One of the goals of reTHINK PSU is to reduce what it costs students to get a degree. I am guessing it is not news to anyone that around the country, the cost of textbooks and other course materials have become a major contributing factor to the financial barriers faced by students. Students at PSU are not immune to this. The College Board estimated the 2013-14 cost for textbooks and supplies for the average undergraduate to be $1207.
We at PSU think it is important to address textbook affordability as one more piece of the puzzle of reducing the cost of a degree. Through the urging and leadership of our Library Dean, Marilyn Moody, and in collaboration with the Faculty Senate and ASPSU, we will be creating a task force in the fall to determine how PSU can lower course material costs for PSU students.
We know there are many questions as we open up the textbook/course materials cost can of worms: Can we really reduce costs when so much of the cost of published material is out of our hands? What role will faculty need to play? Will this be an effort to tell faculty what books/resources they can and cannot assign for their courses? Are open source materials any good? What are the technical and policy barriers to reducing textbook cost? And, I am sure there are other concerns and questions.
Our task force will be jointly appointed by the Provost, Faculty Senate and ASPSU to make sure we have all perspectives represented. We plan to launch the task force this fall. We will provide regular updates and a variety of ways for you to share your ideas and comments.