BOT talks tuition, fees

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BOT pix: Graduate of Baker University and Board of Trustees member Bob Honse, left, and the VP and Dean of SPGS, Marvin Hunt, share a few laughs at the BOT lunch gathering last Friday in the Harter Union cafeteria.:Erin Ford

After meeting Friday, the Baker University Board of Trustees said the university is working toward building a budget for next year that includes a tuition increase for students and wage reductions for its employees. 

"We wanted to keep tuition as low as we could because we wanted to try to minimize any financial impact on our students," University President Pat Long said.

This year's tuition and fees are $19,880. Next year's tuition is estimated to be about $21,000 if the BOT approves a 5.9 percent estimated increase in May.

The university will start building a budget for the new fiscal year, which begins in July, based on a tuition increase and other assumptions including a 2 percent cut in wages and salaries as well as a financial aid discount rate reduction to an average of 55 percent.

"It's hard to bring down your discount rate for your existing students because you're locked in," Long said, which is why the process will start with next year's freshmen.

The discount rate averaged 60 percent for this year's freshman class, which is higher than normal, Long said.

Chuck Heath, BOT finance committee chair, said reducing wages and salaries is a difficult decision to make, but believes those who will be affected understand its necessity.
"While nobody is happy with this, there is a spirit here that says ‘we will accept it,'" Heath said.

The BOT approved recommendations to promote Associate Professor of German Cynthia Appl and Gary Irick, assistant professor of business and economics, to full professor and associate professor, respectively.

Discussion regarding tenure of Professor of Physics Mahmoud Al-Kofahi and Associate Professor of Physics Ran Sivron was moved to the executive session.

Long said Tuesday both received tenure during the executive session Friday and were recognized at a faculty reception.

Don Parker, BOT property committee chair, said Friday the university is saving roughly $237,000 from the original budget due to downsizing the staff appreciably and completing tasks in-house, although roof inspections have continued as they do annually.

"We are doing Denious (Hall) as an example," Parker said.

By having the maintenance staff demolish the interior of Denious, which is slated to become a one-stop shop for the financial aid, business and other offices, Parker said the university saved $231,000 that already wasn't included in the budget.

The university also saved money in not disposing of furniture from Denious and Jolliffe halls in return for offering it to sororities and fraternities at the cost of donations in the amount the organizations felt was acceptable.

"The rest of it that is serviceable and usable will be stored for future use," Parker said.

Louise Cummings-Simmons, vice president of enrollment management, said student applications seem to be on the rise, which is a good sign for the university.

Research indicates, however that more students than ever will be applying for financial aid and those same students may wait until the last minute to finalize their decision.

"At least we have students who have indicated an interest and we have relationships we can build and enhance on," she said, adding that face-to-face interactions will be key to recruiting more students.

Lynn Lakin, vice president of university advancement, said the phonathon will be increased by four to six weeks to increase funds for the fiscal year.

At least 12 trustees donated $114,000 more than usual to the university Friday, but as of Tuesday the total was close to $120,000, Long said.

The funds are in addition to what trustees usually give the university and will go toward closing the budget deficit.

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