Board of Trustees talks 2022 fiscal year budget and Black Affinity Housing

The board’s March meeting came amid backlash over a new appointee

Board of Trustees talks 2022 fiscal year budget and Black Affinity Housing

Provost Dan Myers, Chief Financial Officer Douglas Kudravetz and Board Chairman Jack Cassell, left to right, discuss the budget for fiscal years 2020 and 2021 after the Board of Trustees meeting on March 1, 2019. 

Recently met with backlash over the appointment of new American University Board of Trustees member Wesley Bush, the Board of Trustees convened via Zoom on March 3 through 5 to discuss issues such as the 2022 fiscal year budget and Black Affinity Housing. 

Students and faculty recently began a campaign to remove Bush over his previous employment at an aerospace and defense technology company. 

When asked for a comment on the student petition to remove Bush, Board Chairman Mark Duber said, “I think he offers a lot to the Board, from his history in business and also in the education space through his wife’s involvement in education and all that.” Duber had no further comment at the time.

According to Duber, the 2022 budget passed with no tuition increase for the first time in AU’s history. There will also be no increase in residence hall costs; however, there will be a small increase in the price of meal plans. Next year’s budget is based on the assumption that AU will go back to in-person learning in the fall. 

Along with the usual budget items, Chief Financial Officer Doug Kudravetz announced a $6 million budget for COVID-19 testing next year. In a partnership with the University of Illinois’ Shield T3 COVID-19 testing system, the per-test cost is now down to $25 or $30, depending on volume. Kudravetz also said the new budget accounts for an increase in funding for student support measures such as the Counseling and Student Health Centers. 

There will also be seven sophomore living-learning communities offered on campus next year, according to Acting Provost and Chief Academic Officer Peter Starr. 

“[It is] gonna be really important for our first-year students who haven’t had that on-campus experience,” Starr said. “So we’re really pleased to add this to the mix.” 

On the topic of prioritizing racial equity and housing, Fanta Aw, vice president of campus life and inclusive excellence, said the University is proceeding with the Black Affinity Housing project for the fall semester.

The Board budgeted about $120 million for undergraduate financial aid. This includes an increase in summer aid and opening up the Cornerstone Program, an experiential learning program where students can either complete a supervised internship or go abroad usually offered in the fall, in the spring semester as well. 

The University plans to kick off a comprehensive campaign in May that will invest in student services, student facilities and community building. The University has already raised $250 million for the $500 million campaign, according to the board.

Aw also said the University has launched phase-two of its Inclusive Excellence Plan and is investing in a new Title IX and equity office. The board has established a diversity, equity and inclusion committee as well.

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