Kentucky universities to propose having to make the grade in order to get paid

09/18/2013 10:12 AM

As part of their request to lawmakers for the next two-year budget, Kentucky’s public universities will ask for a pot of state money that will be divvied up based on the number of students who earn degrees.

Bob King, president of the Council on Postsecondary Education, told Pure Politics that university leaders are still finalizing how the system would work in order to make the pitch to legislators before the 2014 General Assembly.

“There will be a pot of money … For every degree they award, they’ll earn points. And whatever that total number of points (is), you’ll then asses what each campus’ share of the point production is and that will translate into the share of the pot of money they’ll get,” King said.

As King noted, President Barack Obama has pushed for performance-based funding models to determine how much federal funds should go to universities. He wants to tie it to college affordability and tuition rates.

Two years ago, some Kentucky lawmakers proposed linking an extra pot of money for the public universities to several factors, including graduation rates, affordability, enrollment and degrees. That proposal didn’t go anywhere, in part because lawmakers didn’t have extra money to set aside for that. In fact, universities saw another dip in their state funding levels in this two-year budget, which expires June 30.

King also said the public universities will make another push for Bucks for Brains funding. The program, which started under former Democratic Gov. Paul Patton, put up state funds to match with private donations to form an endowment to bring top-notch researchers and faculty to Kentucky universities. Between 2000 and 2008, state funding helped leverage a total endowment of $800 million. But the program hasn’t been funded in six years.

That needs to change for the University of Kentucky and University of Louisville to continue to bring in endowed chairs who can do groundbreaking and potentially life-changing research.

University officials told legislators at a committee meeting last week the the program has led Kentucky institutions to be the home of important developments in science, technology and medicine.

William M. Pierce Jr., executive vice president for research and innovation at the University of Louisville, gave one such example:


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