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Educational policy analysis archives.
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From policy design to campus : implementation of a tuition decentralization policy / Michael S. Harris.
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Readers are free to copy display, and distribute this article, as long as the work is attributed to the author(s) and Education Policy Analysis Archives, it is distributed for noncommercial purposes only, and no alte ration or transformation is made in the work. More details of this Creative Commons license are available at http:/ / ses/by-nc-nd/2.5/. All other uses must be approved by the author(s) or EPAA EPAA is published jointly by the Mary Lou Fulton College of Education at Arizona State Universi ty and the College of Educ ation at the University of South Florida. Articles are indexed by H.W. Wilson & Co. Please contribute commentary at and send errata notes to Sherman Dorn ( EDUCATION POLICY ANALYSIS ARCHIVES A peer-reviewed scholarly journal Editor: Sherman Dorn College of Education University of South Florida Volume 15 Number 16 July 30, 2007 ISSN 1068–2341 From Policy Design to Campus: Implementation of a Tuition Decentralization Policy Michael S. Harris University of Alabama Citation: Harris, M. S. (2007). From policy de sign to campus: Implementation of a tuition decentralization policy. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 15 (16). Retrieved [date] from http://epaa.asu.ed u/epaa/v15n16/. Abstract This study analyzes the implementation of a tuition decentralization policy in North Carolina. Concepts of organizational culture served as a guiding framework for an interpretive analys is. Qualitative case study data for the research was collected from interviews with key policy makers within the University of North Carolina as well as an extensive collecti on of documents. The findings demonstrate the importance of shared norms and be liefs in achieving successful policy implementation through a case study wher e incongruence of stakeholder values, beliefs, and goals created institutiona l conflict. Keywords: higher education; polic y analysis; qualitative research. De los diseos de polticas al campus: La implementacin de una poltica de descentralizacin de matriculas Resumen Este estudio analiza la implementacin de una poltica de descentralizacin de matricula en Carolina del Norte. Conceptos de cult ura organizacional sirvieron como marco orientador y gua de una an lisis interpretativo. Este trabajo es un estudio de caso cualitativo, que utilizando datos obtenidos en entrevistas con tomadores de decisiones polticas, as como de la revisin y anlisis de documentos


Education Policy Analysis Archives Vol. 15 No. 16 2 relevantes. Los resultados demuestran la importancia de compartir normas y creencias para una implementacin exitosa, mientras que la incongruencia de valores, creencia y objetivos entre los actores crea conflicto institucional. Palabras clave: educacin su perior, anlisis de polticas investigacin cualitativa. Introduction The transition from a well-regulated system of higher education to one of greater market orientation is dramatically changing the landscap e for colleges and universities (Newman, Couturier, & Scurry, 2004; Zemsky, 2003). The budget crisis and increased competition between all sectors of higher education intensified in the 1990s and expl oded in the 2000s. The economic pressures of the recession of the 1990s and early 2000s “forced an examination of the process and productivity of higher education” (Harris, 2006, p. 188). Furtherm ore, the recession solidified the critical role of tuition in supporting institutional budgets (Hauptma n, 2001). Decentralizati on is often one of the first areas that policy makers examine when look ing to increase the autonomy of institutions (Newman, Couturier, & Scurry, 2004), yet it has receiv ed little attention in the literature (McLendon, 2003a). Understanding the implementation of tuition decentralization policies is critical. These policies provide institutions with substantial au tonomy yet force them to compete in a marketplace which can severely compromise the historical public mission and values of colleges and universities. Since their beginnings in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, public universities have served an important purpose within American society—fostering public debate, enabling broader access to higher education, and se rving as vehicles for public service. Public research universities play a critical role in fo stering the pursuit of knowledge for broader state purposes and not solely private benefit. The transi tion and focus on the private advantages of higher education has led to a number of problematic responses for the public sector, including decreasing state appropriations, a capitalistic focus on resear ch with strong funding sources, and increasing tuition levels. This movement toward the private benefit leads to a domination of the market which can substantially compromise the historical public purposes of higher education (Bok, 2003; Kirp, 2003). The continual balancing act between the public and private often played out as centralization versus autonomy is a central question facing higher education over the last ten years. Indeed, a central theme within the statewide higher education policy literature from as early as the 1950s is the idea of centralization versus institutional autonom y (Glenny, 1959; Millett, 1984). This question is a complicated issue where “the balance sought is de licate, and equilibrium may exist only in theory” (Halstead, 1974, p. 11). Serban and Burke (1998) found that through the early 1990s, institutions primarily relied on short-term revenue generation an d cost cutting measures in reaction to budget cuts. While the short-term policies had a negative impact on access and quality, such policies did not lead to substantive long-term changes. However, d ecentralization of governance, increased efforts to raise revenue, and the transition from the burden of college costs from the state to students and their parents profoundly impacted higher educat ion’s long term prospects (Phillips, Morell, & Chronister, 1996; Serban & Burke, 1998). What the in dustry has not faced is the prospect of longterm cuts in state allocations, which create the need for drastic measures on the part of some public universities. If university leader s view the current situation as a fundamental shift in funding priorities, then significant change is required (Lissn er & Taylor, 1996). Of particular interest in the debate over decentralization is the role of resear ch universities. Cutbacks in state funds have


