Snyder to EMU (and other state supported universities): Drop Dead

The not exactly surprising budget cuts to EMU (and other public universities in Michigan) have been announced and they are significant. around 15% give or take.  Here’s how freep.com describes the impact and the “grants” for keeping tuition low in “Schools reeling from Snyder’s proposed cuts:”

Funding to the state’s 15 public universities would be cut by 15%, or more if universities raise tuition by more than 7% in the 2011-12 academic year. Snyder is enticing universities to keep the rate increases below 7% by offering tuition incentive grants.

The grants vary from university to university, with Michigan State University eligible for the most, at $18.3 million. Other amounts: $13.9 million to University of Michigan; $12.8 million to Wayne State University, $3.2 million to Eastern Michigan University, $3.8 million to Oakland University and $1.4 million to University of Michigan-Dearborn.

Universities that increase tuition more than 7 percent would not only have their state funding cut by 15%, but it would also be cut by the equivalent of what they would receive in the tuition grant.

Now, Susan Martin tried to put a rosy face on all this with an email to the campus (which I include in the “continued” part of this post), but I am left with two general thoughts here:

  • Since the “grant” program that Snyder is proposing doesn’t really make up for the loss of state funding, what really is the incentive for places like EMU to not raise tuition to make up costs?  I mean, I’m not in charge of these things (and it’s a good thing!), but I guess if I were, I’d say forget your grants and unreliable funding– let’s raise tuition and fees so we can pay the bills and behave like the “non-public” university we really are.
  • How’d that 0/0/0% thing work out again?  Any credit for that?  Any?

Here’s what Martin wrote:

Governor Snyder’s budget presentation earlier today included sweeping tax reforms and budget reductions aimed at reducing the state budget deficit, which has been estimated as high as $1.8 billion. The proposed budget includes reductions to higher education funding. The amount of the proposed reduction is significant. For Eastern, it would amount to a 19 percent decrease from our current operations funding from the state. This would represent a reduction of $14.7 million, from $76 million to $61.3 million. The Governor also unveiled a plan for universities to receive an incentive grant for keeping tuition and fees below the most recent five-year average of annual changes in tuition and fee rates of all of Michigan’s universities, which stands at approximately 7 percent. For Eastern, this would result in a $3.3 million grant. Adding in the proposed grant, the overall funding reduction would be $11.4 million, or 15 percent.

This would have a significant impact on our overall General Fund operating budget, which this year stands at $280.9 million. The General Fund budget would ordinarily increase roughly 2-3 percent in 2011-2012, due primarily to scheduled increases in salaries and other operating costs. 

While the Governor’s budget will now be submitted for legislative review and input and the final numbers might change, it is clear that Michigan universities will face significant challenges in the year ahead. How Eastern addresses the reduction in our state appropriation will be crucial, as I indicated in my campus messages on January 20 and in my report to the Board of Regents on Tuesday. Difficult discussions and difficult decisions will have to take place as we seek to find new ways to reduce costs and increase revenue to make up the difference. It is important that we continue to engage our university community, including students, faculty and staff, as we address the budget challenges and finalize plans for 2011-2012We must maintain the positive momentum and pride in Eastern that we have generated and the growth we have achieved, and conduct this process with transparency, with civility, and with opportunities for input and involvement, to create a framework for long-term success.

Due to our determined efforts to keep tuition and fees, room and board at the lowest percentage increase of any state university over the last two years, we are approaching this challenge from a position of strength and positive momentum. We are building off of two consecutive years of enrollment growth, and projections indicate strong and continued growth in fall 2011. Compared to last year, fall 2011 freshman applications are up 32 percent (2,537); transfer applications are up 50 percent (429); and graduate applications are up 24 percent (291). We are in a good position not only to weather the storm, but, as the Governor indicated, to find new solutions and continue to create great opportunities for our students, faculty and staff.

We will conduct a budget forum on Monday, February 21, from 4-5 p.m. in the Student Center Auditorium. The forum will provide additional details about the impact of the proposed state reductions and our plans to address them. This will be the seventh forum we have held since summer 2009 in our ongoing effort to facilitate open dialogue about budget issues that affect our campus.

