraq and at home. And unions in the U.S. and around the globe have become much more effective in building local, national, and international coalitions to take on the world's largest multinationals in organizing and bargaining campaigns. So no, they are not irrelevant, they just face greater challenges than ever, and need to work even harder to organize and bargain more strategically and on a grander scale than ever before.

NOW: In terms of their power, what do you expect in the future?
Bronfenbrenner: The future for the U.S. labor movement depends on whether they can find common ground between the two federations - the AFL-CIO and Change to Win—to work jointly on issues that matter most, such as challenging the neo-liberal trade and financial agendas, national health care, increasing the minimum wage, and mounting industry and company-wide organizing campaigns. Unions are beginning to organize globally. So now the steelworkers union is helping oil workers organize in Nigeria and mining workers organize in Mexico. And the list goes on.

NOW: How have union's tactics changed in recent years?
Bronfenbrenner: They are being more strategic, doing more research, bringing more women and people of color on staff, and building more coalitions with community groups, civil rights organizations, environmental groups and other stakeholders in the industry or the company.

NOW: What's the difference between labor unions in the North and in the South?
Bronfenbrenner: There's been a perception that workers in the South are resistant to unions. It's not true. Win rates are higher in the South than they are in the North. Of course, "red" states are more politically hostile to unions. But, when it comes down to organizing in a workplace, politicians are less important. And part of the reason red states have been more hostile is that unions have not done more organizing. Once unions go down to these states and organize, then red states have a way of turning into "blue" states because these are the states with the highest concentration of African American voters who are much more likely to vote for a union.

NOW: How did unions fare in November's mid-term elections?
Bronfenbrenner: Members of the unions went door to door, focused on the issues, and union households turned out at a much higher rate for Democrats. The candidates who came out and won are the ones that had union campaigns, for example in Michigan, California and Pennsylvania. Candidates were talking about healthcare, about the environment, and the union drove it. Their power is much greater than their numbers; they are the ones who led the fight for minimum wage, for immigrant rights. Because they lead those fights, the public feels like they would be better off with a union.

Related Links:
» NOW: Minimum Wedge
» NOW: Janitors for Justice
» Change to Win
» Cornell University: Union Organizing Among Professional Women Workers

US States News, December 14, 2006, Thursday

Copyright 2006 HT Media Ltd.
All Rights Reserved
US States News

December 14, 2006 Thursday 8:47 PM EST


BYLINE: US States News


The Cornell University College of Industrial and Labor Relations issued the following news release:
The Annual Greek Faculty Appreciation Reception was held [November 14] in The Straight Memorial Room. The event was hosted by the Interfraternity Council, the Multicultural Greek Letter Council and the Panhellenic Council, and was intended to "recognize the outstanding professors who have impacted both [their] academic and extracurricular experiences at Cornell," according to Ariana Saunders '07, vice president of communications of the Panhellenic Association.
One faculty member from each college was recognized. The recipients include: Prof. Robert Thorne, physics; Prof. Raymond Dalton, architecture, art and planning; Prof. Mary Roldan, history; Prof. Graeme Bailey, computer science; Prof. Guiseppe Pezzotti, hotel and hospitality operations; Prof. Van Dyke Lewis, textiles and apparel; and Prof. Harry Katz, dean of the School of Industrial and Labor Relations.
"[Their] actions, inside the classroom and out, have truly touched the lives of the members of the community," said Brian Rosenberg '06, program coordinator of the event, in a statement. "This event is a way of saying thank you for everything that they have given us."

Globe and Mail (Toronto), December 13, 2006, Wednesday

Globe and Mail (Toronto)

Hard facts about this year's books

Hard facts. Dangerous half-truths. Total nonsense.

Separating one from the other is the essence of managerial success, and often quite difficult. We live in a fast-paced world of anecdote and supposition, in which managers are expected to follow their intuition, make quick decisions, and move on.
But what if we're reacting to dangerous half-truths and total nonsense, rather than hard facts?
The issue is profound, and of particular concern to those who turn to management books for inspiration, since when an idea is turned into book form it acquires an apparent substance that may mask its shaky foundations. For those reasons -- and because it's an excellent, thoughtful, and informative book -- I'm picking Hard Facts, Dangerous Half-Truths & Total Nonsense (Harvard Business School Press) by Stanford University professors Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert Sutton as the best business book of the year (or, more accurately, in line with their quest for precision, the best of the more than 100 business books I managed to read this year).
The book argues for an evidence-based approach to management, with managers emulating doctors in following the evidence at hand when faced with decisions. It lays out some sensible rules for applying evidence-based management, in the corner office and in management research.
For the final three-quarters of the book it offers an illuminating excursion through some issues where we are prone to accepting half truths or nonsense: Whether work is fundamentally different from the rest of life, do the best organizations have the best people, do financial incentives drive company performance, is strategy destiny, should organizations subscribe to the prevailing belief they must change or die, and are great leaders in control of their organization?
That covers a lot of territory, and sometimes the twists and turns of the research they reveal can be frustrating, like management itself, but it's an intelligent guide to some of the pillars of modern managerial life.

Here are the other books on my top-10 list.

2. Managing the Dynamics of Change (McGraw-Hill): Probably no issue bedevils managers more than dealing with change and University of Southern California social psychologist Jerald Jellison punctures some of the half truths we have about effective change, notably about how and when to best communicate your plans, offering a new approach based on the psychological mindset of the staff members you need to persuade to adapt. It's a more practical, if less flamboyant, approach than generally offered, which we should all consider.

3. The Ultimate Question (Harvard Business School Press): Businesses (and non-profit organizations) struggle with building loyalty among their clientele, and Fred Reichheld, a director emeritus at Bain & Co., has been a pioneer in that field. Here he reveals the one question that his research shows you should be asking clients in your feedback surveys, and then just as importantly shows how companies build operational effectiveness based on the results to the ultimate question.

4. Questions of Character (Harvard Business School Press): In 2002, I picked Harvard ethics professor Joseph Badaracco Jr.'s book Leading Quietly as the best book of the year because it didn't have easy answers -- like so many of the dilemmas managers face -- and his latest effort is similar, a meditative essay that takes readers through some classic literature, such as Antigone and Death of A Salesman to illuminate issues we should be thinking about in evaluating and improving our own character. You don't walk away from it with an eight-point plan for self-development, but the eight works he discusses are fascinating, and it will expand your horizons.

5. Leading Leaders (Amacom): Often leaders have to lead other leaders -- people who are bright, talented, rich and who have the power to resist demands. Jeswald Salacuse, a professor of diplomacy at Tufts University, guides us through those delicate leadership situations, offering some sage advice on the strategic one-on-one conversations that are at the heart of such leadership and then setting out the seven tasks leaders must perform every day to be successful.

6. Keep Them on Your Side (Platinum Press): Cornell University professor Samuel Bacharach presents a practical, easy-to-remember, four-pronged approach to managing the momentum once you develop an idea and gain buy-in from your colleagues. Thinking about momentum and its four elements -- structural, performance, cultural and political -- is an interesting way for approaching leadership.

7. Working With You is Killing Me (Warner Business Books): Too much of our time at work is spent ensnarled in emotional traps, as somebody does something that drives us nuts and we can't figure out how to get unhooked. Consultants Katherine Crowley and Kathi Elster offer a four-step program to break loose from such situations -- I'm tempted to say easy four-step process, but of course it's never easy -- and they reinforce their model with many examples of how it can be applied in different situations.

8. Questions That Sell (Amacom): It's well known these days that selling depends on asking the right questions. But what questions? Sales trainer Paul Cherry has the answer, taking readers through the various stages of selling, with examples of questions that help to get your customers talking, position you as an adviser as you educate them about your service and their needs, and clarify the impact of using your offering. There's nothing fancy about the book -- just practical, helpful questions, with explanations of when to use them.