From Policy Design to Campus 3 particularly impacted public flagship research inst itutions (Phillips et al., 1996). As a result, these institutions often lead the discussion and vigorously push for decentralization as a vehicle to gain autonomy to increase their competiti ve position (Phillips et al., 1996). The literature is replete with calls for in-depth study of how decreases in state allocations influence colleges and universities (Griswold & Marine, 1996; Phillips et al., 1996; Serban & Burke, 1998). Frost, Hearn, and Marine (1997) contend th at a need exists for researchers and practitioners to understand how “conflicts over institutional purposes arise and are addressed in postsecondary systems” (p. 387). Policy activity at the state level can disrupt the institutional functions and culture, calling into question fundamental values and beliefs of stakeholders. Frost, Hearn, and Marine examined the tuition policy regarding out-of-sta te students at the University of North Carolina during the early 1990s and found evidence of an environment where political and bureaucratic decisions influence institutional behavior. Mills (1998) argues that “a complete view of policy incorporates the institutional processes engaged as policy is joined with institutional values and culture” (p. 675). Although there is a long hist ory of studying the role of policy implementation within the political science and public administ ration community (Matland, 1995; Schofield, 2001), there is a dearth of literature that examines th e role of implementation in postsecondary policy (McLendon, 2003b). This article focuses on th e implementation of the campus based tuition increase policy in North Carolina in order to understand how policy implementation is influenced by values and culture. When one considers institutional culture, the significance of the North Carolina case becomes more than a traditionally low-tuition st ate moving to increase tuition. This case shows the peril of moving toward a decentralized an d market influenced environment without taking necessary steps to account for and protect institutional culture and values. Policies that decentralize university systems or increase institutional autonomy push institutions into the position of acting and responding within the marketplace. The study explores how such a move can negatively influence the mission and behavior of the institution. The Study of Policy Implementation Since the publication of Pressman and Wildavsky’s (1973) seminal work over thirty years ago, the study of policy implementation has to a large degree focused on two linear approaches for exploring implementation without considering th e cultural components inherent in complex organizations (O’Toole, 2000; Saetren, 2005). The growth of the literature, interestingly, has not been steady and continual. Rather, it has come in fits and starts, appearing to become “subsumed” by related fields of inquiry only to emerge again as a central topic to increase our understanding of policy (deLeon & deLeon, 2002, p. 467). The liter ature on policy implementation historically can largely be divided into two perspectives, using ei ther a top-down or a bottom-up approach (Garn, 1999; Matland, 1995; McLaughlin 1987; Schofield, 2004). A thir d tradition has emerged that considers a sociocultural approach to policy im plementation or appropriation (Sutton & Levinson, 2001). The sociocultural view concentrates on the ne gotiated values and relationships to culture at the micro-level to better analyze policies. I will first discuss the two historical divisions in the literature before turning to a discussion of the latte r approach, which I employ as a means to frame my analysis. The early work on implementation focuses on top-down approaches that center on implementation as an act of carrying out the inten tions of policy makers (Mazmanian & Sabatier, 1981; Van Meter & Van Horn, 1975). Predicated on a bureaucratic or hierarchical structure, topdown models rely on a policy decision made by a formal authority and minimize the adaptation of policy at the level of implementation. Additionally proponents of this approach argue for clear and


Education Policy Analysis Archives Vol. 15 No. 16 4 consistent goals and implementation that can be generalized to many policy situations. A significant critique of top-down strategies is the preeminen ce given to policy designers in determining policy goals. As a result, the views and beliefs of streetlevel bureaucrats and stakeholders are not given a voice within the policy process, which gives rise to the alternate view of policy implementation. A second perspective is the bottom-up model where participants directly involved with implementation influence the goals and strategies to carry out the policy (Berman, 1980; Hjern, 1982; Hjern & Hull, 1982). Bottom-up approaches stress the importance of local environments and the need to provide implementers wi th the flexibility to shape the policy for their particular situation (Palumbo, Maynard-Moody, & Wright, 1984). Fundamentally, this approach focuses on the evaluation made at the micro-level of policy enac tment as well as the local factors that hinder intended policy outcomes (Matland, 1995). The crit icisms of this approach often center on the overemphasis of local decision making by arguing that centralized policy makers are able to set broad policy borders and guidelines that provide a needed structure to policy formulation and implementation. The most significant difference between the two approaches is the ability to change the original policy decision. Top-down implementati on makes the assumption that the decision, as initially rendered, is correct and not open to change. However, if implementers are operating under a bottom-up implementation, the original goal may be adapted following evaluation. It would almost be “expected to mutate at the level of the lo cal implementing unit” (Berman, 1980, p. 212). Although both approaches to policy implementation have some merit, each fails to take into account the broader social context within which policie s are implemented at both the macro and micro levels. Higher education policy influences and is in fluenced by the cultures within the institution. The sociocultural approach to studying policy implementation provides a context for analysis particularly important for examining policy in orga nizations that are heavily influenced by culture such as colleges and universities. Sociocultural Analysis of Policy Implementation Studies of policy implementation “have been slow to fully integrate conceptual tools like the social construction of reality, interpretive analysis and cultural analyses of organizations into the study of social processes surrounding policy impl ementation” (Mills, 1998, pp. 675–676; also see O’Toole, 2004). Using such an approach provides insight into how the multiple meanings of policy goals as interpreted by institutional stakeholders can influence policy implementation (Sutton & Levinson, 2001). Interpretive analysis in this stud y was based on the underlying premise that a focus on the relationship between policy implementation and th e realities as constructed by participants in the implementation process is critical to understanding how policy implementation plays out in any given situation. Additionally, this focus elucid ates the role of symbols and communication in structuring the social relationships and interacti ons between community members that participate in policy implementation. The higher education literatur e identifies the significant role that culture plays in colleges and universities as well as the im portance of considering this culture when studying these institutions (Kezar & Eckel, 2002; Kuh & Wh itt, 1988; Tierney, 1988). This type of work is prominent within the business literature where the use of culture in organizational studies has a long history (Deal & Kennedy, 1982; Kotter & Heskett, 1992; Ouchi & Wilkins, 1985; Schein, 1985). The research emphasizes culture as an expression of sh ared norms and values within an organization. A cultural view of policy implementation requires a stud y of how participants make sense of the policy and its intended outcomes as well as how they “reconcile them with the culture of their organizations” (Mills, 1998, p. 676).


