Hickenlooper calls for integration among college programs

Democratic candidate for governor Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper told the Colorado Independent today that colleges, like divisions in corporations, do best when there is competition between programs, but that the overall success of the company is paramount.

Speaking at Arapahoe Community College, Hickenlooper announced the education plan he will be following if he’s elected in November. Hickenlooper’s higher-education plan, like the plans of other legislative leaders, calls for two- and four-year colleges and universities to share resources in providing degrees. However, Colorado’s College Opportunity Fund ties college educational dollars to students in an effort to spark competition between institutions.

The funding structure has caused colleges to increase funding by developing similar programs in part to draw students stipends from other institutions.

“Really, the best companies in America are the ones where each division [is] trying to get capital, but they also realize that the overall success of that enterprise is paramount. It is not just that division, it is that the company has to succeed,” Hickenlooper said. “I think that is how we should think about education.”

Hickenlooper said that schools have to realize that the success of the students is the single most important objective. He said efficiencies will be found in using new technologies that allow students to participate in lower cost programs. Presumably this would be done by a system of shared funding.

Colorado community colleges have already said that they are cash-strapped as they saw their funding decreased over the last few years while their student enrollment has surged in the economic downturn.

With a possible $300 million cut to higher education looming, Hickenlooper said he did not want to speculate on how he would handle such a budget shortfall till it was a certainty but said he felt many of his programs would not be overly costly.

In addition to greater college integration, Hickenlooper’s plan calls for broadband technology across the Colorado college system, a commitment to P-20 education, greater flexibility in the college system and greater collaboration with private industry.

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