CU Finances Pt. 4 — Miscellany

Sorry for the delay, but here’s the last post in our series on the financial health of Cedarville University. In this last segment I simply want to relay some miscellaneous stuff I came across that didn’t fit really well elsewhere.

  • In case you’re curious, when Cedarville went Baptist in 1953, tuition was $58/hr; when my dad enrolled it was $163; by the time I got in it was $314 and by the time I got out it was $656/hr.
  • The number of CU employees paid more than a $50k salary has steadily increased in recent years, with a total of 207 in ’06-’07.
  • Anybody familiar with Cedarville knows we’ve had some legal trouble recently, which is clearly represented on the tax forms: we paid $38k in 2003, but it quickly escalates to almost $305k by ’06-’07. The bulk of that goes to CU’s lead attorney David Haffey, who makes $200k.
  • Dr. Brown’s salary increases the longer his tenure (understandably), and in ’06-’07 was at almost $228k including benefits & expense account. This is below average for our sister schools, which usually paid $242k+ to their president. The best-paid was Wheaton’s ($498k) followed by Biola ($404k); worst was Grace ($85k) and then BBC ($143k).
  • I couldn’t find good information on faculty salaries, but for most of the schools it was possible to determine the highest paid professors. Average salary for the top earner was $133k; CU’s made $112k (Dr. Irene Alyn). I’d imagine Wheaton pays pretty generously, but I couldn’t get numbers — the most I did find was from Masters, whose top earner made a bit over $205k.
  • I don’t know why, but our contract with Pioneer Caterers (ie, Chuck’s) spiked upward sharply after the ’02-’03 year — it went from $1.77M to $3.09M, and it’s hovered in this three-million-ish range ever since.
Too bad none of this made it into Cedars. If it were all cleaned up, edited, and graphed/charted out nicely it could’ve made for a great spread. I imagine the new incarnation of Cedars (coming 2010) will revert to its modus operandi from the 20th century — ie, all safe news and “omg isn’t teh opposite sex confusing?!” type editorials. Shame.

Terrorists and Torture

Give Me Liberty is an underground student newspaper here at Cedarville University designed to give voice to, apparently, the extremely marginalized conservative voice. It’s an outlet for Republicans & Libertarians to join forces and decry the U.S.A.’s obvious devolution into the U.S.S.R. (this was seriously an article). Also in this April edition, there was an article entitled “Terrorists and Torture” by Nathan Dollison, a junior. Here is that essay as printed (ie, unedited by me):

In today’s world, the issue of torture is at the forefront of the struggle against terrorism, and the debate has been only deepened by President Obama’s closure of the controversial Guantanamo Bay detention center and the uproar surrounding what has gone on behind its doors since the beginning of the Global War on Terror.

On the face of the issue, it would seem that the Christian standing on the debate would be clear, that torture is wrong and that as a Christian, one should not be involved or support such measures. But when one delves deeper into the debate, the lines become much grayer. (more…)

Dumpster Diving for Fun & Profit

This weekend was busy: finally graduated college, hung out with frieds & family, threw out my arm playing Wii rowing, watched Celtics mop up Bulls, then watched Manny Pacquaio flatten Ricky Hatton in under 6 minutes (“I didn’t know it’d be so easy,” said Manny before leaving for hours of celebratory karaoke). 

I also spent about 5-6 hours dumpster diving around campus while all the bourgeois students moved out. Saturday the crew included my sister, father, brother, future-sister-in-law, and our friend Scott. Yesterday Kraig, Laura, Scott & I went out again where there was essentially just one full dumpster left but it was a goldmine. Cedarville has acknowledged the typical profligacy of its students and this year filled multiple truck trailers with donated stuff — but an obscene amount was still thrown out. We’ve been inspired by international hero Micah Hans Holden, who essentially does 80% of his grocery “shopping” by rooting around in dumpsters. He would’ve gone nuts if he’d seen the Cedarville dumpster piles this weekend. It’s a great hobby that I intend to keep up this summer — it’s anti-consumerist, voyeuristic, and profitable… what more could you ask?

Here’s a bit of the haul from day 2:

  

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CU Finances Pt. 2 — Financial Aid

It seems counter-intuitive that in a bad recession Cedarville University would deliberately increase the cost of attendance so dramatically. Yet their explanation for this is that more money will be diverted to financial aid to ease the burden of needy students. Their already-established goal is to increase aid by 20% every year, though since ’02-’03 they’ve only averaged a 16.4% yearly increase. But things may be looking up: in ’07-’08 (the last years I could find numbers for), aid was increased almost 22% over the previous year, coming out to $13.1M in total. CU is proud of this, and also touts the increase in aid as “over 100% in the last 5 years.” This, of course, depends on which five they’re counting & whether or not they adjusted for inflation. Unadjusted, they hit this number almost any way you slice it. However, if properly adjusted then it could be a different story: if they’re using numbers from ’07-’08, then in the last 5 years financial aid only increased 85.9%. Of course, it’s not unreasonable to assume they have the ’08-’09 numbers, on which I can only speculate. In order for their claim to be true however, they would need a 21% increase which — as mentioned above — is above what they’ve typically done. So it’s possible, and we can certainly hope it’s true.