9. A Leader's Legacy (Jossey-Bass): Best-selling authors Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner start at the end -- the legacy you want to create as a leader -- and work back to guide you through some important areas of establishing that legacy: Significance, relationships, aspirations, and courage. It's an inspirational work, focused as the topic areas suggest on broad themes, but with many practical ideas.

10. The Box (Princeton): This is a smoothly written history of the ocean shipping container, something most of us don't spend much time thinking about and wouldn't rush to read about, but economist Marc Levinson turns it into a fascinating economic history of the last 50 years that helps us to understand globalization and industrial growth in North America. It fails to mention, however, the Canadian pioneering entrant in intermodal international transportation in 1953 -- White Pass and Yukon Co. -- three years earlier than the supposed American birth of the industry.

Honourable Mentions

The Emperor has no Hard Hat (MBQ Solutions) by Alan Quilley is a solid guide to improving workplace safety.
Leading at a Higher Level (Prentice Hall) by Ken Blanchard is a comprehensive look at modern leadership, covering such issues as vision, empowerment, self-leadership and performance management.
The Long Tail (Hyperion) by Chris Anderson shows how the traditional approach in some industries is being inverted as companies sell niche items that individually don't amount to much but cumulatively rack up huge numbers.
Hit the Ground Running (McGraw-Hill) by Liz Cornish offers advice to women taking a new post.
Dish (McClelland & Stewart) by Barbara Moses ranges beyond business to look at how mid-age women are faring in work, relationships, and the rest of life.
Focus Like a Laser Beam (Jossey-Bass) by Lisa Haneberg has lots of practical tips -- and a reasonable schema -- for more effective management.
I also loved Leadership Can Be Taught (Harvard Business School), in which Sharon Daloz Parks plunges readers into the classroom and world view of Harvard leadership professor Ron Heifetz. But that may be the ex-education reporter in me, since the book's ideas are often fuzzy and heavily geared to teaching leadership, but I mention it for others with a similar bent.
Schachter's top-10 books for 2006
1. Hard Facts, Dangerous
Half-Truths & Total Nonsense
2. Managing the Dynamics
of Change
3. The Ultimate Question
4. Questions of Character
5. Leading Leaders
6. Keep Them on Your Side
7. Working With You
is Killing Me
8. Questions That Sell
9. A Leader's Legacy
10. The Box

Friday, Dec. 15, 2006, Page C2 CORRECTIONThe list of top-10 business books for 2006 in Wednesday's Globe Careers confused the titles of two books by Samuel Bacharach. Keep Them On Your Side, his recent work on momentum, was No. 6 on this year's list. Get Them On Your Side was an honourable mention in 2005.
[Corrected above by this editor]

Friday, December 15, 2006

Newsday, December 15, 2006, Friday


New York City
MTA spent $1.7M on outside legal counselThe MTA relied heavily on a Manhattan law firm in its battle over transit contracts
By Chuck Bennett
amNewYork Staff Writer,0,2217814.story?coll=ny-nycnews-headlines

December 15, 2006
The MTA spent at least $1.69 million on outside legal counsel during its protracted battles with the transit union, internal agency documents show.
Proskauer Rose LLP, one of the nation's largest law firms with headquarters in midtown, billed the MTA $1,690,152.07 for work related to the transit union for the year ending this September, according to copies of the invoices obtained by amNewYork through a Freedom of Information Law request.

The total cost is expected to rise even further because of contract arbitration sessions this October and November, at which Proskauer Rose also represented the MTA.
"Had there not been threats to strike and in this case actually an illegal strike there wouldn't have been outside lawyer bills," said Gary Dellaverson, the MTA's director of labor relations.
The MTA has more than 500 people between its legal and labor relations departments, but Dellaverson said they lack the specialized expertise to handle the TWU-related litigation. Further, he said, those workers are busy with more mundane legal tasks such as fighting claims by riders and grievances by workers.
MTA critics, however, didn't buy that explanation.
"It's like waving a red flag in the union's face. We have no money for raises but can pay these incredible lawyers' bill," said Gene Russianoff, senior attorney for the Straphangers Campaign. "It's really not a savings now."
Proskauer Rose billed the MTA at least monthly for work during the lead-up to the strike, throughout the strike and during post-strike talks. Proskauer also worked during the TWU's two contract ratification votes, the April trial of transit union officials for staging the illegal strike, and binding-arbitration proceedings.
The firm also represented the MTA in a lawsuit with the transit union over the consolidation of private bus lines in the outer boroughs.
Proskauer Rose has done more than labor law for the MTA. In 2003, the MTA paid Proskauer Rose $644,925 for its work to fight challenges to the subway and bus fare hike from $1.50 to $2.
Roger Toussaint, president of TWU Local 100 and who was cross-examined by Proskauer Rose partner Neil Abramson in Brooklyn Supreme Court in April, called the latest $1.7 million bill a waste.
"This is just another example of the MTA blatantly wasting taxpayer dollars to feed their ridiculous vendetta against their own workforce," Toussaint said.
Abramson, a graduate of Cornell University's School of Industrial and Labor Relations, billed the MTA at a rate of $540 an hour for a total of $415,471.52.
He did not return a call for comment.
Proskauer Rose partners were meticulous in their invoices -- even billing the MTA for time in 15 minute increments.
Dellaverson, however, said the MTA receives a 20 percent discount on Proskauer Rose's regular rate.
The MTA is the only state agency to rely so heavily on outside counsel for its labor-related legal issues.
"We've always used inside counsel," said Craig Dickinson, spokesman for the Governor's Office of Employee Relations, which negotiates contracts with more than 165,000 state workers.
Likewise, the Port Authority uses inside counsel for their labor matters, according to a spokesman.

Finance Visor, December 12, 2006, Tuesday

Peter Cappelli to Give Talent Keynote Address at Human Capital Institute's 2007 Summit

December 12,2006 12:00 AM ESTThe Human Capital Institute (HCI), a professional association and educator in talent management strategies, announced today that Dr. Peter Cappelli, Wharton professor, acclaimed author, and human capital thought leader, will be a keynote speaker at HCI's second annual National Human Capital Summit, to be held in Phoenix March 19-21.
Washington, D.C. (FV Newswire) - The Human Capital Institute (HCI), a professional association and educator in talent management strategies, announced today that Dr. Peter Cappelli, Wharton professor, acclaimed author, and human capital thought leader, will be a keynote speaker at HCI's second annual National Human Capital Summit, to be held in Phoenix March 19-21.Day one of the Summit, Dr. Cappelli will give the Talent keynote address, "Update on the Talent War," a presentation aimed at showing organizations fighting the talent war how they can propel talent management to a new level-and excel in the knowledge economy."Although it's generally accepted that the most important corporate resource over the next 20 years will be talent, it doesn't necessarily have to be the resource in shortest supply," said Allan Schweyer, HCI's President & Executive Director. "Peter Cappelli, a true innovator in talent management, will demonstrate how organizations can gain competitive advantage."Dr. Peter Cappelli is the George W. Taylor Professor of Management at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and Director of Wharton's Center for Human Resources. He is also a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research in Cambridge, Mass.
Dr. Cappelli holds degrees in Industrial Relations from Cornell University and in Labor Economics from Oxford, where he was a Fulbright Scholar. He has been a guest scholar at the Brookings Institution, a German Marshall Fund Fellow, and a faculty member at MIT, the University of Illinois, and the University of California at Berkeley.In addition, he has been a staff member on the Secretary of Labor's Commission on Workforce Quality and Labor Market Efficiency, a member of the National Academy of Sciences Committee investigating changes in occupational structure and the changing educational system in the U.S., and Co-Director of the U.S. Department of Education's National Center on the Educational Quality of the Workforce (EQW).Cappelli has received numerous awards for his research, writing, and teaching. He is the author of the highly acclaimed book "The New Deal at Work: Managing the Market-Driven Workforce."Dr. Peter Cappelli was named one of the 25 most influential people in the field of human capital by, one of the top 100 people in the field of recruiting by, and was elected to the National Academy of Human Resources. In 2003, he was named Senior Advisor to the Kingdom of Bahrain, with responsibility for recommendations concerning that country's labor market and employment systems, and in 2004 he was named Editor of the Academy of Management Executive.WHERE TALENT MEETS BUSINESS STRATEGYHCI's second annual Human Capital Summit will take place Monday, March 19, through Wednesday, March 21, in Phoenix, with a Benefit Golf Tournament on Sunday, March 18. The 2007 event, "Where Talent Meets Business Strategy," is for forward-thinking executives, human resources professionals, business managers, and organizational development leaders who share a common vision of the global knowledge economy and are ready to align their organizations. Conference tracks will focus on three key success areas: leadership, innovation, and talent. For the complete program listing, location and hotel information, registration details and more, please visit: THE HUMAN CAPITAL INSTITUTEThe Human Capital Institute is a think tank, educator, and professional association dedicated to the advancement of talent management practices with individuals and organizations. HCI serves as a catalyst for innovative thinking in integrated talent strategy, acquisition, development, engagement, management, and measurement. Through research and collaboration, HCI programs collect original, creative ideas from a field of the brightest thought leaders in talent management. Those ideas are then transformed into measurable, real-world strategies that help its members attract and retain high-performing people, build a diverse, inclusive workplace, and leverage individual and team performance throughout the enterprise. HCI members represent a broad coalition of educators, talent managers and executives. For more information, please visit: CONTACTSHuman Capital InstituteAndrea Miller866-538-1909 This press release was distributed through eMediawire by Human Resources Marketer (HR Marketer: on behalf of the company listed above.# # #
Human Capital Institute
Andrea J. Miller
Web Site:

