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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Draft Bob Taft: For University of Cincinnati CEO

CINCINNATI (TDB) -- Former Gov. Bob Taft, despite his low poll numbers and problems with the conservative wing of his own Republican party, was an officeholder who cared passionately about the quality of education in Ohio. He has been out of work for nearly a month. Somebody ought to think abut giving him a new job -- CEO at the University of Cincinnati, an urban state school where 25,000 full-time students seem to be getting slammed by runaway costs.

Taft -- if he stepped in -- would have the clout, political background and administrative ability to dig in and hold the line. Because of reporting by The Cincinnati Enquirer's Lori Kurtzman, who dug the data out of the Ohio Board of Regents, we know that U.C.'s tuition is $9,375 a year. That's more than Ohio State University ($8,433), Ohio University ($8,7272) and most of the other state schools ($8,553).

On January 23, the U.C. trustees raised room and board to $8,286. That compares to $7,640 for a comparable r&b plan at the University of Akron, Kurtzman reported.

There is a link to the University of Cincinnati's FEE SCHEDULE available on the school's Web site, and more about the campus HERE.

Gov. Ted Strickland, who comes from southern Ohio, knows the importance of U.C. to the region. It was a low-cost state school that drew in people from across SW Ohio and the Appalachian counties east of Cincinnati. That was the idea behind the move to bring it into the state university system in the 1970s -- a move crafted in part by Appalachian Ohio's Democratic power brokers Vern Riffe and Myrl Shoemaker, both dead today. Somehow, the school has turned down a road that leads to becoming a high-priced behemoth. It is simply beyond belief that U.C. costs more than Ohio State -- its counterpart as a comprehensive state university. Strickland, a Democrat, might want reach across party lines to push for Taft's appointment -- which would signal his interest in curbing college costs.

Taft, who has a law degree from the school, could return to his hometown and restore some sheen to his family name. He could score points on an issue of importance to average Ohioans -- spiraling college costs. He could make the school appear more responsive to individual consumers, whose tax dollars go into the education of every student. There is clearly a disconnect between the academics and educrats who run the campus and average Ohioans who pay the bills. Bob Taft might be able to accomplish a great good -- giving people something they want at a price they like.

Draft Taft.

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