Morehead eyes private money to sustain UGA’s rise

In January, as the University of Georgia was wrapping up the search for its new president, I came across an open letter former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels wrote to the people of Purdue University, whose presidency he had just assumed.

The letter made so many good points about the role and future of higher education that I considered writing a column about it, along the lines of: “I don’t know who the next president of UGA should be, but he or she should think like this.” Before I did, UGA announced its next president. And he was thinking about Daniels’ letter, too.

In particular, Jere Morehead noticed this part of the missive:

“We should all remind ourselves every day that the dollars we are privileged to spend come, for the most part, from either a family or a taxpayer. We measure many activities by FTEs, full-time equivalents; we should likewise see every $10,000 we spend as an ‘STE,’ a student tuition equivalent. Any unnecessary expenditure of that amount could instead have enabled a student to attend Purdue for a full year.”

“I actually quoted that line in my interview,” Morehead told me last week in the office he keeps as UGA’s provost, across a foyer from the one he’ll occupy as president starting July 1. “That part resonated with me.

“Every time someone spends [the equivalent] of someone’s tuition here, they need to ask, is this a good expenditure?”

The past two decades have seen a revolution at the state’s flagship university. Much of the campus has been physically transformed since I was a student (full disclosure: Morehead headed UGA’s Honors Program during my final two years in it). The HOPE scholarship heightened the caliber of student recruited to Athens. Faculty credentials improved in kind.

All that took money. A lot of it.

But the HOPE of the future will be less generous. Tax collections are still growing sluggishly, so UGA’s state funding won’t soar anytime soon. Tuition and fees grew by more than 7 percent year-over-year only twice between fall 1991 and fall 2002, then did so in eight of the last 10 years, nearly tripling in a decade.

If the revolution is to continue, Morehead said, UGA will have to seek efficiencies and new sources of money.

“UGA is still showing up as a great value in all the publications” that measure such things, he said. “But I think both Georgia and Georgia Tech have to be sensitive to the ability that families have to send their children to college.

“And we will eventually reach a point where significant tuition increases will be difficult to sustain. Which makes the need of obtaining private support even more critical for the university.”

With that in mind, Morehead said one of his first big tasks will be raising money for endowed professorships, to retain and recruit top-flight faculty, and scholarships, to keep UGA attractive to top high school grads and accessible for those with financial needs.

“Our endowment is significantly smaller than many of the institutions that we compare ourselves to,” he said, naming the University of Florida ($1.26 billion), Georgia Tech ($1.61 billion), the University of North Carolina ($2.18 billion) and the University of Virginia ($4.79 billion).

By comparison, UGA’s invested assets were just $744 million. (All five figures come from the National Association of College and University Business Officers.)

Keeping UGA on the rise will require a capital campaign “in the range of a billion dollars or more,” he said. Raising $1 billion would give UGA about $40 million more in annual funding.

“We haven’t settled on a number,” he added. “But in this environment, I think those are the numbers we have to be talking about to be successful in what we have to do.”

Success, he said, means not only improving UGA academically, but working with its peers to drive more economic growth in the state.

“Seeing Georgia Tech and Emory and Georgia State and Georgia Regents University [in Augusta] and UGA all working together, I think, is important,” he said. “And I think that’s what the governor and the leaders in the state legislature expect us to do.”

– By Kyle Wingfield

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18 comments Add your comment

Aesop's Fables and other Lib Economic Theories

March 14th, 2013
8:13 am

I see that the cut spending message has not penetrated into the academia quite yet.

indigo

March 14th, 2013
8:21 am

This is a truly golden opportunity for Big Business to step in and invest in their future. They can contribute large amounts of money in return for a guarantee of mostly conservative professors. This will ensure a generous number of conservative college graduates who will gladly embark on careers that enrich themselves at the expense of anyone who gets in their way. And, it will ensure that short-term thinking continues to rule in American business circles.

Only in America.

Deep Cover

March 14th, 2013
8:49 am

It is pretty HUMOROUS that UGA compares itself to UVA, UNC, and GaTech. A more “appropriate” comp would be South Carolina, Alabama, and Mississippi.

UGA…stop flattering yourself.

Don't Tread

March 14th, 2013
8:49 am

“Our endowment [744 million] is significantly smaller than many of the institutions that we compare ourselves to,” he said, naming the University of Florida ($1.26 billion), Georgia Tech ($1.61 billion), the University of North Carolina ($2.18 billion) and the University of Virginia ($4.79 billion).

What about Auburn? Alabama? LSU? South Carolina? Are these not “comparable” colleges? Their omission makes it look like some cherry-picking of data is going on here.

