Letters to the Editor

Charles E Branscomb: Changes ahead for higher education

I do not know UNC system president Tom Ross. Everything I have read or heard about him has been positive. I am sure he sincerely believes his statements in the March 16 column “The real value of higher education.” That is why I was disappointed he did not focus at all on the problems internal to the universities.

Over the past 20 years, tuition costs have increased approximately twice as fast as health care costs while income for North Carolina parents has shown little increase. State revenues have been hit hard in the recession with slow increases in the recovery. This means tuition increases have been riding on the backs of student debt, which is approximately $1 trillion.

I am convinced our public university systems in almost all states are on an unsustainable path. The overall cost of higher education is out of control and still increasing much faster than inflation.

Ross said America is losing its way with regard to higher education. I believe higher education has lost its way with regards to America.

Fundamental changes must be made. It will require new leadership that looks at the university from “outside” to determine how to maintain the “real value of higher education” while achieving rather dramatic cost reductions.

Charles E Branscomb


The writer, an N.C. State alumnus, established two scholarships there and cofounded the Parents Association. He also received the university’s highest honor for volunteers – the Watauga Medal.