Chief Financial Officer John Lumm and I will provide a brief budget update, and we will be joined by two special guests for the remainder of the forum. Congressman John Dingell will provide an update on federal funding issues related to higher education. This will be followed by the presentation, “Michigan’s Economy: Past, Present, and Future,” by Charles Ballard, professor of economics at Michigan State University. Professor Ballard is the director of the State of the State Survey in MSU’s Institute for Public Policy and Social Research. He has served as a consultant with the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Health and Human Services, and Treasury, and is the author of “Michigan’s Economic Future.”

Now is the time that our greater community of alumni and friends can really help support Eastern through “Invest. Inspire. The Campaign for Eastern Michigan University” www.emufoundation.org. Encourage those you know to support Eastern at this important time.

I appreciate the challenges that the budget situation will create for all of us in the weeks and months ahead. I look forward to working with you and communicating with you regularly as we proceed through this process.

Sue Martin

27 responses to “Snyder to EMU (and other state supported universities): Drop Dead

  1. Any wagers on what next year’s tuition increases will be? 20%? 25%?

  2. Sorting through my email this morning, I thought I’d share this one that Susan Moeller passed along to faculty from the president of the Michigan AAUP. It seems relevant here to me.

    Dear Michigan AAUP Conference Members:

    If what is happening in Ohio and Wisconsin is any indication of how the State of Michigan’s Governor and Legislature is going to handle its budget deficit, by eliminating collective bargaining rights, we are in for a battle. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has declared that he is “ Readying the National Guard ”. Ohio Senate Republicans have submitted legislation to wipe out collective bargaining rights and held a hearing at which more than 800 public-employee union members attended in a show of protest.

    Michigan Republicans have filed a number of Bills that follow this same path, but have yet to schedule a hearing for the public to attend. They include the following:

    SB 0116 , SB 0120 , H4054 – establishing “right to work” zones in local governments (city, county, township, or village).

    SB 0007 – Health Premiums: states that an employer will not pay more than 80% of single coverage and 75% of family coverage on renewal of a collective bargaining agreement.

    H 4052 – prohibits the use of employer facilities or services for political or organizing activity.

    H 4059 – prohibits a public employer from paying release time for union business.

    I am writing to let you know that your MIAAUP Conference is coordinating efforts with the National AAUP, the Ohio Conference of the AAUP and more importantly, a coalition of all unions throughout the State of Michigan in a campaign called WorkingMI. (Working Michigan) Taking the lead on this campaign will be the MI AFL-CIO as well as MEA, AFT and MIAAUP. More details of this campaign will become available in the near future.

    We have seen Governors and Legislatures in other States attempt to balance budgets on the backs of hard-working public employees. We have seen those efforts fail when a coordinated, tactical and forceful response is made. It is now time for the public employees of Michigan to come together.

    MIAAUP Conference members may be asked to write to their legislators, attend legislative hearings, or submit op-ed’s or columns to newspapers. We may be looking for faculty voices in this campaign to speak out against this method of balancing the budget. If you feel you would like to contribute more, let your Chapter President know and we will establish a leadership group.

    I will be using the Conference website as a source of information for you and I will be emailing updates as they are needed. Please visit the website for additional information.

    You will be hearing from me soon.

    In solidarity,

    Michael Bailey

  3. Tennessee has also had a bill come out of committee that would do similar damage to teachers and other public employees.

  4. Sitedad, with all due respect, I don’t think your headline for this post is fair. Yeah, I don’t like the prospect of real big cuts in state appropriations for higher ed; but Gov. Synder is faced with a serious state fiscal crisis, and his approach is careful and not generically anti-education, anti-union (unlike that of the Wisconsin governor). Long term, the biggest problem with Snyder’s proposal is the combining of higher ed and K-12 school funds into one pool, separate from the state’s General Fund: Setting up K-12 and higher ed to compete for the same limited pool of dollars is not a coherent way to build a system of education for the state’s citizens, K-through college and such a system is what the state’s economic future greatly depends on.

    As for the cuts facing EMU: They constitute unprecedented managerial challenges for Eastern. For a decade, we’ve had nearly annual cries of “budget crisis” from Welch Hall, and the crisis was blamed on Lansing, and it NEVER came…until this year. Now there really are major results for EMU of the state’s fiscal crisis. The question is, how will EMU handle it: with a short term mentality, or one that considers long term institutional objectives?

    It’s a mistake, Sitedad, to think cuts in state $ can be equaled easily by increasing tuition: Our recently growing enrollments are in part price dependent. Remember, 25% of children in this state live in poverty, and what are the unemployment and foreclosure rates? Too damn high to think we can count on a protracted future period of raising tuition and fees to get by.

