Thanks, but…

Ted Hamilton

Say what you want about President Lefton, but the man knows how to raise money.

On his watch, Kent State had the most donations raised this year since… well, since ever. The president and his people deserve a big congratulations pulling off such an accomplishment at times when donations in for nonprofit groups has seen a decrease, thanks to the economic crisis.

Still, other things need done at our university – and all places of higher learning – to alleviate the stress on students and taxpayers.

One thing that could be done is to stop wasting hundreds of thousands of dollars on any renovation that is purely cosmetic, like the Prentice Gate. There are a lot of better things the university could have spent $200,000 on that have an intrinsic value like new desks in Bowman Hall or hiring a new professor or two so students do not have to rely on adjuncts to teach their classes.

Even if the world was not in an economic mess, why spend so much money on something to make it look pretty?

At Hiram College, several members of the administration took 5 percent pay cuts. Although a presidential pay cut might be more symbolic than anything, shouldn’t Kent State follow the example?

With his total compensation approximately $519,000, President Lefton is not quite making chump change. For most of us, that amount of money seems unattainable.

Last year our president also got more than $70,000 as a bonus along with a 3 percent pay increase. This year, however, the economy remains bloodied and beaten on life support. As far as anybody knows, there is no real date for when things will be fixed, either – some say things will be back to a semblance of normal in a year, others say it will be more than a decade.

It is not just Lefton who should take a decrease in his salary, but virtually all administrators at the university.

The university could save some money or create some scholarships for potential students. Bearing the financial burden for college is difficult at the best of times. As more people become unemployed the burden will only grow.

Kent State is already raising room and board next year, as well as raising the costs for parking permits. The cost of gaining an education is rising across the nation.ÿ

This is especially true in Ohio, where tuition is third highest in the country, and costs keep rising.

Much like our national congressmen and women, who gave themselves another pay increase in December, university administrators in Ohio seem to exemplify the “Do as I say, not as I do” meme.

Cuts need to be made across the board, not just in the administration’s salaries.

Recently, this newspaper published information pertaining to how much money is spent each year on cell phones for university employees. While I argue there are definitely cases in which cell phones are needed, I do not believe so many are needed that the university needs to spend over $200,000 on them.

Especially when officials are not keeping track of where all of the minutes on the phones are going.

Some of the changes that are needed should be implemented permanently, not just because we are in a recession. There needs to be a stop in cosmetic touch-ups here and there – especially the ones costing as much as the Prentice Gate – that serve no real purpose other than looking pretty.

Maybe, as happened with so many people who lived during the Great Depression, the university will open its eyes and permanently tighten its belt to help make Ohio a more affordable option for students who choose to go to school here.

Things have a way of getting worse before getting better.

Ted Hamilton is a senior magazine journalism major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].