A good idea for my university

Students are making voluntary contributions to increase the pay of their favorite professors, to prevent those professors from leaving for another university. Here is one story:

When Brian Cannon, a 21-year old senior at the College of William and Mary, learned that one of his favorite government professors was leaving for a higher-paying job at Princeton University, he was a little upset.

But when the student body president learned that in the past year, 13 professors have left the prestigious public university in Williamsburg — many of them headed to public universities in other states — he knew he had to do something.

He organized a student referendum, adopted overwhelmingly this week, to raise next year’s student activity fee by $5, to about $80. The extra money would be used to boost the salaries of professors who might leave because state budget cuts have frozen faculty raises.

The fees are usually used to bring bands to campus and help out the debate team and other clubs. But now, three professors, to be chosen by the provost with student input, will each receive $10,000 bonuses, to be funded by the fee increases.

This is but one example of a growing gap in salaries between private and state universities. I expect that over time, for better or worse, many state universities will in effect become privatized. They will remain under nominal state control, but their finances will rely increasingly on private sources of support.