Wednesday, December 19, 2012

How Do State Universities Build Luxurious Buildings in an Age of State Government Austerity? - They Borrow the Money, Of Course

What About the Fact That States Must Balance Their Budgets?  - Forget About It

When objective analysis can be done about the current state of higher education, (and such analysis will not be able to take place for at least 100 years), the decline and fall of state college and universities will be given a top place on the list ranking in the causes of the decline and fall of the United States.  Mismanagement, attention to athletics and bloated budgets will be prominent in the discussion.  And also a part of the analysis will be documentation of lavish spending by state colleges and universities, most of it with borrowed money.

For example, here is Miami University (the Ohio one, not the Florida one) which is a state school and supposedly supported by the state.

David K. Creamer, vice president for finance and business services at Miami University, said the importance of college rankings had pressured administrators to spend more and more. In some rankings, the effect of spending is direct because institutions with “the best dorms” or “the best athletic facilities” are singled out. The effect on other rankings is indirect: better facilities attract better students, and that ultimately raises rankings, Mr. Creamer said.

“There is nothing in there that says if you become more efficient, your ratings will go up. They will probably go down,” he said.

Miami borrowed money to renovate antiquated dorms and a student union, but Mr. Creamer warned that colleges cannot indefinitely spend their way to the top. “It’s not a sustainable approach,” he said. Miami’s debt increased this year to $444 million, a 36 percent increase from last year.

So why is this happening in conservative Ohio?  Because the state will not tax the residents to support higher education, so the college must borrow.  This of course leads to the next question, why are these people called Conservatives?  But the situation at Miami is a great lesson in how politicians and governments get around a no-borrowing environment.  And you don’t even have to go to college to understand how it works.

And finally here is a comment from the head of the big university in Ohio.

At the Ohio State University, President E. Gordon Gee declared the era of “Taj Mahal-like” dormitories and academic buildings over.

Of course, nowhere is the answer to the question, why did the era of Taj Mahal like facilities ever start?

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