    Governor Snyder gets one thing clear: a restructuring of priorities is in order, and is indispensable, for most ventures in the state. On this, he is absolutely right — though we can dispute him on details. But the state has a hugh fiscal crisis, and so too does public higher education. The governor is pushing us all to think strategically and to get out of the habit of doing everything the way it’s always been done….he’s against government by inertia, and the state has long been governed by inertia.

    I’m not saying I trust the governor on all things; but I am giving him his due for seriously trying to tackle serious problems. And for higher ed, he’s structuring his proposals so as to discourage a knee jerk auto-response of big tuition jumps every year. Trying to go that route is to follow a road map to disaster. Dealing now with the imperative of making real choices over real priorities, of putting educaton first, ahead of expensive secondary priorities that are peripheral to the university’s mission, is the strategically smart choice. Can EMU do that? If so, we can bridge the approximately $13 million cut this year with no great loss of anything essential, and position ourselves for much favorable publicity, and have our finances on a firmer long term basis.

    PS – while I don’t like the headline you gave this post being applied to the current Michigan situation, I do like the reference to Jerry Ford and the NY POST headline of 1975: “Ford to City: Drop Dead” in hugh type size. That year marked the onset of the fiscal crisis of American government, and it’s been cycling downward ever since. Governor Snyder has some ideas that do seem aimed at stopping that spiral, so I give him lots of credit for sincere proposals. He’s not looking to short term political advantage, that’s for sure.

    • Mark gets my headline reference– more an attention getter than anything else, and I am pretty sure that more than Ford got the “drop dead” treatment. So it is a hyperbole for sure.

      I am concerned though about the idea of combining K-12 and higher ed in one pool (I hadn’t heard that one before– that’s just kind of nuts), and I do return to the idea of the 0/0/0% thing. Unless I’m missing something here, EMU has gotten NOTHING out of that gesture last year, certainly nothing in terms of this new budget proposal.

      AND– just to make matters worse– I heard that EMU is going to have to cut something like $2 million before April this year because we missed the goal for enrollments. This would have been avoided had EMU would have gone with the less sexy slogan of 2/2/2% for this last school year, and it clearly would have made absolutely no difference to Snyder in terms of the cut to EMU.

  5. New Med School anyone?

  6. Regarding the 0-0-0% increase thing, didn’t everyone see this coming? Regardless of party politics, did anyone really think EMU could survive with a 0% increase and NOT have need to implement a large jump in tuition in the following years? I think the budget cut by Snyder is just an ironic sidecar which compounds Eastern’s financial problems.

  7. Hey Jay,

    My own personal answer to your question is that a zero increase last year was a good choice, a very smart choice, by EMU; and we could and should do zero increase this year too. We could, if the REALLY sacred cows in the EMU budget were tackled, manage a zero increase in 2011-12 while also dealing with $13 million or so in state appropriations reductions.

    But who among the decision makers is willing and able to look at the sacred cows that consume so much and contribute so little that is measurable to the university’s core mission?

    As for the zero increase for this year: It’s pay off, if any, will be with students starting here in Fall 2011; most new students have long made their college choice decision before the spring, when EMU last year announced its 0/0/0 increase. EMU needs, from a marketing point of view, a message with substance and a consistent focus on that message. Zero increase in cost is an excellent message, but to really pay off, it needs to be applied more than once.

    All that above may just be my idealistic educator nature sounding off. Even short of idealism, though, I have to ask you a question, Jay: Would EMU’s situation now be better if we’d not frozen tuition a year ago? If so, how? We’d likely, it seems to me, be in line for less of a “rebate” under the Governor’s plan — and we’d have undercut one of the key attributes prospective students name when thinking of EMU: affordability. That’s a desired trait.

    • As an incoming student to the honors college in 2011, I agree with this post completely. The 0/0/0 campaign was a huge factor in my coming to EMU, it showed an initiative and reversal in trends previously establish by other universities nationwide. However, I ask this, what are the “sacred cows” i’ve seen referred to many time throughout this blog.

    • Dear SB210,

      First, welcome to EMU! An excellent choice! You’ll get a great education. And I especially welcome you to the Honors College, a wonderful part of the EMU campus (of course, I have special feelings for Honors at EMU, as I was once Honors Director, years ago).

