Getting your money’s worth from Kent State

Matthew White

Every Kent State student should have at least one question for this university’s administration: Am I getting my money’s worth at this institution?

This question is important because every student is a consumer and the product they’re purchasing from the university costs a very large amount of money. As students, many of us take out loans, ask our families for financial help and still work part-time or full-time jobs to cover left-over costs – it’s critical we receive a spectacular education.

Unless, of course, you’re the type of student who enjoys being cheated.

But, I’m going to assume the vast majority of students realize that paying thousands of dollars for something actually entitles them to receive what it is they’re buying. And that means we deserve to have good parking conditions on campus. It means we deserve to have good living conditions in our dormitories. And it means we deserve to have good learning facilities with top-flight instructors. And, of course, it means we deserve dining facilities that prepare food we’re actually interested in eating.

For more information:

KSU VP receives top financial award, Oct. 30, 2007.

Lefton’s salary reflects executive compensation trend, Nov. 26, 2007.

More to salaries than donations and tuition money, Jan. 25, 2008.

Lefton pushes for more donations, Feb. 8, 2008.

It may be that you think these facilities are great. And this column isn’t meant to indicate that any of them are subpar; rather, it’s meant to encourage people to decide for themselves whether these things meet their standards.

After all, if these things are not up to our expectations then maybe it’s time we question exactly how our tuition dollars (and our tax dollars) are being spent. We certainly wouldn’t purchase any other high-dollar product we had serious questions about. Our education should be no different.

Bureaucracies are inherently wasteful, and without assigning blame to any particular bureaucracy at Kent State, I think it’s also important students begin asking this administration where exactly it can cut costs. And exactly where its spending priorities lay.

As Jackie Valley reported last November: “Lefton’s $479,788 total compensation ranks second highest in the state among other four-year public institutions.”

And, as fellow columnist Ted Hamilton pointed out recently, the top five highest paid administrators at Kent State earn a total of $1,316,140. Hamilton also pointed out that this figure excludes President Emeritus Carol Cartwright, who is currently earning $270,000.

As this column pointed out last semester, the administration made an awfully sweet gift to Vice President Edward Mahon when President Lefton made the decision to award him about $88,000 in tuition for Case Western Reserve University and an approximately $20,000 salary raise.

We’ve seen the administration expand in recent years (most recently 11 positions dedicated to university fundraising) and we’ve seen it offer sweet-heart deals for people in positions of power. However, have students seen conditions improve on campus?

It seems as though the administration continues to expand and become more costly while the student body continues to struggle to afford the costs of higher education.

So, I encourage everyone to ask themselves as they interact with everything on campus: Am I getting what I’m paying for?

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