About 20 members of the University staff met to talk about the 2006 and 2007 fiscal year budget and the projected 4.5 to 6.5 percent yearly tuition increase Monday afternoon in a discussion moderated by Provost Neil Kerwin and Don Myers, vice president of Finance and Treasurer.
Kerwin discussed the guidelines of the two-year budget, including the requirement to raise the tuition each year, saying that rising energy and health care costs were part of the rationale for increasing student tuition. Energy costs for utilities are expected to cost $1 million in 2006 and $1.5 million in 2007.
“Also, with the 15 percent rate increasing of health care insurance premiums, we expect the cost to be $750,000 in 2006 and as high as $2 million the following year,” Kerwin said.
The Katzen Arts Center, still under construction, will use $1.25 million to $1.5 million of the budget to pay for utility and technology costs.
President Benjamin Ladner’s 15-Point Plan for AU was discussed as part of the academic priorities of AU.
“As part of the 15-Point Plan, we will be creating 10 new tenure track lines for faculty, building on our 17 original tracks,” Kerwin said. Rating systems, such as those employed by the US News & World Report, rank universities higher if they have more full-time faculty.
The budget will also pay close attention to campus life issues, officials said.
Plans include increasing the library collections and upgrading technology in the library, which will cost about $300,000, according to Kerwin. AU has ranked poorly in national surveys, such as those conducted by the Princeton Review, in the past five years.
The budget also includes raising the technology fee for students from $55 to $95, which is the first time the fee will be raised in four years, according to Myers and Kerwin. For part-time students, the fee will increase to $30.
“We will also be buying the best bus in America,” Kerwin said, referring to the Tenleytown-AU shuttle route.
“The reality is that one million people ride our shuttles and they are getting old,” Myers said. “We are looking to replace them and buy at least one, if not two buses per year.”
In addition to replacing shuttles, AU plans to move toward funds to replace technology in the School of Communication and the five other schools and colleges in order to improve programming.
Kerwin was pleased with how AU performed with other comparable institutions.
“I like where we are with our tuition numbers,” Kerwin said. “I really like the progress that this place has made. ... It should really increase the value of our students’ degrees.”
Kerwin plans to meet with AU media on Feb. 25 to discuss the Board of Trustees final decisions on the 2006 and 2007 fiscal year budgets.