University presidents ask House to spend on higher education

Ryan Loew

President Carol Cartwright testified before members of the Ohio House of Representatives last night as part of a three-day schedule of presentations to promote higher education spending by the state.

Cartwright was joined in Columbus by executive officers from four-year universities such as the University of Cincinnati and two-year schools such as the James A. Rhodes College in Lima. The administrators addressed the representatives on topics such as efficiency and returns on investments, and Cartwright spoke on campus productivity.

The testimonies, which were heard by six members of the Subcommittee of the House Finance Committee for Higher Education, will end tomorrow.

“Each of us has a specific role and purpose as far as the overall testimony for tonight,” Cartwright said. “I think it’s important to note that there’s a partnership here in delivering this message. We’re all on the same page.”

In her testimony, Cartwright said that across the eight campuses, the university has saved $96.5 million from fiscal year 2001 to fiscal year 2005. That money, she said, has been reallocated to “increasing participation in college-level study, keeping higher education affordable and accessible and serving as a catalyst for economic development.”

Pat Myers, director of government relations for Kent State, said the university has cut its administrative costs by $55.7 million from 2001 to 2004, while cutting $17.6 million for academics.

“We’ve got a story to tell,” Myers said. “We’ve cut a lot. We’ve had to. So we’ve tried to keep tuition low and not cut too much. The legislators right now are in a difficult spot. I can’t say we will get a lot of money — it’s just unrealistic.”

The Ohio Board of Regents, a nine-member board of higher education advisers to Gov. Taft and the General Assembly, organized the three-day presentations.

The testimonies will also include a presentation today on state funding’s affect on student access and success by Vice President for Administration David Creamer.

Cartwright is in Columbus as part of a chain of events following Taft’s budget proposal last month, Myers said. Next, the representatives will review the recommendations heard in the testimonies and make a recommendation to the full House Finance Committee. The committee will then organize recommendations from subcommittees in a bill to be passed to the Ohio Senate. This should occur sometime after Easter, Myers said.

The Senate then repeats the process, and after being passed in both houses, the bill will reach Taft sometime in June.

The best that universities can hope for is in the governor’s proposal, Myers said.

“Of course, more money would be best,” she said, “but the money just isn’t there right now.”

Contact administration reporter Ryan Loew at [email protected].