New York Daily News, December 10, 2006, Sunday

New York Daily News -
A more perfect union?
Sunday, December 10th, 2006

For three days, more than 33,000 otherwise ordinary New Yorkers blatantly broke the law.
Bus drivers, subway conductors, mechanics and cleaners walked off the job and crippled the city, fully aware that they were violating the state's Taylor Law prohibiting such a strike - and that they might pay a heavy price.
The walkout cost the union $2.5 million in fines and still hasn't produced a contract.
Yet nearly a year later, Transport Workers Union Local 100 President Roger Toussaint may actually be able to declare a symbolic victory.
Consider the developments since last December, when the 33,700 bus and subway workers refused to move New York:
The union survived the stiff financial penalties - even collecting donations from union sympathizers.
Polls showed that many New Yorkers actually sided with the union. One poll taken during the strike found 52% backed the union; 40% backed the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and city. Nearly 55% felt the union's demands were fair, an NY1 poll found.
The TWU resisted an MTA demand for a different pension formula for new hires. That would have created another, lower-tiered class of workers - weakening the union and possibly putting municipal unions at risk of a similar ploy.
Some of the union's harshest complaints - including an allegedly unfair disciplinary system - got wide attention. Gov.-elect Eliot Spitzer has said he wants to improve labor relations.
Workers are about to get a new contract, courtesy of an arbitrator.
"In some ways, it's too early to judge who lost and who won because we don't know the ultimate terms of the contract," said City University of New York history professor Joshua Freeman, an expert on the TWU. "But I do think it was a loss for the MTA. "
Whether it was a loss for Toussaint will be resolved shortly. He's engaged in a stiff battle for reelection; the ballots are due to be tallied Friday.
He also had to spend five days in jail for leading the strike - although his stature in the labor world has risen.
Yet some of his members blame him for his tactics; some questioned the wisdom of conducting an illegal strike, while other more militant workers wished the union stayed out longer.
There's no question workers have paid a steep price for their stand, said Mitchell Moss, professor of urban policy and planning at NYU's Wagner School of Public Service. Each was docked six days' pay for taking on the MTA. "They are suffering," Moss said. "They lost money ... and many doubt the strike was a wise decision."
The key issues that led to the strike had little to do with wages. The TWU sought to improve, or at least hold the line, on workers' health care and pension plan costs.
"They didn't go on strike to win a free Mercedes-Benz," said Gene Carroll, director of Cornell University's Union Leadership Program. "They went on strike over the core stuff that we all worry about. These workers are not wealthy."
Negotiations started as most do, with threats of a strike and counterthreats of stiff fines for violating the state's Taylor Law. Workers were portrayed as ungrateful, greedy or lazy. Union leaders were described as unreasonable and reckless.
But there was an added dynamic: Unlike in previous contract talks, this time the MTA entered negotiations with a massive $1 billion surplus. So its demands for some economic concessions were treated as insults to workers - who had primed for a fight over the past decade.
The MTA, projecting unprecedented future deficits, wouldn't give in - and few really expected the workers to go on strike.
After such a draining battle, another strike isn't very likely anytime soon. But given the contentious history of the MTA and TWU, there's bound to be another one down the line.
"I certainly don't think it's the last strike by transit workers," Freeman said.
Then: President of TWU Local 100.
Now: Running for re-election.
Looking back: Toussaint agrees with Kalikow that the strike was unnecessary, but blames the MTA for pushing workers' backs to the wall.
The union had insisted it would never back a plan to make new hires pay more for their pensions than existing workers because that would create a two-class system and weaken the union, Toussaint said. Yet the MTA repeatedly demanded such a provision — even though the authority had a $1 billion surplus, he said.
So, the decision to strike was made, he said.
"Looking back, I don't see any other choice . . . given the set of circumstances we faced," he said.
Toussaint predicted that transit workers would keep him in office. Voting out their strike leader would "cheapen their battle," Toussaint said.
"At the end of the day, transit workers will rise to the occasion and act honorably," he said. "They won't dishonor their own fight."
Then: Metropolitan Transportation Authority chairman
Now: Slated to step down in 2007
Looking back: Kalikow remains incredulous that TWU President Roger Toussaint left the negotiating table and led workers out on strike Dec. 20, 2005.
"There was nothing major that they gave us, or that we gave them, that necessitated going out on strike," Kalikow told the Daily News last week. "It was clearly circumstances outside of that [negotiating] room that caused the strike."
Kalikow said those outside forces remain a mystery to him. In a statement, Kalikow added that the strike "was unnecessary as much as it was illegal" and the union "breached the trust not only of us but of all New Yorkers."
Noting the $2.5 million in fines and other penalties, Kalikow said the strikers and union "have paid the price" for breaking the law. "It is time to move on. I look forward to the arbitrator's decision and putting this whole unnecessary chapter behind us."
Then: State Supreme Court justice in Brooklyn assigned to all strike-related litigation, including pre-strike lawsuits aimed at preventing a walkout and motions regarding the subsequent issue of punishment.
Now: The administrative justice for the Supreme Court's civil division in Brooklyn. A candidate for the Court of Appeals, the state's highest court.
Looking back: Jones didn't have any expectations as to what might come next during those roller-coaster days before, during and after the strike.
"I just reacted to whatever happened," Jones said. "I didn't anticipate what they would do or would not do. My obligation is to enforce the law, blindly, and that was it. It wasn't anything personal."
And the law was clear to Jones. Transit workers are prohibited from striking under the state's Taylor Law. He politely declined to reveal his views of such union claims that workers were mistreated by the MTA.
"It certainly has been a very difficult chapter in the book of labor relations," he said. "I hope it resolves itself to the benefit of all sides."

The New York TImes, December 12, 2006, Tuesday

Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company
The New York Times

December 12, 2006 Tuesday
Late Edition - Final

SECTION: Section A; Column 5; National Desk; Pg. 1

HEADLINE: In New Twist on Tuition Game, Popularity Rises With the Price

BYLINE: By JONATHAN D. GLATER and ALAN FINDER; Jonathan D. Glater reported from Collegeville, Pa., and Alan Finder from New York.


