Saturday, April 4, 2009

Flat Hat Story and Editorial on Privatization

Today's Flat Hat contains a brief story on a lecture favoring privatization of the College by Neal McCluskey, associate director of the Center for Educational Freedom at the Cato Institute.


The Flat Hat itself also editorializes about the issue, calling on the College to create a committe "to explore the long term costs and benefits of increased privatization of the College."

While the Editors do not ensorse privatization, they note:

"there could be no better time, given our economic woes, than the present to explore the option. The administration should create a committee to investigate the long-term costs and benefits of increasing privatization at the College."

There has been more talk of privatization in the last year here at William and Mary than in the 13 years before that combined, it seems. An idea that once seemed questionable to many as a matter of policy is gaining traction, as students, faculty, alumni and others from all sides of the spectrum come to realize that our status as a state owned and controlled enterprise prevents the College from realizing its awesome potential. I lay out some of the arguments for privatization in: "Private Greatness," an Op-Ed that responded to the claim by a former President of William and Mary that the College should strive to be "Public and Great." Among other things I argued that our public status was nothing to cheer about and also prevented us from becoming great.

Some wonder why the Commonwealth would EVER agree to allow the College to go private.
Here, in "Private Greatness," I answer this question by proposing a trade: Virginia ceases to appropriate millions to the College each year, and the College keeps the land and buildings on which it currently operates. Since the state appropriates about $40 million per year to the College, privatization would be worth about $1 billion to the state in present value terms at current interest rates.

I am not the only one pushing privatization. Some students have as well. See, for instance, this Op-Ed by Alex Ely: