Cash-strapped professors at Rutgers learn to do without, in world of state aid cuts and bad economy

Historians in the News

If you want to reach Jeff McMahan, a professor in Rutgers University's esteemed philosophy department, don't bother calling his office. His telephone — like those of many of other teachers in the humanities — has been unplugged, amid belt-tightening at the state university.

"I work in the second-ranked philosophy department in the nation, but I don't even have an office phone," said McMahan, a nine-year professor who now uses his personal cell phone as his office phone.

With state aid cuts and the poor economy, professors across the university are learning to live without common items like office phones, photocopies, pay raises and the latest academic journals.

Meanwhile, the university has increased funding for sports, fueling tension between the athletic and academic communities over the university's priorities. Last year, the university diverted $26.8 million in student fees and tuition dollars to cover the department's operating loss, one of the highest subsidies in the nation, a Star-Ledger analysis shows....

The faculty in school of the Arts and Sciences at Rutgers University will consider a resolution on Dec. 14, calling upon the administration to curtail the subsidies and open up the athletic department's books.

"Rutgers is spending more than any other program in country, but I don't see the returns," said history department chairman Jim Masschaele.

"We are not Ohio State, Michigan or Penn State, and I don't think anyone in the administration believes that."

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