Letter to the Editor: Board of Trustees justified in actions



After reading Monday’s opinion piece on the Board of Trustee’s apparent disconnect from university needs, I felt it necessary to point out the complete lack of understanding of how a university budget and priorities are set as described within the article.

One of the biggest demands of campus student leaders has been an improved student center.

While serving on the Vice President for Student Affairs search committee just last year, I had the pleasure of conducting a survey at an annual student leaders retreat. Besides accessibility to students, experience in building a new and improved Student Center ranked at the top.

When students come to campus, it might be easy for the upperclassmen to assume their criteria will start with the quality of classrooms.

However, plenty of research has shown that students select universities by how welcoming and social the campus feels. One of the largest factors of retention is based on students getting involved in at least one extracurricular activity in their first 90 days as a student.

Graduate success in finding a career increasingly hinges on more than in-class studies. All of these reasons call for a student center far beyond what we have now.

Funding for the Student Center will only come in small part from the tuition increase. While tuition hikes are frustrating, students need to realize that less than 20 percent of the campus budget comes from tuition, and in-state tuition is largely subsidized by out-of-state students paying extra. Most of the money for the Student Center will come from bonds and cash on hand.

As an aside, the previous article decided to bring complaint against the extension of Mitch Barnhart’s contract, contrasting it with teacher salaries.

Our athletics program is one of the most profitable in the country and is established as a separate entity. Salaries for the program come from athletics funds, not from university funds. Mitch is one of the first athletics directors to actually put a focus on programs other than football and basketball, all the while still making generous contributions to various campus needs. (If you have a scholarship, chances are quite high that at least part of it is from the athletics budget.)

Finally, the letter addressed the confidentiality of a presidential search. To get the best possible candidates for the position, the university must recruit from other high-profile positions in university administrations.

Without confidentiality, nobody with a successful career in his right mind would put his name into the running and risk his current job.

Why ruin 100 applicants’ careers for one open position? Try to imagine a job application that required your current employer to know you were looking for a new position first, and you will quickly understand the value of confidentiality.

I certainly don’t agree with everything the Board does — Do you guys really need your own elevator blocked off for your entire board meeting? — but demanding the Board “grow up” without understanding the intricacies of running a multimillion-dollar university smacks of hypocrisy.

Matthew Longacre

Patterson School of Diplomacy graduate student