From Policy Design to Campus 5 Methods The goal of this study was to understand the sociocultural influences of policy implementation. I first discuss the data collection pr ocedures then describe the techniques used to analyze the data and establish credibility of my fi ndings. This study used an interpretive perspective, focusing on how stakeholders at the University of North Carolina understood the campus-initiated tuition policy and the implications on the culture, values, and traditions of the institution. Although similar debates occurred at many universities throughout the UNC system, this study focuses on the flagship research university in Chapel Hill. The rationale for the selection of UNC-Chapel Hill is twofold. First, as previously noted, public research universities in particular have faced negative hardships related to the financial crisis in higher education. UNC-Chapel Hill also has a long history of low tuition. Such an approach is considered to be an essential element of the institutional culture and allowed the institution to remain committed to its role as “the people’s university.” This orientation provides for a more significant institut ional analysis related to the implementation of a potentially divisive policy. The qualitative focus of this research enables me to examine the policy environment within the state and institution in dept h. The depth and richness of qualitative data is a necessary approach to study the potential influence of sociocultural factors and the relationship between various policy actors. Two primary research questions guide the exam ination of the cultural influence on policy enactment in the case of North Carolina and the less ons that can be learned from the state. The first is how stakeholders understand the tuition policy and its implementation in their institution. The second is how the norms and beliefs of stakeholders influence the policy’s implementation, whether there are tensions between grou ps, and how they are resolved. Data Collection This research uses case-study qualitative methods. This design is appropriate due to the nature of the research questions, which focus on decision-making and lend themselves well to qualitative methods (Merriam, 1998). Additionally, as Duemer and Mendez-Morse (2002) note, the power of qualitative research to understand the ro le of individuals in policy implementation is a critical and understudied component of policy st udies. To answer these questions, I conducted interviews with seventeen senior administrators, faculty, and student leaders at UNC-Chapel Hill, and four administrators with the UNC system involved in the decision making process. The administrator participants were at both senior an d middle levels from four primary functional areas within the university: academic affairs, enrollmen t management, finance, and government relations, using a snowball technique to find additional people who could provide pertinent information for this study. As suggested by Bogdan and Bilken (1992), near the conclusion of each interview I asked the interviewee if there was anyone else I should spea k with to gain additional insight. In addition, I examined approximately 1,000 pages of documents gathered from publicly available web sites, the system office, and campus officials, including internal memoranda, meeting agendas and minutes, mainstream and student media accounts, and public statements. All interviews were conducted in person in North Carolina during three site visits. With each interviewee’s permission, the interview was tape r ecorded and transcribed. In addition to this recording, I took notes by hand and made no tes of observations after the conclusion of the interview. Each interview was guided by a series of questions in an open-ended interviewing


