In a time of tightening budgets, where professors are expected to do more and more for less pay. In a time where students are expected to deal with budget cuts to their majors and activities, like band, theater and music, the university president is being gifted a $1.8 million house.

Right now, President Allison Garrett is staying in a temporary house that the school is paying for. This house was appraised at $277,000 in 2015 and $326,700 in 2016.

We understand the funds for the new house came from donations, not from state funds, but we feel this is matter of priorities. Is it our priority that our president live in a mansion? Or is it a priority that our students get the best education possible?

The older house was built in 1960 and had problems, but they were fixable. There was an infestation situation and issues with the roof and plumbing.

These could’ve been fixed to make it livable, and surely it would have been cheaper than both buying a temporary home and building a new one.

According to an earlier story from The Bulletin, the Foundation has categorized its purchase of the temporary house as an investment. They plan to sell it after the new one is built and turn a profit. However, even if they turn a profit, it isn’t clear just where that money will be allocated. Will they use it on the students?

More realistically, on another useless project to increase the “curb value’ of the campus? Unallocated as it is, it could go right into the President’s or Kansas Board of Regent’s pockets.

Also, within that same issue of The Bulletin, the foundation rationalized building the new, bigger house by claiming they can use it as a recruiting tool and as a setting to conduct fundraisers.

Surely, being a school that takes care of its students and faculty would serve as a better recruitment tool. Maybe a school that has good salary and benefits could attract better professors, and a school that is attentive to the needs of student both during and after their attendance would bring the numbers the foundation is looking for.

Trying to shoehorn and excuse the excess of the construction by promising fundraisers is tone deaf. There are plenty of places on campus to hold fundraisers. Why does the school need to pay to build a new place when we have a wonderful ballroom that almost never sees use?

This project involves over a million dollars in donations that could have gone to the school itself. This year, the Performing Arts Board faced cuts of 33 percent. Why should those donations go to a redundant showpiece rather than improving the quality of the education of the students? Aren’t we all be in this together? That’s what we were told last year when the cuts were justified to us.

The average student who might have to visit Corky’s Cupbord this week in order to eat will not benefit from Garrett’s ritzy, Gatsby-like mansion.

Giving the president this kind of house leaves the rest of us staring across the bay at the green light of hope, wondering how the other side lives.

(1) comment

Ike

As a donor to the University I have a say as to where my money goes. That is my right. The money raised was based on an "ask" and that "ask" met with response. I was in the older house in the 60s and later the same house recently. It is a mess. In Las Vegas it has often been determined more cost effective to tear down and rebuild rather than update. Different scenario but similar point. Money into the existing structure would only delay future demise. In short, my money, my choice...and President Garrett's residence needs to be first class whether she asks for it or not.

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