John Strassburger, the president of Ursinus College, a small liberal arts institution here in the eastern Pennsylvania countryside, vividly remembers the day that the chairman of the board of trustees told him the college was losing applicants because of its tuition.
It was too low.
So early in 2000 the board voted to raise tuition and fees 17.6 percent, to $23,460 (and to include a laptop for every incoming student to help soften the blow). Then it waited to see what would happen.
Ursinus received nearly 200 more applications than the year before. Within four years the size of the freshman class had risen 35 percent, to 454 students. Applicants had apparently concluded that if the college cost more, it must be better.
''It's bizarre and it's embarrassing, but it's probably true,'' Dr. Strassburger said.
Ursinus also did something more: it raised student aid by nearly 20 percent, to just under $12.9 million, meaning that a majority of its students paid less than half price.
Ursinus is not unique. With the race for rankings and choice students shaping college pricing, the University of Notre Dame, Bryn Mawr College, Rice University, the University of Richmond and Hendrix College, in Conway, Ark., are just a few that have sharply increased tuition to match colleges they consider their rivals, while also providing more financial assistance.
The recognition that families associate price with quality, and that a tuition rise, accompanied by discounts, can lure more applicants and revenue, has helped produce an economy in academe something like that in the health care system, with prices rising faster than inflation but with many consumers paying less than full price.
Average tuition at private, nonprofit four-year colleges -- the price leaders -- rose 81 percent from 1993 to 2004 , more than double the inflation rate, according to the College Board, while campus-based financial aid rose 135 percent.
The average cost of tuition, fees, room and board at those colleges is now $30,367. Many charge much more; at George Washington University, the sum is more than $49,000.
But aid is now so extensive that more than 73 percent of undergraduates attending private four-year institutions received it in the school year that ended in 2004, not even counting loans.
''We can cushion the sticker shock,'' said Amy Gutmann, president of the University of Pennsylvania, which distributes aid on the basis of financial need. ''We focus on both middle-income and low-income families.''
So net prices vary widely on a given campus. On some, as many as 90 percent of students receive support, primarily from the college itself or the federal government.
And financial need is not the only basis for it. Many colleges, competing for the students with high grades and standardized test scores that help a college rise in rankings guides, offer merit aid ranging from a few thousand dollars to a full scholarship.
But officials of private colleges and universities say they fear that unless other steps are taken, the middle and upper middle class could ultimately be squeezed out.
''Eventually, if we're going to keep raising tuition at rates much more than the increase in family incomes, then something has to be done to make the places more accessible to the middle class,'' said Ronald G. Ehrenberg, director of the Cornell Higher Education Research Institute.
As it is, some students may not even apply to private colleges, scared away from the start by tuition and unaware of the available discounts. After all, tuition and fees at public colleges and universities -- though growing recently at a faster pace than those at private institutions -- remain vastly lower, at an average of $5,836, the College Board says.
It can be argued that everyone studying at a private liberal arts college is getting a discount. At institution after institution, officials say they offer an education costing tens of thousands of dollars more than even the college's ''sticker price.''
Take Swarthmore, the elite college half an hour's drive from Ursinus. With an annual budget of $106 million to educate just under 1,500 undergraduates, Swarthmore spends about $73,690 a student. But its tuition, room, board and fees in the last academic year were little more than $41,000.
''The half of our student body whose families are paying the full sticker price are paying $41,000 for something that costs $73,000,'' said Suzanne P. Welsh, the treasurer. ''So they're getting a great discount.''
The other students receive a bigger subsidy: on average, aid totaling more than $28,500, most of it from the college itself. (Swarthmore limits its aid to students with financial need, but that can mean those from families earning $150,000 a year if, for instance, there are circumstances like having multiple children in college.)
What makes it all work is Swarthmore's $1.3 billion endowment, which throws off enough income to cover 43 percent of the operating budget.
The biggest expenditure at liberal arts colleges is for salaries and benefits. With competition for big-name professors becoming more intense, faculty salaries have increased. So has the pay of college and university presidents, more than 100 of whom now receive at least $500,000 a year.
Then there are the amenities sought by students: coffee bars, lavish new dormitories, state-of-the-art science laboratories and fitness centers.
''You're trying to create the best educational experience for your students, and that costs money,'' said Tom Tritton, president of Haverford College. ''I sometimes say to parents, 'I can make it cheaper if you want.' ''
Still, none of this explains why colleges like Swarthmore and Ursinus -- with different student-faculty ratios, endowments and reputations -- end up with tuition and fees only a few hundred dollars apart, or less. Or why Harvard's tuition and fees, at $33,709, are virtually the same as theirs.
One big reason is that institutions of higher learning watch one another.
In November, the finance committee of Swarthmore's board of managers gathered at a Manhattan law firm and pored over a chart of tuition, room and board at more than 30 prestigious colleges and universities. They were pleased to see that Swarthmore was charging somewhat less than most of its competitors.
That kind of scrutiny led Bryn Mawr to a contrary sentiment, causing the college to raise tuition and fees this year by about 9 percent, their biggest jump in several years. Bryn Mawr officials say they made the decision after their research showed that the college charged less than its rivals and awarded more aid. The officials concluded that raising tuition would not deter applicants, because prospective students already assumed that Bryn Mawr cost the same as comparable colleges.
''The question was, Does that make sense?'' said John Griffith, Bryn Mawr's treasurer and chief financial officer. ''Have we benefited at all from being the low price point? And the answer was no.''
Some of the nation's bigger institutions have also found an incentive to raise prices. As part of an effort to improve its academic offerings and transcend its renown for football, the University of Notre Dame has raised tuition and fees by an inflation-adjusted 27 percent since 1999, to $32,900. In setting tuition, Notre Dame watches 20 other colleges and universities, including the University of Chicago, Emory and Vanderbilt.
''We're setting it by our competitors,'' said the Rev. John I. Jenkins, the institution's president.
But Notre Dame's financial aid has increased even more over the same period, with undergraduate scholarships up 107 percent after adjustment for inflation. This year the university is distributing $68 million.
Facing stiff competition, Hendrix College, a small liberal arts institution in Conway, Ark., decided two years ago to bolster its academic offerings, promising students at least three hands-on experiences outside the classroom, including research, internships and service projects. It also raised tuition and fees 29 percent, to $21,636. Most of the increase went back to students as aid.
As a result, 409 students enrolled in the freshman class this year, a 37 percent increase.
''What worked was the buzz,'' said J. Timothy Cloyd, the Hendrix president. ''Students saw that they were going to get an experience that had value, and the price positioning conveyed to them the value of the experience.''
Other colleges have tried the opposite. Muskingum College in New Concord, Ohio, cut tuition and fees drastically in 1996, to $10,285 from $14,240.
''We believed that if we lowered tuition, we would open access to the middle class'' and ''that we would continue to serve the higher socioeconomic-background students by becoming a best-buy institution,'' said Anne C. Steele, Muskingum's president.
Revenue increased, with enrollment of more students who could pay full price. Muskingum has also grown, to 1,600 undergraduates from about 1,000.
Yet the same strategy proved disastrous for North Carolina Wesleyan College. Ten years ago that college cut tuition and fees by 22 percent, to $7,150. But it attracted fewer wealthy applicants and more poor ones, who needed more aid even as the revenue generated from tuition declined.
''It didn't work out the way it had been hoped,'' said Ian David Campbell Newbould, the college's president. ''People don't want cheap.''
But they do apparently want a deal, or at least the perception of one. Lucie Lapovsky, a consultant who was once president of Mercy College in New York, conducted a study asking students to choose between a college charging $20,000 and offering no aid, and one charging $30,000 and offering a $10,000 scholarship. Students chose the pricier option.
''Americans seem to like college on sale,'' Dr. Lapovsky said.
Many administrators say that without raising prices, they could not maintain or expand economic diversity among the student body. In other words, making college more expensive for some enables less well off students to go.
But Brian Zucker, president of the Human Capital Research Corporation, a consulting firm that works with colleges, is suspicious of that argument, particularly given the growth of merit aid. He points out that many middle-class students borrow tens of thousands of dollars to attend liberal arts colleges and that at some, they may be helping defray the cost of a merit scholarship to a wealthier applicant.
''It's not a given that the subsidy is going in any predetermined direction,'' Mr. Zucker said. ''We don't know.''

