Duquesne must provide greater budget transparency

By Duke Staff 

Between the approximately 10 editors and 50 staff members at The Duke, this organization has paid more than $2.6 million to Duquesne University during our time as students here. For many, the amount of money spent on college is the single largest investment they will make until they purchase a house someday. So why don’t we get to know where all that money goes?

Despite its claim to “retain the openness of our Spiritan founders” and to value “the pursuit of truth” (values on Duquesne’s “University Goals” web page), the university makes it laughably difficult to find any information on its budget, even in general terms. It seems Duquesne values the pursuit of truth only if that truth is something other than the approximate operating budget of the McAnulty College of Liberal Arts. Or the salary of University President Ken Gormley. Or how much money the university allocates toward athletics compared to academics.

Duquesne’s fiscal year begins July 1, which is when any budget reallocations will go into effect. In our research for these stories, one thing always stands out: Almost no one has any confident, meaningful budgetary information. Professors, department chairs, leaders in campus organizations — they often possess only a hazy, general concept of any budget information outside their own small spheres.

This lack of transparency fuels worry, jealousy, confusion and resentment. When facing a potential budget cut (as the liberal arts school or DU Press are), it is human instinct to look around at someone gaining (such as the incoming men’s basketball coach, who will receive a significant pay increase over his predecessor at $7 million over seven years) and wonder, “Why is their work more valuable than mine?”

In general, we at The Duke prefer to think well of people unless facing evidence to the contrary. We don’t think someone in the budget office woke up one morning and said, “You know, I really hate the liberal arts school. Let’s force them to fire some adjunct professors.” By publishing clear budgetary information on its website, along with the reasoning behind changes to the budget, Duquesne would be living up to its professed love of openness and truth.

Duquesne, please respect the intelligence of your students and employees, and make it clear how you are spending the resources your students have provided by choosing to attend Duquesne. If the United States federal government can do it, you can, too.