PATRICK J. LAWLOR
EDITOR IN CHIEF
The latest trend in government, corporate organizations and administrations is transparency. Those who are in charge want their stakeholders and constituencies to have faith in their leadership, to know they are working in their best interest. In the government, transparency is part of the job. Transparency is how we know our elected and appointed officials are working in our best interest; it is how we hold leaders accountable. The government by law must provide reports on spending, salaries and government processes. That’s why we have the Freedom of Information Act, and public meeting laws. All of this is part of the checks and balances of our government.
Transparency has become more important as a value in America; we hear about it in the media almost every day. In the wake of the financial meltdown, there was some regulation and even greater social and media pressure for private financial institutions to be transparent.
As society and government begin to turn their attention to the costs of higher education, we believe there will soon be similar cries for transparency in higher education.
Merrimack has its own ugly past of financial mismanagement, making our community more sensitive to the issue of transparency. President Richard Santagati was paid over $700,000 in compensation, placing him among the highest in the nation, a salary that caught national scrutiny as well as scrutiny on campus. Merrimack also faced a federal investigation that probes the management of millions of dollars of Perkins loan funds. Under President Santagati, many financial and personnel decisions were made that still have effects on us today.
The early days of President Christopher Hopey’s administration were spent cleaning up a mess left behind by the secret maneuvering of previous administrations. We don’t have any reason to believe those bad decisions are being repeated, but we base our faith in current leadership, not in our full knowledge of what is actually going on.
Therefore, I suggest that President Hopey, and our esteemed trustees institute rules for greater financial transparency for this, and future administrations. Making public senior level personnel salaries, amount invested in expansion projects and spending in athletics will surely garner faith in the future of the college and the value of accountability the administration has.
In his inauguration speech President Hopey told the audience “we must be bold,” I see no better opportunity to be bold than, financial transparency.
In an effort to be bold and transparent, I have attached The Beacon’s budget allocation, which is funded by the Comprehensive Fee, part of every student’s bill from the college. I have also supplied our readers with our advertisement revenue and all of our expenses and donation figures.