TOMORROW: Students, recent graduates, college presidents and others talk about whether they think a private college education is worth its cost.


GRAPHIC: Photos: At Ursinus College, above, officials determined that tuition was too low to draw enough students. So they raised it, and applications surged. At right, students at Swarthmore, where tuition and other costs in the last academic year surpassed $41,000 -- a bargain, administrators say. (Photographs by Shea Roggio for The New York Times)(pg. A28)Chart: ''Discounted Education''Tuition at four-year private colleges and universities has been rising faster than income for decades. But many students do not pay the stated tuition, or sticker price.Graph tracks tuition and fees as a percentage of median household income since 1980. Both of the following are tracked:AVERAGE STATED PRICENET PRICE*: Full price minus scholarships and tax breaks* Data before 1996-97 not available.(Sources by College Board
Bureau of Labor Statistics)(pg. A28)Chart: ''Increasingly Expensive, but Similarly Priced''When setting prices, colleges and universities often watch one another closely. Below, tuition and fees at four institutions, after adjusting for inflation.Harvard1976-77: $14,7241986-87: $22,2951996-97: $28,7252006-7: $33,709Swarthmore1976-77: $13,6461986-87: $20,7841996-97: $$27,6142006-7: $33,232Notre Dame1976-77: $11,5991986-87: $15,7941996-97: $24,6712006-7: $32,900Ursinus College1976-77: $9,9651986-87: $13,4601996-97: $21,5102006-7: $33,350(pg. A28)

Business Wire, December 8, 2006, Friday

Copyright 2006 Business Wire, Inc.
Business Wire

December 8, 2006 Friday 3:52 PM GMT

DISTRIBUTION: Business Editors; Real Estate Writers

HEADLINE: DeSanto Realty Group Announces Erica J. Weiser as New Director of Sales and Marketing;
Ms. Weiser Brings Decades of Financial and TIC Sales Experience That Enables the Firm's Future Growth


DeSanto Realty Group (DRG), a leading sponsor of Tenant-in-Common (TIC) real estate transactions, today announced that Erica J. Weiser has joined the firm as Director of Sales and Marketing, effective December 4, 2006. Ms. Weiser will focus on recruiting new investors to the firm's expanding portfolio of TIC properties, and manage DeSanto's overall growth strategy.
Ms. Weiser brings nearly 20 years of sales experience in the financial sector, with companies such as Metlife Investors, Nationwide Financial, The Hartford, and Merrill Lynch, to DeSanto Realty Group. She also has broad TIC industry experience, most recently serving as the Senior Vice President for NNN Capital Corp, the managing broker-deal for TIC sponsor Triple-Net Properties.
"Erica brings the track record and experience to help manage and grow our sales efforts as we carry our momentum from 2006 into the new year," said Gary DeSanto, Chief Executive Officer of DRG. "Over the course of her career, including time spent with one of the top names in the TIC industry, Erica has proven she is not only able to increase sales, but also put the team in place that can handle growth in the near term. She joins DeSanto Realty Group at the most opportune time as we continue to increase our TIC property portfolio, and seek new opportunities."
"DeSanto Realty Group has exhibited impressive growth in the TIC industry, and caught my attention some time ago," said Ms. Weiser. "I'm excited to join the firm as its poised to continue to grow and become an even larger TIC sponsor."
Ms. Weiser holds a B.S. Degree in Finance & Investments from the Baruch College, C.U.N.Y., and also attended Cornell University's School of Industrial and Labor Relations. In addition, she holds her Series 7, 63 licenses.
About DeSanto Realty Group
Since 1951, DeSanto Realty Group has owned and managed commercial and residential property throughout the mid-Atlantic region. The firm has a successful track record of identifying properties with appreciation upside and stability of cash flows and improving the management of those properties to cultivate greater value for investors.
As a leading sponsor of Tenant-in-Common (TIC) real estate transactions, DeSanto is actively acquiring commercial, residential, and retail real estate across the United States that can be successfully converted into TIC ownership.

CONTACT: DeSanto Realty Group
Dana Rygwelski, 610/ 565.3400
Gregory FCA
Paul Johnson, 610/ 642.8253


Buffalo News (New York), December 7, 2006, Thursday

Copyright 2006 The Buffalo News
All Rights Reserved
Buffalo News (New York)

December 7, 2006 Thursday


HEADLINE: Living wage law has only modest success, panel says


The effects of Buffalo's 7-year-old living wage law have been modest so far, the commission that enforces it said Wednesday as it encouraged Common Council members, the Buffalo Board of Education and city leaders to take action on a number of fronts.
So far, the commission says, it has been able to prod raises for about 170 workers so they can earn a wage that keeps them above poverty. But in releasing a status report Wednesday, the commission said there are hundreds more workers whose wages should be lifted by the city law.
In fact, some of those employees work for the city itself.
Buffalo's ordinance, passed in 1999 but not fully implemented until 2003, requires the city and contractors doing more than $50,000 in business with City Hall to offer a living wage if they have at least 10 employees. Since 2004, Buffalo's living wage has been defined as $9.03 an hour with health benefits and $10.15 without.
The city itself has employees earning less than those amounts, including crossing guards, seasonal laborers and interns -- a job title that the city has applied more broadly than just to students picking up career experience.
The ordinance does not apply to independent authorities such as the Buffalo Sewer Authority and Buffalo Water Authority, or to the School Board, which as recently as 2005 paid food-service workers as little as $8.25 an hour with no health benefits, according to a city audit.
Commissioners are calling on city officials to notify all prospective contractors about the law and to expand the ordinance so all city employees earn a living wage. But would raises for city workers violate the wage freeze imposed by the state control board?
The commission's compliance coordinator, lawyer Sam Magavern, doesn't think so. He said that under state law, the freeze applies only to pay raises linked to collective-bargaining agreements, not a living wage standard set by a city law. The city's own attorneys are reviewing the matter.
Similarly, Magavern said he does not think the control board's wage freeze bars the cost-of-living adjustment that Lovejoy Council Member Richard A. Fontana has introduced to bring the minimum living wage to $9.59 an hour with health benefits and $10.77 without.
"I think the Council is supportive," Delaware Council Member Michael J. LoCurto said when asked if he thought the adjustment would pass. "We are trying to get legal opinions from our counsel as to whether this violates the wage freeze."
Six private employers have come into compliance with the ordinance, the commission said, but several have resisted. Right now, the commission is negotiating with Rural/Metro Medical Services, which argues that the ordinance does not cover its agreement to provide 911 ambulance services in Buffalo.
Rural/Metro insists its contract with the city is a franchise agreement that falls outside the living wage law. The company also says that when figuring fringe benefits, its lowest-paid employees earn at least $10.41 an hour.
The Living Wage Commission is rooted in the Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations, which provides the commission chairwoman, Lou Jean Fleron, as well as office space, staff support and other services. The Margaret L. Wendt Foundation provided the money that let the commission hire Magavern as part-time compliance coordinator.

