By Heather Hiscox
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Larry Leslie, UA professor of higher education, recently was awarded the Research Achievement Award for his investigations into the methods of financing higher education.
Leslie called the award, given by the Association for the Study of Higher Education, a "capstone" of his professional career.
Professor Sheila Slaughter, also in the Higher Education Department, said, "This is the highest honor you can have in the study of higher education."
Leslie's most recent research culminated in a book, co-authored with Slaughter, titled Academic Capitalism: Politics, Policy and The Entrepreneurial University, which looks at research money given to universities.
Leslie said that when professors must search for money elsewhere it distracts from their teaching.
"More and more faculty have to go out there and compete for funds rather than getting institutional funds," Slaughter said.
But, he said, the more money society invests in higher education, the greater the benefits.
Leslie found in his research that the rate of return on such an investment is 13 to 26 percent.
"Throughout the industrial world, the government is reducing their support of higher education. As a result, the universities have to go out and get money in other ways," Leslie said. "As we go out for more money for stipulated areas, my concern is that teaching may suffer."
He has been with the UA College of Education for 18 years, but recently "stepped down" from his 15-year tenure as director of the UA's Center for the Study of Higher Education to return to a full-time professorial position.
"I always like to think of it as stepping up. I much prefer the role of professor combined with administration work," he said.
Leslie has written one other book and twice received Senior Fulbright Scholar awards.
Leslie is a member of the advisory board to the Arizona Joint Legislative Budget Committee, has designed a system by which the university funds the construction of new parking ramps and campus buildings, and has testified before Congress about student aid tax policies of higher education.
Leslie also has worked for the U.S. Department of Justice as a consultant and expert witness in court cases involving the University of Mississippi and The Citadel.
He worked with the University of Mississippi case to determine if black citizens of Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana were getting the same educational opportunities as white students.
In the Citadel case, he worked to examine if the program created in the women's college of South Carolina parallels The Citadel's program financially. In both cases he found that the two cases were not equitable financially to their counterparts and in his consultant role, wrote remedy plans for the Justice Department after the Supreme and Appellate Court rulings.
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