Education Policy Analysis Archives Vol. 15 No. 16 6 approach. The interview protocol was designed to e licit responses from participants. Some question wording varied depending on whether the interviewee was from a campus or the system office. Data Analysis Simultaneous with data collection (Merriam, 1998), analysis focused on a search for patterns, comparing results with patterns predicted from the literature; and building explanations by identifying the causal links or plausible or rival explanations (Yin, 1994). The data collected from interviews and document analysis were entered into the qualitative software package Atlas.ti. Data were then sorted into categories and broad themes to facilitate the discussion of findings, followed by coding to identify broad concepts and themes that emerged to paint a broad picture for my audience. Coding into categories assisted in identifying the important categories and themes uncovered in the interviews and archival documents. Trustworthiness For a case study to be considered transferable, it must contain enough detail for an external reviewer to understand the situational details and their relevance to other situations. Lincoln and Guba (1985) suggest that the only way to establish tr ansferability is to create a detailed description of the case study’s context so that others in a different situation can assess the similarities and differences to their own situation. The data analysis described above was followed by member checking, as key participants were contacted to co nfirm that the results were consistent with their understanding of events. No major changes arose from these consultations. This triangulation ensures the dependability of the data in this study. Evolving Debate over Tuition, Mission, and Values The Cultural Context of UNC-Chapel Hill Perhaps more than any public university, UNC-Chapel Hill was protected from the competitive pressures of the market prior to th e change of the tuition policy in 1998. Commonly described as the nation’s first public university, the institution proudly embraced its public tradition, less focused than other universities on increasing their competitive ranking relative to peers. The institution was also bound by a state constituti onal mandate requiring low tuition. North Carolina has a long history of providing high quality ed ucation at low tuition costs. UNC institutions, particularly the flagship UNC-Chapel Hill, attra ct high quality out-of-state students and routinely cost significantly less than their peer institutions in other states. With substantial state appropriations and a strong cultural foundation, the university was ab le to maintain its status as one of the top three or four public universities in the country wit hout a major focus on revenue and rankings. However, when this status began to slip in the 1990s while rankings such as the U.S. News and World Report continued their domination over the higher educati on landscape, prestige very quickly became the value embraced by legislators, administrators, fa culty, and students. The increasing preoccupation with the individual benefits of higher education (primarily valued by the national rankings) led to a push to increase the selectivity and quality of UNC-Chapel Hill. However, this push also compromised the argument that higher education is a public good, an argument that served as a


From Policy Design to Campus 7 major justification for sizable state appropriations The need for ever-increasing sums to fund the functions necessary to succeed in the marketplace fo rced the university to increase tuition. As detailed by the report of the Board of Governors Task Force on Tuition (1998), a major tactic for achieving the necessary revenue streams was the increase of student fees. The escalating costs of both tuition and fees le d the state legislature to direct the Board of Governors to conduct a study on “establishing policie s with respect to tuition differentials that are educationally and fiscally sound for graduate an d professional programs” (Board of Governors, 1998). Expanding on this directive, the Board crea ted a Tuition Task Force charged with studying the overall tuition and fee policy of the Universi ty. The General Assembly’s directive to study graduate and professional school tuition was spurred in part from a tuition increase proposal that went directly to the legislature from the School of Business at UNC-Chapel Hill. The new tuition policy offered a provision to grant individual campuses the authority to initiate tuition increases for their respective instit utions. Previously, the Board of Governors had set system-wide tuition with only moderate variation by institution type. Behind this new tuition policy philosophy was the belief that different campuses po ssess different needs. With different obligations and needs, the ability to raise tuition would be an e fficient answer to some of the system’s financial problems (Kaplun, 2001). According to the task fo rce, campus-initiated increases were to be used only in the event of an “extraordinary situation” on a campus (Report of the Task Force on Tuition, 1998). However, no definition of an extraordin ary situation was included in the report. While the Task Force’s report details a policy of campus-initiated increases for both undergraduate and graduate tuition, at the time the Board believed it was a response to the UNCChapel Hill Business School proposal. As one senior UNC System official explained, “I think it’s safe to say, originally, the thoughts of the Boar d in adopting the campus-initiated tuition increase policy was that there was a need for [tuition increa ses in] graduate programs to provide that margin of excellence in the program.” However, since the adoption of the Task Force’s report, all sixteen institutions submitted proposals for increases in undergraduate tuition and many campuses submitted multiple requests. Almost all of them have been accepted. Campus-initiated increases played a dominant role in tuition setting within the university both at the graduate and undergraduate level. No one in 1998 thought the campus-initiated policy would become so widespread. “I don’t believe so,” said one financial administrator who worked closely with the Board of Governors. “I think the Board really believed it was a professional school increase. I don’t think anyone foresaw it playing such a large role, but the campuses are submitting [proposals], so it’s the responsibility of the Board to review them.” Since the implementation of the new tuition strategy, tuition rates have multiplied; by 2001, the rates were increasing by double-digit percen tages across the system as each campus implemented a campus-initiated tuition increase at least once. This increase raises the question of how a policy that everyone believed would simply be a vehicle fo r “providing a margin of excellence” to graduate and professional schools became the most overridi ng and prevailing influence on tuition pricing decisions in North Carolina over the last several years. The expansion of the tuition policy beyond graduate education to include undergraduate programs dramatically escalated the tuition debate. The sociocultural perspective of policy implementation br ings to the forefront the cultural beliefs and values of participants. Opponents of the increase saw the policy as a direct assault on the historical mission of providing a public good to the state of North Carolina. Movement toward significant tuition increases as a result of the policy created an environment where actors at the institutional level were forced to confront the cultural and philosophical differences between them.


