At the last Faculty Senate meeting, senators were told that health insurance costs will be shifted onto employees to the tune of $2.5 million per annum. Severance incentives will cut deeply into our faculty and other staff, impairing our ability to offer our students an excellent education. When asked how we can maintain the quality of education, the provost told faculty senators: quality is up to you. Yet Athletics is merely being asked to set a 3.5% higher target for external fundraising. (OU employees and students can click here and find the information under Deficit Reduction Plan, February 16, 2011.)
The PBS news magazine, Need to Know, recently visited Ohio University to report on how athletic expenditures are squeezing the academic budget at large public universities. To be sure, this is a national trend. Also to be sure, OU overspends on other areas–such as high-level, corporate-style administration and its private plane–not just on athletics. Still, this is a sobering look at how our university’s priorities are skewed. (For additional resource, click here for a report co-authored by David Ridpath on intercollegiate athletic spending, which helped draw PBS to OU in the first place).