No… The University Can’t Pay for It


Missoula is having a hard time of it lately and things are not going to be getting much better anytime soon.  Macy’s closed this week and several other local downtown businesses are set to shutter their doors.   And no, The University will not be able to bailout this community.  In fact, The University is likely to become a source of more pain as budgets are cut further and departments are forced to let positions stay unoccupied.

At a recent meeting discussing an infrastructure project to be built in the next few years someone made the comment that, “The University should just contribute more.” No… they really can’t.

According to, The University could be facing a $7.6 million budget cut in fiscal year 2011, or about 5%.  Thats a lot of money for our local economy and a lot of corresponding jobs.  Perhaps the worst thing coming out of The University for Missoula is not a budget cut but a lack of building projects.  Over the last decade hundreds of millions of dollars went into new buildings on campus.  Not only did this create new educational opportunities, but it also gave a substantial boost to the local building trade, helping to support many a contractor, architect, laborer, and even LEED supervisors.  Once built all those new buildings needed to be maintained by a legion of support staff and everyone’s favorite… administrators.

But now the building spree is over and future investments are now in question, especially with King George set to depart.  Dennison was a big supporter in recent years of reducing The University’s carbon emissions and energy use.  Retrofitting the campus to be sustainable would require a large amount of investment dollars.  Was this out of some altruistic sense?  Probably not… much more likely that he was thinking of the financial benefit such a program would reap five, ten, or twenty years down the road as well as the marketing pot-of-gold a sustainable campus would represent.  Previous policies initiatives could be up in the air with any new captain steering the ship.

Already projects that might have found funding in a different economic environment are on hold indefinitely, such as the COT expansion and a new coffee shop on campus that would have been LEED certified.  The pain is even creeping into student organizations such as the Office of Transportation which is facing an 8-12% budget cut because expected federal funding will most likely not show up on time.  An 8-12% budget cut for an organization that has a $700,000 annual budget means 3 or 4 part-time student positions disappear.

So while The University may seem like its own little world that some would like to ignore or marginalize, including the student body, it’s really an integral part of Missoula… and when Missoula suffers so does the U.

  1. Well, is this any wonder? Can Montana face the truth? I graduated from UM in 74, BA Botany, from MSU in 79, MS Soils, 3.84 gpa, all told 8 years biology, chemistry, mathematics bought by risking death in Vietnam, no Pell grants then, only GI Bill. The best my home town could offer? $10/hr at Big Sky High School (with MCSE), under the most vile, incompetent and dishonest administration led by the Bigg Stinkk, weekly meetings watching my peers wolf down mashed potatoes and brag about their favorite porn for public schools, all this while a family friend’s daughter is raped in the school. Missoula, if you want to survive, get your head out of your crotch, abandon denial and pretense, confess your sins, and reward your best alumni for giving you the best, instead of sentencing them and your children to humiliation, poverty and disgrace.

    • carfreestupidity

      Wow…. hate, hate, hate… hate… hate

      • problembear


        btw cfs it’s ok to spam someone who is without any doubt completely off his meds….

        • carfreestupidity

          He does have a point about shitty pay though… all those damn college kids driving down the price of labor.

        • Thank God for that. UM’s claim to fame is pharmacy, law and journalism? And not only are the college kids learning about meds from Big Pharma, they’re being given $5/hr plus on the job lessons in the use of cocaine. That’s why I switched to MSU for the grad degree. Anyway, you sane defenders of the big lie go ahead, smoke my share and draw my share of the pay. How’s the adage go, “Try to do a doper a favor and some sound advice, and he’ll hate you for the rest of his life.”

          • carfreestupidity

            Missoula has the highest proportion of professional employment in the state… which I would venture to guess has something to do with the U.

          • klemz

            UM is famous for pharmacy? I thought that was UCSF.

          • JD

            UM’s claim to fame is its law school? I thought it was one of the worst in the country? Didn’t they just almost lose their accreditation several years ago for not having handicapped access to the building? At a … LAW SCHOOL?

            UM Law = big fish, small pond.