Historically, however, Cedarville has not been known as a FinAid-friendly school. Among 53 CCCU schools surveyed by Noel-Levitz, CU ranked dead last on the category “Adequate financial aid is available for most students.”

The last school year for which tax forms are available (the non-profit 990’s) is 2006-2007, so we can do a comparative analysis for that year. CU has a list of “sister schools” that it routinely compares itself to; I analyzed 15 of these, plus I also added John Brown University. As always, these numbers are in 2009 dollars (click to enlarge):

For an average student, between 24.6-25.9% (mean/median) of the cost of attendence is mitigated by financial aid — CU’s reputation is warranted given its average of 15.65%. However, CU’s costs are slightly below the average of $28.1/$26.7k. The numbers for Grace College in Indiana certainly jump out, where costs are below par but where you’ll get virtually no financial assistance. Part of the reason for this is that the school itself is not financially healthy — as you’ll see in our next installment, it’s one of only two colleges on this list which did not turn a profit in ’06-’07… Can you guess the other one?

Cedarville By the Numbers

The epic Cedars article I was working on before being laid off was a piece loosely centered around next year’s tuition hike. My task was to research CU’s finances to provide some context and do a comparative analysis with other similar schools. The project was about 85% completed when we got axed, so I’m going to use this blog as a platform to publish my research. This will likely be a multi-post series.

In this first part, I want to simply show the average cost — an estimate CU publishes that includes tuition/room/board — since the school’s inception (adjusted for inflation of course).

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Moar Ceedurrrs Dramas

A brief history of Cedars, Cedarville University’s student newspaper, circa 2008-2009:

September ’08: We start publishing. A deliberate effort is made to add conservative voices to the Viewpoints section.

October ’08: I write an editorial criticizing Gov. Sarah Palin. Paige Patterson, a CU trustee, is not very amused and tells the board as much. I develop a mancrush on Monsieur Patterson.

November ’08: Obama beats McCain and campus sinks into deep depression over fears of our new-elected, coke-addled Communist dictator.

December ’08: CU gives its Public Relations department, namely Sharyn Kopf, final approval for every issue. Obviously, certain articles then get cut because they do not fit the proper Cedarville image/experience/lifestyle/voice. New school tagline: “An 18-credit Bible minor and suppression of dissent? That’s so Cedarville!”

February ’09: I write an editorial that documents the non-existence of a “liberal agenda” in Cedars. It is seemingly well-received by faculty & staff, but no word from the board.

March ’09: My colleague Sarah Jones publishes an editorial arguing that “modesty panels” are ridiculous and that, per Jesus, the blame for lust lies with the beholder, not the beholden. ENTIRE SCHOOL FLIPS OUT. Straw, meet camel’s back.

April ’09: CU Provost John Gredy, in conjunction with the Board of Trustees, effectively shuts down Cedars and I am laid off work. Remaining issue is canceled; faculty advisor (and U2 guru) Scott Calhoun resigns in protest; Cedars is put on hiatus until at least Spring 2010 and moved from the Lang. & Lit Dept to the Comm. Arts Dept.

When CU’s administration was questioned on its opposition to free speech (in the theoretical, not legal, sense), they replied: “We did it all for the lulz.” Hard to fault them for that.

Update: What was to be my last article for Cedars — before this fiasco came to a head — can be found online here as part one of a four-part series. The series is proof-positive that paying me $7.25/hr was a travesty.

My Favorite Debt

I picked up a hitchhiker this morning and he identified me immediately: “You’re a Cedarville student, aren’t you?” Is it that obvious? Do I just radiate repressed fundamentalist vibes? But Samir assured me it was just a guess based on probabilities: C.S.U. students speed by, C.U. students pick him up. He’s living at Wilberforce but travels for undisclosed reasons (not a job, he says) to Xenia every day, a 4 mile commute that usually takes him an hour because he doesn’t have a car. “Neither do I, this is my brother’s.” We laughed. I mentioned my trip last summer; he mentioned his Chicago-to-L.A. trek in the ’70’s. Farthest N.W. he’d gotten was Eugene, which he described as an “enormous Yellow Springs,” which we both concluded was awesome. So I’ve now received some 40 rides as a hitcher, and given two in return. At this rate I might even pay off my student loans before repaying kindness owed, but at least this is a debt I don’t mind at all.

By the way, I stumbled across a book that echos some of what I discussed a month ago. Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets “examines what randomness means in business and in life and why human beings are so prone to mistake dumb luck for consummate skill.” I haven’t read it yet, but sounds interesting since it’s one-half of the same coin I blogged about earlier.

Also re: old posts, a friend gave me a copy of Phillip Lopate’s excellent essay “Resistance to the Holocaust,” an American Jew’s incisive look at the machinery of memory built up around the Holocaust and the ways in which this atrocity is used & abused. Unfortunately, I could only find a very brief excerpt online, the rest of which you’ll have to find in Lopate’s book Portrait Of My Body (1997).

Look Ma, I’m makin’ friends!

Some people were apparently less than amused with my last Cedars article:

This was mailed to me on Wednesday. The unsigned note says “Do You have eany Idea how Many Good Men Died for your freedom of speech. This is how you honor Their Memory. I bet you Feel Proud.”
College-level reasoning at its best! Come on kids, $25k a year can give you the same stellar education!