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about 4 months ago

‘Penn State Lives Here’ and Culture Survey Expenses Top $1 Million

IrrationalSpendingLivesHeresign

Penn State has spent $811,719 to date on the “Penn State Lives Here” marketing campaign, UPUA President Katelyn Mullen confirmed today. The Values and Culture survey, sent to all Penn State students and faculty, is anticipated to cost $418,000 Mullen also confirmed. The two controversial initiatives come in at a total of $1,229,719 — or roughly the equivalent of tuition for 141 Pennsylvania students for a semester.

It’s not yet known how much the “Penn State Lives Here” campaign is anticipated to cost in total or what the current liabilities are. The $811,719 figure reflects only the expenses to date — including research from PulsePoint and promotional materials — and I imagine it could see a substantial increase, depending on various payment plans.

The $418,000 Values and Culture survey figure is the anticipated final cost. The survey was developed and distributed through a contract with the Ethics Resource Center, with the end goal of developing a new statement of values for Penn State (I’ll let you determine how “valuable” a statement of values actually is, but you can read my previous thoughts here).

These figures were previously kept hidden by the university. Requests for expenditures related to these projects were all denied. David Gray, the Senior VP for Finance and Business, told me earlier this week that he had given the current expenses to Mullen and that I should contact her for the specifics. Mullen relayed these figures during her weekly UPUA report tonight.

“We have a non-disclosure clause with ERC, which means it’s a competitive type situation where it would put a company at a disadvantage to have the fee disclosed,” Penn State spokeswoman Lisa Powers said when I asked about the cost of the Values and Culture survey in October. “By contract, we can’t disclose.”

It’s not known whether Penn State is now violating that contract, if there ever was a stipulation in a contract, or if the contract was changed to allow disclosure.*

I am very appreciative of Penn State and David Gray for agreeing to release these figures. I asked Gray about the expenses at a November 6 UPUA meeting, and he told me he would follow-up after getting proper approval from the President’s Council. Regardless of the merit of these two projects, it’s a credit to him for the act of transparency. I will be intensely interested too how much the “Penn State Lives Here” campaign will cost in its entirety, and I hope Gray is willing to share that information periodically as it is available.

Update: Lisa Powers followed up with the following:

“Because of the desire of a number of people in our community to know the cost of the Values & Culture Survey, we did go back to the ERC and ask them to waive the confidentiality portion of the contract. We explained the importance of being able to disclose the costs and the ERC agreed.”

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