Yesterday, Tuesday, March 3, OCAAUP President John McNay testified as an interested party on Senate Bill 4.
SB 4, sponsored by Senate President Keith Faber (R-Celina) would require the board of trustees at each public college and university to submit a plan to the Chancellor of the Board of Regents as to how they will cut in-state student cost of attendance by 5% for the 2016-17 academic year.
In sponsor testimony delivered on February 17, Sen. Faber said that the university presidents have dubbed this “The Senate Challenge,” and that he has been encouraged by their response to the challenge.
Faber cited administrations, policies, and course work as the areas in which he believes inefficiencies need to be addressed.
In President McNay’s testimony yesterday, he pointed out that colleges and universities could not be blamed solely for higher education costs, noting the relationship between dwindling state subsidies and rising tuition.
“Only 12.8% of university funding comes from the state, which is a 13.1% decline since 2002. In fact, subsidies to main campuses have been cut over 14% since 2002, university regional campuses by over 25%, and community colleges by over 22%,” McNay stated.
However, the remainder of McNay’s testimony focused on colleges’ and universities’ misguided spending decisions, especially in regards to administrative bloat, athletic subsidies, and building construction.
He noted that less than 25% of institutional budgets are being spent on instructional compensation (e.g. faculty salary and benefits), and that institutions are employing as many administrative staff members as they are full-time faculty.
McNay pointed out that there are examples of places doing it differently. For instance, Iowa State University has made a concerted effort to shrink its administration and hire more full-time faculty. Additionally, the State University of New York (SUNY) system has undergone an effort to redirect 5% of administrative spending into instruction.
Moreover, President McNay made comments on the millions of dollars universities are spending to subsidize their unprofitable athletic programs, citing that only Ohio State has a self-sustaining athletics department.
He said, “We wish we could report to you that most of these funds were going to student scholarships, but a Cincinnati Enquirer article revealed that only about 16% of athletic spending at Division 1 schools like Cincinnati and Miami goes to student aid. The other 84% pays for coaching salaries, facilities and game expenses.”
Furthermore, McNay noted that in just recent years, universities have more than doubled their debt to $6.5 billion in the name of building projects that they hope will attract students. He said that these projects are financed by raising tuition and tacking on extra fees that may seem harmless, but can have serious debt implications for students.
President McNay encouraged the Senate Finance Committee to amend the bill so that all stakeholder groups have input opportunity as to how costs will be cut. He also said that the bill should be made clearer in terms of next steps.
Finance Committee members asked McNay questions about MOOCs, professors assigning their own textbooks, as well as the overuse of adjunct faculty.
For a copy of the full testimony, click here.
The Ohio Conference AAUP has produced an “Ohio Higher Education Report” entitled The Real Problems Deserve Real Solutions.
The purpose of the report is to influence public policy around higher education issues, especially in light of HB 64, the state budget bill, as well as Gov. Kasich’s Task Force on Affordability and Efficiency.
It is also a response to “solutions” that have been proposed in recent years, such as faculty workload mandates, which fail to address the real problems and cost drivers at our public colleges and universities.
Certainly, this report does not cover every issue that is worthy of attention and discussion; but we included the problems we believe to be the most pressing, including the decline of state funding, administrative bloat, and athletic spending.
The full report can be found by clicking here. OCAAUP President John McNay, Trustee and Chair of the Government Relations Committee Steve Mockabee, and Executive Director Sara Kilpatrick have been meeting with legislators to discuss the report and have found it to be a very effective tool.