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Private colleges lobby for more government funds


WASHINGTON -- With their private colleges and universities pinched by the recession, nearly 1,000 presidents, trustees and other officials held a two-day "summit" this week, primarily to lobby the government for more student aid and faculty research funds.

" . . . we are trying to impress upon the Congress and the administration that they should give us serious attention," A.E. Hughes, president of the University of San Diego and summit chairman, said yesterday.

But underlying the workshops and visits to government offices was a growing consensus that more than fresh funds would be needed to solve financial problems. Officials said that major changes in curriculum, teaching loads, student aid and other areas were under consideration.

"A general reassessment of values" is what Secretary of Education Lamar Alexander called it in a keynote address to the gathering Wednesday.

"It means we're going to be smaller and leaner over the next decade and also much more efficient," said William Ihlanfeldt, a vice president at Northwestern University. "And I think our productivity will increase out of necessity. Faculty will be asked to teach maybe three courses rather than two a semester."

Officials of some of the smaller colleges here this week said that their problems do not seem to be as great as those of several large research universities, which are dependent on big research contracts that may dry up.

Richard J. Wood, president of Earlham College in Indiana, said his college, like many others, might be forced to abandon "need-blind" admissions -- a policy of many elite schools to admit students without regard to their financial need and then to cover the gap between tuition and a student's ability to pay.

"It's getting very hard to sustain," Wood said.

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