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Tuition Cost Control: Low-Hanging Fruit

Maybe this business of bringing tuition inflation under control will be easier than I thought. In the May 15 New York Times Andrew Martin reports on cost-control efforts underway at Ohio State University (and bully to the Times for refusing to call it, as the university prefers, "the Ohio State University"; simply shaving that pretentious "the" off its letterhead would surely save a few thousand). President E. Gordon Gee (whom I struggle not to judge harshly--Lord, give me strength--for wearing both suspenders and a bow tie) is now evangelizing that "the notion that universities can do business the very same way has to stop." But he resists the Times's polite hint that a good place to start cutting might be his $225,000 annual travel budget (averaged over two years) or his roughly $2 million annual compensation package, which, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education, makes him America's highest-paid college president.

Mr. Gee is, however, "considering selling off Ohio State's airport and golf courses."

I had to read that one twice. Ohio State has its own airport? Why, yes. "The" Ohio State University Airport, apparently created to train military pilots during World War II, survives as a branch of Ohio State's department of aerospace engineering and aviation, and also as a general aviation (i.e., private plane) facility for the Columbus area. Home to 230 aircraft, "the OSU Airport oversees an estimated 100,000 operations per year, including corporate activity, student training, and pleasure flying," according to the Web site. This seems an expensive hobby with which to acquaint students who will graduate with an average debt of $24,480.

As for "golf courses," it turns out we're talking about two. Call me a skinflint, but that sounds like approximately two more than seems necessary to prepare Ohio State's graduates to compete in a global economy.