Education Policy Analysis Archives Vol. 15 No. 16 8 Competing ideologies over the me aning of the state constitution An understanding of the higher education policy environment in North Carolina must begin with the role of the state consti tution in the tuition debate. Within the university, no thirty-six words hold more importance than those espoused in Article IX, Section 9 of the North Carolina Constitution. The General Assembly shall provide that th e benefits of The Un iversity of North Carolina and other public institutions of higher education, as far as practicable, be extended to the people of the State free of expense. The constitution is a critical artifact for me mbers of the university community. The document served as a rallying point for o pponents of tuition incr eases and text which must be rationalized by those in favor of higher tuitio n. Regardless of an individual’s stance of tuition, there is a value based on the core concepts embodied by th e state constitution. “I think it’s mammoth,” said one senior officer with the UNC Genera l Administration. The in terpretation of the constitutional mandate is something that affe cts everyone from the Governor and General Assembly to the acad emic affairs administ rator at UNC-Chapel Hill, who commented: Tuition has only recently begun to fit greatly in because there is a long-standing historical commitment to keeping tuition even as free as --or as cost-free as possible, or as practicable, is what Arti cle Nine, Section Nine says. And so, there was never much a question about what we wo uld do with in-state tuition, that it would always stay low. What the question would be was, “What’s the interpretation of ‘as free as practicable’?” And th en, only recently have the trustees and others begun to think throug h, “To what extent did our low-tuition philosophy should’ve--to what extent sh ould our low-tuition philosophy extend to out-of-state students where we had no constitutional obligation to do that?” Both the Board of Governors an d the individual campus Boards of Trustees struggled to interpret the practicable clause in the context of shrinking budgets and escalating costs in terms of both in-state and out-of-sta te students. Given the constituti on’s dominant influence within the community, the conflict over the historical mission of public good (vie wed in part as low tuition) and a move toward a ma rket orientation (viewed as higher tuition) centered around the constitutional interpretation. Former State Senator Henry Lee, who served as co-chairman of the Subcommittee on Higher Education Appropriations, stressed his inte rpretation of the Constitution that many in the General Assembly and greater public subscribed. "The Constitution, as I read it, says as low as practicable," Senator Lee told the Chronicle of Higher Education. “ Practicable to me is that people making $200,000 or $300,000 a year should not be paying only $3,000 a year to send their kids to school” (Selingo, 2000, p. A33). The policy proposed by the Tuition Task Force and adopted by the Board of Governors called for campus-initiated increases in extraordinary circumstances. While a definition of extraordinary was neve r agreed upon by the multiple stakeholders, a higher standard of proof for “extraordinary need” was required for ca mpuses wishing to increase tuition. The General Assembly felt that the high standard was not necessary and eliminated it when the policy was formally adopted. When asked about this change, a senior administrator within the UNC General Administration said that while he did not think the change caught the General Administration or Board of Governors by surprise, it was “within th e Board’s authority to change the policy if we had deemed it necessary.” The decision to drop the ex traordinary clause from the policy by leaders within the system is further evidence of the competi ng ideologies within the state. The conflict over the tuition policy philosophically is a manifestation of the cultural elements within the institution.


From Policy Design to Campus 9 Debate over these issues called into question the valu es of stakeholders and the historical public good mission of the institution. As a result, the debate became about more than financial revenue, but rather focused on the future direction of the university. Campus trustees and administrators also did not view these issues similarly. A senior campus finance administrator familiar with the thoughts of the Board of Trustees at UNC-Chapel Hill described the situation this way: There’s been so much made that we’re gouging in-state students because we charge them a 10 percent increase and it ’s $300, and we’ve been charging out-ofstate students only 5 percent, not 10 percent. Yeah, but that 5 percent is $800 or $1,000. This is not being gouged, you know? There’s a social contract with the instate students that’s very different from the social contract with out-of-state students. I’m not very persuaded by that, but I have to tell you, there’s [sic] a lot of trustees who are. According to this administrator, the trustees we re looking “to [demonstrate] to the state that they intend to meet th e spirit of our Constitution since we cl early can’t meet th e letter of the Constitution.” Strong feelings about where tuit ion should be set clearly exist for all the stakeholders involved in this case study. Such conflict lead s to two questi ons related to institutional culture and the implementation of th e policy. Does this constitutional provision profoundly influence the debate to a greater extent than the univ ersal social cont ract any public institution has with its state? Would the idea of low tuition be a factor without Article IX, Section 9? An enrollment management administrator responded resoundingly: No, I don’t [believe so]. I think [the Board of Trust ees] would move in-state tuition up. They would be as king the question based upon the in-state tuition of other public universities, “Where shou ld we be?” But be cause we have a constitution that outlines that, I think th ey have to st ruggle with that. Obviously, sometimes, we get concerned that we’re, to use a crass expression, leaving money on the table when we subsidize individual s who clearly can afford far more--can afford to go to school an ywhere, in large numbers. An d we could easi ly, then, aid others and go to a high-tuition, high -aid, in-state model, but I think the constitution sets forth that philosophy; and therefore, that discussion doesn’t take place with the exception of, what would be our ceiling? The stakeholders at UNC-Chapel Hill faced trem endous pressure from tw o sources, from the state legislature to increase revenue from the legacy cultural interp retation of the state Constitution to provide low tuition as the foundati on of the accessibility to the state’s higher education system. Competing ideologies over tuition moved the debate beyond traditional discussion of college costs to mo re fundamental questi ons of the public pu rposes of higher education in a university proud of its long history of access. Debate over faculty salaries Public research universities face intense comp etition for their best faculty. Premier faculty are essential ingredients to successful competition in the marketplace because of the prestige and research grants they are able to bring to the universi ty. These institutions fear losing these faculty to other major public universities, but especially priva te universities that are able to create substantial packages to lure away star faculty. A major problem at UNC-Chapel Hill is faculty salaries, particularly related to retention of outstanding facu lty. As a senior professor explained, “If truth be


