For years I have been telling congressional staffers that they have it within their power to bring balance to institutions of higher learning. All they have to do is cut federal spending on education.
Yet and still, as a great man said, “There are simple answers, just not easy ones.” Don’t scratch your heads over the source of that quote: It was Ronald Reagan.
Now, from inside the academy, comes affirmation. “We have reached the point where for many institutions of higher education, the amount of revenue that they derive from either of their two traditional source—tuition and either state funds (public institutions) or endowments (private institutions)—is eclipsed by the funds secured from the feds through government grants and research contracts,” Ron Lipsman writes in The American Thinker. “Much of this has been accomplished without any special enabling legislation. It takes place within the budgets of various federal departments and agencies—e.g., Defense, Commerce, Interior, NASA, NSF, and others.”
“But with or without specific legislation, like all the massive intrusions by the federal government into areas of our society and economy, it has been carried out lawfully, with the public’s support.” Lipsman is a math professor at the University of Maryland at College Park.
“But here is one that I am familiar with from my own university that I have never seen discussed,” Lipsman writes of the unintended consequences of such enabling. “The selection of campus capital projects and facilities maintenance programs is determined to a surprising extent by the university’s perception of their likelihood of attracting federal matching monies.”
“It is primarily only sexy new buildings and research labs that can do so.”
“The basic infrastructure is left to decay,” Lipsman claims. “It has been estimated that the deferred maintenance costs at my institution are nearing one billion dollars.”
“While the safety indicators and educational environment in our classrooms and office buildings atrophy, we leverage funds from the feds to build fancy new buildings whose need is questionable. So, as with the country’s crumbling bridges, roads, and tunnels, the university’s infrastructure decays while we chase federal dollars for glitzy buildings, climate change projects, diversity programs, and other wasteful outlays in order to satisfy Uncle Sam’s dubious priorities.”
Lipsman stepped down last July from his position as Senior Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs, Research, and Graduate Education at the university.
Malcolm A. Kline is the Executive Director of Accuracy in Academia.