Sunday, February 11, 2007

A Simile Fitting of an Ag School

For any of you budding certified public accountants out there, the Penn State controllers office posts its yearly audits online. You can learn all sorts of things there. For instance there are long discussions about outstanding debt and the amount of interest Penn State is paying on each of its bond issues. Also, there is detailed information on research grants.

I should have realized that these audits were available somewhere. My own undergraduate alma mater, which is private, each year sends its audit out to all alumni. But Penn State doesn't exactly publicize the existence of these audits. If you search the Penn State propaganda portal for "audit" you'll get 79 pages of results. I didn't try to go through them all but most of the hits that I looked at were for "auditorium" or "audition". Even if you knew that Penn State calls their audit an "Audited Financial Statement" a search on that string would turn up nothing.

Contrast that with a search for Penn State's Annual Report on Research Activity, which is a glossy marketing brochure produced every year to tout Penn State's research prowess. For that you get three hits and all are relevant.

Let's review. At Penn State you have to dig to find honest numbers, but spin is like so many cow pies in a pasture, you can't go anywhere without stepping in one.

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