The Post-Standard (Syracuse, New York), December 6, 2006, Wednesday

The Post-Standard (Syracuse, New York)

December 6, 2006 Wednesday



BYLINE: By James T. Mulder Staff writer

One voice is conspicuously absent from a growing chorus of labor unions opposing a state commission's proposals to downsize New York's health-care industry.
Local 1199 of the Service Employees International Union, an aggressive foe of past state efforts to cut health spending, has not taken a public position on the sweeping recommendations of the Commission on Health Care Facilities in the 21st Century.
The commission is calling for closures, mergers and downsizings of hospitals and nursing homes statewide that would eliminate about 7,000 jobs. The proposals will be enacted unless the state Legislature rejects them by the end of this month. Gov. George Pataki and Gov.-elect Eliot Spitzer support them.
Since the recommendations came out last week, CSEA, the Public Employees Federation, New York United University Professions and the New York State Nurses Association have been urging legislators to reject the proposals that could put many of their members out of work. CSEA cranked up the volume this week with a statewide newspaper and radio advertising blitz.
But SEIU 1199, the biggest health-care union in the state, has been uncharacteristically mum. In Central New York, the union represents workers at Crouse, Community General, Auburn Memorial and A.L. Lee Memorial hospitals, all of which are targets of the commission's recommendations.
The union has 228,500 members in New York, 17,000 of them Upstate. No one from the union spoke at a public hearing about the commission's recommendations conducted Friday by the Senate Health Committee in Albany.
"We're still studying the report," Mike Whyland, who speaks for the union, said earlier this week.
Some observers see 1199's silence as a sign it probably won't oppose the recommendations.
"One would think if they were going to be aggressively opposed to it, they would have weighed in by now," said Tom Dennison, a health-care management professor at Syracuse University.
Ken Margolies, director of organizing programs at Cornell University's labor school, said 1199's silence represents a departure for the union.
"It means they are looking at it differently than they might have in the past," Margolies said. "They are taking a longer-range view and saying the system isn't necessarily as rational as it should be. To just knee-jerk resist may not get them very far."
The powerful union might not be saying much because it, along with the governor and the Legislature, supported the creation of the commission. The union has said it sees the commission as a way to reform the state's fragile health-care system, which has been struggling with hospital closures and bankruptcies.
"Right at the inception, the union was involved in trying to set up the thoughtful and deliberative process the commission followed," said Elliott Shaw of the Business Council, a business lobbying group based in Albany.
It would be disingenuous for the union to oppose the recommendations now, he said.
After the commission released its recommendations last week, the union released a brief prepared statement.
"This is a sad day for New York's health community," it said, adding that the scope of the commission's recommendations far exceeded what was expected.
Marshall Blake, 1199's executive vice president, said last week the union wants to make sure any members who lose jobs get financial assistance and opportunities for retraining. Asked what he thought of the commission's report, Blake said: "Some of it makes sense and some of it doesn't."
Stephen Madarasz, who speaks for the CSEA, said 1199 might have decided not to fight if it believes some consolidation in the health-care industry is inevitable.
"They are probably looking at this and figuring they can live with some aspects of it, and where they can't, they will fight them on an individual basis as far as implementation is concerned," he said.
The union might be reluctant to fight because $1.5 billion in federal money to help pay for industry restructuring is at stake. If the commission's recommendations are not enacted, New York will forfeit that money. In addition, New York has set aside $1 billion to pay for hospital closings, pensions and retraining.
Margolies said SEIU 1199 may believe it's necessary to sacrifice part of the health-care system to make the whole system healthier.
James T. Mulder can be reached at 470-2245 or

Chicago Tribune (Illinois), December 3, 2006, Sunday

Copyright 2006 Chicago Tribune
Chicago Tribune (Illinois)

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Business News

December 3, 2006 Sunday


HEADLINE: Can SIU stay in the game?: Walter Wendler tried to raise Southern Illinois University's rankings by boosting tuition and launching an ambitious spending plan. Now he's out, but experts say he was just following higher education

