Friday, March 29, 2013

Interview with Peter McDonough (Audio)

My Interview with Rutgers University Vice President, Peter McDonough

       Today I interviewed Peter J. McDonough Jr., Vice President of Public Affairs at Rutgers University. McDonough is the chief adviser to Rutgers university president Richard L. McCormick, Rutgers governing boards and other university leaders on matters involving state, federal and local governments; New Jersey businesses; civic and community groups; and nonprofit organizations. McDonough served as director of communication for the state of New Jersey and as director, McDonough was one of Governor Whitman's principal strategic advisers. In addition he served as chief of staff in the New Jersey state Department of the Treasury. Peter McDonough also served as chief of staff for U.S. Representative Dean A. Gallo of Morris County and as an associate staff member of the U.S. House Appropriations Committee. McDonough currently teaches a masters and Ph.D seminar in American politics at Rutgers' Eagleton Institute of Politics.
     I learned through my interview with Mr. McDonough that the future of higher education has a high correlation with the future of the American economy. I also learned that a major issue with the value of college also pertains to the amount of years that an individual stays in school. McDonough emphasized that getting kids through school in a timely manner is key to increasing the value of an individuals degree and will help the higher education bubble decrease. But when it comes down to it tuition is a primary issue when it comes to the higher education bubble. McDonough states during the interview that "college tuition costs almost seem unrelated to economic realities of the day". He goes on to state that on the side of the government there are issues of accountability when it comes to whether or not America's children are receiving value in their higher education. McDonough made sure to bring up online schools such as University of Phoenix that "are taking enormous amounts of federal loans and grants, applying them to their degrees, and not graduating their students". McDonough went on to discus a number of issues with higher education and the possible solutions to those problems.
   I chose to interview Mr. McDonough because of his background in both politics and education. His experiences have formed him in to a very knowledgeable person, not only in life but also on the issue of higher education as a political priority. The interview with Peter J McDonough will be posted later tomorrow.

All Bibliographic information on Peter McDonough:
 Trevor, Greg. " Rutgers Names Peter J. McDonough Jr. Vice President for Public Affairs ." March 2013 — Rutgers FOCUS . Rutgers University , 11 Feb. 2008. Web. 30 Mar. 2013. <>.


Tuesday, March 26, 2013


Of the research that I have done so far these are the sources that I have obtained information from.

1. Reynolds, Glenn H.. The higher education bubble. New York: Encounter Books, 2012. Print.

2. Wedel, Janine R.. Shadow elite: how the world's new power brokers undermine democracy, government, and the free market. New York: Basic Books, 2009. Print.

3. Bailey, Michael , Mark Carl Rom, and Matthew M. Taylor. "State competition in higher education: A race to the top, or a race to the bottom?." Economics of Governance 5 (2002): 53-75. Print.

4.Carlson, S., & Blumenstyk, G. (2012). For whom is college being reinvented? Chronicle of Higher Education, , 0-0. Retrieved from

5.Nicholson-Crotty, Jill; Meier, Kenneth J. "Politics, Structure, And Public Policy: The Case Of Higher Education." 17.1 (n.d.): 80-98. Web. 26 Mar. 2013.

For Whom Is College Being Reinvented?: Literature Review Blog #4

Carlson, S., & Blumenstyk, G. (2012). For whom is college being reinvented? Chronicle of Higher Education, , 0-0. Retrieved from

This reading primarily goes about what the problems of college are and what the possible solutions are. It goes about by discussing the positives and negatives of MOOCs, badges, and etc. and states their limitations. At a convention with the best and brightest when it comes to college reform when discussing the methods of how college should be restructured they had to first answer the question who specifically are they attempting to reinvent college for. When one acknowledges the fact that education leading up to college is a mess and the cost and effectiveness of college contains deep socioeconomic challenges it is difficult to tailor a perfect system, so one must discuss who the system leans towards if at all. 

