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Capilouto issues robust rebuttal to claims of university overspending

University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto used an appearance before a state appropriations and revenue committee to defend the school against recent stories criticizing spending levels at universities.

An August Wall Street Journal article took UK and other public universities to task for what it called “an unfettered spending spree” over the past two decades.

Capilouto took advantage of an interim state committee meeting to push back on the characterization.

"That has been, what is to me, an almost insulting suggestion in some of these stories and the commentaries that followed, and that's the idea that because we are a poor state — a poor state — we shouldn't be able to invest, we shouldn't want to do more and be more for Kentucky," the president said.

While the Journal article singled out UK, charging that it spent more than $800,000 a day for a decade, Capilouto highlighted the many ways UK has bolstered its standing: increasing graduation rates, investing in research into Kentucky’s most pressing problems, and leveraging partnerships and relationships with donors to upgrade aging facilities.

The picture the article and subsequent commentaries painted was one of universities going overboard on student luxuries. Capilouto responded, commenting specifically on UK’s newest residence halls.

"They are modern and they are tasteful for sure, but they're none of the swimming pools, lazy rivers beside them, or parking decks underneath them as you see sensationalized in some stories," he said.

Lawmakers praised Capilouto’s work at the university and did not ask any follow-up questions about spending.

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.