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The Blue & Gray Press | May 21, 2018

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$12,000 Spent On Brompton

$12,000 Spent On Brompton

By ALISON THOET

According to information acquired through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, $12,000 has been spent on furnishings and interior decoration since President Rick Hurley moved into the home in July 2010.

The FOIA request also showed that the highest priced furnishings in Hurley’s spending include over $2,000 spent on re-upholstering furniture and almost $6,000 on rugs.

“We’ve done everything from re-upholster couches in the sunroom, our main entertaining room, to purchasing rugs for the third floor,” said Hurley.

According to Hurley, the price of the rugs was so high because they were custom cut for the space on the third floor, which stretches from the front to the back of the house in an open area.

There was also a payment of $995 for the conservation of a painting called “Mother and Child” by Gari Melcher that has hung in Brompton’s dining room since before 1975, according to The Free-Lance Star.

According to Hurley, this painting, as well as the three other Melchers paintings in the home, are routinely checked for damage by Joanna Catron, curator of the Melchers museum. The “Mother and Child” painting recently had problems with the frame and was paid for through the Brompton budget for its conservation.

Brompton House has a separate budget that comes out of the comprehensive fee charged to students that also goes toward operating and maintaining the Fitness Center, Student Center, and other facilities on campus, according to Rick Pearce, vice president for administration and finance and CFO.

“I don’t think the school should be spending that much on anything while they are hiking up tuition and meal plan prices,” said Ellie Meyer, freshman biology major.

Brompton House itself was originally built in 1740 and served as a hospital thought the Civil War. It is a historic landmark on the National Historic register and still has bullet holes on the outside from the war, according to the UMW website. Serving originally as a farmhouse, Brompton’s barn is still on the site and its pastures were located on the site of what is currently the UMW Battlefield athletic complex.

The Commonwealth of Virginia purchased the home in 1947 and renovated for two years before it was used for the UMW President’s home, according to Hurley.

The home is protected by the government and as a historic landmark, there are regulations for furnishing the outside of the home but none when it comes to the inside, according to Hurley.

“You can do pretty much whatever you want on the inside, but you must recognize the history of the house and the emotions of the thousands of people who have gone through it,” said Hurley.

Hurley, his wife Rose Hurley and Susan Worrell, special assistant to the President and overseer of university events, attend to the furnishings and needs of Brompton House. The bills are sent though routine accounting and purchasing methods, according to Hurley.

“There are lots of events at Brompton and that is why we must keep it in pristine condition,” said Hurley.

According to Hurley, Brompton is a public house of museum quality and has a huge number of visitors every year. There were over 3,000 just last year.

“We do our best to make sure it always looks great, but we are certainly sensitive to the spending issue,” said Hurley.

Meyer believes the house should be made more available to students as the money for the budget comes out of a potion of student tuition.

“I’m not opposed to spending money to keep something that old looking nice, but Hurley shouldn’t spend all of the money so quickly,” said Meyer. “There is always time for improvements.”

Hurley said he does not plan for any more furnishings of Brompton House in the near future.

Spending on Brompton has been an issue in the past with UMW presidents. Most recently, President Judy Hample spend $28,000 on bookshelves, according to a previous article the Bullet published in Feb. 2010.

Hurley commentated on Hample’s previous expenditures, stating, “The controversy was whether it was the right time to be spending so much money when the budget was being cut by millions at the time.”

Comments

  1. Myself

    I’m always glad to see that the upper class spends lavishly on itself while draining the vitality of the people who actually do work.

  2. As you should be. However, I can say that over nine thousand of those dollars were accounted for on plausible purchases. Reupholstering of furniture and the installation of rugs are two important things when living in a house. Also, the painting is from an important person on campus. You can then assume that the other three thousand was spent on lavish expenditures (even though assuming is wrong).
    .
    And are you also claiming that President Hurley does nothing?

