“Cracking the Nut,” Part 8: WSRI Continued

In response to the previous post in this series, I received a thoughtful message from a BUFM who pointed out that the “real issue” is not the number of high-salaried employees at WSRI but, instead, the failure to set up and manage WSRI and WSARC so that they might be profitable. The BUFM emphasized that most research institutes have a higher percentage of high-salaried employees than most university colleges or departments. Indeed, the BUFM suggested that the post might actually serve to create dissension among those in our bargaining unit because it highlights the wide variations in compensation among faculty in the colleges within our university.

I have no argument with anything that this correspondent has written. But the purpose of the posts in this series is not to highlight why each of the various enterprises and initiatives in which the university has “invested” large sums have been losing money rather than generating revenue. Coming up with those answers is the administration’s responsibility.

Instead, precisely because the administration has been very ambiguous even on how much it has had to subsidize these money-losing ventures, the purpose of this series is to suggest the scope of the revenues diverted from the core mission of the university and the degree to which this diversion represents very skewed institutional priorities. Yes, someone might take issue with the variations in compensation among faculty in the colleges within our university, but those variations are longstanding and exist in most universities across the United States. In striking contrast, that our university has experienced three successive years of negative cash flow is, as far as we have been able to determine, an unprecedented occurrence at a public university.

So, in this post, let’s go a step beyond the comparisons presented in the previous post and look at the highest salaries in WSRI and compare them to the highest BUFM salaries in each of the colleges with BUFMs.

The two highest paid employees of WSRI/WSARC are the chief scientist and the CEO, who earn, respectively, $374,158 and $219,501.

The highest paid BUFM in the university is the former provost, but at the moment, his salary is an outlier because it is the only BUFM salary that falls between the two highest salaries at WSRI/WSARC and because it is one of just several high salaries for BUFMs that has been calculated back from an administrative salary.

Because BUFMs on fiscal-year contracts have typically assumed administrative salaries, we have calculated all salaries to their academic-year equivalent. With that proviso in mind, and bearing in mind that the BUFM data is from April 2016, before the VRIP made it more difficult for us to track data, the highest BUFM salaries in each of the colleges were as follows:








Indeed, in terms of suggesting skewed institutional priorities, if one looks at the mean and median salaries of WSRI/WSARC employees earning more than $100,000–$144,009.31 and $122,281.12, respectively—they are higher than the highest BUFM salary in four of the seven colleges with BUFMs.

Again, we acknowledge that this is, in many ways, an exercise in comparing apples to oranges, but it does very tellingly suggest very skewed institutional priorities.



“Cracking the Nut,” Part 7: WSRI

This article in our continuing series on the budget issues at Wright State is the first of three concerning the payroll of the Wright State Research Institute (WSRI).

These articles were ready to be distributed late in the Fall semester, but because the vote of no-confidence in Dr. Robert Fyffe was in process, we postponed the distribution of these articles and a follow-up article on the Wright State Applied Research Corporation (WSARC). None of the articles has much to do with Dr. Fyffe’s performance, but because both units are now under Dr. Fyffe’s oversight and because both articles are likely to provoke a strong negative response from BUFMs, we did not wish to appear to be putting our thumb on the scale in the no-confidence vote.

Unlike WSARC, WSRI does not need to file distinct audited annual financial reports. So the only firm information that we have on the university’s expenditures on WSRI are related to payroll.

Over the last five years, 46 employees of WSRI have received salaries of $100,000 or higher. As of October 2016, 27 employees of WSRI were receiving salaries of $100,000 or higher.

Although it is in a sense comparing apples to oranges to juxtapose those numbers with BUFMs in the colleges receiving equivalent salaries, the exercise does, nonetheless, suggest a great deal about this university’s priorities.

