an exercise in exploring complexity and tension

Context

Plymouth State University operates within the higher education system of NH. We have the lowest state support in the United States. We compete with four other universities for the same funding and students. We have a declining population and a very low unemployment rate, which drives down college applications as students are able to get work without a degree.

Plymouth has one of the longest continual stream gage data set in the United States. We have a great history of environmental involvement and activism.

Plymouth is a very safe community and the connection between the town and University is very positive. The town welcomes students and student and faculty involvement in the elementary schools, local businesses, and local events.

The university is operating at a time of student debt crisis, in a job market that in terms of pay and benefits is unfriendly to new entrants.

Plymouth State University exists in the context of a state government that does not provide resources for higher education. An incredibly small portion of the operating budget (~8%, I think) of this state school comes from the state. I would imagine this issue exists in the broader context of the political beliefs and attitudes towards taxes in this state.

Plymouth State University exists in the context of a state government that does not provide resources for higher education. An incredibly small portion of the operating budget (~8%, I think) of this state school comes from the state. I would imagine this issue exists in the broader context of the political beliefs and attitudes towards taxes in this state.

Capitalism, the student loan crisis, and the increasing use of a business model in higher education has a profound impact on the ability of students to afford an education at PSU as well as the ability of PSU to provide an education that increases the critical thinking, problem solving and intellectual skills and capacity of our students.

Student Debt Crisis – “ At nearly $1.6 trillion, student loan debt exceeds accumulated car loans and even credit card debt.”
Reference: https://hbr.org/2019/09/what-will-it-take-to-solve-the-student-loan-crisis

Predominantly White Institution (PWI) – “ Predominantly white institution (PWI) is the term used to describe institutions of higher learning in which Whites account for 50% or greater of the student enrollment.”
Reference: https://sk.sagepub.com/reference/africanamericaneducation/n193.xml

Our students of color face intense daily challenges. More information: https://www.gvsu.edu/cms4/asset/777A03CA-E5D1-90B3-8FF97B7EA6E9ECB3/higher_education_journal_article.pdf

PSU is often described by people inside and outside of the university as a ‘party school’. This public perception is perpetuated by students, parents, community members and sometimes even staff/faculty at PSU. I find this problematic especially considering the stellar people that make up this university. This perception of PSU being a party school is infused in how students behave outside of the classroom and has the potential to contribute to a less serious attitude about scholarship and engagement in the college experience.