Board of Regents approves budget reallocation, tuition increases

Jamie Williams

The Board of Regents approved the 2017 budget reallocation plan, tuition and mandatory student fee schedule for the 2017-18 fiscal year and the renaming of Mass Media and Technology Hall during its meeting on Friday.

The budget reallocation plan, which was presented during the last Board meeting, was formally approved to address the projected revenue shortfall of $6.5 million.

The plan will include taking $1.7 million from Division of Extended Learning and Outreach (DELO) and Health Services reserves and $767k from projected surpluses in scholarships, fellowships, and other sources. The other approximately $4 million will come from carry forward funds.

Carry forward funds are a source of one-time funding for departments across campus, and reducing these funds could result in the reduction of computer and equipment purchases, professional development, and capital renewal projects.

The tuition and mandatory student fee schedule was also approved. Under the schedule, tuition for undergraduate residents will increase by 2.92 percent to $5,101 per semester, up from $4,956 in the 2016-17 fiscal year.

This increase follows the guidelines set by the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education, that tuition increases for undergraduate residents should not exceed 3 percent at one time.

Tuition for resident graduate students increased 2.9 percent from $570 to $589 per credit hour. Tuition for international students also increased 2.83 percent from $12,720 to $13,080 per semester.

During the 2016-17 fiscal year, residential undergraduate tuition saw a 4.5 percent increase while resident graduate tuition saw a 5 percent increase.

Barbara Burch, faculty regent, expressed concern over lack of funding and increased tuition fees for graduate programs. Burch said funding for teacher assistantships to help graduate students is low while tuition fees continue to increase.

“We really are positioning ourselves to have less and less non-resident domestic students in graduate programs,” Burch said. “I think we really need to pause and look at that before another year rolls around.”

Mandatory student fees in the schedule amount to $380 per semester which stayed the same from the 2016-17 fiscal year. This amount includes a student athletics fee, student centers fee and fees to repay bonds on the Downing Student Union renovation and Parking Structure 3 on Creason Lot.

The board also unanimously approved renaming Mass Media and Technology Hall to Jody Richards Hall after Kentucky’s Speaker pro Tempore.

“I cannot think of an elected official that’s had a greater impact on our campus…at the state level,” President Gary Ransdell said.

Richards has served in the Kentucky House of Representatives since 1975 and was a member of WKU faculty for seven years. During this time he was also an adviser to The College Heights Herald and the Talisman.

Richards has had a hand in securing funding for several building projects on-campus such as the Raymond B. Preston Health and Activities Center, Mass Media Technology Hall, Gary Ransdell Hall and the new Ogden College Hall. Richards also sponsored legislation that helped establish the WKU Center for Research and Development and the Carol Martin Gatton Academy.

The renaming ceremony for MMTH will take place Thursday, May 4 at 1 p.m. Ransdell said private donors may also pay for a new sculpture inside of the building.

The board also approved a policy for student residency appeals, several addendums to athletic employment contracts and the consolidation of several departments into the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. This new school will house the departments of engineering, architectural and manufacturing sciences and computer science.

Finally, the board approved the 2018-2024 Six Year Capital Plan which covers construction and renovation priorities for the university over the next six years.

The project with the highest priority during the 2018-20 period is the construction of the new Gordon Ford College of Business and the renovation of Grise Hall. Also listed for this time period are upgrades to underground infrastructure, the renovation of Garrett Conference Center and the construction of an indoor athletic training facility.

The Board of Regents’ next meeting will take place Friday, June 23.