The following list indicates the number of BUFMs earning $100,000 or higher:

  • CECS: 45 out of 88 BUFMs, or about 51% of all BUFMs.
  • CEHS: 1 out of 57 BUFMs, or less than 2% of all BUFMs (and that person, who is on a fiscal appointment, would be below $100,000, if her fiscal year salary were converted to the academic equivalent, in which case the percentage would go down to zero).
  • CoLA: 6 out of 211 BUFMs, or less than 3% of all BUFMs (and there would be only 4, if all fiscal year salaries were converted to academic equivalents, in which case the percentage would go down to a bit less than 2%).
  • CoNH: 3 out of 41 BUFMs, or about 7% of all BUFMs.
  • CoSM: 38 out of 158 BUFMs, or about 24% of all BUFMs (and there would be only 29, if all fiscal year salaries were converted to academic equivalents, in which case the percentage would go down to about 18%).
  • Lake: 1 out of 37 BUFMs, or less than 3% of all BUFMs.
  • RSCoB: 45 out of 61 BUFMs, or about 74% of all BUFMs.

More tellingly, WSRI has more employees earning salaries of $100,000 or higher than four of the seven colleges have BUFMs earning equivalent salaries, and in such a comparison, WSRI is just marginally behind CoSM.

As of April 2016, the average salary of TET BUFMs was $94,093.65, and the average salary of NTE BUFMs was $53,996.50. The average salary for instructors, or at-will NTE faculty, was $47,433.02.

So, not expectedly, the salary average for TET BUFMs is very clearly skewed by the numbers from several colleges.

Again, the next two articles in this series will also be related to WSRI.



An Hour of Television on Higher Ed Issues from a Faculty Perspective


This past Thursday, DA-TV in Dayton devoted an hour to a panel discussion about the issues at our university but very much tying those issues to broader statewide and national issues.

Although I was invited to participate on the panel, I was attending a professional conference. After viewing the video, I think that you will agree that my absence may have been something of a blessing because I cannot imagine that I could have spoken as articulately and as effectively as those AAUP leaders and members who did participate.

The panel included: John McNay, President of the Ohio Conference of AAUP; Tom Rooney, Treasurer of the AAUP-WSU; Adrian Corbett, Chief Negotiator of AAUP-WSU; Sirisha Naidu, Grievance Officer of AAUP-WSU; and Andrea Harris, a Lecturer in English and Women’s Studies who helped to organize the recent student protest on the Quad.

If you are pressed for time, the first 7 ½ minutes are a sort of general news overview (the material is very interesting but not related to higher-ed per se).

Citizen Impact is hosted by Logan Martinez and produced by Tim Bruce. It is a project of the Miami Valley Full Employment Council (MVFEC), which works for the interests of low-income and unemployed people in the Dayton, Ohio, area.




“Cracking the Nut,” Part 5

As closely as we can calculate from the audited financial statements, the Wright State Applied Research Corporation (WSARC) cost the university almost $8 million between 2012 and 2015:

2012:              $1,011,357

2013:              $2,173,314                $3,184,671

2014:              $2,724,251                $5,908,922

                        $1,607,132                $7,516,054

2015:              $963,240                   $8,479,294

Notes on how we arrived at these totals are provided at the bottom of this communication.


Last spring, we received from another source the following chart, providing a somewhat different calculation of the cost of WSARC to Wright State.


 At this point, it does not matter all that much what the precise losses have been. It matters only that as the university was reporting three consecutive years of negative cash flow, it continued to “invest” millions of dollars into this entity, which was providing little to no indication that it would ever actually produce revenues that would allow it to contribute to, rather than to continue to be a drain on, the university’s increasingly over-extended resources.

 I am certain that someone in the administration will complain that our accounting or that of the other source that we have shared is not accurate. Well, to this point, the university has not provided AAUP-WSU with any financial records related to WSARC or WSRI that are both complete and transparent. (There will be more on the lack of transparency in another communication distributed over the next couple of weeks.) So, if the administration wanted us to be more accurate in our analysis, then it should have provided us with full and clearly presented data, instead of leaving us to improvise.




On September 2, 2011, the Wright State Applied Research Corporation (WSARC) signed an agreement to purchase fee simple interest in an office building located at 4035 Colonel Glenn Highway, Beavercreek, Ohio 45435, for a purchase price of $1,800,000. The building consists of approximately 34,000 rentable square feet of space and is located on approximately 4.4 acres of land. WSARC completed this purchase agreement and closed on the property on July 13, 2012.

But the audited financial statement shows property and equipment at a value of $941,986.

