Trustees debate tuition increase

Trustee Kenneth D. Schmidt raised concerns at the Board of Trustees meeting over a decision by the Board of Trustees Executive Committee to lower a tuition increase to 2.6 percent.

The initial increase, agreed upon by a consensus of the Board, was 4 percent. The Executive Board, which consists of the Chair of the Board and two elected members, lowered the increase in a meeting that did not include the other Board members.

“The faculty is quite upset with the decision made,” Schmidt said, adding that he did not believe the Executive Committee should be able to make decisions that go against the consensus of the Board.

Schmidt said the Board would be beholden to the decision for the next four years.

“I want to bring attention to the fact that we can’t keep raising tuition,” Trustee David V. Dorris, adding that the Board needs to find alternatives to tuition increases for funding.

However, Dorris emphasized that he did not agree with the Executive Board’s decision to cut the increase in half.

Walter Knorr, Chief Financial Officer for the University, stated that approximately $3.5 million would be lost each year for the next four years due to the reduction.

Any changes to the tuition increase would come into effect in Spring 2010.

The ensuing debate centered primarily around the issue of the Executive Committee acting inconsistently with a consensus of the Board. Trustee Frances G. Carroll stated she was not aware that the action of the committee was governed by the consensus of the Board.

As the issue of tuition was not on the agenda for the meeting, it was agreed that the Board would discuss it at a later time.

University President B. Joseph White said that the administration “needs to do homework” for the Board before any decision is made.