Find University’s intent, follow the money

“Money is honey!” screams the crooked Broadway producer in Mel Brooks’ “The Producers,” chanting it over and over again until it becomes a demented mantra in his zen of greed.

Money is not honey. But it’s awfully hard to get honey and other useful goods and services without it.

The busy bees of the Bursar’s office are pretty good at collecting the nectar — your tuition and fees are the biggest single source of income for the University. Then there’s the State Share of Instruction, which has been declining in recent years, and now represents much less of the University’s income.

What kind of honey is BGSU buying with your money?

You’ll be glad to know they are not lavishing it on your education. Faculty salaries at BGSU are among the lowest in the nation.

You might think this is because the University is suffering from hard financial times. Why else would the administration axe a hundred faculty positions this year?

It’s hard to say exactly why (the official version doesn’t make much sense), but it wasn’t for lack of money.

As they are axing faculty positions, the administration is spending money pretty freely elsewhere. The football coach recently inked a contract that netted him a hefty raise. I suppose we can all appreciate the necessity of this: it must be hard to scrape along in a city as expensive as Bowling Green while making only $382,107 every year (the coach’s pre-raise salary per the 2011-2012 fiscal year, according to a BG News article from Sept. 27, 2012). Still, I wonder if the nameless instructor whose job was destroyed so that this raise could be paid really feels the sacrifice was worthwhile.

But in tough times, you may say, tough choices have to be made. However these are not tough times for the University, not financially. The University brings in more money every year than it spends — often dramatically more.

You can see why they feel they can pay the coaches a little more, to keep those salaries in line with the norms for the field. What’s odd is that the administration seems intent on keeping faculty salaries bizarrely low.

This punishes faculty who are loyal to the University and their students here, and rewards faculty who flee from here to the greener and fairer fields of other universities.

Money is not honey. But it is indicative of an institution’s priorities: like the man says, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

No one will believe that the faculty is “the heart and soul of this university” until the administration starts to share some of its stored up treasure with the people who do the work this university was established to do.

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