      Second: You ask what “sacred cows” are meant when people refer to them on this blog. I use the term to refer to expensive programs that aren’t examined for their cost-benefit impact on the university; specifically, I mean EMU’s athletics programs, which run at huge operating loses year after year, draining resources from the academic mission of the university. Of course, it’s true that nearly all athletic programs in the US cost more than they produce in revenue; but that fact isn’t a reason to keep throwing good money after bad — rather, it’s a fact that underscores how highly improbable it is that Eastern’s athletic program will ever be able to produce enough revenue to meet even 75% of its costs.

      What exactly should be done with EMU’s athletics budget & programs and their associated but not always known costs is something I don’t know; I do know that they should be evaluated for costs & benefits. And I think EMU can do this. We can do all that is necessary for our students’ well being. The real question is — will we?

      And SB109 — it’d be my pleasure to have you in class this Fall! Welcome to EMU!

  8. Does anyone doubt that EMU supports at least one enterprise that produces 1) no student credit hours, 2) virtually no revenue compared to its costs, 3) lacks any serious sizable support among the community, among current students, or among alumni, and 4) costs about as much or more as the $11 million cut in state funds proposed by the Governor?

    This enterprise is centered on what some call the “West Campus” but some of it is located in Bowen as well. Nationwide, inter-collegiate athletics is on an even less sustainable fiscal basis than is the state of Michigan’s government, and EMU’s athletic program is, financially, at the bottom of the 120 institutions of Division 1. And athletics is not a factor in students selecting EMU over other schools; all the survey data support the conclusion that EMU athletics is largely irrelevant to recruiting the students who come here (aside from the recruited athletes).

    There is, clearly, a solution for the state cuts in appropriations, waiting to be acted on. Can EMU do this? Yes, we can: it’s the right thing to do, and the courageous thing, and also the choice that will produce widespread favorable publicity for Eastern. Drop intercollegiate athletics, now, and award scholarships for academic work alone, to all currently enrolled student athletes. EMU currently pays over 1% of its total operating expenses to coaches alone, and that’s wildly imbalanced. Instead, we could pay them all one nice severance check and move on to Education First priorities.

    That choice points toward greatness for EMU in the future. The other choice is to cut academics in order to maintain high subsidies of the athletic programs, and that choice is to enter a downward cycle of ever rising expenses for athletics and ever declining academics, due to underfunding.

  9. I think Mark makes some good points about 0-0-0, but I do think Eastern will only know its real value after fall 2011 enrollment numbers are in. At the state level, it’s actually become a penalty, because the gov’s proposal is based on *percentage,* as opposed to a per-capita increase. Since EMU’s base is now smaller, any percentage increases will net less revenue. Other universities will get more revenue.

    The governor should have looked at that. He should have designated a dollar amount – say, $1,000 per full-time student, or $100 per credit hour, or the like. That would have leveled the playing field. What he did was give the wealthier institutions a head start.

    I think Eastern will keep its tuition increases reasonable, in keeping with its theme over the past 5 or so years. And I think the budget cutting has to be real this time – no more of the across-the-board, just-embrace-mediocrity stuff.

    I’m inclined to agree about cutting athletics, except it seems like an easy target. Has a feasibility study ever been conducted, showing athletics’ true value to the university vs. costs? Wouldn’t that be called for?

    • I think that’s an excellent point, Solidarity. Again, what I keep coming back to is that while the 0/0/0% might have been good PR that retained and attracted new students to EMU (welcome, SB109!). But if the effect a year or two down the road is what we’re seeing– that is, the same simplistic budget cut strategies from the state that ultimately end up hurting us more than necessary, and NOT the level of enrollment that we were hoping the 0/0/0% thing would have attracted– then it didn’t work well and we might have screwed ourselves over just that much more.

      As for cutting athletics: I think that’s more complicated than a lot of professor-types like me make it out to be. I’m not sure it’s a situation where we axe anything that has to do with sports out of the budget that our problems are solved. But besides that, that’s a thought experiment at best because the board of regents would never ever never approve of such a thing. I am pretty sure they’d vote to close down the college of arts and sciences before they’d vote to close down football.

  10. Not that it will ever happen but hypothetically speaking, if the university were to cut athletics EMU as a whole would change. We might as well become a community college. The culture of the university has drastically changes over the past 10-15 years and although we have a good chunk of students living on campus, we have a large community of commuters and non-traditional students. By dropping athletics, out peers won’t be CMU and WMU but WCC and other community colleges. And I doubt we could even compete because our size is way too big to even offer the affordable education that they can.

