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Healthcare Choices – They’re Always Personal

I have been interested in the cost of healthcare for many years. When I obtained my first job after college, it was the late 1970s and my company provided medical insurance to all full-time employees at a relatively low cost. In the early 1980s, I was out of town at a client and needed to see a physician. The client recommended that I visit the clinic operated by the local HMO (health maintenance organization). The service was excellent, the cost was minimal, and I wondered why more communities didn’t operate them.

The College Stress Test

My first review of one of Bob Zemsky’s books was in 2008 with Remaking of the American University: Market Smart and Mission Centered, that he co-authored with Greg Wegman and Bill Massy. While Zemsky has written more books post-2008, he’s continued to write about change in higher education and the higher education market.

Graduate Degrees – Worth the Time and Expense?

Not a day goes by where we don’t hear about the shortage of workers with the required education and training for more than six million unfilled positions in the U.S. Early in his presidency, Barack Obama called for increasing the number of Americans earning a college degree to maintain global competitiveness in an era with increasing technology innovations, some used to replace jobs in the workforce. Despite all the attention on higher education attainment, overall enrollments have decreased since 2010, with explanations ranging from a declining birth rate and low unemployment rates to an increasing perception that degrees may not provide the same return on investment for today’s students as for Baby Boomers and their parents.

Keeping Up With Technology, As Observed Through CPA Continuing Education

More than 40 years ago, I started working at Price Waterhouse (now PricewaterhouseCoopers, or PwC). Even though I was on the consulting track, I was encouraged to sit for the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam and become a licensed CPA. Having this license, along with an MBA, boosted my career and I subsequently served as CFO at five different companies over the years.

The Public Higher Education Funding Conundrum

It’s no secret that state funding per student for public higher education has dropped significantly since the 2008 recession. In response to lower tax revenues during the recession, states cut their funding to higher education (a non-mandated spending item in most state budgets) and public colleges and universities responded by increasing tuition, recruiting more out of state students, eliminating faculty and staff positions, and shuttering academic programs. Many states’ tax revenues have rebounded since then, and yet their funding for higher ed has not. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, only four states out of 49 analyzed have increased their funding per student above the 2008 funding levels.

Given that state treasuries have purportedly returned to pre-2008 levels, one might assume that states would no longer be cutting higher education funding. However, that’s not the case. At least three states recently indicated the potential for change, and not necessarily positive change. The most notable was Alaska, where Governor Mike Dunleavy cut the state’s higher education funding by more than $130 million on June 28. The cut represented 41% of the state’s annual higher education budget. After the legislature failed to override his line item veto cut, the board of regents declared financial exigency. After weeks of discussion, the Regents and Governor agreed to reduce funding by a cumulative $70 million over three years. However, this occurred after the system president proposed merging the state universities under one entity, triggering a faculty vote of no confidence and a letter from the universities’ accrediting body. The Regents and the system president rescinded that recommendation, for now.

Artificial Intelligence – Choosing to Be a Victim or a Victor

Last week, serial entrepreneur Mark Cuban created a stir with his statement at the SXSW (South by Southwest) conference that the world’s first trillionaire will be someone who masters artificial intelligence (AI). In the past, Cuban has been an avowed proponent of the value of a liberal arts degree for its ability to teach critical thinking. However, at SXSW, he advocated the study of computer science, stating, “Whatever you are studying right now, if you are not getting up to speed on deep learning, neural networks, etc., you lose."

Internet, Politics, Policy Conference 2016: The Platform Society

The fourth conference organized by the Policy and Internet Journal (PIJ, founded in 2009) and the Oxford Internet Institute (OII) was held at the Mathematics Institute at Oxford University in late September. I was pleased to attend and represent American Public University System. The following recaps some of the presentations.

“We move from one online platform to another as part of our daily lives,” said Professor Helen Margetts, OII chair.

Down and Out in Silicon Valley

Oakland has been chosen as a pilot for the concept of UBI (universal basic income). Y Combinator, a Silicon Valley incubator and early-stage funder of Airbnb and Dropbox, announced a pilot in May to provide 100 individuals a monthly stipend for up to a year. The purpose is not just to test whether the UBI theory will succeed, but to also test the logistics of how to manage such a program. Matt Krisiloff, the manager of the pilot, noted that he was inspired to conduct the experiment based on his work with Artificial Intelligence.