Currently the university is in a difficult financial situation. If you take a look at The Miami Student, there are many articles related to the present problem. For example, the graduate cutbacks, the hospital cutting jobs and hours, Miami football downgrading its division, changes in meal plans and probably many more to come as this financial problem is dealt with.
The nation’s economic recession has been a factor for several years, and with the insurmountable federal debt of the country, virtually every state is suffering from a budget deficit, including Miami University.
The big issue here is many people will be affected by these policy changes and currently the most important change to address is the downsizing of the university as a whole. We all know the City of Oxford is a community that is very dependent on Miami, and the school is a significant employer of the community. Not only will they lose jobs, but the students who work with them are at the risk of losing jobs as well.
The main issue for the school is to bring about sustainable growth, and in order to achieve that, the school needs to tackle its efficiency issues. Allocating resources to their fullest potential is essential, and Miami hasn’t been doing that during the past few years. For far too long the university has put its costs and burdens on the students by continually increasing tuition costs. This cannot continue.
David Creamer, vice president for finance and business services, addressed the issue of sustainability in his letter to Miami regarding its growing energy consumption. It has been a year since that letter and there has been no significant change. There are empty computer labs with all of the computers turned on and there are complaints that air conditioning in some parts of the campus is excessive. The school should start capitalizing on its facilities by limiting extracurricular activities to one or two buildings to conserve energy. Do not depend on the students to implement energy conservation behaviors because it is just not going to happen.
The school should also consider creating new revenue streams other than tuition money. For example, financing its research through corporate funds and selecting business models that actually have a potential for income.
Some of the recent decisions the school has made are poor in accordance with the situation. For instance, the school has decided to build a new student center, the Armstrong Student Center, with $15 million donated by Mike and Anne Armstrong (1961 graduates of Miami). The key point here is the total cost of the complex will be $77.7 million. That is a big gap, and where is the extra $50 million going to come from? It can be argued it is a futuristic investment to the school because the complex will attract more students. However, it is doubtful the benefits of the completed facility will outweigh the benefits of using that same cash to finance the school.
The school is also finding it hard to bring opinions together. The Strategic Priorities Task Force is a committee of several administrators and professors appointed by President David Hodge for generating new methods for reducing costs. The participation in these discussions and meetings are rather lacking in contrast to the severity of the topics. This is the time when opinions should be aggregated and creative ideas should be suggested to the committee. It is not a time to go argue and blatantly say, “I want job security.” These are social issues where there should be a balance between the university and the community. Therefore, there must be a willingness to sacrifice from both sides. Raging anger and emotions in this logical matter is not going to help at all.
Miami is a unique community, and there are so many different people, which makes the decisions complex. It is inevitable these changes will both positively and negatively affect people, but they will have to cope with them for a greater cause.