Higher (priced) Education

Patrick Gibbons

The Greenspun family, which owns and operates the Las Vegas Sun, has donated $37 million to UNLV to put the family's name on a very expensive building.

But not just any building.  The "eco-friendly" Greenspun Hall will house the Department of Communications, the Department of Criminal Justice, the Department of Environmental Science, the Department of Public Administration and the Hank Greenspun School of Journalism.

The Greenspuns and UNLV President David Ashley proudly proclaim that this is the first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified building on campus.

The reported costs are $93.7 million ($56.7 million was paid for by someone other than the Greenspun family). That comes to $780.83 a square foot.

Those high construction costs seem odd, considering Chancellor Jim Rogers has been complaining weekly about funding cuts for higher education. Why construct buildings at $780 a square foot if you can't afford to keep teachers in the classroom?  Couldn't that money have been put to better use?

This really looks like a case of misplaced priorities.

But beyond the outrageous price tag of this building (amid the screams for more funding), someone ought to ask the really big question: Does environmental friendliness really have to be so ugly?