If you live outside the bunkers of academe, you may have a rosy view of our nation's colleges and universities.
Perhaps you envision leafy campuses, stately ivy-covered buildings, and kindly professors wearing tweed jackets with quaint elbow patches--professors who give scintillating lectures to enraptured students and then return to their offices to spend long hours writing scholarly tomes that will make the world a better place.
If that is your image of academia in the United States, you haven't been paying attention. Higher education has become a racket primarily financed by federal and private student loans--loans taken out by millions of students who aren't getting much for their money.
At the top echelon of the slothful, corrupt, and irrelevant cesspool that calls itself higher education, some people are getting rich. For example, let's examine Larry Hollier, who until recently was Chancellor of the LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans. Before stepping down from the chancellor's job, Dr. Hollier made $1.1 million a year. Not bad!
And get this. Hollier also had a fat expense account provided by the LSU Health Foundation, a non-profit entity not subject to state spending rules. According to the Times-Picayune, which reviewed 600 pages of Hollier's reimbursement requests, the Foundation reimbursed the chancellor for $128,000 in expenses over three years.
What did Hollier charge to his expense account? Such things as limousine services and first-class plane tickets when he traveled out of state, expensive hotel rooms, and meals at high-class restaurants.
For example, Hollier attended a one-day conference in New York City, but he and his wife flew first class at the Foundation's expense and arrived three days early. Meals, lodging, and transportation for that foray cost $4,200.
A spokesperson for the LSU Health Center said Hollier's expense account was intended to be used for "high-level faculty recruitment, team-building activities" and expenses connected with graduation exercises.
Hollier's fat expense account wasn't his only perk. The LSU Board of Supervisors awarded $93,100 in scholarships to three of his grandkids. Hollier said he had nothing to do with those scholarship awards, and of course, I believe him.
Apparently, the LSU Health Foundation wasn't paying much attention to how Dr. Hollier was using his expensive account. That's puzzling because the Foundation has sixteen full-time employees.
Or maybe the Foundation had no idea that Dr. Hollier might use his charge card the way he did. But that can't be true because the Foundation experienced a similar expense-account scandal in 2009--thirteen years ago!
Let us never say that higher education doesn't pay off. It pays off handsomely for top-level university employees. Too often, however, it doesn't pay off for students.
|Who says higher education doesn't pay off?|