Skip to main content

The miscalculation of a would-be think tank

November 18, 2011

Editor's Note: Arizona State University responds to a false claim made by the Goldwater Institute in its Nov. 16 electronic newsletter.

The Goldwater Institute, in its Nov. 16 electronic newsletter, once again comes out against Arizona State University claiming on a false premise that it is inefficient. That statement could not be further from the truth.

Just look at the evidence.

Arizona State University is one of the most effective and efficient institutions in the nation in the production of skilled college graduates. ASU not only produces exceptional graduates, it does so at a cost that is 30 percent lower than its peers and 14 percent lower than the average spending per degree at all U.S. public research universities.  

ASU was ranked fifth in the nation by the Wall Street Journal for producing the best-qualified graduates – those that are the most prepared and academically well-rounded, who fit in well with the companies’ cultures and produce the best track records. According to the publication:

"Arizona's investment in universities pays big dividends. The latest evidence is Arizona State University's high ranking among corporate recruiters. ... In tough times, ASU excels in matching students with jobs. And not just any jobs. The survey was structured to emphasize satisfying, well-paid positions with growth potential – the Holy Grail of economic development. ...  A strong pool of qualified university graduates is a long-term asset in attracting companies to locate in Arizona. Recruiters don't keep coming back if their new hires don't work out."

Given these facts, the return by the university on the modest investment in it by the State of Arizona is extraordinary.

Perhaps believing the third time would be a charm, the Goldwater Institute tried yet again to revive its argument on inefficiency by referring to its discredited report on "administrative bloat" in higher education.

Unfortunately for the Goldwater Institute, that statement is no more true today than it was when its “analyst” from Arkansas counted non-administrative employees as administrators in order to inflate the numbers and deceive those who would unquestioningly accept such a statement as fact. Arizonans are smarter than that.

For example, ASU has five counselors who work with our military veterans to ensure their academic success. The Goldwater Institute calls these individuals “administrative bloat.” Let them explain their naïve and simplistic logic to the men and women who have served this country and deserve its support in return.

Let us repeat what we said the last time the institute tried to play fast-and-loose with facts about higher education.

ASU is one of the best managed universities in the nation, producing high-value graduates at costs that are among the lowest in the country. As a result, the return on investment in an ASU education, both for the state as well as students and their parents, is exceptional. The university remains committed to this path, for the good of Arizona and its citizens, now and in the future.