Stanford University vs the State of Arizona. A contrast in priorities.

26 Oct 2015 02:23 am
Posted by: Donna

I accompanied Mark to his 1980 undergrad class reunion at Stanford this past weekend. It was my first visit to the campus and had me wishing I could commandeer a DeLorean to get me back to 1980s Donna Gratehouse (I’m still stuck on that decade lately) and get my teenage shit together so that I could be celebrating my 1990 graduation from that institution as well.

Mark and I ran into a former classmate of his, an Arizona native now living in Seattle, who said that outgoing Stanford President John L. Hennessy had visited Washington to raise funds for Stanford’s endowment and that Hennessy’s stated goal was in the billions. That’s with billions with a B. This is money going to one (admittedly excellent) college in California.

This is not wishful thinking on Hennessy’s part. Get a load of the cash Stanford has on hand:

Stanford endowment

And get a load of Stanford’s annual budget:

In 2015-16, Stanford is a $5.5 billion enterprise. This figure represents the university’s consolidated budget for operations, a compilation of all annual operating and restricted budgets that support teaching, scholarship and research, including the budgets of all schools and administrative areas and the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.

$5.5 billion a year to operate one university in California with a little over 7000 undergraduates and somewhat under 10,000 graduate students. Roughly 18,000 students. And again, a really great university! I don’t begrudge them one cent of it. But let’s contrast this with the entire state budget of Arizona (emphasis mine):

With little fanfare, Gov. Doug Ducey formally signed on Thursday the $9.1 billion budget for fiscal 2016 he expects will put the state on a three-year path to financial balance without raising taxes.

The governor has trumpeted the budget as a “fiscally responsible” plan that forces the state to live within its means. His opponents call it unnecessarily austere.

I agree with Gov. Ducey’s opponents, since Arizona’s whole budget (in non-inflation adjusted dollars) was $10.6 billion in 2008 and is now $9.1 billion for a population of roughly 6.7 million people. Arizona’s education investment per K-12 pupil, unsurprisingly, ranks at the bottom of the nation.

Stanford (2015): $305,600 per student.

Arizona: (2013) $7,208 per K-12 pupil.

Arizona: (2015 average) $4,400 per college pupil (slated to go down to the even less impressive sum of $3,600 next year).

You can argue with me that this is not a fair comparison because of the high tuition at Stanford, but I would counter with their own statistics about their income, of which a mere 16% comes from the students. Basically, one college in California is single-handedly kicking the entire state of Arizona’s ass, education-wise. Shame on us.

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