Monday, January 26, 2009

Oregon's Profligate Public Universities?

My office this morning, like most Mondays in winter, is frigid. The current temperature is 60 degrees. By the end of the day, with any luck, it will be up to 65. Tomorrow morning it will probably start at about 63 and get up to 68. It is only by Wednesday that I will be able to work in my office without wearing my winter coat.

The reason for my discomfort is the shutting off of the steam for the radiators on Friday afternoons and not restarting the boiler until Monday morning. I understand this decision though I don't like it: academics and, especially, the many graduate students in the building work on weekends very often. The temperature in this building prevents this and decreases productivity. But so it is in our fiscal climate and I won't complain.

I do get grumpy whenever I hear people complain of bloated universities that don't deserve support until they learn to cut costs, however. In these times I think of my office - 60 degrees in January and 100 degrees in July and wonder what they are thinking about. When you add in other aspects of cost cutting - like the two to three months wait for the processing of reimbursement requests - and I think that most knowledgeable observers agree that Oregon's public universities have been underfunded for so long: there is no more fat to trim, just flesh.

Now that I am done ranting, you will have to excuse me, I have to go and warm up my fingers under some hot water (assuming the tap water is now hot).


Oregonian37 said...

As a student who has worked to lower the cost of higher education in Oregon for several years, I have to agree with you. Although I know that there are pockets of Paul that could be robbed to pay for Peter, within the universities, the ability to do this is a drop in the bucket when compared to the tremendous underfunding that has occurred over the last decade. This year, more than most we are seeing the repercussions of that lack of prioritization for post-secondary education. Community college enrollment is up by percentages in the double digits; public universities are not far from that. There have been more FAFSA applications filed this year in Oregon, than ever before. Basically, just when Oregon's economy and infrastructure need its post-secondary institutions to be the societal engines that they are supposed to be, those same institutions are completely unprepared and not up to the task. This is completely as a result of consistent underfunding and low prioritizing of post-secondary education, not only by the state, but by the citizens of this state. That has GOT to change.

Anonymous said...

Are you sure you've got your radiator adjusted right?

I'm on the floor below you, and when I came in this morning (Monday), my office was very warm. I set it to "5" when I left on Friday.

If you still don't get heat after you're sure that you've got your regulator set correctly, then you might need to get the physical services people into your office.
The temperature regulators have to be replaced periodically.

There's plenty of heat in the building - you just have to know how to get it.

Patrick Emerson said...

Jeff, I guess the steam rises slowly. My adjustments of the radiator do nothing. At least I don't have the problem I had in my old office which was too much heat: from Wednesday to Friday I used to have to keep the window wide open. So this is another problem - a terribly inefficient heating system which speaks to the real cost of deferred maintenance.