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Cal U's $850K Renovation On President's Residence Draws Criticism

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Thousands of dollars for a tub, tens of thousands for draperies and a few thousand more for Italian marble tile.

Those are just some of the amenities included in the renovations at the president's residence at one local university.

It's a renovation that's estimated to cost more than $1 million.

After touring the house and reviewing all the bills, KDKA found it's a presidential palace that you paid for.

It's a breathtaking home, and at 4,800 square feet, it's spacious and luxurious. It's what California University calls the home for its "first family."

And interim President Geraldine Jones and her husband Jeffrey are proud to live there.

"It's a privilege to be able to live here," said Jones. "It's nice because, the daily life of a president, you're on 24-7."

You'd be proud to live here too. The president's home just underwent a renovation that cost $850,000 for material alone. There's no estimate of labor and design costs, since university employees did the work.

The state system of higher education allocated just $650,000 for the project. The rest comes from California University coffers. But President Jones justifies every bit of the cost.

"It needs to last through the years," said Jones. "You heard us say the last renovation was many decades ago. It may be many decades again before renovation."

There's no telling how long the custom drapes on 33 windows will last. But at a whopping $57,000, they should last for a while.

In the president's personal bathroom sits a beautiful stand-alone bath tub, costing $3,300. But just down the hall in the guest bedroom, we found a perfectly good tub for less than half that cost.

The renovation comes at a bad time for Cal U. The university had to grapple with a more than $11 million deficit.

There were cuts in program and there were layoffs.

When KDKA asked about the timing of the renovations, the university's spokesperson interrupted us.

KDKA's Paul Martino: "People are upset because there were layoffs, tuition's going up. How can you justify these expenses?"

Spokesperson: "We're going to go move on at this point."

Jones: "This is an asset for the university, the same as we have restored other buildings on campus."

The renovations have caused some rumblings on campus. Some have irreverently referred to the president's residence as "the palace."

These are some of the other amenities you paid for, including $25,000 on kitchen appliances, $3,000 for the front loading washer and dryer – and another couple thousand for the Italian marble tile at the rear entrance.

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