Education Policy Analysis Archives Vol. 15 No. 16 10 known, what worries me most is having sufficien t funds for faculty retention and improvement.” He continued: Chapel Hill has a certain mand ate by virtue of the way the state supports us, by virtue of the impact of th e state over two hundred year s long, by virtue of the bond referendum, the citizens, the way they support this university, the expectation we will have an impact on economic development through the whole state, the delivery of heal th care services, the advice and guidance we give to municipalities and their officials; it goes on, and on, and on. We have those expectations on us. We have to meet those expectations How do we meet those expectations? Answer: we have to have the ve ry best faculty. In order to do that, we have to have the resources to suppor t them. Salaries for faculty here are abysmal, abysmal. This sentiment was echoed repe atedly by faculty, administra tors, and students alike. An academic affairs administrator describe s the seriousness of the situation: Yeah, it’s a big problem right now. I’ll give you an example. Only a year ago, or two years ago. . we were able to counte r about 60 percent of offers successfully from other institutions that wished to raid our faculty. This year, we’re countering only about 30 percent successf ully. So, we are losi ng faculty because we have relied on low tuitio n and state support, we did not have the resources to turn into, and there’s only so much you ca n ask a faculty to do before they realize that, you know? I mean, we’r e combating offers that are sometimes $40,000 more than what we’re paying. But, people like it here. We’re very fortunate to have a close-knit educational community. Peopl e recognize this as a community and a place where people want to be. But we have some facu lty members believing that, you know, it’s a bit of unrequited love And they’re being wooed by others. These examples continue d to come up and often went beyond the simple measure of faculty salary to other perks that universities can of fer that Chapel Hill is unable to match. One administrator explained, “We’re losing a phenome nal woman out of [human ities department]. In this case it wasn’t sa lary. They’re saying, ‘You come here and we w ill give you a permanent $50,000 research account. You can hire students, you can go travel in the summer, whatever you want to do.’ They have resources available—we don’t.” Public instit utions play a critical role in American higher education in providing an ac cessible and affordable research university experience. Given the current fi nancial circumstances, public universities will likely be constrained in resources and un able to compete with the private university perks. The diminishing of public research universities that would occur if they are unable to compete with private institutions woul d severely limit th e accessibility to a range of institutional choices to students. Additionally, public universities as part of their public service mission can focus on the societal problems of their states. This public service missi on is one of the reasons faculty chose to work in public universities foregoing the ad vantages of private univ ersities. Losing this central mission of the public university would cause many faculty to question their continued desire to remain in the public sector with persistent defici encies in pay and facilities. The question is if public higher education can even be competitive given the decrease in state appropriations. As another academic administ rator stated, “We also have faculty saying, ‘Look, the only way I can get a raise is to get an offer from somewhere else. Is that what I have to do?’ So we’ve got to get back to a situation where we ca n actually have our faculty keep pace.” Campus trustees and administrators viewed the crisis in facu lty salaries as justification to pursue tuition increases. In an effort to respond convincingly to the faculty salary issue, the Chapel Hill Board of Trustees passed a campus-initiated proposal that included a substantial increase in out-of-state


From Policy Design to Campus 11 tuition. In a letter to the UNC System president and the Board of Governors, who had oversight of approving the campus-initiated proposal, the UNCChapel Hill Faculty Chair crystallizes the idea that different stakeholders make sense of probl ems and policies through their own cultural lens: Although the Board of Trustees justifie d the proposed increa se in terms of efforts to aid faculty retention, it di d so in the face of the Faculty Council resolution calling for a more moderate and balanced ap proach that would pace increases more fairly and spread burdens more broadly rather than targeting nonresidents to bear the br unt of such a steep and subs tantial tuition increase. We believe that faculty views about issue s of faculty welfare deserve significant weight. All of us agree that we face a grave threat of losing many of our best faculty, as well as our capacity to recruit talented successors . While additional funds are needed to address these concerns ; we have also insi sted that money is not a panacea . In the wa ke of recent actions by the Board of Trustees and the Chancellor, an increasing number of faculty members have expressed great sorrow and unease that the University’s co re values, the high standards to which they have given their professional live s, and the central educational mission are being put at risk. Securing additional fu nds should not be ac hieved at such a price, since for many the University’s inte grity and mission as one of the last truly outstanding public universities is a crucial part of why they came and wish to stay in Chapel Hill. The explanation of these two reactions to th e problem of faculty salaries lies in the interpretation of the values and goals of the ca mpus-initiated tuition policy and the institution. The faculty chairperson, expressing the views of her colleagues, sees the problem in a frame of faculty morale, negatively influenced by an in stitutional obsession over resources, degrading physical plant, loss of values, an d salaries. From this perspectiv e, salaries and money are not a panacea. This approach is distinctly different from how the trustees un derstand the issues and make sense of the possi ble solutions to the policy proble m. “We can certainly continue to charge lower tuition, but if we don’t have our superior faculty, what’s going to happen to the value proposition there?” one administrator asked. The Board of Trustees is operating with the problem of faculty salaries framed within the co ntext of increasing institutional quality. The university’s chancellor has staked out a strong po sition that Chapel Hill should be the leading public university in the nation. Engaging in a competition to achi eve the goal of the top public university drives the interpretati on of the administration and trus tees. As a result, their beliefs regarding the implementation of the tuition decentr alization is driven by their interpretation of the values, traditions, and goals of the institution. Cultural Disconnect during Policy Enactment Ultimately, the Report of the Tuition Task For ce set forth both the policy decision outlining the new tuition policy and how it was to be enacted. The policy had specific guidelines governing implementation to protect the values espoused by th e task force and structure the new process. The enactment of the campus-initiated tuition policy subsequent to the adoption of the Task Force’s recommendations, however, has been anything bu t structured. First, the requirement of extraordinary circumstances on a campus as the basi s for the tuition increase was removed by the legislature. A recommendation for maintaining equal tuition among similar types of institutions and only moderate variation between institutional types has not been adhered to by the Board of Governors. At the campus level, the philosophy of trustees has changed drastically over the course


