Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Bobcast: Fly them to the moon

Latest Bobcast is up. Listen here or read below.

The skies are decidedly more costly for Auburn University’s top officials than they are for their counterparts in Tuscaloosa.
According to a story in Sunday’s Huntsville Times, AU administrators and trustees racked up $492,640 in expenses associated with use of the university’s two jets dur-ing the ’07-’08 fiscal year.

Over the same period trustees and administrators at the University of Alabama spent $30,500 on travel on one corporate jet. Neither school owns the jets; they belong to the private athletic booster clubs at both institutions. (As an aside this is but one more sign of where the real power resides – one the playing field and the court, not the class-room or the library.)

An Auburn spokesman defended the costly air travel, saying it saves time when compared to flying commercially.

And, we’d add, no commercial flights between Dothan and Andalusia exist. That’s the 65-mile distance flown in an Auburn jet by AU trustee James Rane to get to a May 2008 speaking engagement. The pricetag: $3,213.

Costs associated with college are rising. Taxpayer revenue to support higher ed is falling. A state fund set up to help parents save for college is in serious trouble.

The point seems to be that tooling around on a university jet on the state’s dime is a perk that looks distinctly out of touch with today’s economic downturn.