Penn State U. Ranks High In Earmarks

This story was written by Katharine Lackey, Daily Collegian
A report released Tuesday reveals that Penn State ranks high nationally and among Big Ten schools for the amount of money it will receive from congressional earmarks this year.

According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, Penn State will receive $15.3 million in earmarks this year ranking the university No. 22 nationally and first among Big Ten universities.

Earmarks are sent through the U.S. House and Senate as attachments to appropriation bills for specific projects, but the requests for money are generally not reviewed on the House or Senate floors, making them controversial.

Earlier this month, Geoff Rushton, a Penn State spokesman, wrote in an e-mail that Penn State requests funding for projects through earmarks.

"We go through an intense internal process to ensure that every earmark Penn State receives is consistent with the university's mission, is a good use of taxpayer money and is supported by the federal agency through which the money would flow," he wrote.

The process the university goes through to request earmarks includes faculty involvement at several levels, Rushton also said earlier this month.

"Penn State faculty are required to clear their requests with their deans and associate deans, who then coordinate with the senior vice president for research and the director of federal relations to determine how best to prioritize projects," he wrote.

University of Mississippi received the most earmarks at $43 million in 2008, according to the Chronicle's report.

Pennsylvania was ranked seventh nationally with $89.4 million in academic earmarks throughout the state.

Other universities in Pennsylvania ranked lower than Penn State. The University of Pittsburgh came in at No. 497 with $400,000 in earmarks. Temple University was listed as No. 716 with $200,000.

Both are state-related universities, a distinction they share with Penn State.

The Chronicle's report found 2,300 projects at 920 institutions, a 25 percent increase from 2003 in the number of college and universities receiving earmarks.

The amount spent nationwide on earmarks directed to universities totaled $2.25 billion, an increase from $528 million spent 10 years ago.

The amount the Chronicle's report cited is different from the non-partisan watchdog group, Taxpayers for Common Sense, whose database showed that Penn State will receive $18.6 million in congressional earmarks for 10 projects ranging from agriculture to defense during the 2008 fiscal year.
© 2008 Daily Collegian via U-WIRE