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Who Guards the Guardians?

Today’s Pittsburgh Tribune-Review story  on the spending habits of IUP’s former President raises important questions about who exactly monitors the University Presidents and the upper echelons of their administrations.  Clearly, it is not the BOG, whose members saw fit to pass a resolution honoring Dr. Atwater’s service and who saw fit to give him a standing ovation at the last BOG meeting (having raised tuition only moments before).

Given that the BOG blew the easy one, i.e., a transparent incident of personal luxury, it’s not difficult to believe that there are no questions raised (except by APSCUF) about why it is that the Universities are, if you believe management claims, in such dire financial peril.

Kutztown University, which in its Fact Book claims to have been solidly in black for the last several years and has experienced record student enrollment, was only first University to announce its intent to retrench.  Where did the money go?  Was KU misleading the public when it claimed to be financially healthy?  Or, is it now misleading its students, faculty, and alumni when it claims financial distress?

How can IUP, on the one hand, expose its main educational budget to finance a bond for building, and, on the other hand, claim that it needs to eliminate programs and possibly retrench faculty?

How can Millersville University have been a consistent winner in the performance indicator sweepstakes, but now be in a position where it is eliminating staff and threatening retrenchment?

Who does guard the guardians?  Will PASSHE’s Board of Governors ever  step up and ask the tough questions?  Will the Universities’ Councils of Trustees?  Unlikely.  These meetings seem to be little more that opportunities for self congratulations.

Will the press ask?  Unlikely.  These kinds of questions require the type of scrutiny that require difficult investigation, and it will not produce the type of sexy headlines that Dr. Atwater gifted.

Who will ask?  APSCUF has, and we will continue to.

-Ken Mash