Board Passes Level-Funded Budget (US)

The UVM Board of Trustees passed a level-funded budget for 2010 at its May 14-16 meeting that included a four percent increase for academic units, increased financial aid and one of the lowest tuition increases in the nation among public institutions.


The $284 million operating budget called for a six percent tuition increase that brings the cost of in-state tuition to $11,712 for the fall of 2009 and out-of-state tuition to $29,568. An increase in financial aid of approximately $10 million for a total of $62 million kept net costs for Vermonters at FY '08 levels, when in-state students with aid paid $6,109 for tuition and fees. For all Vermonters, including those who paid full fare, net costs totaled $7,937 placing the university on Kiplinger's Personal Finance list of the top 100 public colleges and universities for its combination of quality and cost, or value.
"Our proposed six percent tuition increase for next year appears to be the lowest among our public peers in New England and among the lowest nationally," said President Daniel Mark Fogel. "Many publics are going to double-digit tuition increases, and doing so without remotely approaching our high level of institutional financial aid, which amounts to a 33 percent tuition discount, netting us less than four percent on our six percent increase. Remember, too, that in FY 08 nearly 30 percent of our Vermont undergraduates paid zero for tuition and fees - and that percentage has been steadily rising."
Balancing the budget, which included a two percent salary increase for non-represented staff, wasn't easy and included a series of painful budget cuts totaling about $10.8 million. The use of $5.3 million in reserves was also needed to help fill a revenue gap. Some of the cuts included the elimination of 16 staff members, although five have already found new positions at the university; the freezing of salaries for employees making more than $75,000; and a reduction of about $8 million in administrative areas. The impact on lecturers and unfilled tenure tract positions will not be known until late summer, but it is expected to be lessened by the $3.2 million reinstated in academic areas.
Trustees voted down a plan to reinstate baseball and softball that called for a reduction of the athletic department budget cut by 50 percent to $550,000 and to spread that cut equitably throughout the athletic department for the 2009-10 fiscal year. Other consent items included a vote to eliminate the University-wide two-credit Physical Education requirement; approving a mandatory regulation created by the Federal Trade Commission known as the Red Flag Rule designed to reduce identity theft; and the passing of a new policy ensuring that the University Seal be used only for permissible purposes by authorized University officials.
Educational Policy and Institutional Resources Committee
Chris Lucier, vice president for enrollment management, and Beth Wiser, director of admissions, reported on the current status of the incoming undergraduate class. Admissions drew applicants from the wait list for the first time in the last several years, bringing the number of deposits for next fall to 2,760. The target figure for the first-year class is 2,585, with some of the inevitable "summer melt" expected to draw the final total closer to that number. Vermont students make up 23.5 percent of the class; out-of-state students, 76.5 percent. ALANA students account for 11.6 percent. Overall academic quality is similar to recent years, but there have been some notable advances in drawing very high achieving students. The incoming class will include a record 33 Green and Gold Scholars, recipients of a full-tuition award presented to the top student in every Vermont high school. There are also 12 National Merit Scholars in the class, the most in UVM history.
The committee voted to recommend that the full board approve a new bachelor of arts degree in engineering. The degree is a joint program between the College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences and the College of Arts and Sciences. Domenico Grasso, dean of CEMS and recently appointed vice president for research and graduate education, told the committee that Ivy League schools have long offered similar programs. "It's a very strong degree for the 21st century, providing the breadth of liberal arts studies and the vigor of structured thought in engineering," Grasso said.
Provost John Hughes shared a brief update on the recent visit from the New England Association of Schools and Colleges accreditation team. While the NEASC group has not yet submitted a written report, their verbal comments after the visit were "extremely laudatory and I'm sure UVM will receive reaccreditation with distinction," Hughes said. He also noted that three areas for improvement likely to be addressed in the final report fall under the purview of the EPIR committee. These are the need to create a general education core curriculum, enhance advising and the first-year student experience, and improve facilities providing student health and well-being services.
Budget, Finance and Investment Committee
Committee members spent an hour discussing the administration's proposed $284 million spending plan before endorsing it and moving on to a more in-depth discussion about the merits and shortcomings of the university's high tuition, high aid model. Some members expressed concern that the initial price tag to attend UVM might act as a deterrent for potential students and parents. Fogel said the high tuition, high aid model was successful in generating necessary revenue from students with the ability to pay full fare. For students who receive financial aid, the initial sticker shock is mitigated by the final price tag, which is often lower than expected after the high level of aid is factored into the equation.
Committee members were told that UVM's strategic position is improving due to lower tuition increases and high levels of aid in comparison to peer institutions. An informal survey of proposed increases for New England Land Grant Universities shows UVM's six percent tuition increase to be on the low side. The University of Rhode Island imposed a mid-year increase of 6.7 percent in 2008-2009 and is expected to pass an additional increase between 9.8 and 20 percent for 2010. UMass-Amherst is expected to increase its tuition by 15 percent for 2010 while UConn is expecting a 7 percent increase for in-state students and 8 percent for out-of-state. The University of Maine is expected to follow a 10 percent increase for 2008-2009. Further information and discussion on UVM's high tuition, high aid model is expected at the October trustees meeting.
Committee members also endorsed a proposal from the Socially Responsible Investing Work Group asking that UVM divest endowment funds from companies that make or distribute two controversial arms systems, cluster bombs and weapons that use depleted uranium.

Von: 20.05.2009,

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