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Spending is on the table: UNH acknowledges extravagance

April 28. 2016 6:24PM

University of New Hampshire students eat at the $17,500 table in the Holloway Commons dining hall. (UNION LEADER)

$17,570 seems a bit extravagant for a dining table, and we’ll give UNH some credit for admitting its mistake.

Following a $10.5 million renovation of the Holloway Commons dining hall on the Durham campus, someone at the university got a little ahead of themselves and ordered a custom-built 16-seat table with a light-up LED table top.

UNH media relations director Erica Mantz says ordering the custom furniture was “an anomaly” and that UNH is putting new safeguards in place to protect against such runaway spending in the future.

It’s remarkable that anyone thought a light-up dining table was a good use of the UNH dining and hospitality budget, but $17,570 is a drop in the bucket for a renovation project that cost more than $28,000 for each new seat it added to the dining hall.

Three years ago, UNH gave a New York design firm $100,000 for a new logo. UNH just agreed to give its tenured faculty 3 percent raises in each of the next five years.

Spending 17 grand on a psychedelic tabletop is just a symptom of overspending at UNH. And yet Wildcat partisans still blame the Legislature for tuition increases.

Acknowledging the dining table mistake is a sign of progress from a school that has doubled down in defense of its past boondoggles. Perhaps UNH President Mark Huddleston will realize dining services isn’t his only department wasting money. He should use this incident to institute tighter budget controls across UNH.

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