Firing at Cal U: A 4-alarm mess |

Firing at Cal U: A 4-alarm mess

If anything can be concluded about the firing of California University of Pennsylvania President Angelo Armenti Jr., it’s this: The State System of Higher Education’s Board of Governors shouldn’t branch off into firefighting. And neither should Cal U’s board of trustees.

Far too many structures would burn.

An audit shows that Mr. Armenti’s transformation of the Washington County school over his 20-year tenure came with a steep price — $97 million in debt on which it’s paying $8.8 million annually, according to state system figures.

Supporters argue the spending was an “investment” that turned Cal U from a backwater institution into a “contender” for more students and better programs. But critics, many of them faculty, say the building boom took precedence over academics. If the latter is the case, the flames shouldn’t have burned through the roof before someone found an extinguisher.

Or, in this case, an audit, ordered by Cal U’s state overseers.

Among the audit’s findings: The university improperly used more than $1 million in student housing fees and incurred $6.2 million in cost overruns in construction of a ridiculously oversized $59 million convocation center.

A public that pays into the state system, yet is harangued over “draconian” state funding cuts, must demand from those presumably in charge far better accountability and cost controls. Until then, the university should feign no surprise when benefactors public and private say no to Cal U’s fundraising entreaties.

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