There is a “Due to Wright State” liability of $1,114,822. Per an agreement reached with the University during the year ending June 30, 2012, the amount outstanding of $1,011,357 was forgiven by the University. This is reflected as a contribution to equity by a related party on the Statement of Activities. So, in effect, the University loaned WSARC $1,114,822 and then forgave $1,011,357 of the loan. Without this contribution to equity, WSARC would have had net assets of $103,525, or have been close to being insolvent.

Total revenue for the year equaled $1,837,023.

Total expenses for the year equaled $2,463,841.

The total loss for the year was $626,818.

An impairment of software and equipment of $5,851,769 was reported.


As noted above, without WSU’s contribution to equity WSARC would have had become insolvent the following year when it had a loss of $1,993,982.

Total revenue for this year equaled $7,030,581.

Total expenses for this year equaled $9,024,563.

The total loss for this year equaled $1,993,982.

There was more impairment of software and equipment reported but only for $114,259.

Net Cash Used for Operations:

The University made another contribution to equity of 2,186,173. During the year ending June 30, 2013, the state of Ohio awarded the University a grant, a part of which was to be operated by WSARC. The University purchased $2,186,173 of capital assets for WSARC to use to fulfill the requirements of the grant. This is reflected as a contribution to equity by a related party on the Statement of Activities.

In 2012 WSARC reported that it had purchased a building. Actually it was WSU that had purchased the building, as is noted in the 2013 financial statements note 4. Part of the $5,206,447 due to Wright State was $1,800,000 used to purchase the building. As we will see later WSU forgave this debt.

Separately WSARC reported owning land worth $735,480 and building and improvements worth $1,437,936, for a total of $2,173,416. This means that WSARC spent $373,416 making improvement on the building that WSU purchased for it.


A “Due to Wright State” amount of $1,972,252 was reported.

In 2014 there was also for the first time an asset for WSARC “Due from Wright State University” amounting to $1,607,132 (which includes $172,760 for rent). This amounts to a new mechanism for charging WSU more –that is, more WSU money was flowing to WSARC. Effectively this wipes out most of the $2 million due to WSU.

Total revenue for the year was $11,627,052.

Total expenses for the year were $12,554,955.

The total loss for the year was $927,903.

Net Cash Used for Operations was -$816,171.

Purchases of property and equipment amounted to $551,327.

In 2014 WSARC lists land at $751,085. This is an increase over the $735,480 they reported in 2013. This number should not increase unless they purchased additional land—that is, it is not due to appreciation in the value of land. All plant and property is reported at historical costs—the purchase price. Buildings and improvements were reported at $1,973,167 compared to $1,437,936 in 2013.

The Corporation issued a note receivable to a research foundation on June 30, 2014 for $300,000. The note bears interest at the five-year treasury rate plus 250 basis points, with the interest rate reset on January 1 of each year. Quarterly payments of accrued interest are to be made beginning July 1, 2014, with the principal due at maturity on December 31, 2024. The note is collateralized by all assets of the borrower. The note receivable is included in other asset in the statement of financial position.

During the year ended June 30, 2014, WSARC began recognizing revenue for space leased to the University in WSARC’s building. This is a new development. First WSU bought the building for WSARC and then was paying $172,760 in rent. (The going rate at Wright Executive Center office park is $17.95 per square foot. So one wonders how many square feet the university is renting and whether it is giving itself a “good deal.”)

During fiscal year 2014, a donor made a bequest to the University of an office building in the donor’s name. The donor has a mortgage on the building of approximately $2,700,000. During fiscal year 2014, WSARC entered into an agreement with the lender guaranteeing the debt service payments of the mortgage. As of June 30, 2014, no amounts were recognized as a liability under the financial guaranty in WSARC’s statement of financial position.

The University purchased $924,251 of capital assets for WSARC during the year ended June 30, 2014.

In addition to the capital assets purchased during the year ended June 30, 2014, the University also forgave $1,800,000 of amount due from WSARC for the purchase of the building. This is reflected as a contribution to equity by a related party on the Statement of Activities for the year ended June 30, 2014.

Thus the University made another contribution to equity of $2,724,251.


The total amount due to Wright State University was $7,126,607.

The total amount due from Wright State University was $1,718,742 (including $813,000 for rent).

The total revenue for the year was $15,243,528.

