A July email sent to Minerva council members revealed that the Minerva central budget line was overspent by $11,776.19 during the last academic year. Now, to cover the costs, each of Union’s seven Minerva houses is forking over $1,682 from their budgets this year.
According to Director of Minerva Programs Thomas McEvoy, exceeding the central budget was the result of “aggressive booking and funding of outside speakers,” including authors Alexandra Fuller and Michael Kimmel.
Fuller, whose memoir was read by the Class of 2018, cost over $10,000 to book after her honorarium, flight and lodging were totaled.
Kimmel also took a big chunk out of the Minerva budget.
After McEvoy was approached by a student and professor, Kimmel was booked to speak for the Minerva course. Except for a small payment contributed by the Sociology Department, the Minerva budget covered Kimmel’s $7,500 price tag.
On top of that, Kimmel’s “Guyland” was read by the Class of 2019. Even before he came to speak to the class during September orientation, Kimmel required a $3,500 deposit, which came out of last year’s Minerva budget.
The cost of his honorarium, travel and hotel were not included in the email.
Other events hosted by the Minervas during first-year orientation also contributed to overspending, according to McEvoy’s email. T-shirts worn by “Minerva Connected” students to identify them to first years cost $680 total.
Each Minerva also had breakfast available for incoming students and their families, provided by Dining Services, which cost $1,100.
Snacks made available after the first-year event held in Memorial Chapel cost just under $2,000, after being split with Dean of First Year Students Kate Schurick.
The Minerva central budget also helped pay for a few new events held during Homecoming and ReUnion Weekends, which totaled more than $700, combined, in food costs.
McEvoy blamed the overrun on a “things add up” problem, but the lack of regular monitoring of spending was another contributing factor.
Moving forward, McEvoy plans to put measures in place to prevent future deficits.
To do this, he plans for more transparency. In his email to Minerva Council members, McEvoy said, “Each month, I feel I should give an accounting of what is coming out of Minerva Central. We have never done that, but it strikes me as something that should be done.”
The Minervas are also looking to get out of paying for the bulk of the Freshmen Reading Speaker fee, which would free-up thousands in the central budget.
In the midst of the deficit, each of the seven Minerva houses is helping to cover the run-over by paying $1,682, which is being subtracted from their 2015-2016 year budgets. Despite hosting and sponsoring numerous campus-wide events every year, very rarely do individual Minerva houses go over their own budgets.
Which begs the question, how did the central budget get so far in the red?
In the coming weeks at the first Minerva Council Meeting, McEvoy plans to discuss how the deficit did become so deep and how managing the central budget will change in the future.