Dear Governor Ducey,
I am an arts educator. I teach poetry and nonfiction at NAU. I imagine you really don’t support the State of Arizona funding the teaching of poetry. Although poetry teaches precision, careful observation, communication, logic, rhetoric, and appreciation of the small wonders of the universe, I suspect that you think that learning such skills shouldn’t be on the state’s dime. I disagree, since I believe that good government helps humanity to evolve toward equality, understanding, and fairness. Poetry, by helping us pay attention to detail, lets us recognize the value in everything and every person.
But that’s a philosophical difference toward which I imagine I will not be able to persuade you to turn. (I could come read you poems. That might help. Please let me know if you’re available. We will start with Li Po.) But let’s study my job in a philosophical dimension you do approve of: money.
In October, 2015, I plan to bring 500 conference attendees to Arizona to host the NonfictioNOW conference. Flagstaff has never hosted such a large conference. Each of the attendees will come for three days, staying at local hotels, using local transportation services, eating at our restaurants, buying our weird hats. It is expected that each attendee will spend $1000 to attend this conference, some of the money going straight back into NAU and a considerable amount in sales tax going back to the government. As Rita Cheng noted in her letter to your office on March 4th, the day NAU’s economic impact study came to light that, the same day you released your intent to cut higher education’s budget by 14%, effectively decimating our hope for growth and new research efforts,
For every $1 the state invests in NAU the return on investment is $16.72.
For every $1 in state appropriations to NAU 83 cents in estimated state and local taxes is collected annually.
For every $1 the university spends, there is $4 of economic impact.
Sixty-one percent of NAU graduates reside in Arizona and our alumni circulate $1.65 billion in the Arizona economy each year.
This conference is not part of my job. I’m not getting paid any extra salary to organize this conference. I’ve garnered $30,000 from other universities in the region to help support it. We have 104 panels proposals to read, registration to organize, programs to design and local businesses from which to solicit donations. $500,000 to a million dollars will be coming into this state because I teach writing. It’s a lot of work to bring money into this state but it is something I feel is worth doing. I wish you felt that supporting the work I do was valuable as well.