Education Policy Analysis Archives Vol. 15 No. 16 12 of the policy. Trustees oscillate between supporting equal percentage increases among in-state and out-of-state students and placing a disproportionate burden of new tuition increases on out-of-state students. At the state and campus level, there are inc onsistencies in the stated need for increases, the impact of increases, and who should pay them. This conflict is crystallized in the debate that took place in the spring of 2004 at UNCChapel Hill. As mandated by the original Task Force report, the campus tuition committee met and agreed unanimously to a $300 increase per year fo r three years for all students. Even the student representatives on the committee supported the increases. “We were for it . we understood the need,” one student member said. The committee, co-chaired by the Provost and Student Body President, forwarded its recommendation to the Board of Trustees for approval again per the Tuition Task Force’s policy. With the backing and at times urging of the Chancellor, the trustees adopted the $300 increase for in-state students, bu t in a surprise move the trustees also adopted a $1500 increase for out-of-state students. Students and faculty alike were angry the Board would so blatantly ignore the tuition committee’s recommendation. This decision is not consistent with the policy outlined by the Board of Governors and its Tuition Task Force in two major respects. The fi rst is making a decision without significant information regarding the burden the increases would have on current students—a key value and concern of the task force. Secondly, and more sub stantially, is the lack of student input on the dramatic $1500 out-of-state increase. A system ad ministrator stated that while the intent of the Board of Governors was that the campus-initiated tuition increases be used to improve quality, “In reality, you have budget reductions and enrollment increases. Some of the [tuition increases] have been used to offset the budget reductions. . which I still think is pretty important.” The system office, trustees, campus administrators, faculty, an d students each interpreted the tuition policy and how it should be implemented based on how they understand the contextual environment informed by their group’s values and traditions. Conclusion University administrators in North Carolina are increasingly recognizing the market in which they operate. “Market ideas have only come recently into the mix,” an enrollment management official at Chapel Hill stated, “and frankly, not in a very mature way yet.” Th is sentiment is symbolic of many of the new issues that arose in the implementation of the campus-initiated tuition increase policy in North Carolina. Several constituencies within the system office and on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus held very different views regarding tuiti on and the values of the institution. While public colleges and universities in many states have faced financial crises many times over their histories, the case of UNC-Chapel Hill is noteworthy because the tuition increases were viewed as more than simply a vehicle for revenue enhancement. For many stakeholders, the increases symbolized a rejection of the historical tradition of the institution that fundamentally altered and compromised key aspects of the university’s mission and values. Within the debates and dialogue among the various stakeholders in North Carolina, there wa s an almost preoccupation with the market. The problem for the policy actors in the state and univ ersity was their inexperience and inability to fully grasp and grapple with the implications of market forces on the university. The legislature and coordinating board made the decision to decentralize aspects of the tuition policy that served to deregulate public higher education, turning it over to the influences of the marketplace. However, markets cannot operate wi thout an appropriate market culture. Given its history and mission, UNC-Chapel Hill was unable to establish a market culture to enable them to operate in the marketplace they quickly found themselves emerged. Simply put, the institution and