The total expenses for the year were $15,968,382.

The total loss for the year was $724,854.

The net cash used for operations was -$414,948.

The purchases of property and equipment totaled $344,445.

WSU increased the amount it paid in rent in 2015. It had a “Due to for Rent” in 2015 of $813,000 compared to $172,760 in 2014. The increase in the “Due to” reflects the additional rent paid by WSU to WSARC, which was $640,240.


What Standing Together Can Accomplish

Many of you may be aware that the administration of Long Island University—Brooklyn announced on Labor Day weekend that it was abruptly locking out all bargaining-unit faculty because of an extended impasse in their contract negotiations.

This lockout was unprecedented in the history of American higher education, and it not only attracted national attention but also provoked considerable outrage. Last week, after starting the semester with administrators and newly hired adjunct faculty hastily assigned to as many classes as possible, the university administration finally relented.

What follows is a debriefing by one of the faculty actively involved in resisting the lockout. For those of you who have not been following the story very closely, there is then a series of links to other posts to the Academe Blog.


Back to Class with Lots of New Lessons: Debrief on the LIU Lockout


Saturday, September 17, three days after the LIU administration ended its lockout of faculty in the midst of contract negotiations, I feel a little like Wile E. Coyote running off the edge of a cliff. I can’t stop running.

As I hover over that abyss, before resuming the more or less normal functions of life as a professor, I need to think through what the lockout taught us. And given its significance as an unprecedented case of what could happen elsewhere, those of you following the news about it are also probably wondering what happened.

As reported in the press, our old contract was extended until May 31, 2017, our demand for a mediator was met, any health insurance expenses are to be reimbursed, and negotiations are to resume immediately. At our union meeting on September 15, the day we returned to campus, we heard more details.

We learned about two conditions proposed by President Kimberly Cline and swiftly rejected by our incredulous LIUFF team: the first was that we issue a joint statement announcing the end of the lockout; the second, even more preposterous, was that we sign a “non-disparagement” clause. As a member of our team put it, first she locked us out, now she’s threatening our First Amendment rights.

We also got a copy of a letter to Cline from the NYS Deputy Commissioner for Higher Education warning her that media reports and complaints alleging the use of unqualified replacement workers could lead to an on-site review of the University’s compliance with state regulations and to deregistration of programs.

The crisis of the lockout thrust LIU into the national spotlight. Together with amazing support from labor—especially the AFT and its crew of experienced staff—elected officials, colleagues, friends, and alums, LIU Brooklyn faculty and students stood up for higher education and won a major victory.

Had we gone on strike—an action decided against well before the lockout—it would have been newsworthy but not extraordinary. Once the lockout was implemented, students and faculty were cast into history-making roles defending our campus against the president’s neoliberal, union-busting tactics and her assumption that it was okay to replace 450+ professors with reassigned administrators and scabs hired on Monster.com.

The lockout transformed the LIU Brooklyn faculty from a diverse group of intellectuals across the political spectrum into a more or less unified, disciplined local willing to fight collectively not only for ourselves but also for the other four unions on our campus without contracts, the students, the right to unionize, and the future of our university. Next we need to figure out how to maintain unity, focus, and resolve now that the crisis has ended.

Students were likewise transformed by the lockout and the fraudulent replacement of their professors. They rose up in unified protest that forced the administration to buckle. Simultaneously, they began to understand discrete instances of their own mistreatment (e.g., cuts to scholarships and stipends) in qualitatively different terms as linked to larger structural assaults on education and democracy. They learned they have power when they act collectively.

We emerged victorious in this round of attack but that is clearly insufficient. We have immediate work to do at LIU—negotiating a fair contract and mounting a campaign for new university leadership. The future of LIU, however, is inextricably linked to the long-term, systemic problem of the evisceration and corporatization of education.

None of us anywhere will be able to fight these battles alone. The LIU lockout is already fading from headlines but the ubiquitous struggle continues. Many of us have researched and lamented neoliberal trends in education, from privatization and austerity to high stakes testing and how international conglomerates are writing curricula and controlling classroom pedagogy.

We know that Bill Gates and other big private donors have discovered what he has publicly called “a uniform base of customers.” The question remains how to build a national, activist movement—one that goes beyond think tanks and the publication of research—of students and teachers across disciplines, institutions, grade levels, and localities that can fight for education as a human right essential to democracy.

