The post-World War II baby boom swept into American colleges in the 1960s, driving up total taxpayer costs and sending officials looking for financial answers.
Parsons College in Fairfield, Iowa, was making headlines. It was enrolling thousands of students, many of them who had attended other schools and were getting second chances. At one point, Parsons College reportedly was paying the highest faculty salaries in America.
Wisconsin business leaders decided Parsons might have the financial answers for the state’s public universities. Companies dispatched their corporate planes to Madison to take officials, legislators and reporters for a junket to Iowa.
What they found was a year-round trimester program and faculty required to spend most of their time in classrooms. The college had a limited number of academic majors. Before the decade was done, Life magazine printed an expose of the college and it lost its accreditation. The college went bankrupt in 1973.