The Student Loan Bubble, and SFAI Data
Spring 2012, updated.
The cost of a higher education is incredibly huge. Not many can afford it. To pay for college we take out substantial loans, perhaps in the same way that some home owners took out bad mortgages. Colleges often refer to student loans as "financial aid." Now, the amount of student loan debt exceeds all credit card debt in the United States. With the enormous number of recent college graduates who are unemployed or underemployed, this is just daunting. Not surprisingly, data released in September of 2011 by the U.S. Department of Education shows a significant increase in the rate at which student loan borrowers are defaulting. (The released federal data is 2009 data; more recent data may show even higher default rates across the country.)
Below is data related to SFAI:
- According to the U.S. Department of Education, the 2009 default rate for SFAI student loan borrowers is 6.4%. (Comparatively, the 2009 default rates for student borrowers at California College of the Arts, Rhode Island School of Design and UC Berkeley are 3.7%, 2.1% and 1.2% respectively.)
- According to the National Center for Education Statistics database, the admission rate for applicants to SFAI in 2010 was 96%. The admission rate for males was significantly higher. The overall graduation rate for SFAI undergraduates is 56%.
Update: No competition! Based on undergraduate admissions data on the NCES database, a total of 245 applicants applied to SFAI for Fall 2011. 99% of applicants were admitted. (Of those admitted, 35% enrolled.) Updated data shows an overall graduation rate of 46% for SFAI undergraduates.
- The flat rate tuition at SFAI is over $17,023 a semester or over $34,000 for an academic year. First year undergraduates are required (unless they qualify for an exception) to live in student housing, which adds at least another $11,280 for a room with a shared bath, and are also required to purchase $500 meal cards for on campus food. Without adding the miscellaneous administrative fees charged by the campus, a first year undergraduate could be in a deep $46,000 hole at the end of her first year at SFAI. If she is lucky, the student will receive a scholarship, grant or have rich parents.
The Failure of the SFAI Administration
Spring 2011 (with Fall 2011 video update). The SFAI Administration (Interim President Roy Eisenhardt, Dean Jeannene Przyblyski, COO/CFO Espi Sanjana) and the Board of Trustees led by Chair Diane Frankel took it upon themselves to defend the acts of the past SFAI Administration. The laid-off tenured faculty had clear reinstatement rights under their contract. However, the current SFAI Administration failed to reinstate the laid-off faculty, despite public support for reinstatement and net surpluses. Semester after semester went by with the current Administration choosing instead to re-hire visiting faculty and to hire new visiting faculty who had never taught at SFAI before to teach courses that the laid off faculty were well-qualified to teach. (Some of these new visiting faculty included former students of the laid-off faculty.) The current SFAI Administration chose this unseemly path, while arranging to pay the big bucks (see video below) to their defense attorneys. And they failed to offer the laid off faculty reinstatement as part of the recent settlement.
This is the result:
- SFAI students are even more likely to be taught by faculty who receive low pay and no benefits (hmm ... maybe this was the point);
- Less gay tenured faculty teaching at SFAI;
- Less women tenured faculty teaching at SFAI;
- Less older faculty (especially older women tenured faculty) teaching at SFAI;
- About 25% less tenured faculty members on campus.
SFAI in the Bunker
Chris Bratton Resigns -- TWICE
In May 2010, in a public announcement, Chris Bratton resigned as President of the San Francisco Art Institute. But that was not the first time Bratton resigned from SFAI.
According to SFAI's 990 tax return for the period ending June 30, 2009 (dated May 14, 2010) submitted to the IRS and which is "open to public inspection," Chris Bratton also resigned in December 2008. Here is a quote from Schedule O, which was attached to the 990:
"IN DECEMBER 2008, THE PRESIDENT RESIGNED. IN JANUARY 2009, THE PRESIDENT WAS REHIRED UNDER AN ORAL AGREEMENT WITH THE CHARMAIN (sp) OF THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES AND THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE."
This is the way we read this: Bratton secretly resigned in December 2008 only to be be rehired by real estate attorney John Sanger -- the (former) chairman of the SFAI Board. Chances are that the Board did not approve his rehiring because the agreement was oral. There were no written terms set out to approve. If this quiet arrangement between Bratton and Sanger was not properly approved by the Board, then all decisions made by Bratton from December 2008 forward may be null and void because he may not have had the authority to make decisions.
A CALL TO ACTION
PRESERVE QUALITY EDUCATION, AND DEMAND JUSTICE AT THE SAN FRANCISCO ART INSTITUTE
SFAI Executives are pushing through a dramatic and costly scheme that directly impacts SFAI students, the SFAI classroom, its teaching environment, and SFAI's reputation. Part of this scheme includes the purging of tenured faculty from the campus. The affected faculty -- artists and scholars -- have served from 10 to over 30 years at SFAI. In addition to the concern that many students and alumni have for the affected faculty members as individuals, concerns have been raised about the specific ways in which SFAI Executives implemented their purge-by-layoff of nearly 25% of tenured faculty, and the impact the layoffs will have on curriculum, class size and class offerings. Specifically, concerns have been raised that the layoffs disproportionately affect those who have been vocal critics of SFAI's current administration, that the layoffs were carried out without discussion or transparency, and that the manner in which the layoffs are being carried out violates several provisions of the faculty contract. Concerns also have been raised that the layoffs may likely result in increased class size and cut courses. SFAI Executives claimed "financial exigency" as a pretext for the purge-by-layoff but a recent report from an expert accountant concludes that SFAI is not in such exigency.
SFAI is reporting budget surplus, continues to enjoy steady revenue from enrollment, and expects budget surplus in the future. SFAI Executives also plan to launch an extravagant School of Design. Despite mandatory contractual obligations to put a hiring freeze on any new faculty and to provide priority re-hiring and re-assignment to the laid-off tenured faculty, SFAI Executives have arranged to hire numerous visiting faculty (who receive no benefits). SFAI Executives failed to consult SFAI students and alumni about their questionable scheme, which is so costly as to negate the claim of financial exigency. Unfortunately, based on these acts and decisions, it appears SFAI Executives are engaged in harsh tactics that contravene the spirit of community, fair play, labor & social justice that its students and alumni expect and demand.
SFAI students and alumni have been actively engaged in raising awareness to these issues, and will continue to do so, despite acts by the SFAI Administration to restrain speech on campus.
It is time for direct action. It is right to demand justice and quality education at SFAI.
SFAI Student & Alumni Action Group/Concerned Students & Alumni of the San Francisco Art Institute
- The Student Loan Bubble, and SFAI Data
- The Failure of the SFAI Administration
- SFAI Interim President Sends Cryptic Message
- Chris Bratton Resigns -- TWICE
- URGENT -- Our SFAI Professors Need Your Help!! -- Update, Fall 2010
- SFAI Action Group Supports Efforts To Restore Consumer Protections for Student Loans