Back in August, I posted an entry here about EMU raising tuition, in part to start to raise money for refurbishing Pray-Harrold. I noted then that EMU Prez John Fallon said on WEMU radio that incoming freshman would certainly see the results of their tuition dollars. Then, just a couple weeks ago, I posted here about how the current (as of then) plan for remodeling the building literally leaves out almost half of the building.
And now, just to send EMU a big fat “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year– NOT” sort of message, the state has basically said “no” to money to remodel Pray-Harrold. Here’s a long quote from the Ann Arbor News article on this:
The capital outlay budget signed last week by Gov. Jennifer Granholm commits $198 million to be raised through the sale of bonds in the fiscal year that began Oct. 1. It funds construction and renovation projects for 17 universities, but EMU won’t be among them.
Earlier this year, the Legislature indicated it would not provide $28 million in state funding to renovate the 1969 Pray-Harrold classroom building at EMU, and that project is not in the budget signed by Granholm.
Rep. Alma Wheeler Smith, D-South Lyon, whose district includes the university, said EMU is still being punished by the Legislature for the 2003 controversy over the University House.
Championed by former EMU President Samuel Kirkpatrick, the 10,000-square-foot house, completed in 2003, is a combination meeting space and residence for EMU’s president. It cost $5.3 million to build the house and landscape the eight-acre site. A 2004 state audit found that EMU inappropriately drew from general funds for the project.
“I think it’s time for us to put the University House behind us and recognize there is a tremendous need on the campus for the renovation and upgrade of the Pray-Harrold building,” Smith said. The building needs safety and technological updates, she said.
EMU officials could not be reached for comment this morning.
And let me just highlight that one sentence that really sticks out for me here: “It (the capital outlay budget, that is) funds construction and renovation projects for 17 universities, but EMU won’t be among them.” SEVENTEEN other schools in the state got money, including U of M (yeah, they needed the cash) and Washtenaw Community College, and EMU gets jack squat. Jeesh.
Now, I sort of agree with Alma Smith. Kirkpatrick screwed us and screwed us good, and it is probably true that the Republican-dominated legislature is still mad about this whole house deal. And it probably doesn’t help matters that EMU tends to draw students from parts of the state that vote Democratic.
But let’s be clear here: Kirkpatrick has been out of the picture for two years now. We’ve got a new president who is fond of saying that we shouldn’t be looking in the rear-view mirror, and, while Incarnati is still on the board of regents, he’s not chair anymore.
So it seems to me that most of the blame for not getting at least some funding from the state has to be laid at the feet of the current administration. These were the people who put together the proposal for the money for Pray-Harrold and Mark-Jefferson in the first place. As I recall it, there was one vote against the plan by someone on the board of regents because there was concern that there was no “plan B” if the state turned EMU down. Turns out that one person was the smart one.
Anyway, it’ll be interesting to see how Fallon et al spin this. I sure as hell hope he doesn’t play the Kirkpatrick blame-game.