US: Big plans for Arizona State collapse

When Michael Crow became president of Arizona State University seven years ago, he promised to make it 'The New American University', with 100,000 students by 2020. It would break down the musty old boundaries between disciplines, encourage advanced research and entrepreneurship to drive the new economy, and draw in students from underserved sectors of the state, writes Tamar Lewin in The New York Times.

He quickly made a name for himself, increasing enrolment by nearly a third to 67,000 students, luring big-name professors, starting interdisciplinary schools and dozens of new degree programmes. But this year, Crow's plans have crashed into new budget realities, raising questions about how many public research universities the nation needs and whether universities like Arizona State, in their drive to become prominent research institutions, have lost focus on their public mission to provide solid undergraduate education for state residents. The university has eliminated more than 500 jobs and is to close 48 programmes and cap enrolment. Every employee will have 10 to 15 unpaid furlough days this spring.

While Arizona State's economic problems have been particularly dramatic, layoffs and salary freezes are becoming common at public universities across the nation.
Full report on The New York Times site