Friday, October 09, 2015

Education bubble: Roosevelt University's glass tower dorm is forcing school to make cuts

The Chicago Tribune is reporting this morning on more evidence of what Instapundit's Glenn Reynolds calls the education bubble.

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The view from some Roosevelt University dorm rooms reveals a vista more commonly associated with condominiums and corner offices. Students sleep, study and socialize in a 32-story South Loop tower, a blue-green glass box that ranks as the second-tallest academic building in the country.

But in the three years since it opened, the $123 million building on South Wabash Avenue has come to seem more like a millstone than a monument to Roosevelt's educational mission. Interest payments on the school's massive construction loan have ballooned, and Roosevelt had to begin paying back the principal this year, adding to the budget pressure.

Tuition revenues have fallen far short of the projections that the private nonprofit school used to justify the tower. In 2009, amid a nationwide economic crisis, Roosevelt finance officials had predicted a $40 million jump in annual tuition dollars by 2014. The actual increase was about $5 million.

Today, analysts expect the university of about 6,000 students to run a deficit for its fifth year in a row. Annual salary increases have been frozen, according to an analyst's report. Debt payments are absorbing 11 percent of Roosevelt's operating budget, nearly double the typical debt burden at financially healthy universities. And enrollment is actually lower than it was the year construction began on the Wabash building.
Roosevelt's new president, Ali Malekzadeh, who was not in office when the tower was built, says "We are making cuts," adding "We're looking at every class and every cost that we have to make sure it meets the demand for the future. ... But let me also emphasize, the sky is not falling."

Maybe not yet.

Even before the left-wing take over of academia Roosevelt was known as a leftist bastion in education.

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