BYLINE: Greg Burns, Chicago Tribune

Dec. 3--Walter V. Wendler had a little trouble getting home from the office at Southern Illinois University last May.
The veteran chancellor was pushing through a plan to jack up tuition and fees by 10 percent, on top of big increases he had imposed in previous years.
Across from the main administration building, student activist Whitney Shalda was leading a rally to protest the rising prices. After several hours of music, speeches and chanting, "people were pretty fired up," recalls Shalda, a senior English major from Evergreen Park.
When they saw Wendler leaving his office, about 20 students surged across the lawn to the spot where he had parked his silver sedan with the
SIU license plate "No. 1." The students surrounded him, demanding some answers.
"Step away from the car," the 6-foot-2, 225-pound administrator told the kids, but only one protester budged. He walked behind Wendler's Ford and lay down on the blacktop, pinning it in its parking space.
Wendler retreated to his office, but Shalda and several other students came after him, cornering him inside. He defended his expensive, long-range building plans, and pointed out that he didn't need their approval. They dashed back to the car and resumed chanting.
A pair of administrators came out next, distracting the students long enough for Wendler to escape into a nearby parking garage, where campus police picked him up and drove him home.
"This job, it's a cakewalk," he says, a smile peeking out from beneath his Clark Gable mustache. "I laugh about it now, but it wasn't really funny when it was happening."
Nothing about college costs is really funny these days, as the showdown in Carbondale suggests. Tuition bills have been soaring, from elite private universities to public four-year schools such as Southern that for decades supplied a coveted degree at a bargain price. A foundation of the American Dream is becoming less affordable with each passing year, and even the U.S. secretary of education says she doesn't know why.
To the insiders setting rates, however, the economics of higher education make perfect sense. Every university chancellor in the country wants top professors who bring in research grants. They want state-of-the-art facilities, too, and a better grade of student. With enough money they can have it all. But for most, that means raising tuition, because the only way to compete with the higher spending of their peers is by spending more themselves.
And it will take a lot more than a demonstrator lying in the path of a chancellor's Crown Victoria to slow down that spending spree.
In the years ahead, as the children of the youngest Baby Boomers line up for admission, the price of higher education is set to rise even more. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings, mother of a college sophomore, gripes about the hit to her wallet just like millions of other parents.
"Is it fine that college tuition has outpaced inflation, family income, even doubling the [rise in the] cost of health care?" she asks. "Is it fine that only half our students graduate on time? Is it fine that students often graduate so saddled with debt they can't buy a home or start a family? None of this seems fine to me."
Spellings felt as clueless as anyone when she sent her daughter off to Davidson College last year. "There is little or no information on why costs are so high and what we're getting in return," she says. "I found it almost impossible to get the answers I needed, and I'm the secretary of education."
Davidson charges $30,000 in annual tuition and fees, up more than 5 percent from last year, in the same ballpark as Northwestern University, the University of Chicago and other top private schools. State schools like Southern typically charge far less, since affordable access is part of their public mission.
Yet year after year, the tuition and fees at public universities have gone up. They nearly doubled at SIU from $4,000 in 2000, not long before Wendler took over the top job, to almost $8,000 for state residents today. Out-of-staters pay more than twice that amount.
At a time of booming admissions for many four-year schools, including its sister campus near St. Louis in Edwardsville, SIU's enrollment is declining: The current crop of 18,295 on campus is down 573 from last year.
Its remote location and perfunctory marketing no doubt hurt recruiting, but it also suffers from an unusually high dropout rate, particularly between junior and senior years. In this hardscrabble part of the state, no one doubts that many of those dropouts simply ran out of cash, the rising costs hitting them harder than students in more prosperous areas. "It's money," Wendler says of the high dropout rate. "It always is."
Other potential students don't even apply, certain that a university education is beyond their means. Although financial aid defrays a big part of the cost for many students, it hasn't kept up, and more comes in the form of loans. So even after grants and discounts, the typical teenager today will need to raise thousands of dollars for a four-year degree. Most who graduate will start their working lives in debt.
Wendler has taken plenty of heat for jacking up the prices--among other controversial moves--and in early November he was forced out. But even as he expresses sympathy for those feeling the impact of higher tuition and fees, he sees no alternative to pouring them on, no matter who runs the university.
State funding is on the wane, government contracts and research grants haven't kept up with the bills, and private donations at a relatively poor school like Southern help only a little.
That leaves students and their families as the main source of higher revenues. If Southern doesn't get more money from them, then it will lose ground against competing schools. Its degrees will lose their value in the marketplace. Educational quality will erode. The campus will fall even deeper into disrepair.
And those maladies will be reflected in U.S. News and World Report's annual college rankings.
In the absence of any other accepted measurement, the newsmagazine's report every August weighs heavily in the recruiting of students and faculty. University leaders curse it and invoke it in practically the same breath.
Since its 1983 debut, the U.S. News ranking has survived repeated attacks from those objecting to its supposed biases. One-quarter of the score, for instance, comes from an unscientific survey of college insiders who run their finger down a long list of schools, assigning each a rating for its reputation.
Most of all, the magazine ranks the size of the institutions' bank accounts. From "spending on instruction" to "faculty salary levels," the measurements give more weight to wealth than any other factor. As a result, schools with money can spend their way up the list, while those with less eventually lose ground.
Over the years, rich schools like Harvard and Yale have succeeded in amassing multibillion-dollar war chests. They invest their endowments aggressively, wine and dine well-heeled private donors and rake in the steepest tuition and fees.
Then they pour money into salaries and benefits for pedigreed faculty. They discount tuition for high-achieving students. They hire cubicles full of administrators to keep their sprawling enterprises on the move. Lately, they've been rehabbing their aging campuses with fancy new dorms, fitness centers, laboratories and sporting venues--projects undertaken partly on the theory that posh facilities will attract smarter (or wealthier) students, whose brains (or money) ultimately will buoy their ranking.
Every year, other institutions take their cues from the Harvards or Yales, and it gets tougher for lesser players like Southern to compete. The Carbondale campus ranks in the third tier of national universities, a grouping that falls somewhere between 127 and 182 on a list topped by Princeton University. "They are never going to dislodge these uber-wealthy institutions from their perch," says Kevin Carey, research and policy manager at the Education Sector think tank. "This is a fool's game they're playing. But what's the alternative? There's no other playing field. You're caught."
Education Secretary Spellings set out to scrutinize the higher-education landscape last year, appointing a commission to brainstorm ideas and recommend reforms. In June, the panel unveiled a draft report sharply critical of the academic establishment, blasting its "dubious" quality, "unseemly complacency" and fiscal inefficiency.
Predictably, those targeted in the broadside howled, saying their contributions to the quality of American life had been maligned, and attacking what they considered a string of cheap shots. By the time Spellings unveiled a final report in September, its aggressive rhetoric was mostly axed.
The report still calls for additional aid based on financial need, addressing the fact that a rising share goes to the affluent. It also proposes standardized testing to measure what college students actually learn. But the group has no power to press its recommendations, and the "action plan" that Spellings endorsed includes such pallid instructions as "raise awareness" and "develop [an] agenda." Her most ambitious proposal, for a national database to keep track of student progress through college, faces opposition on privacy grounds
fter Spellings presented the findings at a National Press Club luncheon meeting, one of the last to leave the room was Richard Vedder, an Ohio University economist tapped to serve on the commission shortly after the publication of his manifesto, "Going Broke by Degree: Why College Costs Too Much."
Vedder had sat at a VIP table during Spellings' presentation, and it was all he could do to choke down his baked cod and ratatouille. He complained to reporters afterward about "errors of omission" in the final report, and "bribes" that would need to be paid if universities were to drop their opposition to achievement tests.
The tart-tongued Urbana native has emerged as an unlikely critic of higher education, considering that he occupies one of its choice positions as a tenured economics professor at a tier-1 school. After graduating from Northwestern University and the University of Illinois, Vedder followed a traditional career path in academe. He published frequently, attached himself to a couple of think tanks and taught less and less as tuition went higher and higher--the lighter teaching load for tenured full-time professors like himself being a hallmark of today's higher-education "scam," he says. Once he jokingly urged his students to protest their tuition by paying in nickels, only to find the school newspaper embracing the idea.
At age 66, Vedder is launching a new Washington, D.C., think tank bankrolled by Chicago's Searle family to promote his view that colleges today have practically no incentive to hold down costs and every reason to raise them.
As he sits in the glassed-in conference room of his Center for College Affordability and Productivity, breathing in the new-carpet smell, Vedder says ranking schools based on how much they spend is like rating a car based on the amount of steel used in its construction. It inevitably results in a higher tuition price because it encourages the schools to consume more and more resources.
"It's a vicious circle," he says. "Nothing is changing the fundamental incentive system and the way the game is played.".
And what has the country got to show for all the money spent on higher education? Advocates say it has the best system in the world. Unlike its oft-criticized primary and secondary schools, America's research universities remain the pride of the nation, they say, perpetuating its economic domination with cutting-edge scholarship and lofty educational standards.
No way, says Vedder. "My guess is there is very little to show for all this money being spent," he says. "A lot of the so-called research in the humanities and social sciences is pretty third-rate. And I'm afraid that at a lot of schools, kids aren't learning very much."
So if a four-year degree is such a ripoff, Vedder's detractors counter, then why after decades of soaring tuition is it still among the greatest of financial bargains?
After all, even a marginal student graduating from a run-of-the-mill school can expect lifetime earnings far exceeding those of contemporaries without college degrees, notes James Heckman, a University of Chicago Nobel Prize-winning economist, who debated the issue with Vedder on a Fox News program last summer.
Based on the return for each dollar invested in a college education, Heckman said on the show, "Tuition is actually too low. I think tuition should probably go through the roof."
