Dear Members of the Dickinson Community,
I want to share with you a highly informative case study about the costs of higher education that I asked Dickinson’s former vice president and treasurer Annette Smith Parker ’73 to write in her final months of distinguished service to the college. As Annette notes, those of us who work in higher education are often asked by prospective parents, those outside of “the academy” and even some alumni, “Why does college cost so much?” The answer is extremely complex, which can be frustrating to those desiring a response more in line with today’s sound bites and Twitter feeds. This is not a topic for the faint of heart. The answer to this “cost” question cannot be "dumbed down" into a multiple-choice test; rather, it is deserving of a full essay—yes, that old medium of full sentences and paragraphs accompanied by a logically progessive argument.
With that in mind, I encourage those of you who are interested in the topic of college affordability, value and access to read Annette’s comprehensive distillation of the many variables that factor into the cost of higher education, and in particular, how Dickinson has grappled with the multiplicity of conflated issues surrounding these topics. You might well find the essay illuminating for your own purposes, as well as engaging material for discussion with friends and colleagues. An executive summary is provided as well, along with the full case study. In reading these documents, we all benefit from Annette’s 25 years of work in higher-education finance, and I thank her for sharing her insights with all of us.
Bill Durden '71
> View the executive summary
> Download the executive summary (PDF)
> Download the complete report (PDF)