October 29, 2015

In between CNBC’s attempts to start a food fight at the Republican Presidential debate, a fact emerged. Governor Kasich said Ohio State University has raised $500 million by selling their parking facilities.

We Googled it and found Ohio State leased the parking lots to a private company for the next 50 years for $483 million.

$483 million is a lot of money. And how many other facilities on university campuses could be sold or leased for huge sums? How about dining halls and dorms, bookstores and stadiums?

The fact that Ohio State could raise $483 million by leasing parking lots to private business should make UNC take notice. Next year, taxpayers will be voting on a $900 million bond issue for the university system. Might it be easier to convince taxpayers to vote for the bonds if the UNC system makes it clear taxes won’t have to go up to pay the interest on the bonds because the university will adopt creative thinking to raise money like Ohio State did?

Taxpayers aren’t interested in paying more. Parents and students are saying thumbs down to higher tuition. New UNC President Margaret Spellings and the next Board of Governors leader should take a hard look at leasing or selling assets that aren’t part of the education mission.

Ohio State is going to put the $483 million into an endowment. And the money earned off the endowment could go a long way toward helping lower tuition. UNC should think about it.