Regents approve tuition hike, construction budget

Brad Unangst

While finalizing a 16 percent tuition hike Friday, Board of Regents leadership promised to help keep lower-income students in school.

The regents approved University President Mark Yudof’s $2.3 billion operating budget for 2002-03, which included the tuition increase. The increase follows a 13 percent jump last year.

Undergraduate tuition and fees for full-time students will be approximately $6,000 per year.

Yudof recommended the increase to bridge the $38 million University budget gap created by a $24 million cut in state funding on top of new security measures and insurance costs.

“We tried our best to hold (tuition) down,” Yudof said. “I know it’s high.”

Jacob Elo, the board’s student representative, appealed to the board to control future tuition increases.

“Adopting such a policy would assure students that there is an explicit level of control protecting them from exorbitant tuition increases,” Elo said.

While the increase has been expected for months, it was not an easy choice, University officials said.

Interim President Robert Bruininks said the University is doing all it can do to lessen the burden by appropriating more money to need-based students and raising funds for scholarships.

“We will have to work very hard with the governor, the Legislature and citizens of this state to make sure that education is funded at all levels,” Bruininks said.

In other regents news:

 

ï The regents approved the $119 million capital projects budget, which funds six University construction or renovation projects.

The budget includes $33 million for a lab science building on the Duluth campus, $24 million Nicholson Hall renovations and $17.7 million for a plant growth facility on the St. Paul campus.

University officials said they were disappointed by the loss of the Translational Research Facility, which Gov. Jesse Ventura vetoed from the budget.

Yudof told the board it should continue pursuing the building by designating internal funds for its design and requesting state funding from the Legislature during the next capital request.

The board also approved a freeze on the $10 million per year
allocation to the athletics departments for the 2003 and 2004 fiscal years.

The internal subsidy is needed due to lower-than-expected football revenue. As a cost-saving measure, the men’s and women’s athletics departments will combine in July.

 

ï The Audit Committee heard a joint report by the University’s general counsel and auditor outlining some of their 75 recommendations to improve the University’s for construction bidding process.

 

ï In the Finance and Operations Committee, a preliminary discussion of the 2004-05 biannual budget revealed a flaw in the University’s budget approval process. State instructions for preparing the request were not released on time, so the budget will have to be submitted to the state prior to regent approval.

The University will still have an opportunity to make necessary changes before the budget is presented to the Legislature.

 

ï The Faculty, Staff and Student Affairs Committee named Alex Johnson dean of the University Law School and heard an overview of University housing and residential life programs.

 

ï At the Educational Planning and Policy Committee meeting, the regents approved 17 new academic programs, additions, mergers and name changes.

 

ï The Facilities Committee approved the purchase of the Midwest Warehouse property and a five-year lease of space in the Fairview-University Medical Center for the department of orthopedic surgery.

 

ï The Litigation Review Committee discussed the attorney/client review process, with no action taken.

Brad Unangst welcomes comments at [email protected]