Goldie Blumenstyk has been an editor at The Chronicle of Higher Education since 1988. Blumenstyk is known nationally for her expertise on for-profit higher education, college finances, and university patents and the commercialization of academic research. Blumenstyk is a frequent speaker at higher-education industry conferences, at events designed for members of the new media, and as a guest on radio and public-television shows. All of this information has been retrieved from her bio on The Chronicle of Higher Education. 

State competition in higher education: A race to the top, or a race to the bottom?: Literature Review Blog #3

Bailey, Michael , Mark Carl Rom, and Matthew M. Taylor. "State competition in higher education: A race to the top, or a race to the bottom?." Economics of Governance 5 (2002): 53-75. Print.

This reading goes about describing the effects of competition between institutions on the price of admissions. The reading looks into all of the possible scenarios that can come from competition and also the compares public and private institutions. During it's comparison this reading goes on to describe how the two  (public and private) have exchanged aspects of each others ways. The reading also goes on to state that public institutions are re-distributive while privates are very tuition based.

Michael Bailey has a Ph.D in education from Stanford University. According to his self-written bio on the webpage of Georgetown University Bailey, teaches and conducts research on American politics and political economy. His work covers trade, congress, election law and the Supreme Court, methodology and inter-state policy competition. 

A key concept within this reading is to show through graphs and objective ways how state institutions are re-distributive while on the contrary the concept for private schools is that they tend to compete more so on the basis of tuition. 

"Education is an investment. The trouble is, they [universities] don’t run it
like an investment over there ... they run it like welfare ...  (pg 54)." This implies that perhaps the reason that, when investing, the reception does not equal the time and debt put it in is because colleges don't even treat as an investment. This suggests that colleges and the people aren't even on the same wavelength and for that reason the student is swindled from the start. 

"His investigation focuses on the idea that political control over universities will lead to lower tuitions and broader enrollments (policies favored by elected politicians); in contrast, university control over policy will lead to higher tuitions and smaller enrollments (policies favored by faculty and university administrators) (pg. 55)." This quote is very significant because it proves the fact that when public institutions have less and less government authority they raise prices and smaller enrollments. That is a direct repercussion of self-interest, the raise in prices is to compensate for the smaller enrollment and to redistribute and the smaller enrollment is to make the university more selective to raise rankings. The mission of the university shifted when the government authority lessened. The quote also shows the versus environment of the state and university.
"The diffusion literature focuses on the likelihood that states will adopt the policy innovations implemented by other states. The conventional view is that states are more likely to adopt some innovation if their neighbors have previously adopted it (pg. 55)." This quote helps show that the reason higher education isn't a bigger political issue could just be because nobody else is doing it. It's kind of like statehood peer pressure. Whichever state takes the step to fix higher education will be a forerunner and perhaps cause a domino effect throughout the United States. It will only take one state to make higher education a serious political issue. 

This material helped me explore my research question by showing me how the public and private schools function with the income they obtain and how they compare, it also gave me objective and mathematical backing when it comes to university self-interest versus government backed universities. 

Shadow Elite: Literature Review #2

Wedel, Janine R.. Shadow elite: how the world's new power brokers undermine democracy, government, and the free market. New York: Basic Books, 2009. Print.

The Shadow Elite is a book that attempts to describe how a group of elite people, that are only loyal to themselves attempt to accomplish their own goals by challenging and twisting the rules of governments and business. A way in which they go about molding the rules is by blurring the line between public and private. The book also goes about discussing how corruption and self-dealing are rampant and that those that have political influence are getting rich at the expense of the public while simultaneously becoming less and less accountable. 

   According to the biography that she offers on her personal website Janine R. Wedel is a professor of Public Policy at George Mason. She has a background in Cultural Anthropology. George Mason University states that Wedel has been a pioneer in applying anthropological insights to topics that are typically the terrain of political scientists, economists, or sociologists. Wedel spent 25 years studying the role of informal systems in shaping communist and post-communist societies. Wedel is also a Senior Research Fellow at the New America Foundation, which is an American non-profit foundation that focuses on national security studies, technology, asset building, health, energy, education and the economy.
   A key concept used in this reading is that there is an increasing privatization of public entities and on the contrary there is private entities are becoming more and more public, this merging of state and public "renders government less accountable and relevant markets less competitive (pg 108)". Another key concept is that there is an effort being made by the U.S. government to cap or reduce the number of civil servants. The people in control of the cap is the shadow governments. They are making an effort to curb the shadow government. 

