Editorial: Supporting the unpopular business of education

By Ransom Cozzillio
February 1, 2012


Built at the turn of the twentieth century, the interior of Cabrini’s 51-room Woodcrest Mansion went through a complete restoration for the college’s 50th anniversary in 2007. (credit: cabrini.edu)

As many who enjoy the college experience know, money is inextricably tied to the institution of higher learning. From tuition, to grants, to meal plans and to fund-raisers, no student can escape the direct and indirect call of campus capitalism.

With all that currency floating around, it should come as no surprise then that colleges and universities are, at heart, businesses. Educational, beneficial to the students and faculty but a business nonetheless. Colleges sell a product; education. The worth and merit of which is judged by exclusivity, alumni success, opportunities offered, etc.

Our college is no different. Cabrini offers a unique brand of close-knit, personal Catholic education in the hope that prospective students, families and potential donors will “invest.” We are subject to the same financial demands and realities as any other. In fact, our lower enrollment and resulting smaller alumni donor pool gives a school like Cabrini less monetary leeway when compared to titans such as Villanova or Penn State, whose endowments can reach into the billions.

However, our students should not be forced to expect any less quality relative to those larger institutions. To that end, Cabrini must find additional ways to make money and have that income efficiently utilized.

In that interest, Cabrini has chosen to move President Marie Angelella George into a new, larger house paid for by the college. This, a topic of front-page attention, is certain to initially draw the ire of many in the student body who will be quick to denounce this upgrade as profligate spending of student tuition money.

The truth of the matter and the value of this purchase should fall well short of scandal. First and foremost, the $1.4 million spent on the new house (which should end in a net $700,000 loss after the original house is sold) comes not from student tuition money, but rather from a $22.3 million dollar fund allocated for long term college investments.

Furthermore, this purchase may affect a greater impact on future investments than many would expect. College presidents play a pivotal role in college promotion. President George’s previous house was not adequately suited for hosting the types of large functions required. On campus, the Mansion is becoming increasingly booked with events, a positive sign for a healthy and thriving college.

Ultimately, a small investment such as this is far more efficient and less intrusive than building any such facility on campus.

This type of progressive move is not at all uncommon in academia. School funding for presidential housing is commonplace given the prominent role said figure (and such a property) plays in shaping a college’s image.

With a massive set of campus improvements and renovations slated to occur between now and 2025 aimed at creating a more positive student and faculty experience small investment such as this one are vital.

The Loquitur wholeheartedly endorses this college’s striving toward self-improvement with its students, alumni and message of education fully in mind. As students, we should see that this is a sign that our school is doing well. Especially when you pair this with the huge announcement of the tuition cuts, honestly how could you not see these moves as a sign of financial strength? If you want to complain about the school buying a house when you think they should be buying you better food or more entertainment, remember the fact that they did not raise your tuition in order to do this or even keep it the same, they reduced it. They are one of very few colleges to do so.

As anyone who understands investment knows, and real estate is an investment, you have to spend money to make money. The Loquitur editorial staff can attest to the fact that Cabrini is spending money to invest in building relationships with donors, in order to build more investment money, which can be used to improve student life.

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Ransom Cozzillio

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