The cost of a college education has skyrocketed in recent years. Parents and students are going into serious debt to finance a higher education. So where is the money going? Some of it is going to repairing buildings on campus, building better physical education facilities, better science laboratories, and other things that provide a better environment for the students. However, not all colleges are spending their increased tuition money responsibly.
Yesterday the Daily Caller posted an article about a recent controversy at Westfield State College. Since one of my daughters and one of my sons-in-law graduated from Westfield State in the 1990’s, I am somewhat familiar with the school. It is a small state college with a beautiful campus. Their website shows tuition, housing costs, and fees for resident students ranging from about $15,000 per year for state residents to about $23,000 per year for out-of-state residents. I believe that when my daughter went there in the 1990’s, the cost was about $6,000 a year.
So what is the controversy at Westfield State?
The article at the Daily Caller reports:
John P. Walsh, owner of a cosmetics company, has decided to withdraw his $100,000 donation to Westfield, a public university in Westfield, Massachusetts.
The reason? Walsh is fed up with the spending habits of Westfield President Evan Dobelle, who charged thousands of dollars in luxury hotel and shopping bills to the university’s credit card.
…Dobelle charged the university $8,000 for a four-night stay in a luxury hotel in Bangkok, Thailand. He has also traveled out-of-state on Westfield’s dime some 76 times during his 5 years as president, according to Inside Higher Ed.
Dobelle has defended the expenses, calling them a necessary component of his plan to increase Westfield’s national and international renown.
After being presented with evidence of Mr. Dobelle’s financial violations, the board of trustees at Westfield State gave him their full confidence.
Obviously, more information is needed to determine exactly what is going on here, but I will admit that $6,000 for four nights in Thailand seems a bit much. I question why the Board of Trustees approved the spending habits of Mr. Dobelle.
Because of the dramatic expansion of student aid by the federal government in recent years, colleges have been able to raise their tuition without having to worry about students’ ability to pay. While I think student aid is a really good thing, it has created an unreal situation where tuition is not subject to free market forces. We definitely need some balance here. At the moment we are encouraging young people and their families to go into serious debt to receive training for jobs that are not available. That does not make sense.