"Waning loyalty of institutions to people and of people to institutions goes hand in hand with the proliferation of people's roles. (pg 104)" This quote has the ability to pertain to public universities, it describes how the state is taking less and less accountability for the institutions and not exactly doing their part to support them, which is why tuition must be risen to combat this lack of state support. And perhaps the institutions could combat this but they are receiving more money under this system and get to determine themselves where they want to spend the money. 
"This 'privatization of the functions of the state' signals 'areas of the state in which the state is responsible but has no control', (pg 70)" This quote is very indication of where public institutions are heading and also goes on to discuss a stage where public institutions might be at. It also may explain why the mission shift of these universities have changed from an improvement in the education of the state to an improvement in themselves. The priorities have shifted and that is primarily because it is not even the state that has control over these universities. The universities have control over themselves and because of that they have become self-centered. 
"Really holding flexians to account would be a daunting enterprise (pg 201)." The reason this quote is important is because these shadow elite figures that control everything in the United States and consequently the world have a lot of control and are potentially very much behind the reasoning as to why banks supply and benefit from college debt and whey colleges seem to continue to go with the trend and promote this benefit to the banks. This quote states that even if they are controlling things it will be very difficult to catch them, it would take a "team of investigators and public servants".

    This material helps me explore my research question by showing me the behind the scenes of the U.S. government. It gives me a reason as to why higher education is not higher up on the political priority list, the shadow elite are simply benefiting too much from the current system. This book also further developed my understanding of how privatization and public are becoming one. Which has a major effect on the collegiate system in and of itself.

The Higher Education Bubble: Literature Review Blog #1

Citation: Reynolds, Glenn H.. The higher education bubble. New York: Encounter Books, 2012. Print.

     In this book Glenn Reynolds takes the time to explain the causes and effect of the higher education bubble and he suggests the steps colleges and universities must take to survive in our newly increasing treacherous environment. Reynolds goes on to suggest reason's as to why the higher education bubble is soon to burst. 
     Glenn Harlan Reynolds is a distinguished Professor of Law at The University of Tennessee. Reynoldsblog Instapundit. Reynolds is an author, columnist and writer of academic journals. He is best known for his political blog Instapundit. According to his biography on the University of Tennessee College of Law page Professor Reynoldshas testified before Congressional committees on space law, international trade, and domestic terrorism. 
     A key concept in this book is that the price of college education has severely increased while the product (teaching) has not changed and is more wide-spread, and consequently lower in value. The higher education bubble can be compared to the housing bubble. Another key concept in this book is that if higher education is going to be so expensive there needs to much more return on the time and money invested when attending, this return would be an increase in teaching. 
     On page 3 of this book a quote states that "Bubbles form when too many people expect values to go up forever. Bubbles burst when there are no longer enough excessively optimistic and ignorant folks to fuel them." This quote describes the cause of a bubble and the reasoning behind a burst of a bubble. The importance behind this quote is that this quote illustrates that everything has a tipping point. Negligence can only continue for so long. 
    On Page 41 it is expressed that "Wrenching economic change is easy to endure, so long as it's happening to other people." In reference to politics this quote begins a chapter that describes the political repercussions of an increasing higher education bubble and why there is little that is being done about it. 
    On Page 35 Reynolds states that "College now serves largely as a status marker, a sign or membership in the educated "caste," and as a place for people to meet future spouses of commensurate status." This quote shows how college has decreased in value in society. It's become too saturated and that fact will only increase the rate at which the higher education bubble will burst. 
    This material has helped to explore my research question because I now have a better understanding of the problem and I see the role that it has within politics.