September 20, 2011

Higher ed funding topic of ‘Pizza and Politics’

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill.. -- One of the nation’s leading authorities on access and funding in public higher education will offer a glimpse into what Illinois and the nation is facing during a discussion later this week at Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Paul Simon Public Policy Institute.

Stephen Katsinas, director of the Education Policy Center and a professor of Higher Education Administration, both at the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa, will provide his insight during a “Pizza and Politics” seminar on Wednesday, Sept. 21.  The session begins at 5:30 p.m., in the Institute lobby, 1231 Lincoln Dr., in the Forestry Building.  The event is free.  To register, contact Institute project coordinator Christina Rich at 618/453-4078 or by email at

Media Advisory

Reporters, photographers and camera crews are welcome to attend the “Pizza and Politics” session for Stephen Katsinas.  For more information, contact Matt Baughman, associate director at 618/453-4009 or 618/201-0082.

David Yepsen, Institute director, is looking forward to Katsinas’ discussion.

“He’s a nationally recognized expert on higher education and does surveys of community college state directors to track trends in public access university and college finance,” Yepsen said.  The presentation “will be of interest to anyone concerned about the directions in public funding for higher education.”           

Katsinas is spending the fall semester as a visiting professor at the Institute and the Department of Political Science.  A native of Champaign, Katsinas is a two-degree SIUC graduate, earning a master’s degree in history in 1981 and a doctorate in higher education in 1986. He earned a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1978.

Katsinas is co-author of a national report that annually looks at access and funding issues in higher education.  The 2011 report, released Sept. 15, points to financial difficulties putting the squeeze on students and families as tuition rates are predicted to rise by twice the inflation rate, and 29 states predict flat-funding or cuts in student financial aid programs for universities and community colleges.

Katsinas will discuss Illinois situation during the past three decades, where in spite of a 1.4 million population growth, only 9,600 more students enrolled in public universities and 25,000 more in community colleges in 2009 than in 1979.  The model that the primary benefits of higher education accrue to individuals and not the society has resulted in forcing those expenses onto the backs of students and their families, he said.

“By doing so they have over time served to price out higher education from the low income students of all races and ethnicities who otherwise might be able to access it more easily,” Katsinas said.

Katsinas notes the substantial increase from 20 to 35 percent in Illinois’ minority population of African Americans, Asians, and Hispanics over past 30 years, but said a similar percentage of growth is not reflective when it comes to higher education institution enrollments. 

The national study released last week shows that three of every four states predict cuts in this year’s operating budgets for public flagship universities, public regional universities, and community colleges, and tuition increases in nine out of every 10 states.  Katsinas also notes the cuts in Pell Grants last year,

“The answer is most of the state officials we surveyed (nationally) predicted that more students will have to borrow more loans to make it through,” he said.

Katsinas said he is pleased to return to SIUC for the semester as guest speaker and lecturer, and will also work on a research project that involves the country’s college degree completion agenda. While a student at SIUC, Katsinas worked with Institute founder Paul Simon during Simon’s 1980 campaign for the U.S. House of Representatives.

“I’m delighted to be back at my alma mater,” he said.  “It’s good to be back.  You don’t often get to do this in your career.”

Katsinas will also deliver two other presentations while on campus.   On Tuesday, Oct. 4, he will present “Delyte W. Morris: An Educational Visionary,” offering a reflective presentation on the legacy and impact of the former SIU president’s 22-year tenure.  The University’s president from 1948 to 1970, Morris is largely credited with transforming SIU from a small teachers college into a modern university. Katsinas will also look at the future of rural community colleges during a presentation on Nov. 3.  

For more information on any of these programs, contact the Institute at 618/453-4009 or visit