Education

Outcry over upgrading college presidents' homes

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Thousands of taxpayer dollars spent each year to renovate Dr. Welty's home. Students say it's unfair but Fresno State's president says -- it's worth it.

Money is scarce in the California State University system, but not when it comes to presidential residences. The California Watch group released a report Tuesday, looking at eight homes within the entire system. Fresno State ranked toward the bottom with more than $76 thousand spent over the past decade.

President Welty has lived in the Fig Garden home since 1991. Most of the money was spent on basic landscaping. He says, with 75 events held each year here, maintenance is crucial for fundraising.

Built in 1941, this 73-hundred square foot home boasts six bedrooms and seven bathrooms. While Dr. Welty doesn't own the property, he lives here free of charge. It's just one of many perks given to presidents of California-state run universities.

Veronica Sandoval is a first year student at Fresno State. She's reacting to a new report published Tuesday by California Watch, a nonprofit investigative journalism group.

According to their research, over the past ten years, the university has spent $76,010 on renovations using state funding. The biggest chunk of that was used in 2004, when $24 thousand were spent on landscaping, including new trees, lamps and posts.

Veronica Sandoval said, "They should apply it for students because there are so many students struggling."

Dr. Welty tells Action News, the school does hold back on certain maintenance projects in order to save money. And the ones they do pursue pay out in the long run. "Recent years, costs have gone up, but the value that we're actually realized from entertaining groups at the home and hosting groups has been significant when you consider we're wrapping up a 200 million dollar fundraising campaign."

While CSU students face a 9-percent tuition hike next year; in comparison with other schools in the CSU system, Fresno State ranks low in spending when it comes to maintaining the home.

Last year, San Diego State spent $257 thousand on kitchen upgrades, new windows, and pool repairs. But, the biggest spender is Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Projects performed since 2004 have cost them a whopping $831 thousand.

One student Action News spoke to says he doesn't mind the added expense, as long as he benefits from it.

Munish Dhawan said, "If they give me the option to live there, I will live there. And, if they take care of my fees, living fees, yeah."

In all, California Watch totaled up $2 million of renovations and maintenance projects at the eight homes they looked at within the past ten years.

(Copyright ©2014 KFSN-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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