    Sure, can we look at athletics and other programs to see how we can cut costs but will athletics ever be cut? Never. How much does EMU raise each year? 5-7 million. I guarantee at least 1 million of it comes in in support of athletics. EMU would be stupid to virtually cut off at least 1/5 of it’s fundraising.

    Plus we all know the regents love athletics and it will never happen, so keep dreaming.

    What the university needs to do is take a careful look at everyones spending and make sure that it is fiscally responsible.

    • I don’t know how much money EMU athletics raises in private support annually, and that amount is nowhere to be found in the annual report. I do know (from the annual report) that a grand total of SIX individuals gave $5,000 or more to athletics last year. Three others gave $5,000 or more as memorial gifts, and the E-Gridiron group (comprising people who already donate) pooled its gifts to exceed the $5,000 level. So, these are Athletics’ “major donors.” Ten total people and/or organizations. I guarantee they didn’t all give $100,000 or more – that would have been listed in the report, and elsewhere.

      Stepping down to the next level, a grand total of SIX people gave between $2,500 and $5,000. So, you have less than 20 people, TOTAL, willing to donate a minimum of $2,500 to Eastern athletics last year. The vast majority of the gifts were well below $500. And those don’t add up very quickly.

      I will also point out that the “where gifts were directed” chart says 62.3% of gifts to EMU were donated to colleges and departments, 28.2% went to endowed scholarships, 4.3% went to expendable scholarships, and 2.4% went to planned gifts. 1.2% was undesignated. That leaves only 1.6% in the “miscellaneous” category.

      So I don’t know where your guarantee of $1 million for athletics, or 20% of EMU’s total, comes in.

      Even if athletics did raise $1 million, how much of that goes toward athletics expenses? And how much does the university spend on athletics? I’m guessing it’s more than you think.

      The bigger question is: Is athletics worth the money spent on it? I’m not even seeing that question asked around EMU, much less any attempt at an evidence-based answer. I really do want to know, as I’m sure others do. If it’s demonstrably worth the money, then people will stop asking for it to be cut.

      • I believe if you read the annual report correctly, it states that six people gave over $5000, but you have no idea how much that truly is. They could have given 5,000 or they could have given one million. In fact, I believe if my memory serves me correct, one of those donors gave a pledge of $1 million dollars over 5 years. So yes, I can believe that athletics could be a decent chunk of the funds raised.

        • Apparently it’s about half a million total donated to athletics in a year – using the figures reported below by Andrew. Half a million is not chump change (and it’s 10% of the total raised by the Foundation), but it’s not getting anywhere near the actual costs of athletics – even when combined with all other revenue sources.

          Another question that’s NOT getting asked about fundraising is the opportunity-cost question. If the general fund dollars being directed toward athletics were spent on supporting amazing/awesome academic programs instead, how much money could be raised as additional, private support for those programs? Success breeds success… if Eastern had more nationally-known, prominent academic programs, they’d probably raise more money.

  11. It seems that ‘eliminate athletics’ is a knee-jerk reaction to any and all fiscal discussions concerning EMU.

    If benefits to the ‘general student population vs. costs’ is a measure of viable programs (as has been argued in previous discussions concerning athletics at EMU), then perhaps we should review academic departments with low enrollments. Is it wise to keep funding departments where there are few students enrolled? Is this ever discussed during academic program review?

    Perhaps it is time to trim away some of the programs that are no longer sought after by students. These are difficult discussions to entertain, but facing unprecedented state budget cuts, surely no department in academic affairs, student affairs or athletics can enjoy ‘sacred cow’ status much longer.

  12. Mary,

    What departments do you have in mind that have so few students that they should be examined for elimination? And yes, enrollment trends are considered in program review, very much so, absolutely.

    I may be wrong, but to my knowledge, not a single academic department on campus has costs that exceeds it direct revenue production through tuition and fees. This used to be true some years ago, and I know of nothing new that would suggest it’s no longer true.

    In contrast, the athletics programs, wonderful as they are, clearly and overwhelmingly produce costs that exceed revenues; and there’s been no serious argument based on evidence or studies ever conducted by the university that suggests EMU’s athletic program is an important and favorable factor in college students’ selection of EMU. The donations made to athletics are welcome and generous: but they are far less than the operating costs of the programs. Indeed, much of what AD officials here and around the country say is “revenue” for their programs are merely mandatory fees taken from students — hardly true revenue, but rather a mandatory allocation of costs to students for athletic programs that very few EMU students have any real interest in participating.