To end on a lighter note, during the lockout I was assessed a late fee for an unpaid credit card. I wrote a message to the bank explaining I had been one of over 450 LIU faculty locked out of the university. I suggested the clerk reading my query might have heard about it on the news, indeed, might have heard me on the news. The message I got back telling me the fee had been waived also stated: “We are aware of the unfortunate circumstances and hope things get better.”


Links to other posts to the Academe Blog on the LIU—Brooklyn lockout, arranged chronologically from the earliest to most recent:

“LIU  Lockout Scheduled for Midnight”: http://academeblog.org/2016/09/02/24861/.

“Locked Out on Labor Day: Faculty at LIU Brooklyn Fighting for a Fair Contract and the Future of Our Campus”: http://academeblog.org/2016/09/03/locked-out-on-labor-day-faculty-at-liu-brooklyn-fighting-for-a-fair-contract-and-the-future-of-our-campus/.

“Why Does the New York Times Ignore the LIU Lockout?”: http://academeblog.org/2016/09/04/why-does-the-new-york-times-ignore-the-liu-lockout/.

“Lockout Lessons”: http://academeblog.org/2016/09/04/lockout-lessons/.

“Front Lines of the Academic Precariat: LIU Brooklyn Faculty Still Locked Out”: http://academeblog.org/2016/09/05/front-lines-of-the-academic-precariat-liu-brooklyn-faculty-still-locked-out/.

“Administrator Oversteps and the Threat to the Faculty: LIU, Northwestern and More”: http://academeblog.org/2016/09/06/administrator-oversteps-and-the-threat-to-the-faculty-liu-northwestern-and-more/.

“LIU Lockout [Statement from national AAUP]”: http://academeblog.org/2016/09/06/liu-lockout/.

“Who Is the College?: Straight from the LIU Lockout”: http://academeblog.org/2016/09/07/who-is-the-college-straight-from-the-liu-lockout/.

“Lockout of Faculty at LIU: Looking Down into the Abyss”: http://academeblog.org/2016/09/08/lockout-of-faculty-at-liu-looking-down-into-the-abyss/.

“Scenes from the LIU Student Walkout”: http://academeblog.org/2016/09/08/scenes-from-the-liu-student-walkout/.

“One Week and Counting: More Lessons from the #LIUlockout”: http://academeblog.org/2016/09/09/one-week-and-counting-more-lessons-from-the-liulockout/.

“How to Destroy College: The Long Island University Method”: http://academeblog.org/2016/09/09/how-to-destroy-college-the-long-island-university-method/.

“The Logic of the LIU Lockout: Does the Goldwater Rule Apply to University Presidents?”: http://academeblog.org/2016/09/13/the-logic-of-the-liu-lockout-does-the-goldwater-rule-apply-to-university-presidents/.

“LIU Lockout Is Over”: http://academeblog.org/2016/09/14/l-i-u-lockout-is-over/.

“LIU Lockout Is Over”: http://academeblog.org/2016/09/14/liu-lockout-over/.



Open Letter to President Hopkins and the Board of Trustees

Sunday, September 11, 2016

To President David Hopkins and the WSU Board of Trustees:

The AAUP-WSU wants to notify the upper administration that we strongly oppose the firing of any bargaining unit faculty that support the core mission of our University: teaching our students. Fiscal mismanagement by the central administration has produced our current budget deficits. In particular, it has poured funds into entities and auxiliaries (e.g., Wright State Applied Research Corporation, Intercollegiate Athletics, Double Bowler, ad infinitum) which neither generate enough revenue to pay for themselves nor support the core mission of our University. Consulting expenses are at an all-time high–over $2 million in the most recent year reported, FY 2015! These misplaced priorities have continued in the budget cuts (still only vaguely delineated) made this summer, in which academic units suffered greater cuts than administrative ones. (See Cracking the Nut, Part 2.) Notably, the administration completely ignored the priorities enunciated by AAUP-WSU regarding where cuts should be made (see our April 13 letter to the Board of Trustees).

