This morning, I was interviewed by KSTP’s Tom Hauser. Before going further, I’ll just state that Hauser was polite and professional during the interview. Tonight, KSTP ran this story highlighting the virtually empty ISELF building. They also included this video of the segment:

Here’s how LFR was mentioned:

A conservative blogger and frequent critic of spending at SCSU says taxpayers are getting “ripped off” after spending $45 million from the 2011 bonding bill to pay for ISELF. Gary Gross, writing in his “Let Freedom Ring” blog, features pictures of many empty spaces in the building he says were taken by an unidentified professor who questions the building’s use. Gross blames university leaders “for selling legislators a grand vision that they didn’t think through.”

I’ve been a frequent critic of the University’s spending because they’ve made some questionable financial decisions. Further, I’d add that I’m not alone in this thinking.

Most importantly, I’m skeptical of the timeline for filling ISELF because SCSU is facing some significant budget cuts. At the most recent Meet & Confer meeting, the administration announced that they’re cutting their budget for this year “by $2.9 million.” That’s the minimum they’ll cut, however. It’ll be significantly higher that $2.9 million.

It’s important to remember that the administration virtually admitted that they don’t have the money to finish the Hockey Center renovation. It’s imperative to remember that it’ll literally cost the university hundreds of thousands of dollars to properly equip ISELF. That’s before talking about how much money it’ll cost to install a topnotch security system. Without the right security, CEOs won’t have SCSU do their research. Speaking of which, some CEOs were interviewed for the article:

Ned Tabat, CEO of Semaphore Scientific, says his company is close to signing an agreement with the university. His business card already features the address of the ISELF building. “There are capabilities here for doing advance nano-fabrication which is the cornerstone of some of the devices we’re developing,” Tabat says. His company is also hiring interns from SCSU.

The CEO of another St. Cloud company, Brad Goskowicz of Microbiologics, says his company has been working with university professors and students for several years, even before ISELF. They’ll likely expand that relationship. “They have expertise in areas that we don’t have and that helps us grow a lot faster,” says Goskowicz.

Mr. Goskowicz just admitted that they were working with SCSU prior to the construction of ISELF, which raises the question of whether ISELF was needed. Would a less expensive option have been a better option?

Beyond what was in the interview, the administration hasn’t answered some troubling questions. First, during the video, they showed Dr. David DeGroote cutting the ribbon. He was relieved of his ISELF responsibilities in March, 2013. First, why was he removed from those responsibilities? Second, why did President Potter give him the prestigious responsibility of cutting the ribbon at their high-profile event?

It’s possible to properly equip ISELF while cutting the SCSU budget by $3,000,000-$5,000,000 this year. It just isn’t the wisest decision because it’d significantly hurt other departments. Robbing Peter to pay Paul might make Paul your ally but it comes with a steep price. In this instance, there’s reason to think Potter would have to rob Peter and Paul to pay to properly equip ISELF.

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One Response to “ISELF on KSTP”

  • James Rugg says:

    Question: What is the purpose of our publicly funded universities, such as St. Cloud State University?

    Is it to educate students to provide them with the tools to improve and grow theirs and the country’s future?
    That can be accomplished by programs that fill productive jobs for business and by efficient use of taxpayer funds. It is questionable whether either of these factors are occurring at St. Cloud State. The ISELF building and over 4 million dollars spent on social programs are examples causing concern.

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