From Policy Design to Campus 13 its leaders lacked the underlying beliefs, assumpti ons, and values to successfully navigate the market. Until the tuition policy change, the university largely did not worry about competing in the marketplace and lacked experience in how to effectively do so. Administrators and faculty in particular did not reach agreement regarding the public mission of the university which was necessary to operate in the market environment wi thout compromising the values and beliefs of various stakeholders. Although the traditional appr oaches of top-down and bottom-up analysis of policy implementation have offered important contributions to the topic, an expansion of the sociocultural perspective is necessary to improving policy studie s. As Mills (1998) concludes, an interpretive approach “suggests that local construction of the policy meaning and impact is a fundamental social process and that implementer adaptation is an unavoidable part of the policy implementation process” (p. 695). A study of implementation along these lines provides a more complete picture of the process. Exploring the cultural aspects of th e policy environment and the process of enactment is useful particularly in socially constructed or ganizations such as colleges and universities. The expansion of implementation studies to include the sociocultural values and beliefs of policy actors and how these values influence policy at various levels adds a needed dimension to policy work. Such dimension has not been provided by the tr aditional theoretical approaches. The depth of qualitative data on institutional culture better enable s researchers to examine the significant influence of culture on policy. The case of North Carolina provides two significant lessons for policy makers and researchers. The findings of this study demonstrate the power of sociocultural factors to influence policy implementation. Much of the debate surroundi ng the policy and the details of the enactment were influenced by the culture, values, and beliefs of participants in the university community. The various cultures on campus and in the state influenced in fundamental ways how participants viewed the policy. Each group had its own perception of what the university was and should be. As a consequence, understanding the case enables resear chers a window into the underlying values of constituents. The major cultural influence in the outcome of events in North Carolina also makes the story more significant than they would otherwise appear on the surface. It is precisely this deeper meaning to events that a sociocultural analysis adds to our understanding of policy implementation. The second lesson for policy actors in North Ca rolina and other states facing similar market pressures is the need for mission agreement betwe en internal and external actors. Each public university should have a unique role and mission with in the state system of higher education to serve the public purposes and provide for the public good. A discussion between the university and state legislators can clarify messages which are often conf using for higher education. University leaders and the state can explicitly negotiate for the necessarily levels of autonomy and accountability to both succeed in the competitive market, yet protect th e historical missions of the public university. This balance also can improve public understanding of the role of higher education amid concerns of ever escalating costs and diminishing value. Ca mpus constituencies must also come to a clear and consistent definition on the institution’s mission to build relationships and support for the collective goals. By establishing a consensus between the ac ademic, economic, and political pressures facing higher education, campus leaders are better able to make market sensitive decisions that do not violate core beliefs and values that compro mise the effectiveness of the institution.


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Education Policy Analysis Archives Vol. 15 No. 16 18 About the Author Michael S. Harris University of Alabama Email: Michael S. Harris is an assist ant professor of higher educ ation at the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa. His research interests incl ude the policy and organizational implications of market forces in higher education..


From Policy Design to Campus 19 EDUCATION POLICY ANALYSIS ARCHIVES Editor: Sherman Dorn, University of South Florida Production Assistant: Chris Murre ll, Arizona State University General questions about ap propriateness of topics or particular articles may be addressed to the Editor, Sherman Dorn, Editorial Board Noga Admon Jessica Allen Cheryl Aman Mi chael W. Apple David C. Berliner Damian Betebenner Robert Bickel Robert Bifulco Anne Black Henry Braun Nick Burbules Marisa Cannata Casey Cobb Arnold Danzig Linda Darling-Hammond Chad d'Entremont John Diamond Amy Garrett Dikkers Tara Donohue Gunapa la Edirisooriya Camille Farrington Gustavo Fischman Chris Frey Richard Garlikov Misty Ginicola Gene V Glass Harvey Goldstein Jake Gross Hee Kyung Hong Aimee Howley Craig B. Howley Jaekyung Lee Benjamin Levin Jennifer Lloyd Sarah Lubienski Susan Maller Les McLean Roslyn Arlin Mickelson Heinrich Mintrop Shereeza Mohammed Michele Moses Sharon L. Nichols Sean Reardon A.G. Rud Lorrie Shepard Ben Superfine Cally Waite John Weathers Kevin Welner Ed Wiley Terrence G. Wiley Kyo Yamashiro Stuart Yeh


Education Policy Analysis Archives Vol. 15 No. 16 20 A rchivos A nalticos de P olticas E ducativas Editores Gustavo E. Fischman Arizona State University Pablo Gentili Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro Asistentes editoriales: Rafael O. Serrano (ASU) & Lucia Terra (UBC) Hugo Aboites UAM-Xochimilco, Mxico Armando Alcnt ara Santuario CESU, Mxico Claudio Almonacid Avila UMCE, Chile Dalila Andrad e de Oliveira UFMG, Brasil Alejandra Birgin FLACSO-UBA, Argentina Sigfredo Chiroque IPP, Per Mariano Fernndez Enguita Universidad de Salamanca. Espaa Gaudncio Frigotto UERJ, Brasil Roberto Leher UFRJ, Brasil Nilma Lino Gomes UFMG, Brasil Pia Lindquist Wong CSUS, USA Mara Loreto Egaa PIIE, Chile Alma Maldonado University of Arizona, USA Jos Felipe Martnez Fernndez UCLA, USA Imanol Ordorika IIE-UNAM, Mxico Vanilda Paiva UERJ, Brasil Miguel A. Pereyra Universidad de Granada, Espaa Mnica Pini UNSAM, Argentina Romualdo Portella de Oliveira Universidade de So Paulo, Brasil Paula Razquin UNESCO, Francia Jos Ignacio Rivas Flores Universidad de Mlaga, Espaa Diana Rhoten SSRC, USA Jos Gimeno Sacristn Universidad de Valencia, Espaa Daniel Schugurensky UT-OISE Canad Susan Street CIESAS Occidente,Mxico Nelly P. Stromquist USC, USA Daniel Surez LPP-UBA, Argentina Antonio Teodoro Universidade Lusfona, Lisboa Jurjo Torres Santom Universidad de la Corua, Espaa Llian do Valle UERJ, Brasil