On Friday, April 16, 2004, a new chancellor was installed at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. The installation, which took place after Rosemary DePaolo had been serving as chancellor for nine months, was accompanied by a week of special events that included a speech by a former United States Senate majority leader.
In the midst of recent criticism that a) the university has been spending too much money on speakers, and b) the speakers always seem to be Democrats; the university hired George Mitchell (D-Maine) to speak for about an hour for the sum of $40,000. Mitchell?s fee shows that he really cares about hire education. I mean, higher education. It also serves as a reminder that the Democrats are the party of the people.
Given the billion-dollar state budget deficit, many are questioning the wisdom of funding such a ceremony, which will cost around $100,000, after all is said and done. Instead of all of the pomp and circumstance, many believe that our budget crisis calls for an administration that is less pompous and more circumspect in its use of public funds.
The students are particularly angry because news of the expense of the installation came shortly after news that their tuition will be increasing several hundred dollars per semester, effective next year. Several students have come by my office recently to borrow paper because the computer labs are out. Some of the labs are also out of toner. And, sadly, other labs have reduced their hours of operation because the university can no longer pay the salaries of those who run them.
All the while the university continues to spend money on forums centered on ?diversity? issues. Of course, these ?forums? feature university-funded speakers who just happen to share the political perspective of the liberal administrators. The speakers are paid to parrot the political views of these administrators while students? basic educational needs are being neglected. Some students would like to write a letter to complain but they can?t because the university is running out of paper.
Many faculty members are upset about the administration?s fiscal irresponsibility, although most lack the courage to complain publicly. While the professors haven?t had raises in four years, the salary for the chancellor continues to skyrocket in the midst of the state?s deep budget crisis. In 1993, the chancellor of UNCW made less than $100,000. Ten years later, DePaolo was given a starting salary of $205,000. Thus, the position has seen a pay increase of over 100% in just a decade.
Actually, that isn?t true. Former chancellor James Leutze is still drawing his salary of $190,000. Technically, that means that the taxpayers of North Carolina are paying the royal duo of Queen Rosemary (D-North Carolina) and King James (D-North Carolina) $395,000 to run the university. And, come to think of it, I also misspoke when I said that faculty salaries have been stable for four years. With increases in health insurance premiums, most professors have had a salary decrease over that time frame.
Of course, donors can rest assured that not all of their money is being spent on things as frivolous as the installation of the chancellor. A portion of their donations will be spent on the $1.2 million renovation of her multi-million dollar mansion, which she lives in for free. And while she?s waiting for the seven-digit ?upgrade,? the chancellor will stay in a condo that rents for $2750 per month. It is located in Landfall-the most exclusive neighborhood in all of Wilmington. Unfortunately, most donors can?t go and see for themselves whether the condo is worth the expense. It is located in a private, gated community, guarded by an eight-foot brick wall and paid security officers. Nothing but the best for our elite administrators!
All of this nonsense really hit home for me the other day when I was teaching my freshman survey course in the Social and Behavioral Sciences Building. The temperature in the classroom was about 80 degrees so the students asked me to turn down the thermostat. When I opened the cover exposing the thermostat it fell down about three inches and dangled from a single electrical wire. I carefully turned the temperature down about ten degrees, while trying to avoid being electrocuted. Oddly, the temperature started to go up noticeably. We just opened a window and went on with class.
I didn?t bother calling a maintenance man because I know that those guys are overworked. In fact, last summer one of them had to make a house call to the chancellor?s home in the gated community I mentioned earlier. But before he did, he placed a magnetic cover over the UNCW logo on the side of the maintenance van he was driving. Someone understood that the taxpayers wouldn?t like the idea of such a house call in the midst of a severe budget crisis. Fortunately, a reporter caught wind of the incident and wrote it up in the local newspaper.
While seemingly minor, that incident really says it all. University officials know that they are wasting resources in a way that the public would never accept. But rather than changing their wasteful practices, they simply try to hide them from the public that they are supposed to be serving.
To the students, faculty, donors, and taxpayers, the message is the always the same. No matter how bad things get for the peasants, things will continue to get better for the administrative elites. To those who don?t like it, let them eat cake.
Mike Adams (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the author of ?Welcome to the Ivory Tower of Babel.? (http://www.dradams.org/ivory_tower.html). Information about his upcoming speeches can be found on www.DrAdams.org.