The National Teachers Hall of Fame, located in Visser Hall at Emporia State, lost $251,000 in revenue from 2001 through 2008, according to a report delivered to the Kansas Board of Regents in November.
The report, a management review completed by BKD, a Springfield, Mo., accounting and advisory firm, also stated that the NTHF owes approximately $200,000 to ESU for expenses and salaries the university has covered.
“There were three national corporate sponsors who provided significant contributions, but in recent years the corporations also suffered economic hardship and NTHF was an easy place to cut expenses,” said Tes Mehring, a member of the NTHF Board of Directors.
Because NTHF relies on donations, the loss of corporate sponsors triggered the museum’s debt to the university, as ESU then covered the unpaid expenses.
“The ideal situation would be for there to be significant benefactors to support the hall of fame but right now the university does provide significant support,” Mehring said.
The hall of fame hopes to resolve its debt and temporarily ease its decreasing income with the sale of its former location, which it still possesses.
As stated in the report: “The NTHF currently owns a three-story vacant building at 1320 C of E Drive in Emporia, Kansas. This building was donated to the NTHF in the early 1990s and NTHF occupied the second floor until July 20, 2006 when the NTHF Board of Directors voted to close the building and relocate the staff and equipment to offices on the Emporia State University campus due to budgetary constraints.”
Mehring said the board also has other ideas to help relieve NTHF’s dependency on the university.
“There’s been some attempt to find somebody to buy that building, and that would go a long way towards fiscal solvency,” Mehring said. “One of the things we hope to be able to do is some fundraising just for the Hall of Fame which would be separate from what the university does.”
Director of NTHF Jenny Harder emphasized the museum’s significance and relevance to the city of Emporia and stated that unlike before, there is no intended relocation for the hall of fame.
“Emporia is the founding city of the National Teachers Hall of Fame and ESU was one of the founding organizations,” Harder said. “Naturally we would like to stay in the town where we were created; there are no plans to move the hall of fame at this time.”
Instead, the goal is that the NTHF become fiscally independent of the university while it continues to occupy space in Visser Hall.
“I think the ideal situation would be for the hall of fame to be a separate entity (without relocation),” Mehring said. “There are significant advantages for it to have an association with ESU, particularly given our national reputation in teacher education.”