  3. Frustrated Former Student

    I own a home and have never reupholstered the furniture. I also have never given lofty speeches about how I sympathize with faculty who haven’t received raises in 4 years and students who are facing ever increasing tuition bills.
    .
    I’m sure President Hurley works hard, but he also is compensated quite generously and lives in a nice home at the students’ expense. I’m not sure why things like reupholstering furniture and installing rugs have to come out of the university budget rather than his own pocket.
    .
    I’m old enough here to remember the outrage at Hample for spending money on the bookcases. The fact that there’s no similar outrage here makes me sad. But I guess hanging out on campus walk once in a while buys enough goodwill to let this slide.
    .
    “The controversy was whether it was the right time to be spending so much money when the budget was being cut by millions at the time.” Forgive me, but has the state restored those millions to the budget? They’re still being cut from the budget, it’s just that the cuts aren’t new.
    .
    $12,000 could do a lot for the school. But I suppose nice rugs and newly reupholstered furniture are part of the master plan to make UMW the nation’s top public liberal arts college.

  4. Here’s some help for when you finally do decide to reupholster your furniture. Be sure to do it before it’s too late!
    .
    http://www.ehow.com/info_12109886_reupholster-couch.html

  5. Please note the section on “Antiques” for reference to this article in the Bullet.

  6. Frustrated Former Student

    I didn’t see any advice on how to make others pay for your reupholstering costs. Can you link me to an article about that? Because that’s the part of this that impressed me most. I’d also like advice on how to do so even while telling the rest of the community that there just isn’t enough money to do anything we need to do. And if there’s an ehow article that talks about how freshly reupholstered furniture and new rugs can help make UMW the nation’s best public liberal arts university I would be interested in that as well.
    .
    Thanks!

  7. I would love to do that for you! However, I feel as though I can explain it easier than a silly little article could.
    .
    If the items in question are in fact antiques, then the school would generally want to keep them in top condition. They have a thing for antiques and pieces that they believe may be important to the history of Mary Washington. We don’t know anything about the furniture in question. If we want to assume, the couches in the sunroom could be antiques, while the couches in the main entertaining room could be old and worn down from extensive use. I doubt the furniture has been replaced in a long time.
    .
    If we wish to assume once more, perhaps the rugs were installed after the scuffing of wooden floors on the third floor. With over 3000 visitors to walk through Brompton, it is a possibility that over the course of the years that the floors became an issue. Was it the cheapest carpeting? Probably not, but I doubt it was the most expensive or lavish. Also, carpet is cheaper to take care of than wooden/ceramic/tile floors, and is also easily replaceable if anything were to happen.
    .
    Now, brace yourself. I’m going to ask a question of my own. What would you rather see that 12,000 dollars go toward that would make the campus the best among all other liberal arts universities? There is not much that 12,000 can buy in a long run for a campus that runs on quite a bit more money per day. It’s money that is written from the budget to go towards Brompton House and Brompton house alone. It just happens to come from the comprehensive fee that is from students. Many other facilities get their money from the same place. The main difference between Hurley and Hample’s spending is the price per item comparison. Hample bought bookcases at more than twice the price that Hurley did multiple things that may or may not be considered important (I personally consider some important, others maybe not so much).
    .
    I would also like to say something aside from our discussion. This article only pulls from one student source, whom I would assume (it’s never a good thing to do this, though) is a friend of the author. The price of student living is not being raised because of these sort of expenditures, and this sort of spending does not come whatsoever from the same fields as the dining, residential, nor academic areas. Those prices are going up to help cover the costs of the new Student Center that will be going up on the site of Chandler Hall, and due to regular year to year cost inflation that is normal. The students have a large amount of access to UMW funds through the Finance Committee, as the majority of clubs and organizations are the only groups which buy things on campus for the students, by the students.
    .
    You’re welcome! I love being informative to people on this page! 😀 Pardon any typos, though…I have a bad habit of those when I write out long responses. 🙁

  8. I also have a horrible habit of overusing my pronouns.