Deep Cover

March 14th, 2013
8:56 am

Don’t Tread—

UGA is NO WHERE NEAR as academically rigorous as GaTech, UVA, and UNC. They shouldn’t be comparing themselves to those schools…PERIOD. You are correct…their comps are Auburn, Bama, LSU, and SOUTH Carolina.

clem

March 14th, 2013
8:57 am

hit up the coaching staff for some contributions….

JF McNamara

March 14th, 2013
9:01 am

$744 million is too much for a public institution. If you’ve got that big of an endowment, give me my tax money back.

Secondly, lets think about this in terms of student tuition. Lets assume that the money is invested in a bond fund bringing in 7%. That’s $52M in INTEREST alone.

The interest is enough money to finance the tuition of 5,208 students, equivalent to 20% of the current enrolled undergrad students. In 2012 97% earned a HOPE scholarship. Essentially every student at UGA should pay no tuition given the big endowment.

Finally, when you throw in the fact that a new building probably costs about $50M, then the amount of money in the endowment greatly exceeds even the most aggressive building plan. Endowments make your institution sound prestigious, but its a waste of money sitting around largely helping no one.

JDW

March 14th, 2013
9:03 am

“Keeping UGA on the rise will require a capital campaign “in the range of a billion dollars or more,” he said. Raising $1 billion would give UGA about $40 million more in annual funding.”

Thats a worthy goal…but a really big task. Be interesting to follow.

Thomas Heyward Jr

March 14th, 2013
9:04 am

UGA’s academic success will ENTIRELY be dependent upon the amount of Federal funds and Federal influence it allows.
.
Ditto an individual.
.
Just say “No” to “free’ money from the Feds.
Otherwise……………it’ll cost ya.

Road Scholar

March 14th, 2013
9:36 am

Kyle: Some one posted the yearly cost for education in Georgia for all the major colleges in Georgia earlier this week. It did not include room and board. The cost for UGA was almost $2000 more than GT for in state students (Tech’s out of state students pay 3X the in state rate.). Why? Tech has been rated one of if not the best return on investment (tuition) nationally. This also had to do with salaries after graduation. You may want to look at that and comment.

Tech has upgraded their facilities substantially over the past years. Many times the cost of maintaining the campus/bldgs is not examined before the improvements are made. Many times the school of study is not informed or consulted about needed/wanted/ scheduled repairs. Is that where the rise in tuition is going…campus maintenance?

Jefferson

March 14th, 2013
9:43 am

If you want to live like a republican, vote democrat.

Scooter

March 14th, 2013
10:02 am

I recon those Introduction to Chemistry professors will be charging 1,800 dollars for the required books. Which of course they have to revise often to keep up with all the new discoveries, sarc. South Campus is the place for me at UGA.!

Hillbilly D

March 14th, 2013
10:10 am

Higher education is a business, a big business, and the primary objective is to keep the money rolling in.

Cheesy Grits is gone but not forgotten

March 14th, 2013
10:22 am

I see that the cut spending message has not penetrated into the academia quite yet.

Money spent on education usually brings a strong return on that money.

Rafe Hollister

March 14th, 2013
10:36 am

“UGA is still showing up as a great value in all the publications” that measure such things, he said. “But I think both Georgia and Georgia Tech have to be sensitive to the ability that families have to send their children to college.

“And we will eventually reach a point where significant tuition increases will be difficult to sustain. Which makes the need of obtaining private support even more critical for the university.”

Based on the above Morehead is going to be a significant improvement, seems he is in touch with Georgia’s families, students and potential students. No more penthouse condo’s in Atlanta and hopefully he will occupy the President’s mansion. It is always good to see good people get important jobs. This Bulldog is satisfied with this choice, and hoping for a bright future for Georgia’s premier institute of higher learning.

Cheesy Grits is gone but not forgotten

March 14th, 2013
10:39 am

CPAC chair: Christie didn’t ‘deserve’ an invite this year

Because he actually worked with Obama.

the GOP is “not a home for everybody.”

– American Conservative Union chairman Al Cardenas

Possibly the understatement of the year.

Kyle have your own little game of Where’s Waldo while you are up there.

Only dont look for Waldo. Look for minorities at your little get together.

Let me know how many you spot.

Also we are all waiting to see who will win the ….

Charlton Heston Courage Under Fire Award this year.

For those who think im making that up. I’m not.

They really have an award called that.

Unbelievable.

Tiberius - pulling the tail of the left AND right when needed

March 14th, 2013
12:10 pm

Is Jefferson going to explain his 9:43 to anybody?

You know, with some logic behind it?

Tiberius - pulling the tail of the left AND right when needed

March 14th, 2013
12:12 pm

“Charlton Heston Courage Under Fire Award this year.

For those who think im making that up. I’m not.

They really have an award called that.”

Why wouldn’t they? He took a lot of ridiculous and moronic flack from the liberal elites for his conservative stances during his career.

And he told you poofs to stuff it each and every time.