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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Editiorial: Salary sweep a high-handed act

    In the name of forcing “”fiscal restraint”” on the university, Provost Meredith Hay and Senior Vice President for Business Affairs Joel Valdez announced Monday that funds from every college have been appropriated and placed in a special pool.

    The so-called “”salary sweep”” has caused a small uproar at the College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, where students pay differential tuition. As former college dean Chuck Albanese told the Daily Wildcat this week, when the differential tuition was introduced in 2005 he made a point of explaining the situation and how the additional funds would be distributed to each class.

    The funds were meant to be divided up so that students would see a return on their investment in the form of scholarships, lab equipment and a guest lecture series, among other improvements.

    Now, the college’s discretionary fund is part of a single central pool. The UA transferred $10,000 out of the hands of the college’s administrators, leaving them to wonder when they’ll see it again.

    According to Hay and Valdez’s memo, deans and vice presidents of the individual colleges will be in charge of handling their own funds. We wonder.

    If all of this money is meant to be returned to the colleges to decide what to do with it, we wonder why it was necessary to appropriate it at all. If the intent of pooling the money is to give each college exactly as much as it requires, we wonder how exactly that’s going to be accomplished. It seems unlikely the UA will give every dean carte blanche to take as much from the pool as he or she deems necessary, so who will be in charge of deciding how much each college can claim?

    While this particular college was the first to complain about the salary sweep, they probably won’t be the last. While we certainly approve of fiscal responsibility, this seems like the wrong way to do it.

    We believe that the individual colleges themselves are the best judges of what to do with their money. Centralizing power, even when it improves “”efficiency,”” usually results in high-handed use of power – like transferring funds meant for specific purposes to a general fund.

    One might expect the UA administration to agree with us. After all, President Robert Shelton has emphasized that he wants UA Transformation to be a “”bottom-up”” reform, with the colleges telling him what changes to make, rather than the other way around.

    Furthermore, the administration has displayed a laudable openness and accessibility about the transformation project, discussing it in town-hall meetings and inviting the community to contribute ideas.

    So it’s curious, to say the least, that the administration has not yet seen fit to inform the community of this important action in anything more substantial than a 244-word memo. We need to know where those appropriated funds are going, and when the colleges will see them again.

    Editorials are determined by the Daily Wildcat opinions board and written by one of its members. They are Andi Berlin, Justyn Dillingham, Lauren LePage, Lance Madden and Nick Seibel.

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