Noted American author and raconteur Mark Twain was fond of saying that there were three types of lies, the worst of the three being statistics. It seems clear that this “worst” category would apply to the recent article headed “Merging UNG saved 1.1 percent of budget” according to a Times lead story (March 16).
The figures cited in most of this story are surely far from “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth” as is the standard required in the typical oath taken by those who testify in court. The story as published distorts the full picture as to the costs and benefits of the merger of these two disparate institutions of higher education.
It is only upon turning to Page 5A for the remainder of this Times lead story that one learns, from a table, that actually the combined budget of UNG and the former Gainesville State College rose from just over $156 million in 2012 to well over $170 million in 2013, an increase of not much under 10 percent.
So the boasted “1.1 percent decrease from 2013 to 2014” came off of a much higher base than had been the case the year before the merger of the two institutions. The bottom line here is that this year’s combined budget is over $12 million higher than the two separate institutions’ budgets had been only two years ago. That should have been noted in the story.
“Savings” like that are the type that might well bankrupt a private institution, but then the merged UNG can turn to the state “sugar daddy” to meet their financial needs, whether or not those needs are justified.
One can only hope that the present strategic planning process at UNG, now the major thrust into the future of the institution, is less misleading than the provision of only part of the cost picture of the effects of the merger, as the alleged cost savings are not presented fully or fairly in the March 16 article. Indeed, Mark Twain would not approve.