    I think better of the Regents than some of my colleagues do. I think the Regents want to look at the tough situations facing higher ed in Michigan and want a strategy that works for EMU.

    There’s nothing “knee jerk” about saying that EMU or any university should look seriously at its whole costs structure; and that cost structure includes a very large subsidy from academic tutition and fees revenue toward athletics. Athletics can’t get that kind of support in the free market, and maybe our students can’t afford it either.

    As for EMU becoming a community college if we don’t have NCAA athletics: That’s not the distinction between a university and a community college! The distinction is what kind of degree programs the institution offers. EMU’s real attraction for students is the academic quality of our programs. Can EMU afford to cut those programs’ quality in order to maintain current levels of subsidy to athletics? Isn’t that the question facing EMU now? Are not these legitimate questions to ask? How to answer these questions is complicated, and reasonable people may disagree. But I don’t think anybody should, or that Regents do, object to these very real and legitimate questions being posed.

  13. Mark-

    Take a look for yourself:
    http://irim.emich.edu/data_dept_profile.php#

    It seems to me that a high ‘cost per student credit hour’ and low number of degree recipients indicates a problem, but that may be an overly simplistic way to view the data.

  14. Dear Mary,

    Among the simplistic ways you seem to read “the data” in the source you link to is the idea that “low number of degree recipients” is the main or major way of measuring economic viability of academic offerings. That approach excludes all the students who take courses offered in one department but have majors and graduate in another; such as, say, chemistry courses taken by bio majors.

    There has been in recent years a mistaken pressure to close down programs that have low enrollments, even when those programs have no costs. Yes, a university can and often does run academic programs that are, in essence, without cost. If you don’t know how that works, you don’t know how EMU operates, but I’ll explain it over coffee if you like, to you or any EMUTalk reader who requests a tutorial. Surprisingly, some top decision makers mistake low enrollments/low number of graduates equal an expensive program…but of course, the same course or set of courses can serve the needs of students enrolled in totally different programs and some programs add no courses to the schedule.

    And, oh, Mary: Isn’t it interesting that when the conversation about the athletics programs’ fiscal costs came up, in response to the $13 million cut proposed by the Governor, your response was to shift the topic of conversation, rather than to make the case that athletics pays for itself or is a minor cost for the university? Very interesting, and a common tactic too. Athletics are very expensive. Those expenses can only be justified if a return on the spending worthy of the costs is demonstrated. That’s never done at EMU. Instead, the standard defense of EMU’s athletic spending is to shift the topic and to allege that academics is a money loser for EMU.

    The U. of California Berkeley last fall decided to cut some of its sports, because the university was shifting too much money ($5 million, if I recall right) from academic to athletic uses. The faculty senate and the administration agreed on this re-balancing of priorities, as a needed economy in times of fiscal austerity. That shows a university with real “Education First” values! Then more recently, Berkley announced it was going to keep some of the sports it had announced it was cutting — because private donors had come up with the money to run them. Great! A win-win all around – and a demonstration of a level of fiscal commitment from alumni and UCal sports fans that is, frankly, way beyond the most optimistic scenario for voluntary funding of EMU athletic operations.

    But if you want to believe that EMU has excessively costly academic offerings, you’ll believe what you want.

    I maintain that none of our academic departments have costs that exceeds its revenue produced by tuition and fees. (Some years ago, when I was an administrator, I heard provost office officials demonstrate this conclusively).

    Even if I’m wrong and there are a few such cases now, then at least those academic departments are still involved in the core mission of the university: Education. Maybe some programs should be offered even if their costs exceed revenue, because they serve a public need and this is a public university. Nursing is an expensive program to run, here or any where; I think ours covers its expenses, but not by much. The country and the state needs nurses, and we have a good program in nursing. Arguably, there is no comparable public need for, say, expensively subsidized college football programs, which produce no graduates (there is no degree in football, unlike nursing).

    And yes, for what it’s worth, I favor rigorous assessment of all university operations. Including academics. Especially academics.

  15. Did anyone notice Regent Sidlack’s comments on page 3 of the Thursday, February 17 edition of the Eastern Echo?

    “I think it’s unconscionable the we are continually subsidizing WEMU when it can’t break even on its own.”

