More aid for administration than students

Matthew White

For Kent State students struggling to afford their education, I have some bad news: Kent State administrators are making gifts of money that could — and should — have gone to benefit you.

It’s no secret that Kent State is not an elite university with a financially privileged student body. It is, in fact, a Midwestern middle-class university with a student body bogged down in student loans. Many students are forced to work part time in order to survive. Some students even wear themselves out working full time in an attempt to afford school.

With the demographics of Kent State’s student body, it’s ridiculous that the top administration is so callous to the needs of students and so sensitive to its own needs.

On Dec. 13, the Akron Beacon Journal reported: “Kent State University will pay about $88,000 in tuition so that one of its highest-paid vice presidents can obtain a doctorate from Case Western Reserve University.”

The newspaper further reported: “[President Lester] Lefton also gave [Vice President Edward] Mahon a 10 percent raise of about $20,000, which brought his salary to $206,140. It was the largest chunk of money that Kent State gave in a raise to an administrator for this school year.”

I don’t begrudge Mahon his salary or his education. I think he’s probably a great vice president and fully deserving of a chance to pursue a doctorate. It is, however, ridiculous that Kent State should have to pay for his education at another university — when he could pursue a doctorate at Kent State for free — and give him a raise at the same time.

If Mahon is so interested in a Case Western Reserve University education, then he should pay for it from his own salary.

The administration’s gift is a pretty sweet deal for Mahon but an awfully sour one for Kent State students, who face many difficulties while earning their degrees and could really use more support from the top administration. Even if, because of some administrative policy or state law, it’s impossible to take that $88,000 and give it back to the student body in the form of tuition reimbursement, it should be used to ease the concerns of students. Perhaps it could be combined with other funds and used to create a new parking lot. Or, perhaps it could be used as incentive pay for lower administrators to go above and beyond the regular call of duty.

The university may argue the gift is a tactic to keep a good administrator at Kent State. However, as the Akron Beacon Journal further reported, it is not common for state universities in Ohio to provide this kind of employee benefit package. And, I believe, there’s a good reason for that: It takes too much away from the primary mission of educating paying students and gives too much to those managing the educators.

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