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ASU president makes the case for college during annual address

January 21, 2015

Arizona State University President Michael M. Crow made the case Jan. 21 that a college education – or some sort of lifelong learning – has value to individuals, the region and the nation, and that investment and innovation in education are needed to set the Arizona economy on a path toward future growth.
“I think enough people need to go to college to help us to be capable of doing what lies ahead,” Crow said.
Crow’s talk, an annual address to university faculty, alumni, staff, local leaders and state lawmakers, was a data-rich, hour-long presentation, which proposed to answer the question “Is College Worth It?”
It’s an ongoing debate in academia, in business and in the media. Crow’s conclusion was a confident yes.
He marshaled statistics to show that graduates of college do better financially than their counterparts without a degree.
“The rate of return continues to substantially exceed the cost of attending college,” he said.  
That success on the individual level pairs with the societal improvements regions, states and nations experience with higher levels of college education.
Crow pointed to data that show the unemployment rate falls and reliance on social services like Medicaid and the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (formerly known as food stamps) is lower for people with a college degree.
And he pointed out that Arizona ranks near the bottom of states enrolling students in post-secondary education. He argued it is not a coincidence that Arizona is also falling behind the rest of the country in economic output.
Throughout his talk, Crow positioned ASU’s model of a New American University as a solution that can provide low-cost, comprehensive education on a large scale to Arizona’s residents. He touched on the themes of access to education and of a responsibility to serve ASU’s communities, which are laid out in ASU’s charter.
Crow’s presentation was set against the backdrop of a proposed $75 million cut to higher education in the state. As deliberations begin over those proposed cuts, Crow’s remarks seemed to urge Arizonans to consider what kind of state they want to build for the future and the role that higher education would play.
At the same time he said he understood the tough position newly-elected Gov. Doug Ducey was in as he faced a roughly $1 billion budget shortfall.
“Right out of the starting blocks he’s faced with a financial shortfall in the design system that he’s inherited,” Crow said when asked about the governor’s plans during a Q-and-A period. “He can’t change that design system quickly so he’s got to bring the budget into balance right away. I think it’s understood that he needs to do that.”
“It’s unfortunate that that means cuts for higher education.”
Crow said that he was hopeful that the governor would soon move forward with a long-term strategy that looked beyond the challenges of the current fiscal year.
“I think the governor will move forward with his strategy,” Crow said, adding that he believed that strategy would revolve around the question, "how do we enhance the economic competitiveness of Arizona through education?”

View the whole presentation here.