    Go figure. We have a first-class (IMO) public radio station specializing in jazz (America’s classical music), right here on campus.

    Perhaps The Regents will apply the same logic to football and basketball at EMU?

    God help us.

  16. The figure I was given 3 to 4 years ago from the Controller’s Office was between 14-15 mil in expenditures and 2.5 mil in revenue (mostly from the mismatches played with the big boys) which points to a 11-12 mil deficit as of 2006-7. I was told that ticket sales and donations for Men’s BB and Football didn’t amount to much. This info was from a trusted source who had access to the data. Football alone was losing 4-5 mil a year 4 years ago. Must be more than that now. And please don’t try and disprove my figures unless you have facts to back them up. The stuff put out from the athletic department is quite a spin job and has never been accurate. I sure hope the admins. take an open and transparent look at all things EMU when making these important decisions. But then I’m an optomistic person.

    I do agree with Mark that not having Athletics would not make us a community college, but rather a fine 4 year instutution that truly values education and the amount of money students have to spend these days for a degree. If Athletics means very little to the vast majority of students enrolled here, why does the administration continue to force it down their throats and make them pay for it with hidden fees? Oh and by the way, those hidden fees amount to roughly $500 per year per student. The $500 number is based on a 15mil athletic budget, 2.5 mil in revenue, 2.5 mil support from the general fund (state appropriations) which leaves about 10 mil to be made up from fees. Based on 20k students, that’s $500 per student per year.

  17. Maybe we need to have the students vote on whether or not they’d like to continue paying for the Athletic program. Given how many of my students work and given how hard they work for their education, I rather doubt that students would vote to contribute $500 of their hard earned money to support football.

    • That’s an appealing idea, Cheryl – except that I doubt students would vote to pay for much of what they pay for. They probably would not vote to pay program fees and tuition, if asked… and probably not taxes, either. The funding of higher education is complex – probably more than it should be – and I’m not sure voting is the best way to approach who pays for what.

      Having said that, I do think it would be interesting if the university made a point of telling students how much they are paying for athletics (and everything else), so they could decide for themselves whether to bring it up as an issue.

  18. While it does not tell the whole story, the point was brought up earlier about how much money donations raise for the athletic department and how much of a loss that would be. Given the costs supplied by EMULifer, the totals published in this week’s Focus EMU pale in comparison.

    With less than a quarter million dollars donated for 2007 comparing to the totals mentioned earlier, you are looking at single digit spending from supporters of the program. This does not tell a good story for intercollegiate athletics.

    As an anecdotal argument, as a student tickets are free for me and still I really cannot be bothered to care enough to go to a game. I do almost feel cheated having to support a program that has, in my admittedly biased view, added little value to my educational experience. I do not agree that students (and taxpayers) would seriously push to not pay for most things that we do as Solidarity suggested. I gladly pay for things that are of value to me, like the stellar education I am getting here. I just dislike having to subsidize an under-performing and lackluster program that does not add as much value to the experience of both the campus and surrounding citizens for the cost that is being payed.

    I would not outright suggest disbanding the athletics department altogether, I know that there are people who get enjoyment out of the sports teams. But at least take a serious look at the structure and cost of the department and force it to operate under at least some appearance of efficiency if it would like to survive. In an age of decreased funding I would challenge the administration to hold all areas of campus expenditure to that standard, outside of course of the key areas that are necessary services such as public safety and grounds/facility maintenance.

    On the whole though, I do believe I am getting a superior value for my tuition dollars. It is the reason I chose EMU over any other institutions. I would just like to see that value continue, if not increase, for future generations of students after I leave. This is something that will not happen if the administration cannot make the tough decisions and keep the school on a fiscal path that lives up to the PR line. Education. First. We can only hope.

  19. Passive EMU talk reader

    Hi All

    Interesting discussion. If you’d like to see the true cost of EMU Athletics, go here:

    http://www.usatoday.com/sports/college/ncaa-finances.htm

    put in 2008-09 and find EMU. This is self-reported data by the EMU Athletic Department to the NCAA.

    You can watch expenses grow by $4M in 5 years or about 20%, and this does not include increases in 2009-10 and 2010-11.

    If you poke around you can find out that EMU does not have the lowest funded Athletic Department in the MAC by millions. EMU just does a better job hiding it in multiple accounts.

    Passive EMU talk reader

Leave a Reply