Unanimous vote raises tuition

By Ebonique Wool

Members of the University of Illinois Board of Trustees voted unanimously Wednesday to increase tuition and fees at all three University campuses.

The measure raises tuition at the Urbana-Champaign campus $401 per semester for new freshman during the 2008-2009 school year. Miscellaneous fees will increase $92 per semester. The increases come two months after the trustees voted to raise room-and-board rates.

Trustee Robert Sperling encouraged other members of the board to vote in favor of the measure, saying that it was necessary in order to retain faculty.

“We all deal with putting pressure on the middle class by making an education at a state university very expensive,” he said. “But if we allow (the loss of faculty), I think we’re doing (the public) a disservice. We should be guaranteeing quality.”

Trustee Kenneth Schmidt said that voting for a tuition increase was sure to be unpopular but a necessary decision.

Before the motion was passed, University president B. Joseph White reminded the board of the responsibility that comes with raising tuition.

“We have a deep moral responsibility to make the best use of every dollar entrusted to us,” he said. “The goal is to ensure that every possible dollar is delivered to the academic front lines.”

The board also addressed funding needs for the University of Illinois at Chicago, with a focus on the College of Medicine.

He said the problem of funding for the medical programs at UIC is not only a higher education problem, but also a state problem. UIC has one of two dental programs in the state, making them a major influence on the dental market in Illinois. Decreasing class size would decrease the number of doctors able to work in the area.

The Chicago campus proposed a beginning stipend of $10 million for operating funds, increasing by $10 million every year until it reaches $50 million. At this point, they would ask for a reoccurring $50 million every year, focusing the funds on the College of Medicine and the College of Dentistry.

“It’s a lot of money at a tight budget time,” Schmidt said. “(However), we’ve been asked to increase our class size and we can’t begin to do that until we increase out funding.”

The board also discussed the progress of Global Campus. Though enrollment numbers are low, University officials intend to introduce 14 more programs to Global Campus this year.

The University is also working on a marketing strategy, said Chet Gardener, special assistant to the University president. Advertisements will be disseminated over television and radio in Chicago, as well as posters on public transportation vehicles.

To increase enrollment, the board considered the possibility of expanding the program to include current students so they can take online classes to complete their degree.

Stephen Kaufman, professor emertius in the Department of Medical Cell and Structural Biology at the University, addressed the board about the lingering presence of Chief Illiniwek during public comment. Displeased with the continuance of the Chief’s use at the University, he said it was the board’s duty to educate the student body about why the symbol is not being used instead of apologizing for its loss.

“Your silence endangers the institution,” Kaufman said.

Ray Morales, graduate student in Medicine, came before the board to ask that the University do more to address racism and prejudice on the Urbana-Champaign campus, as well as the low enrollment numbers of minority students.

Toward the end of the meeting, student trustee Chime Asonye, commented on the state of minority enrollment at the University. The board is obligated to work to ensure that the racial makeup of the student body more accurately reflects the population of the state, he said.

Chancellor Herman said he was proud of the strides the University has made in terms of minority enrollment and retention, but a great deal of work remains to be done.

“We are still not where I would like us to be,” he said.

The next board meeting is scheduled for May 22 in Chicago.