Pay for celebrity guest speakers could be used elsewhere on campus

The combined total of funds spent on Abby Wambach and Randall Cobb could have paid tuition for one semester for 13 in-state students, or 6 out of state students.


UK students are no strangers to Student Activities Board posters around campus advertising events like the recent talks from sports stars Abby Wambach and Randall Cobb. We might not stop for the posters, but students, faculty and staff should take a moment to think about the cost of these events.

According to contracts obtained by the Kentucky Kernel through an open records request, Wambach was paid $37,500 to speak at UK for one night. She was paid $2,500 more than Cobb, so the cost to bring these two speakers totaled to a hefty $72,500.

For this price, UK got to hear from Wambach and Cobb, two successful and influential athletes creating an experience for students. But money is crucial for a university, especially with 4.5 percent budget cuts being enacted, and the necessity of events must be called into question. 

While it’s great to bring influential people to UK, $72,500 could be spent on other important things.

For example, for an in-state student to come to UK, tuition is $5,390 per semester. An out of state student pays $12,052 per semester. 

So instead of SAB bringing Wambach and Cobb to campus, 13 in-state students’ tuition could be payed for (for a semester), or 6 out of state students. Also, $72,500 could go toward hiring another faculty member (like that of communications professor Douglas Boyd — $74,421).

Unfortunately, the cost for bringing in these speakers cannot be adjusted because SAB does not decide on the pay for the speakers.

“There is a set artist fee provided by the artist and the agency,” SAB President Olivia Senter wrote in an email to the Kentucky Kernel. “There is no set budget for speakers. We have a multi-faceted proposal and voting process in which every event SAB does is required to meet all four of our core values (Diversity, Enrichment, Teamwork, Stewardship).”

SAB bringing in Wambach and Cobb certainly created an experience for students, and a large number of students showed up to see Wambach and Cobb speak. 

But was that experience worth more than the knowledge a professor could bring to the university? How does it compare to a semester’s education for 13 students?

However, it is still good to bring powerful and influential speakers to campus. Doing so brings attention to our campus and provides inspiration for students.

If nothing else, students should at least be aware of how these hefty costs are funded. While many of these events are advertised as free to students, the cost can be found in our student fees.

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