Back in April we were told of a $3 million cut to the University of Montana’s 2017-2018 academic school year budget.
Sheila Stearns told us the bad news.
Well...it’s bad if you’re a low-level university employee, instructor, or years-long-untenured professor.
If you’re an appointed, interim president of the university like Sheila, then it don’t mean a damn thing.
Yep, Sheila will still be making her $303,145 salary no matter how bad things get at the U.
It’s one of the main reasons she wants to hold onto that job as long as she can, pushing the presidential application process from spring to summer and hinting that interviews won’t even start until the fall.
I’ve got to give her props in the job security department, as I have to give them to Clayton Christian, our Commissioner of Higher Education and a man I consider to be one of the most corrupt, incompetent, and overpaid in the state.
In his office, 76% of the budget goes to paying salaries and benefits.
He makes $300,000 each year alone, and ‘works’ about 2 days a week for that money.
And you know what? These fools are not alone.
We have 17 administrators at UM making over $100,000 a year.
That comes to $1.7 million.
This at a time when UM is cutting $3 million because it just doesn’t have the money...even though it does have $146 million budgeted to work with!
We also know that this is a time when UM is asking 100 professors to retire early, yet only 14 of them want to.
Yeah, 14%...great score on that exam, eh?
Sheila said she was “very pleased” with those numbers.
Let’s clarify this face-saving move and lackluster Missoulian reporting by Keila Szpallar for a moment.
Back in April UM identified “nearly 400 staff” that were “retirement eligible” and 80 to 100 could be offered the retirement package.
Fast forward to news of just 14 staffers taking up the offer and this 80 to 100 number is being downplayed to 48.
Well…why were 52 to 32 fewer staffers offered the package this spring…or were they but we just wanted to fudge those numbers a bit so we could say 30% took the bait, not 14%?
Hell, we know the U can’t follow simple instructions on a grant application.
And why was there such an outcry over that grant application failure?
Because UM desperately needs the money.
Without it, real change might have to take place at UM, not just the cosmetic changes that Sheila and her gang have enacted.
So Sheila’s Plan A didn’t work, and now it’s onto Plan B...which Sheila hinted at in April by saying the cuts could be as high as $6 million.
The only cuts that I can see are needed are right at the top, starting with Christian and Sheila and moving down from there.
I can’t think of one thing those two do, and I can’t think of anything their underlings do either.
Remember, we talked all about this in November 2015 when we looked at the high-priced administrators at UM.
Most of those people are nothing more than leeches that sit in desks all day, making your tax money, and doing little in the way of anything that moves this state forward.
Indeed, their very existence in those high-paid positions is actually moving us back.
And by God, it’s time we cut them loose.
UM’s 48 administrators are currently making over $6 million a year, which comes to 4% of the budget.
That comes out to $125,000 per person, on average.
Compare that with the 632 contract faculty, who get paid nearly $48 million a year, or 32% of the budget.
That comes out to $76,000 per person, on average.
The university also pays out nearly $34 million a year in employee benefits, which comes to 22% of the budget.
Together those three areas make up 58% of UM’s current budget…paying administrators, paying teachers, and giving them all benefits.
Let’s look at some other things:
- Classified personal services workers make up 14% of the budget, getting paid $20.5 million a year, which is down by 1.5% from last year.
- Graduate assistants make up 2% of the budget, getting paid $3.2 million a year, which is down by 22% from last year.
- Waivers & Scholarships make up 8% of the budget, which comes to $12.4 million a year, and that’s down by 13.5% from last year.
- UM spends over $5 million a year on supplies, making up 3.5% of its budget, and that’s down by 6% from last year.
If we add those things to our earlier numbers we find this all makes up 86% of UM’s current budget.
So at UM it’s mostly about:
- Paying teachers to teach students – sometimes using supplies to do so – while having lots of support staff to help and lots of administrators to stand around and watch.
- To make things a little easier on the teachers we spend a pittance giving them graduate assistants, and to make things easier on students we give some of them (athletes) free schooling, or at least schooling at a reduced cost.
Am I missing anything?
Now remember, I’m just looking at unrestricted expenses here, which come to $150 million…not the restricted expenses, which come to $18 million.
The trends are about the same and you can find both PDF documents on UM’s Fiscal Affairs & Budget page.
UM no longer lists the pay for its employees like it did before, something that enabled me to highlight this huge problem over a year and a half ago now.
What are they hiding?
As we mentioned, $303,000 a year.
That’s $5,800 a week.
Not too shabby, Sheila.
I wonder what your father-in-law, Hal Stearns would have thought about that.
He was born in Anaconda in 1912 and started working at the Havre Daily News in 1936.
He worked at a few more papers into the 40s, making about $25 a week.
He added $5 more by coaching local sporting games, sometimes “narrowly escaping physical abuse by fans.”
He taught Montana history at Carroll College for a time.
Hal died in 2004 at the age of 91.
He was a true Montana hero, someone that cared about the state.
However, when I look at the actions and the pay package of his daughter-in-law, Sheila, I have to put her into the true Montana villain category.
We followed the money.