In a recent blog by the AAUP-WSU (see Cracking the Nut, Part 3), we have shown members of the campus community that the administrative headcount ratio compared to all employees in the University is 50.9%, which is second only to Ohio State University among Ohio’s doctoral-level public universities.

The State Legislature is now requiring an Administrative Productivity Measure, and for this they specify four ratios: 1) Course Completion Ratio, which divides the Student Course Completed FTE by the Administrative Employee Headcount; 2) the Degree Completion Ratio, which divides the Student Degree Completion by the Administrative Employee Headcount; 3) Administrative Headcount Ratio (reported above for WSU) and 4) Administrative Expenditure ratio, which is administrative salary expenditure divided by Education and General Expenditure. In the productivity measures, Wright State had the third lowest course completion ratio, the lowest degree completion ratio and the second highest administrative expenditures ratio. From this data, only Ohio State has more administrative bloat than Wright State does, but at least they have positive net revenues nearly every year.


Faculty who teach and staff who support this teaching are certainly used to having our productivity and efficiency measured on a yearly basis, and we have proven our worth year after year. This is the first time that the administration’s productivity and efficiency in Higher Education has been measured in Ohio, and from this analysis it is clear that a key place to cut personnel to improve Wright State’s productivity and efficiency is in the upper administration. The State is requiring that Universities reply to this report with actions that will improve their productivity and efficiency. Why, at this time, are the academic units that support our teaching mission being told that they must undergo drastic cuts, which will impact our ability to teach and bring in revenue for the University?

Let’s examine the accomplishments of the central administration in the past two years. It has brought a federal investigation into H1-B visa misuse on our campus that also implicated some members of the Board of Trustees, forcing their resignation. Various top administrators have departed or been suspended. Notably, the former Provost sits at home collecting a very substantial salary, and we still don’t know whether the reasons for his suspension are only apparent misdeeds, or deeds actually subject to prosecution, or something in between. Three years ago, the central administration began WSU’s unprecedented three-years-and-counting run of genuine deficit spending. This has necessitated precipitous reductions in WSU’s reserves. But, rather than acting to cut immediately entities that neither generate enough revenue to pay for themselves nor support the core mission of our University, the central administration continued its profligate spending on these very same entities! Our intercollegiate athletics program has never come even remotely close to paying for itself, or very rarely even staying within its generous budget, but this last year, in the midst of a serious budget crisis, the central administration decided to fire the basketball coach, whose contract had recently been extended and with whom a substantial settlement then had to be reached, and to hire another one at a considerably higher cost.

According to the table above, WSU’s Administrative Expenditure Ratio is second worst in the state. But despite this clear evidence of administrative bloat, the central administration failed in performing one of its most basic duties: to report standard university data to the Carnegie Foundation during this time, resulting in a drop in our Carnegie Classification from R2 down to R3. For the first time in memory, the central administration also failed to report faculty salary and benefits data from the main campus to the AAUP Compensation Survey, despite repeated requests for this data. Likewise, Wright State was very late in filing financial data with the Board of Regents in this past year. The upper administration continues to pay huge consulting fees to help it figure out what it should do to respond to the numerous crises it has created. All of this taken together begs the question, exactly why are we paying such huge salaries to the top administrators? The only sensible thing the central administration has done in the past year is pull out of the Presidential debate when it became obvious that it could not raise enough money to cover the cost. But even that decision was made only after the university had incurred millions of dollars of costs for a debate that is now being held elsewhere.

An unending series of scathing media stories ranging from the sexual assault scandal involving the tennis team, to misuse of money to external consultants (who are supposedly not lobbyists!), to the aforementioned H1-B visa fiasco have made it very clear to everyone that the central administration has either caused or not done enough to prevent serious and ongoing damage to the reputation of our university.

Given your chronically misplaced priorities and wanton negligence, it is beyond the pale to ask WSU students to suffer for your errors by reducing the full-time faculty and otherwise cutting academic units who deliver their education. You need to do the right thing and absorb the bulk of the cuts yourself. You need to trim administrative bloat and to cut entities that have generated costs rather than revenues and reinvest in the core mission of this university.

If you are either unable or unwilling to act in this way, then you should resign.

Marty Kich

President, AAUP-WSU

On Behalf of the Executive Committee of AAUP-WSU