Hundreds of Millions of Dollars Spent on Frivolous Buildings
Egocentric Presidents, Provosts, Deans and other bureaucrats long to have their names splattered all over a building on a campus. It is a kind of immortality or everlasting life. “They won’t forget me!” In addition, since they are who they are, they qualify for two-million dollar residences to be built for them.
To that end they amass great sums of cash to build stadiums and party houses and to redecorate, re-purpose, or renovate buildings that will shout their names to passersby. At one of the universities where I taught, they spent $32 million to renovate a recreation building. They also spent about $35 million to build a library where students rarely check out a book and faculty don’t even know where it is located. Then they renovated the old library into stellar quarters for bureaucratic offices and other buildings to house technology and the business school. They spent millions on a new golf clubhouse and are now spending additional millions on renovating a golf course that hardly anyone uses. Need a T-time?
Most recently they knocked down a beautiful building, (nothing wrong with it) that was enhanced with rebar. It took months to bring it down because it was so well built. It was so sad. On the empty ground left behind, the President is building a party house where alcohol can be served. The new residence/party house faces the football stadium, of course. These projects are so important and needed on campus if your goal is to turn the university into a frat house. The President had to move all of the plant personnel out of this building, so he bought a crumbling elementary school across town and moved all the equipment and people there. (Stories say he paid $800K.) Who knows how much that move cost? All hail the intelligence of the chief! Does this make sense?
Now he is back in his office asking for cuts in academics, office personnel, and faculty to back another one of his hair-brain schemes. He would like to streamline majors and colleges so that the university is not so complicated and diverse. Little does he understand that he is destroying pluralism and future student enrollment. Or, maybe he is willing to sacrifice all of this so that his name is splattered across the front of a building? Does this make sense?
Meanwhile, back at the REAL university, roofs leak, fixtures in restrooms are broken, and the women’s restroom in my building was not renovated in 25 years. So I think it is at least 50 years old without any renovation. Buildings periodically flood because of frozen pipes. They turn off the heat and air to save money to support the President’s grand ideas. Asbestos is still hidden underneath paint, in the ceilings, and behind closed doors. Heating and cooling don’t exist in older buildings that house academic activities. Does this make sense?
Classrooms look like they were built in the fifties and technology fails you most of the time. My office would heat up to 94 degrees in the summer and never got warmer than 55 degrees in the winter. I had to open the door to the main hallway to feel any real heat. Students wore gloves to class. Does this make sense?
Professors often work in tenement-like conditions. There are no break rooms and no upgrades to furniture that is falling apart. I had to purchase my own microwave and refrigerator. I had to purchase my first desk and all the bookcases. About ten years later, I negotiated to buy a new desk for which I had to pay one half of the price. Does this make sense?
Student housing was in the same condition. Pipes froze, fires broke out, the electricity failed, and infestations abound. The Pres had cut the maintenance budget by half, some say, and they could not keep up with the problems. How can a university take money from students and ask them to live in such conditions? Does this make sense?
The other day I saw one of those sports teams from a previous university tooling down the highway in a Class A Motorhome. I could not believe it! And, even in my old age, I don’t understand how Boards of Governors or faculty allow bureaucrats to send sports teams all over the country while academics languishes in the ghetto. Faculty often have to pay for their own copying, teaching tools, and tools to be used in the classroom. Does this make sense?
In my career at a recent university, for most of my sentence, I supported the department in which I taught from my own salary while bureaucrats spent money like it is flowing like gold. I can only remember four or five times in a quarter of a century where faculty were given a one or two percent raise. Faculty are not important to them. They would eliminate them if they could figure out how to run an institution without professors. Does this make sense?
As always, this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge