What the new RU Budget Means to You

Today’s email brought this summary of the new RU budget, written by a current student.  It’;s a sad but succinct look at what happens to a university that can afford only football:

So, the new budget is out,[ http://news.rutgers.edu/medrel/rutgers-board-of-gov-20080717 and unsurprisingly, with steep reductions in State funding, tuition costs are the first to take a hit, rising by 8.5%. In addition to raising tuition, the plan to ride out this crisis hatched by the woeful “Board of Boosters” at Rutgers is this: “budget cuts in administrative, instructional and support units; continued efficiency gains on all three campuses; and deferrals of expenditures”. In short, we’re going to further cut away at the heart of our academic programs, while neglecting the myriad of problems on campus still further (if further neglecting the state of the campus at Rutgers is indeed possible) . If you are a student and wonder what this large increase in your fees is funding, look no further than the $1 million salary Rutgers President Dick McCormick took home last year (the highest in America) as reward for a dishonest, weak and incompetent performance as president of this university. And of course, there’s also the salaries of Greg Schiano ($1.8 million plus) and Vivian Stringer ($800,000 plus) http://sports.espn.go.com/ncw/news/story?id=2848472 to be funded by the students paying through the nose to attend Rutgers.

But what better way for the McCormick administration to “meet the challenges of the coming year and maintain Rutgers’ commitment to excellence, access and affordability,” as our million-dollar president puts it himself, than to sack more staff and defer more maintenance in order to throw money at the Rutgers Stadium expansion with no idea where the money is coming from? If ever a president and board of governors deserved firing for gross incompetence, then it’s here at Rutgers, where without even bothering to consult the university community, our “leaders” rushed into an idiotic and fiscally suicidal hail-Mary-borrow-and-hope scheme without so much as the funds to pay for it. Indeed, as the Philadelphia Inquirer reports, http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20080717_Obstacles_mounting_for_Rutgers_Stadium.html of the $30 million dollars minimum that Rutgers needs from Governor Corzine’s fundraising, so far only $250,000 has been raised. That’s less than 1%. And, as assemblyman Patrick Diegnan says in the same article, he simply “cannot see the state kicking in any money at this time”. So, where will the money come from when Corzine comes up short and the construction fees (currently $18 million over budget) blow out?

Students, that’s who it will come from. Academics, that’s where it will come from. The maintenance desperately needed to stop campus crumbling, that’s what it will come from. In short, it is the students of this university who will again suffer the consequences of an indifferent State government, of an incompetent and dishonest university president, and of a board of governors that is a study in mediocrity and mendacity. The miserable tenure of William Howard Jr., current chair of the Board of Boosters at Rutgers has been characterized by a complete incomprehension of what a university is and what the primary role of a university consists of. (I’ll give you a hint, Bill – it’s not to watch football!) While Mr. Howard and President McCormick fiddle merrily away, Rutgers burns. That a university in a fiscal crisis should be blundering ahead with a $102-150 million dollar gamble on a football stadium without any idea of what exactly it will cost or where the money to fund it will come from is a scandal and an unmitigated disgrace. As the Board of Governors and President McCormick raise fees again and cut again from the core function of Rutgers – to provide the best education possible for its students – while pouring more money into football, they prove themselves unfit for the tenures they hold. If they had the slightest bit of integrity and concern for the students they represent, they would resign in disgrace. It is their continuing and damaging presence here that makes the crisis at Rutgers ever more serious.

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