Topeka Two members of the Kansas Board of Regents on Thursday expressed displeasure with how the Kansas University School of Business handled extra course fees, known as differential tuition.
Regent Chairman Gary Sherrer said business school students were inappropriately removed from discussions on increases in course fees and how the funds were to be used.
“Their input was taken away. The amount of increase was changed. That’s not keeping faith,” Sherrer said.
The regents called on KU officials to discuss the results of an internal review and audit into differential tuition after a group of master’s degree students raised concerns that the business school was not spending its share of funds according to how the program was originally proposed.
The audit released last week reported that of the $31 million generated within the School of Business, all had been appropriately spent, except about $60,000.
KU Provost Jeff Vitter said to the regents, “Even Ivory Soap is only 99 and 44 hundredths pure.” Vitter added, “I believe we now have an opportunity to move forward in a positive way.”
But Sherrer and Regent Tim Emert expressed concerns, especially over why a committee of students that was supposed to provide advice on the expenditures of differential tuition had been disbanded for years.
Vitter said the student advisory committee should never have been disbanded.
“We have acknowledged that mistake and have quickly moved to fix it,” Vitter said. A new student advisory committee was established at the start of the academic year, he said.
Emert asked why the student advisory committee was dissolved in 2006.
Vitter said he wasn’t sure but that it appeared that the advisory committee morphed into a committee analyzing ways to raise funds for a new building for the business school. When the new building project was abandoned because of the economic downturn, the committee stopped functioning, he said.
The audit found that the School of Business did not differentiate between general fund spending and differential tuition spending, making monitoring the funds “cumbersome.”
Emert said it seemed “very strange to me” that of all schools, the business school had trouble keeping records. “Was the bookkeeping just so bad that we had to spend $50,000 on an accounting firm?” he asked.
The audit also said that the original differential tuition proposal called for an increase based on the higher education inflation index, but that it had instead been increasing at a higher rate.
Sherrer said those increases weren’t right. “I would hope that you might give those folks a break this year,” he said.
Emert also said the school was not forthcoming with information after students started raising concerns.
Both Sherrer and Emert noted that the actions in question occurred before Vitter and Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little were at KU.
School of Business Dean William Fuerst announced in September he would step down from his position at the end of the academic year. Vitter said a search committee has started work in finding a new dean.