Central Michigan University is looking to hire a new housekeeper for President George Ross’ university-provided residence.
The part-time position, open to anyone with prior housekeeping experience, pays $13-$15 per hour for 18-20 hours of work per week, according to the job listing on CMU’s website. Duties listed include making sure “all areas of the home including deck and porch are clean, neat and tidy.”
Significantly decreased on-campus undergraduate enrollment this year has left the university to cope with an $18 million budget deficit. As a result, as Ross noted at July’s Board of Trustees meeting, “some vacant staff and faculty positions will not be filled” in the months and years to come to offset declining revenue.
Housekeeper is not one of those positions.
“It’s not new to the president’s house,” Ross said during a Monday meeting with Central Michigan Life’s editorial staff. “We entertain extensively in that house, and that’s why there’s a housekeeper. My wife doesn’t work here. I do. I’m not going to clean up after 12 or 14 people — actually, our largest crowd inside has been just north of 50 people. So, there’s a housekeeper that maintains the president’s residence.”
Asked what kind of message hiring a housekeeper sends at a time when departments are beginning to cut back and not fill positions, Ross said he hopes it sends a positive one.
“I hope it sends the message that CMU is moving forward,” he said. “It would be no different, in my mind, in saying to you that we’re not going to have custodians in this building cleaning up these offices. It’s just another university building. I expect it to be clean.”
Ross called the housekeeper position standard not just for CMU but for most colleges and universities throughout the state.
However, Michigan State University spokesman Jason Cody said MSU employs no such worker for its presidential residence.
“We obviously have janitorial staff that clean up various university buildings, but there is no housekeeper position,” he said.
Cody said MSU President Lou Anna Simon does not live in the presidential residence provided to her, but rather in a private residence. The presidential residence is used mostly for entertaining, he said.
Western Michigan University spokesperson Cheryl Roland said WMU employs a housekeeper for its presidential residence. However, unlike the CMU position, the housekeeper only works 10 hours per week and also cleans the nearby alumni building.
Calls placed to Eastern Michigan University, the University of Michigan and Hillsdale College for comment were not returned in time for publication.
Robert Noggle, the chairperson for the department of religion and philosophy, said although Ross’ residence having a housekeeper is not anything new, it is an “odd message” to send at a time when other departments cannot fill certain positions.
“It’s a luxury,” he said. “If you or I wanted a housekeeper, we’d have to pay for one out of our own pockets.”
One department feeling the financial pinch is the department of sociology, anthropology and social work.
Katherine Rosier, the department chair, declined an interview but said in an email the department has not been given permission to replace a professor who retired in May 2012.
“The position request we submitted to replace this faculty member has now been denied two years in a row,” Rosier wrote. “I am told by (College of Humanities and Social and Behavioral Sciences Dean Pamela Gates) that the current status of this faculty vacancy is ‘funding pulled.’ Five other vacant tenure-track lines in the college, in other departments, have also had their ‘funding pulled.’”
Ross, who now receives an annual salary of $364,000 after receiving a $14,000 pay raise from the Board of Trustees in February, said he believes the housekeeper position should continue to be paid for by the university despite its financial woes.
“(The presidential residence) is a university facility used for university business,” Ross said.
He said CMU has employed a housekeeper for decades, and there should be no plans to change that anytime soon.
“The university president has always had a housekeeper working in the residence,” Ross said. “It’s not me — every university president that has lived in that house for the last 40 years has had a housekeeper. It’s used primarily for entertainment. It’s university property. We live in one room of the house and everybody else is all over the rest of it.”
For Ross, a clean residence maintained by the housekeeper can do CMU a lot of good.
“When we have guests at the president’s house, either alumni or corporate investors, coming into a clean, welcoming place like they would be welcomed any other building on this campus — hopefully that’s the message it sends,” he said.