  2. Lizard

    i’m surprised not one mention of the 75,000 dollar little bump in pay for george and whoever takes his place.

    and how exactly do new buildings=better education? i guarantee that the new journalism building isn’t going to mean better journalism students.

    and if you want to earn a decent living (as a journalist) to pay off your astronomical debts, then your future will probably be in corporate journatainment.

    • problembear

      most of us are just glad he’s leaving liz…. only so much energy to fight the evil.

    • carfreestupidity

      Yep… forgot the big raise King George is getting… my tiny mind can only hold so much information at one time.

      I should have also used “more” rather than “better” educational opportunities. The old formula was construct a new building with all the latest tech = more students = more tuition = more professors = more classes taught.

      Now most departments are experiencing a hiring freeze. One such department has had enrollment increase by about 300% in the last decade and added teaching capacity accordingly but now one professor is retiring another is going on sabbatical for a year and there isn’t any money hire a new full time professor.

      • Lizard

        as long as we all remember the university system is big business, everything else falls into place. i doubt many administrators really care about increasing the quality of education. it’s the glut of construction and bloat of administrators on the backs of the students. so what if you have to not rehire adjuncts, or trim departments, or enact hiring freezes, or take soda bribe money, or peddle sweatshop clothing. like any good capitalist endeavor, money is all that matters.

        follow and read the piece i linked to in the socialism open thread about the administration’s push to continue the privatization of public education. in every sector of government, democrats are selling us out. at some point folks have to realize silence is complicity, and our corporate plutocracy won’t stop their parasitic behavior until we make it cost prohibitive for them to keep doing business as usual.

    • klemz

      I don’t think that’s true, Liz. I think they just want to keep their administrative positions without having to leave Montana. Motives aside, UM has too much overhead. We all seem to be agreeing on that.

      Here’s the rub: UM is exceedingly good at selling to the community (and the taxpayer) it’s status as a major research university. It would be great in UM stood for, say, the University of Michigan, because then the institution could support that kind of administrative puffery and, by extension, the Missoula economy. However, this UM doesn’t pull in 3/4 of a billion dollars in outside research funding like that UM. It’s a state school–it can’t support the economy of a city Missoula’s size any more than Gonzaga can support Spokane.

      “If you want to earn a decent living (as a journalist) to pay off your astronomical debts, then your future will probably be in corporate journatainment.”

      This made me laugh. Print journalism is the quintessential major of the bougie black sheep. The vast majority of print journalists coming out of school who will actually work as print journalists are the sons and daughters of lawyers and banking executives. Few of us, myself included, paid for undergrad.

      • Lizard

        yeah, self interest is probably more prevalent than professional indifference. i sure would love to hear the inter-office grumbling, though, because everyone has to know how much both presidents pay hikes stink with the cuts that are coming.

        sons and daughters of lawyers and banking, huh? do you know what i just put together that kinda blew me away: mika brzezinski is the daughter of zbigniew brzezinski. oh crazy world.

  3. Binky

    How about we get Mayor Engen and his team of economic Best Place Project advisers on to it? I’m sure they could dream up ways to subsidize, err stimulate, the biggest industry in town. All we need to do is think of the University as an ‘export earner’ – you know, one that brings in outside capital (tuition, research grants) and ships out the product (students, research).

  4. Chuck

    Pete was right to have concern over the make up of the Mayor’s economic team. Representing the very folks who got you into this economic and social crises:
    Health Care Industry mess: check
    Banking and Real Estate Bubble mess: check
    Mega Corporation lobby:check
    Education Funding mess: check
    Political Crony: check
    Energy and Climate change mess: check
    Government Bureaucrat : check
    Looks like we are missing one….AIG.. Goldman Sachs??

  5. The university needs less vice presidents and more teachers and real workers.

    The pyramid is upside down over there.

    Fix that and quality will improve as well as efficiency and more money will be available for worthy programs that benefit students rather than buttressing dennison’s empire.

  6. I think they’ll be lucky if they only get hit with a 5% cut. Agencies have been told to brace for more – and depending on the outcome of the election, we might have a group in there that thinks we should be cutting half billion out of the budget.

  1. 1 Rusty Blackbird Sightings -2 Feb 2010 | Rusty Blackbird

    […] No… The University Can’t Pay for It « 4&20 blackbirds […]

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