graduation diploma

The Reader Response "Focus on education, not buildings" echoes a complaint I have had for a long time about public education at the K-12 level, where the vast majority of funding comes from taxpayer money via local, state, and national governments. But at the university level, the funding is not that simple.

While public universities do build buildings using taxpayer money, in many cases (perhaps most), buildings are built because a wealthy individual gave the university a sum of money specifically for the construction of a building - in which case the money cannot be used for "education." In the case of private universities, essentially all of the buildings have been built, over decades or centuries, with such "restricted" gifts.

While student tuition fees seem high, tuition rarely covers more than a small part of a university's operating expenses. It is for this reason that public universities are highly dependent upon financial support from private benefactors and grants from state and national governmental entities. Relatively detailed operating budget information is available for all public universities. Some time studying those budgets reveals the very precarious financial condition of most public universities.

- Roy Williams, New Hampshire
Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth

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