NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Taking a Public College Private

February 18, 2002

In a turnabout, Dick Wendt, an Oregon businessman, is offering a small public technical college $75 million to drop out of the Oregon University system and go private.

  • Wendt, who turned a wood-products mill into an international conglomerate, has held closed-door discussions with officials of the Oregon Institute of Technology and persuaded some of them that going private could help the 3,100-student institution achieve an increased potential.
  • Going private would free it from the constant threat of state budget cuts and restrictions on the classes it can offer.
  • The president of the college, Martha Anne Dow, says she felt she has a responsibility to give the idea serious consideration because of state financing cutbacks.
  • Withdrawal from the university system would require the approval of the State Board of Higher Education, the legislature and the governor.

Wendt is known for advocating welfare reform, supporting privatization of Social Security and giving generously to support medicine, the performing arts and American Indian culture.

Source: Associated Press, "A Public College Considering Going Private," New York Times, February 16, 2002.  


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