Course Title: State Government and Higher Education

        Instructor Professor Donald E. Heller
       Institution University of Michigan
Office Number 734.647.1984
E-mail address


Approximately 80 percent of all college students in the United States attend the over 1,500 public institutions in this country. These institutions are under either the direct or indirect control of state higher education governing bodies. This seminar will help students gain a greater understanding of the structures, functions, and issues facing state governance of higher education in the U.S., including: role of governing and coordinating boards; relationship between the federal government and state higher education; appropriations and budgeting; financial aid; equity and access; and relationships between governing bodies and higher education institutions. The course will include presentations by guest speakers who will address current issues in state policy towards higher education.

Course Requirements

1. Analytic Papers

Each student will be responsible for writing two (approx. 4-6 pages) analytic papers on readings assigned in the course syllabus. The opportunity will be provided to write on three topics (on three different weeks), and each student will choose any two of the three on which to write. The analytic papers are intended to be an opportunity for you to reflect on the topic and readings before coming to class.

The analytic papers will be due in my mailbox by noon on the Tuesday before class.

2. Class Participation

Students in this seminar will be expected to be active participants in both the teaching and learning processes, and will be expected to complete all assigned readings for each class and come prepared to participate in the discussion. As a seminar, the quality of the course will depend strongly on students' participation in class. Students will present the results of their research in class.

In addition, each student will be asked to review and provide feedback on one or more of their colleague's research papers, and participate in a policy simulation exercise.

3. Research Paper

Students will choose a research topic related to some aspect of state government and postsecondary education. Suggested topics will be provided in class, but students are free to choose a different topic as long as it relates to the course subject matter.

Research papers should be approximately 20-25 double-spaced pages in length (with a 30 page upper limit, not including appendices, references, etc.). You should write in a manner that emphasizes clarity and efficiency of presentation.

Paper grades will be based on the content of the paper: its organization, thoroughness and specificity, logical analysis, and persuasiveness. In addition, grades will depend upon: the quantity and quality of your research; use of proper English composition (spelling, grammar, punctuation, and syntax); and the ability to meet required deadlines.



Required Textbooks (available at Ulrich's and on reserve at the Undergraduate Library):

MacTaggart, T. J. (Ed.). (1996). Restructuring Higher Education: What Works and What Doesn't in Reorganizing Governing Systems. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.

Education Commission of the States. (1997). State Postsecondary Education Structures Handbook, 1997. Denver: Author. [note: available for purchase from CSHPE]

Callan, P.M., Finney, J.E., Bracco, K.R., and Doyle, W.R. (Eds.). (1997). Public and Private Financing of Higher Education. Phoenix: Oryx Press.

Lenth, C. (1993). The Tuition Dilemma: State Policies and Practices in Pricing Public Higher Education. Denver: State Higher Education Executive Officers.

Layzell, D.T. and Lyddon, J.W. (1990). Budgeting for Higher Education at the State Level: Enigma, Paradox, and Ritual. ASHE-ERIC Higher Education Reports, #4.

Ewell, P. and Jones, D. (1992). The Effect of State Policy on Undergraduate Education. Denver: Education Commission of the States

Folger, J. and Jones, D. (1993). Using Fiscal Policy to Achieve State Education Goals. Denver: Education Commission of the States

Additional readings will be drawn from both classic and contemporary articles, chapters of other books, and government and other reports, and will be available in a course packet. In addition, students will be expected to read The Chronicle of Higher Education weekly in order to keep abreast of state policy issues relating to postsecondary education.

Course Schedule

1.January 14: Introduction and overview

2.January 21: State authority over higher education

3.January 28: Structure of state higher education governing bodies - overview

4.February 4: Structure of state higher education governing bodies - case studies

5.February 11: State governance and institutional control

6.February 18: State financing of higher education - overview

Appropriations process exercise

7.February 25: State financing of higher education - issues and reforms

Second analytic paper due noon on February 24

March 4: Vacation, no class

8.March 11: Access and choice in public higher education - overview

9.March 18: Access and choice in public higher education

Third analytic paper due noon on March 17
Policy simulation exercise

10.March 25: State governance and institutional improvement

11.April 1: The future of state governance

Guest Speaker (April 3, 10:00 AM):
Michigan State Senator Alma Wheeler Smith
D-Ann Arbor

12.April 8: Student presentations of research results

13.April 15: Student presentations of research results

Research papers due
Course evaluation


In our effort to offer a comprehensive listing of syllabi to the Higher Education community, we encourage your contributions to our collection. Submit your syllabi using our submission form, or via e-mail at