UA hit by financial crisis

On October 2 we pointed to a possible exposure for UA, UAB and UAH in a liquidity crisis involving Wachovia. We couldn’t get anyone at UA or the UA System to comment on the financial situation. In Monday’s Birmingham News we finally found out the University of Alabama System was heavily exposed to the market crisis.

The University of Alabama system was the most directly and immediately affected by market turmoil when, last week, a money market fund managed by Wachovia limited withdrawals. The UA system had $175 million in the Commonfund, which was used by 1,000 colleges nationwide.

That money was used for daily operating expenses at UA, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the University of Alabama in Huntsville and UAB Hospital, according to UA spokeswoman Kellee Reinhart. The university was able to withdraw $61 million and expects to get the rest back as the underlying assets mature. In the meantime, the system raised cash from other investments.

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Thankfully, the Birmingham News got confirmation about the exposure of this major public entity to the market crisis. What is sad is that it took a major daily newspaper to get any comment out of the people in the UA System. And the story didn’t publish until October 13—over ten days after we first asked UA the question.

Is UA still living in the stone age? The Internet moves much faster than daily newspapers—something everyone involved with the University should learn. While daily newspapers aren’t irrelevant, UA should also consider answering questions from other outlets too. It shouldn’t take that long to get a major story like this published.