In discussing this controversy, it's important for the sake of perspective to remember what Henry Kissinger said:
"University politics are vicious precisely because the stakes are so small."
While the University of Florida Faculty Senate's decision to deny former Governor Jeb Bush an honorary degree is, in the big picture, an unimportant kerfuffle, it is nonetheless a cheap and gratuitous insult by a group of malcontented profs who clearly don't appreciate what an objectively outstanding governor the President's younger brother was (previous posts on Jeb Bush's tenure are here, here, and here).
The linked Associated Press story about the honorary degree denial, and others I've seen, fail to mention how low Florida university tuitions are compared to much of the rest of the country. A quick look at that unreported part of the story indicates that what Jeb Bush may really deserve is a statue in his honor from Florida's taxpayers and parents.
Just one example: Business Week rated the top undergraduate business schools a few weeks ago (link appears to be free). Here are the rankings of the Ohio and Florida public universities on the list, followed by their respective annual tuition bills:
#35 - Miami (Oxford, OH); $9,911
#41 - Ohio State; $9,426
#43 - Florida; $2,968
#62 - Ohio University; $8,845
#77 - Florida State; $3,300
#79 - University of Cincinnati; $9,399
#80 - Florida International; $2,496
#90 - Central Florida; $3,492
#93 - South Florida; $3,340
Listed Ohio school average: $9,395
Listed Florida school average: $3,119
The Ohio school average is over triple the Florida school average.
The Florida schools above take up five of the seven least expensive slots on Business Week's list.
Florida's parents and/or students are, on average, paying or borrowing just over $25,000 less than Ohio's parents and/or students to get in-state students through four years of college. Floridians also live in a state with no income tax and the 12th lowest/39th highest state tax burden in the country. Yet "somehow," according to the Business Week rankings, Florida's B-Schools are essentially as good as Ohio's. How does that happen?
(brief pause to allow Ohioans to recover from becoming ill at what they've just read)
Floridians contemplating the performance of Jeb Bush during his eight years as the Sunshine State's chief executive should be asking themselves, "So where's that bronze smelter?"
And I'm wondering how long it will be until the well-documented exodus of Ohioans to Florida becomes a stampede.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.