Board of Trustees increases tuition for in-state students

By Kathleen Foody

CHICAGO – Budgeting concerns permeated Thursday’s University Board of Trustees meeting despite a promised 1.9 percent increase in state funding for the coming year. Trustees approved an increase in tuition for all three University campuses, as well as setting the University budget for 2008.

University President B. Joseph White said the state funding, $1.18 billion as promised and included in the budget, is “at risk.”

Under the new tuition rates, students entering the Urbana campus this fall will pay $4,220 in tuition each semester, a $366 increase. In-state students entering the Chicago campus will pay $3,390 in tuition, a $322 increase, and those entering the Springfield campus will pay $2,790, a $390 increase.

Room and board costs will also increase at each campus, up $225 on the Urbana campus to $3,833 per semester. Students will also be charged $1,397 in fees per semester, an increase of $268. Two hundred dollars of that cost is a new library-information-technology fee.

While debating the proposed budget for the 2008 fiscal year, trustees expressed their fears that the state funding could be cut or eliminated entirely, throwing off the budget.

Trustee Robert Sperling said the budget could jeopardize faculty retention, though he admitted affordability was an important factor to consider. He proposed University officials should consider the budget as if the state money were not included.

The $3.9 billion budget proposes a 2.5 percent salary increase for faculty and staff, but Sperling said faculty should be compensated more.

“I am concerned we will have people leaving, and if they leave, we are short changing our students,” he said.

University student trustee Christopher Kantas asked the board to be vigilant about increasing tuition and not place all the burden of the state’s financial struggles solely on University students.

Tuition for those University students under the guaranteed tuition programs will remain at the same rate it was at their time of entry.

A $5 sustainable campus environment fee was approved by the board for University students.

Chancellor Richard Herman said he felt a great sense of pride in University students for passing the fee in student senate elections earlier this year.

The fee will be paid by all students, but can be refunded if an individual student wishes.

Trustees also voted to approve a change in the University’s financial aid policy to allow individual campuses to extend a tenth semester of aid to students in specific situations.

Sylvia Manning, chancellor of the Chicago campus, said the change is only effective for the 2007-2008 school year and 1800 UIC students are expected to apply for the funding.

Major construction contracts were awarded by the board on Thursday, including the renovations on Memorial Stadium and the Intramural Physical Education Building, better known as IMPE.

The Memorial Stadium bids totaled $24 million.

Contracts to repair the exterior of the National History Building and extend the School of Social Work were also awarded and the acquisition of Ashton Woods, an apartment complex at 2221 S. First Street, was also approved by the board. The complex will continue to be leased until the University needs the area for another use.

Purchasing the complex now will result in the best market price and will be important to the development of the University’s research park in addition to alleviating some pressure on housing created by the recently approved renovation of Orchard Downs, said Herman

The board also unanimously passed a resolution to eliminate investments with four companies who operate portions of their businesses inside Sudan, a total of $2.3 million.

The sale will cost the University $5500, $2500 for the actual trading of the investments and $3000 to subscribe to Institutional Shareholder Services, a company that provides a list of companies operating within Sudan.

White said seven states and 40 universities have already chosen to stop investing with companies who operate within the country due to its government’s actions in Darfur, declared genocide by the U.S. Congress in 2004 and again by President George Bush in 2005. Illinois was the first of the seven states to do so.

University finance officials will contact the companies in question individually. If the companies do not respond or maintain their operations within Sudan, the investments must be sold by June 30.

The profits from the investments will be reinvested in other companies.

Trustee James B. Montgomery called the move “very important” and credited University students for bringing the issue to the attention of the community.

White briefly updated the board on the progress of the Global Campus Initiative and said a budget proposal for the fiscal year 2008 will be presented at its July 30 meeting.

The key challenge facing administrators is “maintaining momentum and minimizing fixed financial commitments,” White said.

The initiative is scheduled to launch in January 2008. The board approved two new positions for marketing and technology in connection with the Global Campus this afternoon. The positions specify a five-year contract, but can be cancelled at anytime with 30 days notice, White said.

The potential nursing program is the furthest along, but three education programs are also expected to be ready for the scheduled launch, in addition to ten others still in discussion, White said.

Self proclaimed Ku Klux Klan, KKK, spray-chalker Raymond Morales addressed the board during public comments, requesting an inquiry into hiring practices he finds questionable.

Morales said he had been removed from his work in a lab within the College of Medicine.

Trustee Frances Carroll requested Herman set up a meeting between Morales and herself.