Out of all the universities in the country, 15 were chosen to send financial advisors to Germany to study financing in higher education. WKU was one of them.
Ann Mead, vice president for Finance and Administration, was chosen to participate in “Do More with Less — Implementing Change in Higher Education Management in Germany.”
“I knew when I went on this trip it would be a little bit out of my comfort zone, and that’s good,” Mead said. “You go into it with your own perspective on American higher education and it’s very easy to think that we do it right and other people do it wrong, and that’s not true.”
Mead said the group got to visit five universities while in Germany.
Craig Cobane, chief international officer, aided Mead in the process of applying. Cobane said Mead had a great understanding of the American financial and economic situation.
“I knew it’d be competitive, but I knew she’d be a strong applicant,” Cobane said.
Cobane said Mead’s experience in Germany will benefit WKU.
“An opportunity for her to learn more about how Germany does it may help us here in the United States,” Cobane said.
Mead said one difference between German and American universities amazed the group — the concept that students pay no tuition in Germany.
“Another big difference is philanthropy,” Mead said. “There’s no real motivation to make gifts to universities.”
Mead said there isn’t really a culture of donating because the government funds the schools.
“They are struggling with the recession, as any country and any set of universities would be,” Mead said. “So if you think about our state budget reductions and as unpleasant as it has been to raise tuition, at least we have an alternative to help cover our costs when state funding has gone down.”
Despite the differences, she said there is one major similarity.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re at a German university or American university, you’re not going to find any vice president for finance that says that we’re funded adequately,” she said. “There’s never enough money.”