In less than two hours Friday, University President Mark Yudof showed the Board of Regents how his $1.6 billion budget plan would bolster faculty without hurting students with higher tuition.
It was the first time regents saw the 1998-99 financial blueprint, which is about $100 million more than this year’s operating budget. The board is expected to vote on the package in June.
“It costs money to do good,” Regent Bob Bergland said.
Yudof said he plans to make good by putting money the University received from the Legislature this spring toward faculty pay raises and classroom renovations. At the same time, tuition will rise, but at a rate officials said is manageable and lower than hikes at other schools.
Regents accepted the plan with open arms. They asked few questions, but nodded often to show approval.
One of the few stumbling points was the administration’s tuition plan, which attempt to equalize rates for all undergraduates. When students become juniors their tuition jumps to higher rates, something administrators want to change. To do that, officials would have to bring freshman and sophomore tuition up and keep upperclassmen rates steady. Regents worried that too speedy a transition could hurt students.
“They’re paying more as freshmen,” said Peter Zetterberg, director of the Office of Planning and Analysis. “But they’ll benefit as juniors and seniors because we are keeping that rate down.”
On average, the budget calls for a 3 percent tuition hike. Some freshmen and sophomores could see up to 4.8 percent boosts, while some upperclassmen would only experience 0.4 percent increases.
Regents said students will see where their tuition went when they walk around a cleaner campus and sit in remodeled classrooms. The plan calls for up to $3.7 million to replace worn-out furniture and carpet, paint walls and provide new classroom technology.
“If you’re going to stay in a safe, clean, modern, up-to-date hotel you expect to pay more than in Freddy’s Flophouse,” Regent Tom Reagan said.
The bigger renovation projects, like the overhaul of Walter Library, are included in the capital budget Yudof also presented Friday.
Regents heard where the $206.8 million in construction funds the University received from the state would go. Officials laid out their priority projects, which include renovations to Amundson, Ford and Murphy halls and the Architecture building.
Facilities planners want to begin working on those projects by 1999. They’d like to have all construction projects included in a larger plan to be done by 2002.
Regents agreed with Yudof that the University’s deferred maintenance has been ignored for far too long. Once the buildings are fixed and up-to-date, they need to be regularly maintained, Yudof said.
“We just have to be on a system,” he said.
Another system the operating budget plan aims to put the school on is getting faculty compensation back on par with comparable institutions.
Full-tenured University professors make 4.3 percent less than their peers at the top 15 public schools, according to administration research. When compared to the top 30 public and private colleges, the gap is much wider — 14.3 percent less than the average.
Under the new budget plan, officials estimate faculty would gain at least two percentage points in each category by next year. That would make the University’s pay for full professors 8th among the top 15 public schools, and 23rd among the nation’s top 30 schools overall.
“We’ve been doing a lot at the University, but it’s been fragmented,” Bergland told Yudof. “You’ll be remembered by this.”