I have attended meetings about college financial assistance for students where it was stated, bluntly, that UNH tuition is so high because of a lack of state funding… along with snarky remarks to “remember that when you vote”. Please do. I will not cavalierly commit your money without demanding accountability from those your money goes to. In the case of UNH, there doesn’t seem to be any accountability. In this stunning interview, UNH President Mark Huddleston actually refers to UNH revenue as a pot to be divvied up among the staff. Mr. Huddleston makes $479,710 per year (which includes a $94,710 bonus). He makes more than two thirds of all other public university presidents. UNH professors make more than the state average for professors, and significantly more than the national average for professors. UNH tuition is more expensive than 98% of all other public universities. 98%!
At what point do we stop pretending that UNH is an affordable public university? They clearly want to be more expensive and prestigious than Dartmouth. They are a “public” university mostly to maintain their tax status as a land grant college. I will not just shovel money at them, making them rich, while students are held hostage to ever increasing tuition. I will not support an institution that makes millionaires out of upper staff, and lays off cafeteria workers when they don’t have enough in the “pot” for their bonuses. This has to stop. We can try to find a way to force them to begin behaving in a fiscally responsible manner. I would support increasing their state funding if it came with controls to stop making millionaires out of an elite few, and guarantees that the funding would benefit your students, not their country clubs. It may also be time to consider whether UNH should continue to be a “public” university. It may make more sense to just stop funding it with your money, and give that money directly to students so that they can apply it to the college of their choice. Ultimately, aren’t the students the ones we are supposed to be helping?
Don’t get me wrong. By all accounts, UNH provides a very good education. That isn’t the point. Here is the issue in the nutshell. Burger King makes a pretty good burger. Should you be forced to provide funding so that they can charge $50 for one? When people can’t afford that $50 burger, should your taxes be raised to help people pay for it? Obviously not. The real answer is to get the price back to something reasonable before having any conversations about supplemental funding.
Rep. Steven Smith