Even the highest tuitions cover only a fraction of the institutions' labor and other costs, he explained in an interview later. Collectively, taxpayers and donors provide a subsidy for each student. That's a great deal for the individuals, since they pay only a little and get a lot, Heckman says. But everyone should recognize that students would be paying a lot more without the subsidies, and the griping from folks like Spellings betrays an ignorance of economic realities, he says.
To the education secretary's complaint that soaring costs, delayed graduations and debt-laden students are not fine with her, Heckman responds: "Is it fine that Detroit is no longer the largest producer of cars? Is it fine that China is beating the hell out of us in textiles? A way of life that is protected and subsidized is tough to maintain."
Heckman thinks the huge subsidies never were justified: "People who are going to college are getting a lot of money for it. Why not let them pay?"
Many experts believe that national sentiment has shifted in Heckman's direction, toward viewing education as more of a personal benefit than a social good. "There just isn't the consensus there used to be that we as a society should pay for it," says Ronald Ehrenberg, a Cornell University professor and author of "Tuition Rising: Why College Costs So Much."
Vedder sees the same social forces at work and believes all signs point in one direction: higher tuition and fees. He sees little chance that new forms of competition such as for-profit schools and Internet-based learning will put a lid on spending anytime soon. Two-year colleges are coming on strong, but still lack cachet in the marketplace.
So to keep pace in the higher-education game, the majority of four-year schools will need to squeeze more out of their students.
Schools like Southern.
Not long after she started her second year at the Carbondale campus this fall, Jamie Harwerth, 19, settled into a gray couch in a quiet corner of the student center, hitting the books so she can graduate as early as possible. If all goes well, she'll finish her degree in social work after only three years, making her feel a little better about her mother working an extra bus-driving job to help pay her way.
Harwerth feels fortunate that her parents can afford to give her interest-free loans for tuition and fees. But the prospect of owing them tens of thousands of dollars weighs on her. "It's not like owing the government or the school. Stiffing your parents would be even worse. I think about it all the time," she says. "It brings me to tears. It makes me feel guilty. It makes me mad."
Harwerth knows she has plenty of company on campus. When she heard about the chancellor's car getting surrounded last May, she recalls, "I'm not a huge protester, but I was actually really happy. I was like, 'Go, go, go.' "
The irony is that even after years of hiking tuition and fees, Southern still isn't particularly expensive compared with other schools. The base rate for the University of Illinois at its Urbana-Champaign and Chicago campuses is $2,000 higher. The Princeton Review ranks Southern a "best value college," lauding the "nifty" aid packages that enable the typical student to graduate with a relatively light debt load of $13,700, compared with the national average of around $15,500. That's less than the cost of a single semester at Harvard.
But those loan levels vary: Robert Etherton, a junior at SIU, owes nothing because his parents paid in advance through the College Illinois savings program. Activist Shalda estimates she will owe $22,000 when she finishes in May, while graduate student Jon Pressley, pursuing a master's in bioarchaeology, owes about $80,000 so far.
Southern is raising its price even faster than the inflation rate for higher education as a whole, making up for what its administrators describe as the sins of the past.
Once dubbed "the university that shouldn't have happened," SIU was shaped by an entrepreneurial president who out-hustled his fellow Illinois college bosses for more than two decades, starting in 1948. By the time Delyte Morris got forced out in 1970 over a lavish renovation of his campus home, Southern had left behind its roots as a teacher-training center to become a university on the come. Research dollars poured in, and by 1985 Southern ranked a lofty No. 84 in the key benchmark of National Science Foundation funding.
Around that time, to hear the current administration tell it, the school took a wrong turn. Determined to remain affordable, it raised tuition by less than Illinois' other public universities. In 1985, for instance, SIU decided to charge each student $24 less than the average increase at rival state schools, according to Wendler. That small tuition break, multiplied by tuition hikes since then, erased $29 million in annual revenue, he says.
At the same time, the portion of Southern's budget covered by state funding fell sharply, a trend that has accelerated in recent years. As of 2005, state dollars accounted for barely one-third of SIU's revenues, down from 40 percent in 2000--"subsistence-level funding," Wendler says. The same squeeze is happening across the country, as states direct more tax dollars to health-care and pension obligations. Some flagship public universities get so little from their states that they increasingly act like private institutions, lobbying for the freedom to admit the students they want at a price they determine.
By keeping its tuition low while state support declined, Southern was less able to compete with other research institutions, its administrators say. In 1998, when Vice Chancellor John Koropchak took over his current task of rebuilding the school's research programs, the chemistry department that he had previously headed was down to just nine tenured professors from two dozen some 15 years earlier.
Other departments lost experienced scholars, too, as the university's fortunes ebbed. The workload went up for those who remained, cutting into their efforts to supervise graduate students and win competitive grants. Southern's ranking in research funding plunged. "Everything was moving in the wrong direction," Koropchak recalls. "If you're too affordable, eventually things are going to fall apart."
Wendler arrived on the troubled campus in 2001, becoming the fourth person in five years to fill the chancellor post. An architect by training, energetic and outspoken, he had a track record of strategic planning at his previous school, Texas A&M. In short order, he produced a long-term plan for Southern with the central goal of making it a "Top 75" research institution.
Wendler shifted funds into recruiting hot-shot faculty members. Certain departments that were always strong got a lift, and some others staged comebacks. Chemistry opened the current school year with more tenured professors, Koropchak notes, and Southern has stopped sliding in the National Science Foundation's benchmark rankings for research and development.
But at No. 109 among public universities as of fiscal 2004, it remained way behind its goal. The University of Massachusetts at Amherst, which held the No. 75 rank that Southern covets, collected more than twice as much research money from government, industry and other sources.
Anyone outside higher education may wonder why Southern, still living down its reputation as a party school in the middle of nowhere, would care so much about research. But from the insider's perspective, research funding helps attract elite faculty and ambitious students. In theory, it also serves the public interest by advancing society's body of knowledge.
On a practical level, it helps fill the university's coffers, as the grants and contracts defray the cost of new labs, graduate programs, travel budgets and faculty salaries, among other things. Letting research slip is equivalent to letting quality slip, says Wendler. "If quality dries up, people will vote with their feet."
Vedder thinks Southern should go ahead and let its research slip, allowing its ranking as a national university to fall. "Southern's goal should be first-class education of undergraduates," he says. "The reason they don't do it is because nobody would know it if they did."
As it stands, Vedder says, undergraduate tuition and fees are subsidizing the effort to rebuild a research faculty that caters to only a few. "They're taking the students for a ride in pursuing these goals."
Glenn Poshard, the veteran Illinois politician who heads the SIU system, sees it differently. The trade-off isn't as stark between good research and good teaching as critics like Vedder suppose, he says. "You don't have to sacrifice one for the other." Yet he also concedes that Southern's Top 75 goal "may be unattainable."
No wonder, then, that Southern has a newer goal. Dubbed "Saluki Way," in honor of the school's canine mascot, it would rebuild the heart of the campus. Wendler spearheaded the project last year, laying plans for a new football stadium and sports arena, along with academic buildings.
Everyone agrees that SIU's infrastructure needs attention. Deferred maintenance alone exceeds $300 million. As she walked around campus this fall, buildings chief Catherine Hagler pointed to Faner Hall, a classroom complex with a roof that won't stop leaking. At the Communications building, the kicked-in trim, broken ceiling tiles and other superficial wear-and-tear don't worry her as much as the unhealthy mold polluting the air due to excess moisture.
Nevertheless, as the financial details of Wendler's construction plan came to light, a campus backlash developed. Private donations amount to little at Southern, and although Wendler launched a capital campaign for Saluki Way, it has no chance of covering the 12-year plan's $500 million projected costs. Instead, higher fees will pay the way.
The project's critics have attacked its emphasis on sports as well as its scale. Southern can't afford first-rate research and massive construction bills without stiffing its faculty, reckons Marvin Zeman, a math scholar who heads the professors' union. "It brought into question if they were serious about being a Top 75 in the first place," he says. "If the football stadium has a higher priority than the math department, say so."
At $80,000, annual compensation for Zeman and other full professors averages $20,000 less than at equivalent institutions, he says. "The contribution I'm making to the university is not appreciated."
Some students feel the same way, and several days after protesters surrounded Wendler's car, a roasted pig's head with an apple in its mouth appeared on the hood with a hand-lettered sign saying, "Wendler, Stop Pigging Out on Tuition $$!!"
Student unrest wasn't Wendler's only problem. A teetotaler and devout Christian, he had taken heat in the past for speaking out in favor of an alcohol-free campus and against benefits for same-sex couples. The Daily Egyptian, SIU's student newspaper, prominently chronicled his unsuccessful attempts during the last school year to land a job at other universities.
Most recently, he came under fire for including, in the strategic plan he developed for Southern shortly after arriving, passages that were identical to ones in similar work he had done at Texas A&M. Wendler maintains he did nothing wrong, but an SIU committee released a report at the end of October scolding him for failing to properly reference his Texas work.
It all caught up to Wendler on Nov. 8 when he was removed from his post and reassigned to an architecture professorship. Poshard launched a new search for chancellor and both the research and building goals that Wendler championed were in jeopardy.
"We have made a lot of progress, but it's never enough," Wendler says. "I've learned a bunch of lessons. Every scar that I've got is tremendous experience for me."
From the Daily Egyptian's newsroom in the mold-tainted Communications building, student journalist Zack Quaintance keeps a close eye on the university's ups and downs.
Like the protesters he writes about, Quaintance says he's "feeling poor" these days. The Glendale Heights native took a cheaper route by earning an associate's degree at a community college before transferring to Southern, but he still has racked up $8,000 to $9,000 in student loans and another $2,000 in credit-card debt. He expects to graduate in May and already works for two weekly newspapers.
He has a pretty good idea where tuition and fees will be heading for the students following behind him, he says: "Going up."
That will deter many of Southern's traditional students, who tend to be wary of debt and often the first in their blue-collar families to pursue four-year degrees, he says.
"It seems like higher education is just going to become elitist and unaffordable for everyone else. That's a scary thing to think."

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