University Presidents Compete For Money At Idaho Legislature

Jan 21, 2013

At the Idaho Legislature they call this Education week. The state’s education leaders go before budget writers to make the case for why they should get the money they’ve asked for. For the first few days it’s higher education. Monday morning presidents from Boise State and Idaho State are in the hot seat. So forget cross state sports rivalries, this is true high stakes competition.

David Adler directs Boise State's Andrus Center for Public Policy.
Credit Boise State University/Andrus Center

David Adler has rooted for the presidents of all three of Idaho’s state universities in the budgeting process. He taught political science at Idaho State for years. Then he went to the U of I, and now he wears blue and orange as the head of Boise State’s Andrus Center for Public Policy.

“It’s a pretty intense time, and there’s a lot on the line for these university presidents,” he says. 

Adler explains all the college and university presidents have to present a united front to lawmakers to convince them that higher education is important to the state’s economy. But even though people often talk about the higher ed budget, there really isn’t one. There’s an allocation for Boise State, an allocation for the U of I an allocation for College of Western Idaho, etc.

“They very much are in competition and sometimes that competition can be intense,” Adler says. “It’s often viewed as a zero sum game. Dollars allocated to one university are dollars that another university won’t receive.”

Adler says the presidents have to appear civil, even complimentary to each other. All the while they’re trying to convince lawmakers to use a funding formula that favors their school and that their programs are most important.

Copyright 2013 Boise State Public Radio