…and you think your phone bill is ridiculous?

Nicole Stempak

University considers implementing cell phone stipend

Credit: DKS Editors

Kent State has spent about $230,000 in cell phone expenses so far this school year, from July 1 through the beginning of March.

Last year, the university spent about $450,000 for all eight campuses.

Those bills are large enough that the university is trying to cut costs by not providing cell phones. Instead, the university will give employees money each month for using their personal cell phones for university business.

Currently, there is no university-wide policy for cell phones, and they are managed and paid for by the individual college departments.

“Everybody at the university, institutionally, has their own bucket of money for faculty or for staff or for groundskeeping,” President Lester Lefton said. “And amidst that money, there’s telecommunications charges. And if they choose to spend money on telecommunications rather than on pencils or desks or refurbishment or supplies, it’s just one of a series of charges.”


• Ohio University spent about $250,000 last year and about $170,000 this year

• Miami University spent about $268,000 last year and about $273,600 this year.

• The University of Akron spent about $177,000 this year.

Employees are expected to reimburse the university for any non-business use of their cell phones, including personal calls or monthly extra features, such as Global Positioning System. These reimbursements are not reflected in the numbers above and are not centrally logged.

Lefton said the university is considering a policy similar to the University of Toledo’s, which issues stipends each month in the amounts of $50, $100 and $150, depending on the employee’s responsibilities. The increments or dollar amounts Kent State would use have yet to be determined. The stipend policy could be in effect by July 1, the start of the university’s fiscal year.

Gregg Floyd, vice president of finance and administration, said most universities are just getting out of the business of providing cell phones to employees.

For example, a university might expect an employee to have a cell phone and will pay for a portion of the employee’s phone, he said. As long as the employee is required to have the cell phone, the university will pay the employee a monthly stipend toward his or her plan. In return, the employee is expected to provide the university with the phone number and be accessible by that number outside traditional business hours.

Thomas Dunn, director of Campus Environment and Operations, said he and the department’s six or seven managers have cell phones with them at all times. The department also has a “snow phone,” which rotates among managers each weekend during the winter.

“The primary reason we have cell phones is because we have emergencies on the campus at any time of any day, whether it’s 2 a.m. or 2 p.m. on a Tuesday,” Dunn said. “I need the cell phones in the people’s hands who make the decisions on how to get a problem resolved in a timely manner.”

Tim Moerland, Dean for the College of the Arts and Sciences, estimated there are about six or seven university-issued cell phones for the entire college. Moerland said those phones are issued to him, the assistant and associate deans and one or two computer support personnel who work specifically for the college.

“The policy is that it’s the exception to get one rather than the assumption that one will be issued,” he said, noting that the college has more than 400 faculty members.

Because the cell phones are paid through each department, there is no data to show how many employees have cell phones or the minutes and data plan. The university also does not have a database of the employees who have university-issued cell phones.

Contact administration reporter Nicole Stempak at [email protected].