Ohio State University
Ohio State University is planning to borrow several hundred million dollars to finance a variety of university projects over the coming century, university President E. Gordon Gee said in his faculty address this week:
This month, we hope to get approval from the Ohio Board of Regents to issue a century bond. This would be something no public university has ever done in this country. In essence, we would borrow somewhere between $300 million and $500 million for a period of 100 years. Today’s low interest rates make this a creative and smart way to get an infusion of capital, which would be used for building projects over the coming decades. Now, in answer to the question about paying off the loan at the end of the hundred years, I have joked that I would be dead by then. That is not really the answer. In fact, the answer is that we will take a small percentage of the loan itself and invest it. Assuming a very modest interest rate, we will earn back the loan amount over the course of the pay-back period.
Gee noted several other university efforts to find new sources of revenue and cut costs, including commercializing faculty-developed technology, finding more operational efficiencies and privatizing non-core functions (like parking).
Gee also said that he did not plan to bring to Ohio the type of profit-and-loss analysis of faculty that Texas undertook this year, suggesting that one can’t put a price on Ohio State University’s professors:
As you may have heard, some in the State of Texas spent the summer devising a profit-and-loss calculation on different kinds of faculty members, counting up who taught profit-generating introductory courses and who offered profit-draining seminars.
We have all dedicated our lives to the noble purposes of public higher education. And we will never permit ill-conceived calls for artificially quantifying the per-student, per-hour value of what we teach. For what is the value of truth. And beauty. And depth. And purpose. And hope. And meaning. And connection. And sustenance. And possibility.
I would submit to you that their value – indeed, your value – is incalculable.
Note: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the reasons why Ohio State University wants to borrow $300-$500 million. The money is intended to finance a variety of campus projects and to take advantage of historically low interest rates in an environment in which major state funding increases are not expected.