Re: “Maine Voices: Orono campus not first among equals” (Feb. 15):

Author Karl Turner defends the University of Maine System funding formula in light of the “shrinking pie,” to use his words.

The “shrinking pie” drives public budgetary spending – reducing government spending, being more efficient – and yet, the current administration seeks a tax cut and a restructuring of the taxation system to somehow promote jobs and growth and be more fair.

It seems a self-fulfilling prophecy to use the shrinking pie as a scapegoat when deciding not to fund UMS in a meaningful way, especially when saying students come first. The fairer questions are: Why is the pie shrinking, and what are we going to do about it?

The shrinking pie is a useful metaphor for re-structuring higher education into a corporate model. Mr. Turner’s column features an array of business/corporate total quality management phrases: “senseless inefficiencies”; “unique value proposition for the people”; “areas of study are adequately resourced”; “invest strategically”; “pursuing prominence and opportunity through distinction” (must be the mission statement).

Do students observe the world in such terms? To be sure, some students will rise to be board members someday and learn the lexicon of the boardroom. But others will pursue the universe of studies, if they are available – and everyone will need a combination of all of them to build a better society.

Mr. Turner touts the cybersecurity program. Are UMS campuses large-scale vocational schools or places to discover the universe of knowledge? Vocational schools are important in the fabric of society, but that should not be the university system’s direction. Universities are big-picture collaborations, looking toward the future.

And is it not a signature defeat for the power of the free market if the shrinking pie means we have less and will settle for less? I always thought growth was the driver of capitalism.