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Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

Williams College Economist Will Explain the Awkward Economics of Higher Education

November 1, 2001

Williams College Economist Will Explain the Awkward Economics of Higher Education

Troy, N.Y. — Gordon Winston, an expert on college and university business practices, will speak at a public lecture at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Friday, Nov. 16, at 3:45 p.m. in room 337 of the Darrin Communications Center.

Winston’s lecture, “The Awkward Economics of Higher Education,” will explore the reasons why running a university is different from running a business or a charity.

According to Winston, “some people think that if you can run a successful Ford dealership, you can run a college, and that what higher education really needs are hard-headed business practices that will increase productivity, get costs under control, and sell the product.” In other quarters, “thinking of education as a product, students as customers, tuition as a price, and faculty as employees is met with revulsion,” Winston says.

The economic facts that make a college different from either a business or a charity are decidedly unfamiliar, says Winston. He will explore these awkward economics and respond to questions at the Nov. 16 public lecture, sponsored by Rensselaer’s Finance Division and the Department of Economics.

The Orrin Sage Professor of Economics at Williams College, Winston directs the Williams Project on the Economics of Higher Education, which he founded with esteemed colleagues Michael McPherson and Morton Schapiro. The project is funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Winston is the author or co-author of more than a dozen major scholarly studies of the financing of higher education. Having served as provost at Williams College from 1988-1990, Winston is also experienced in higher education administration.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in English literature from Whitman College in 1950 and a doctorate in economics from Stanford University in 1964.

Contact: Bruce Adams
Phone: (518) 276-6531
E-mail: N/A