Estimating the Resource Costs of Minority and Disadvantaged Student Programs

W. Lee Hansen, via a kind reader’s email:

This paper presents estimates of the full resource costs of Minority and Disadvantaged Student Programs for UW-Madison and the UW System. It shows that for 2008-09 the total resource costs of M/D programs are almost 60 percent higher than the published expenditure figures for UW-Madison and more than 75 percent higher than the published expenditure figures for the UW System. It provides several alternative estimates of the per student resource costs of these programs. Finally, it cumulates the value of the resources committed to M/D programs during Plan 2008 and in the years subsequent to 2008. These differences occur because the UW System’s Minority and Disadvantaged Student Annual Report (M/D Report) fails, without explanation, to include the full array of M/D program costs even though it openly acknowledges these omissions.
Based on the full resource costs estimates developed here, these costs range from as little as $1,000 per student to as much as $80,000 per student, depending on which groups of students receive the most benefit from these programs.
The results presented here for 2008-09 provide at best a snapshot view of the resource costs of M/D programs. Additional perspective comes from cumulating the resource costs of M/D programs for UW-Madison and for the UW System during the decade-long Plan 2008, and from estimates of these costs for the duration of Plan 2008 plus the first five years under UW’s new diversity plan called Inclusive Excellence.
The constant-dollar estimates of the resource costs incurred by UW-Madison during Plan 2008 total $280,000,000, and they approximate $500,000,000–half a billion dollars–for the 15-year period beginning in 1998-99 and continuing through 2012-13. Comparable estimates for the UW System are substantially greater, totaling $680,000,000 during Plan 2008 and approximating $1,150,000,000–more than one billion dollars–for this same 15-year period.
By understating the resource costs of its M/D programs and failing to provide evidence on the success of its M/D programs, the UW System fails to meet its commitments to transparency and accountability, and in the process compromises its institutional integrity.