Forum set to discuss tuition plan

Shawntaye Hopkins

Students, faculty and staff will have an opportunity to join the university’s leader for a peek into Western’s future.

President Gary Ransdell will hold two forums on Thursday in Grise Hall Auditorium to discuss long-term plans for tuition, academic quality and the campus infrastructure.

The student forum will begin at 4 p.m. and the faculty and staff forum will be begin at 3 p.m.

Attendees will have the opportunity to share ideas and ask questions.

The Board of Regents will vote on Ransdell’s long-term plans at their meeting on Friday.

“I think it’s only appropriate that before I bring something of significant consequence to the board, I talk to the campus community about it first,” Ransdell said.

Ransdell said he met with university officials during the past two months while developing the plan.

There should be enough time after the forums to make needed changes to the presentation before it is given to the board.

The board requested last semester a long-term revenue and quality enhancement plan, Ransdell said.

A tuition plan for the next four years will be presented during the forum, he said. The plan would contain suggested tuition rates for each year.

The state is not going to provide colleges and universities with any additional funding in the next two years, Ransdell said.

But he said he expects the General Assembly to provide additional funding in the 2006-08 budget.

State colleges and universities will have gone six years without additional operating money by 2006, Ransdell said.

“If the state will meet us half way, we’ll back way off our tuition increase for 2006-08,” he said.

The plan will include tuition increases for each year, he said.

“We live in such unstable times, I think it’s important to tell a student when they enter what they can expect to pay for four years,” Ransdell said.

A second academic quality plan will also be presented to the board, he said.

It would be similar to the first plan passed last semester, but would also give added funds to academic technology, improvements to student library services and stipends for graduate assistants, he said.

“If we’re going to raise tuition, I want students to get a return on that investment,” Ransdell said.

A construction plan for the next six years will also be presented at the forum, Ransdell said. Money from all university funding sources will be considered for the construction projects.

The plan will include about 23 renovation projects that are to be initiated or finished, including university science buildings and Van Meter Hall, Ransdell said.

Some university officials say the forum will be beneficial.

“I think it’s a really good idea anytime a leader can present information to the public, because it lets them know what’s going on,” Staff Regent Pat Jordan said.

Student Regent John Bradley said long-term tuition scheduling will help families make better plans about paying for college. He said students should attend the forum to ask questions.

“It’s very important that students understand what’s going on and that their input is taken into consideration, because the students are the ones who are going to be affected,” Bradley said.

Reach Shawntaye Hopkins at [email protected]