Tuesday, September 03, 2002

Pitt Trustees Raise Tuition, Roof
- 14% Tuition Blown on Weekend Bender

Last month, the University of Pittsburgh’s Board of Trustees voted to raise in-state tuition by 14% and out-of-state tuition by 10%. The increase, originally intended to help the University cover cuts in state appropriations, was later blown on a weekend party thrown by the trustees in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Events unraveled last Thursday evening in the Chancellor’s office in the Cathedral of Learning. The Board had finished their business and were relaxing to a catered dinner and open bar.

“Well, one martini became two, and two became three and so on…” began University of Pittsburgh Spokesman Robert Hill, throwing down two Extra Strength Tylenol Gelcaps. “Then [board member] C.C. [Tung] got behind the bar and started making drinks for everyone.”

Before long, University Chancellor Mark Nordenberg reportedly pulled out his Pitt Corporate Card, and asked, “booyah, who’s got access to the tuition increase!?” At which point the Trustees simultaneously began to shout “Vegas! Vegas!”

“Next thing we knew, we were on a charter jet to Sin City,” recalled Hill.

Sparing no expense, the Board used the tuition increase to rent out the entire top-floor of Las Vegas’ MGM Grand Hotel. What followed was three days of “partying like rock-stars” said Hill. “None of us got a wink of sleep. We were 'on fire' the whole time.”

As night fell Friday evening, word was beginning to get around the Las Vegas strip of the bash being thrown by the Trustees. Aside from the Board themselves, the Trustees’ blowout soon included showgirls from the MGM, high-priced call girls, Playboy and Penthouse centerfolds, and, on Saturday night, Hollywood celebrities, who flew out during the day, after word of the party reached Los Angeles.

“Well, we pretty much hit our peak right after Limp [Bizkit] finished their set with ‘Break Stuff’ from our balcony,” remembered a bleary-eyed, hung over Jay Costa, board member since 2001. “I looked over at Shaq and we just went nuts. We trashed the TV, and then fell straight into the one hot-tub. Hey, I was able to pull (model) Cindy [Margolis] in on the way, so, hell!”

Margolis could not be reached for comment.

As the weekend went on, the damage bill went up and funds from the tuition increase went down. Reports of Nordenberg losing 10 million dollars on one spin of the roulette wheel, and an unidentified board member buying a 2003 HumVee and immediately crashing it into the MGM Grand’s fountain could not be confirmed.

Following a weekend that included paying for various chartered jets and helicopters for guests, a hotel bill that reportedly included extensive damages to the fountain and guest rooms, automobile and motorcycle purchases, and an “ass-kicking of a room-service bill,” the Trustees stumbled back home to Pittsburgh early Monday morning. Somehow, an entire $76.54 remained in the balance of the tuition increase. Seeing nothing to lose however, the board opted to use the remainder of the cash for “Subways and Dr. Peppers.”

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