It's sad to see University of Maryland President C.D. Mote Jr. [Outlook, June 20] using a half-page of your editorial space to champion the privatization model for the University of Maryland at College Park instead of rallying Maryland residents to reprise the public-good model that built U.S. public higher education into the world leader.

He could have explained how non-essential spending and the adoption of marketplace economics have allowed public college costs to skyrocket at five times the rate of inflation since 1970, and how a return to common-sense frugality can rescue the system. Public colleges now gleefully charge what the market will bear and let nonprofit accounting hide the excess as the "cost of education." Mote justifies it by holding the concept of quality hostage.

Tuition in 1970 during my final year at the University of Illinois, a public peer of Maryland, was $300. Inflation over the past 34 years would have raised that amount to about $1,500, not the $7,900 Illinois now charges in-state residents or the $7,400 Marylanders pay at College Park.

Quality public education doesn't require a staff of 500 earning more than double the state's median household income and 30 employees hauling down four times that amount. Nor does it require palatial offices and homes as presidential perks or five-star hotels for travel. It just requires public servants with enough dedication to public service to work for fair salaries and be satisfied with a work environment devoid of extravagance. And it requires college presidents willing to set the example.

-- Mike McGough