Archive for Friday, January 16, 2009

Regents urge universities to be prudent about tuition plans

January 16, 2009


Members of the Kansas Board of Regents on Thursday told their universities to exercise prudence when coming up with tuition proposals.

Donna Shank, board chairwoman, said students and their families are struggling in the slumping economy, as are state budgets.

“I do not want to pass this whole burden on to students because they’re in the same boat we are,” Shank said.

Her message was echoed by several other regents as they gave initial comments on tuition proposals that will be developed in May and June.

Many regents seemed to favor modest increases — only Regent Jerry Boettcher gave specific figures, saying he likely would support increases of 2 to 3 percent.

Other regents said it was too early to give out specific figures — a message echoed by Kansas University Chancellor Robert Hemenway.

Hemenway said KU would not be able to develop a firm tuition plan until it knew how much money the university was getting from the state.

“You don’t set tuition until you know the situation with the Legislature,” he said.

Higher education has been targeted for cuts, and the reductions could be magnified after adjustments to the budget are made in April following income tax receipts.

“I’m literally scared to death at what’s going to happen when tax season is over,” said Regent Gary Sherrer.

He called for institutions to prioritize programs, getting rid of programs that may seem attractive, but can’t be maintained in tough economic times.

He praised KU’s efforts at making its National Cancer Institute designation a priority, saying universities should strive for programs that could change the face of Kansas.

Regent Dan Lykins said universities did well to involve students during the last round of tuition adjustments.

“I hope there’s even more student involvement than there was last time,” he said, saying that some students could be willing to pay more if they knew it meant they could get a high-quality education.

In other business on Thursday, the regents:

l Approved a policy that would allow universities to provide a one-time lump sum payment for unclassified staff who are nearing retirement but don’t wish to retire because of health care costs.

Representatives from universities said the policy would be used rarely, and the amount of the payment would be negotiated on an individual basis.

KU Provost Richard Lariviere said the policy should be looked at as a management tool.

The policy could potentially cut costs if the newly opened positions were not filled.

l Approved a plan for two new programs at KU, one that would reorganize the School of Fine Arts into a School of Music and a separate School of Arts under the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

The plan would not affect current students, and would go into effect on July 1.

Also, regents approved creation of a new master’s program in African and African-American Studies at KU. Neither program would require new state funding.

Still, Sherrer, who supported both programs, argued for restraint in the future.

“We really can’t get into this thing where we’re always adding and never subtracting,” he said, calling on universities to look hard at their programs for the coming year. “We’ve got to do the full math.”

l Heard an update on an $825 million backlog in deferred maintenance for its university campuses statewide. Though many regents acknowledged new funding for this year was unlikely, they said that doesn’t make the problem go away.

“This is a very serious problem,” Boettcher said. “We’re in spitting distance of a billion dollars. That will get people’s attention, and I hope it does.”


gccs14r 9 years, 1 month ago

Cut institutions, instead of programs and maintenance. Do we really need Emporia, Fort Hays, and Pittsburg? Surely one of them is redundant. That would save a ton of money.

sarahsmilehawk 9 years, 1 month ago

“I’m literally scared to death at what’s going to happen when tax season is over,” said Regent Gary Sherrer.Literally scared to death? I think not.

penguin 9 years, 1 month ago

Do you actually think closing any one of the other Regents schools is going to make it cheaper at KU or KSU? If you do than you are quite delusional. Even if the economic climate were ideal and KU was flush with state funds there would be no reduction in tuition. All tuition and fee increases that are ever subject to sunset eventually just get folded into those costs permanently. The only real effect would be the following:1) Massive increases in class sizes at the remaining schools 2) Large decrease in Kansas kids who enter a Regents school 3) No net benefit to the schools remainingThe kids who attend FHSU, ESU, and PSU do so for a variety of reasons. All are less expensive than KU or KSU. All offer smaller class sizes. All have programs that put them on the map not only in Kansas, but the US (ESU has education, FHSU has graphic design, and PSU has some stuff too :) ) To assume that the other schools can just "absorb" these students is ridiculous. FHSU for example has 9,300 + students with about 5,000+ in the Virtual College. The remaining on-campus population is drawn from many of the counties in Western Kansas. Shutting it down would mean that students would see their tuition doubled (as FHSU is nearly half the cost of KU) and their cost of living skyrocket (Lawrence and Manhattan are both more expensive to live in than Hays). Not to mention you would dealing a potential death blow to Hays, Ellis County and a good swath of Western Kansas.FHSU has been the model for how to deal with the problems of dwindling state funds. When KU and KSU has their massive tuition increase.....FHSU just increased enrollment. When this problem came around again FHSU has decided to cancel many on-campus summer classes and move staff back to only 4 days a week (this one is still in the works). What has KU done???? Well, Dr. Hemenway looked for the door when times got tough. I would say that Dr. Hammond and the other Regionals should be a model not a budget cut to feed the the Flagship and Silo Tech.

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