Arkansas Business reports on a speech Tuesday by University of Arkansas Chancellor Joseph Steinmetz to the downtown Little Rock Rotary Club in which he went through his earlier announced eight priorities for the campus, but also said pointedly that the Razorback stadium expansion was not on that list.
That doesn’t mean he opposes the expansion, of course. He’s announced his support previously. It’s more that the Athletic Department is its own separate, self-funding kingdom. But Steinmetz also reiterated what I’d reported earlier — that he hopes to get a greater contribution of Athletic Department revenue to general university operation. It has been making a $2 million annual contribution.
The $160 million expansion — which will cost more than $200 million counting interest on a $120 million bond issue — has drawn criticism, notably from UA Trustee David Pryor, for seeming to place a greater emphasis on athletics and high-dollar seat purchasers than academics.
Sarah Campbell reported:
The Rotarian asked whether Steinmetz received pushback to the stadium plan from academic faculty.
“I did not receive pushback from the academics on campus and for one good reason,” Steinmetz said. “And, I’ll say this up front, that stadium has no place on my list. It’s not my priority.”
The department also transfers about $3 million to the academic programs each year, and the chancellor said he expects that to increase.
The UA budget on-line, however, shows a $2.3 million Athletic Department contribution to the university in 2016-17, the same as in 2015-16. That’s about 2 percent of $105 million in revenue.
Steinmetz’s priorities, as announced originally in remarks to UA staff:
Advancing student success.
Building a collaborative and innovative campus.
Enhancing its research and discovery mission.
Enriching campus diversity and inclusion.
Investing in faculty excellence.
Promoting innovation in teaching and learning.
Reaffirming its land-grant and flagship responsibilities.
Strengthening graduate education.
A key difference between his priority list and the stadium expansion is that one is guaranteed to happen — the stadium expansion.