UNION, NJ — Union continued to hammer away at Kean University this week, questioning why there are plans to build more dorms off Woodland Avenue when they are not using campus dorms now.
Mayor Manuel Figueiredo blasted Kean University President Dawood Farahi and the board of trustees for trying to add to the $338 million of debt they already have incurred by planing to add a 400-bed dormitory in 2016 and an additional 400-bed facility in 2018.
According to the mayor, Kean has over 300 empty beds now in the existing residence halls and are in negotiations to add 800 more beds in the next two years. Statistics available at collegeview.com, he said, show Kean’s current residence hall capacity is 2,045, while the university website makes it clear they only have 1,734 students living on campus.
Figueiredo pointed out that Kean is not only operating with $338 million in debt, but handed out $19 million in salaries to 170 administrators last year, including a $200,000 bonus to Farahi.
“The university has also seen huge tuition increases, plummeting admissions and consistently declining credit ratings while they continue to spend taxpayer money fighting to claim land the court has already ruled does not belong to them,” the mayor said in a statement.
Figueiredo said the university is already under state scrutiny “for their seemingly wanton disregard for taxpayer dollars,” and with over 300 empty dorm beds the last thing they should be doing is trying to secure even more taxpayer money to construct additional residence halls and add to their overstock at taxpayer expense.
“It is difficult to imagine why Dr. Farahi would think this is a good idea and even more difficult to reconcile how a board of trustees tasked with trying to bring Kean University into a prosperous future could possibly think this is a good idea,” the mayor said, asking that Farahi and the board explain “this latest horrendous decision.”
“The good news is, unlike their previous mistakes, we may have a chance to stop them before they waste our money this time,” Figueiredo said.
The mayor explained the township and residents have always been among the biggest supporters of the university and the mission of providing world class education, “but Dr. Farahi and the board of trustees are abusing that relationship.”
“While enrollment drops, and tuition skyrockets, and in the midst of the ongoing investigation by the state comptroller of the purchase of $219,000 table and sound system purchased in China with state taxpayer money, Kean University leadership continues to make bad fiscal decisions,” Figueiredo said.
The mayor explained the township has been very clear about the fact they will “continue to fight tooth and nail” for Union taxpayers. Township officials also brought up the parking problem the university has had for years, pointing out that students continue to take up permit parking spaces that residents pay for even though they are not supposed to before a designated time.
With close to 5,000 students, the majority of which commute to the university, the mayor said 4,300 parking spaces have proven no where near enough to satisfy the need. Yet, there has been no plans to increase parking at the university.