Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin wants his state’s universities to scrap programs which fail to turn out graduates who make a decent wage.
In an address at a Tuesday conference on higher education, Bevin said “Find entire parts of your campus … that don’t need to be there. Either physically as programs, degrees that you’re offering, buildings that … shouldn’t be there because you’re maintaining something that’s not an asset of any value, that’s not helping to produce that 21st century educated workforce.
“If you’re studying interpretive dance, God bless you, but there’s not a lot of jobs right now in America looking for people with that as a skill set,” he added.
Bevin remarks come amid dire issues with the Kentucky pension system; the state is looking at a deficit of $200 million at the end of this fiscal year.
In comments that echoed an earlier snipe at French literature students, Bevin said educators from middle school on up need to do a better job of steering students toward high-demand jobs. They need to stop perpetuating “this idea that simply going to college is enough,” Bevin said. A college degree isn’t sufficient if students “aren’t studying the right things,” he said.
“There’s a whole lot of kids sitting in their parents’ basements and competing with people for jobs that are minimum wage or a bit better who have four-year degrees, some of them graduate-level degrees,” he said. “Some from the very universities that you all represent.”
Bevin has made workforce development a priority of his tenure as governor. He said Tuesday he wants Kentucky to become the nation’s engineering and manufacturing epicenter, and urged the state’s engineering programs to embrace the challenge.
“I challenge you to say to yourselves, ‘If we’re graduating 250 people out of our engineering school … why is it 250 and not 1,000? And what are we going to do between now and 2030 and a whole lot sooner to make sure it’s 1,000?’ ” Bevin said.
State government cut $40 million in funding from Kentucky’s public universities last year. The response? Colleges raised tuition.