In what usually is a routine request, Miami wanted to spend $166,648 for office chairs in the new Farmer School of Business building, which opens next fall. But because some of the chairs cost $522 each, the board charged with considering state spending requests rejected the request 6-1.
Miami asked the board to approve 333 chairs for the new business building - 245 office chairs at $522 each, 78 conference room chairs for $446 each and 10 other chairs for $397 each. They were to come from APG Office Furnishings of Cincinnati.
Controlling board members objected to the highest-priced chairs and noted that the same company offers office chairs for $400 or less.
Before any torch-bearing, pitchfork-wielding mob comes for me, I do want to say, that had I been given such a chair, I would have been willing to return it voluntarily.
(As a factual matter, it is worth noting that a large portion of the money being spent on the new building was raised from donors).
Hmm... perhaps metal folding chairs would make faculty meetings more entertaining, and quicker.
Update (3/29): From University VP David Creamer's response:
In the case of these chairs, we used our four standard criteria for purchasing furnishings and equipment: ergonomics, life of the product, price, and appearance, in that order. When all factors were considered, the chair that was selected – the Aeron – with an estimated life of 15 years and a 12-year full warranty, offered the lowest long-term cost and best value. It is a widely used chair in every public four year university in Ohio.
This chair is on the state’s list of eligible items for $693. Miami could have purchased from that list without the approval of the controlling board. Instead, we solicited bids in order to purchase at the lowest possible price, leading to potential savings of $171 per chair over the state listed price.