Sharon Cook

Trustee Sharon Cook (left) greets Dr. Lynn Darby (right) as Dr. Alex Goberman looks on at the reception for faculty receiving promotion and tenure May 5.

University reduces expenses, raises fees to balance budget

At its final meeting of the academic year May 5, the board of trustees took steps to keep income and expenses balanced.

The trustees passed a 2006-07 educational budget of $259 million for the main campus that contains both student fee increases and $1.13 million in operating cost reductions.

Under the University's two-tier fee structure, trustees raised tuition by 6 percent for continuing undergraduates who entered BGSU before summer 2002, and by 5.8 percent for students who started classes in summer 2002 or thereafter. In dollars, the per-semester increases are $249 and $250, respectively. The board also passed a 5.9 percent tuition increase, or $321 per semester, for full-time graduate students, and a 2.75 percent increase in tuition, or $57 per semester, for students enrolled full time at BGSU Firelands.

Also approved were auxiliary, dining hall and residence hall budgets for the coming academic year. Trustees voted to increase both the cost of meal plans and the cost of room rates by 4 percent.

Total tuition, room, board and registration fees for the coming academic year will be $15,430, a $748 increase from last year, for an Ohio student who has been attending the main campus since before summer 2002, and $15,744, or $750 more than last year, for undergraduate students who entered the University during or after the summer of 2002. 

An educational budget of $12.4 million, reflecting a 5 percent increase over last year's budget, was approved for BGSU Firelands. The increase will be used for additional staff to serve higher student enrollment and for facility improvement projects.

Dr. Christopher Dalton, senior vice president for finance and administration, told the board that expenses are projected to increase next year by 6.4 percent, or $15.7 million more than the annual educational budget the board adopted in June 2005. 

"Utilities alone are up 18 percent," Dalton said, noting that the University is not immune to the pain of skyrocketing fuel costs. "Even the cost of food in the residence hall cafeterias is affected by rising transportation costs fed by gasoline prices," he pointed out.

Dalton noted the steep decline in state support for higher education since 2001 and the worsening economy, simultaneous with increasing student enrollment. “We’re seeing the typical economic pattern,” he explained in the education session at the beginning of the meeting. “In tough times, enrollment goes up as jobs are harder to get.” He added that the most realistic “best-case scenario” we can hope for now is that the state’s economy will level off instead of continuing its downward trend.

Next year's main campus budget has an $8.2 million increase in funding for financial aid that covers a 34 percent increase in aid to undergraduates and a 4.3 percent increase in graduate student fee waivers. There's also 4.4 percent more in the pool for wages and benefits for faculty and staff.

Salary increases set
President Sidney Ribeau said his highest priority continues to be enhancing the competitiveness of BGSU faculty and staff compensation. "I am gratified we are able to recommend faculty and staff salary increases averaging 4 percent," he said.

The salary allocations will be distributed in "meets expectations" pools of 2 percent for faculty and 3 percent for administrative staff, and "exceeds expectations" pools of 2 percent for faculty and 1 percent for administrative staff. Classified staff, except those with an unsatisfactory performance rating, will receive a 3 percent increase and may be eligible to participate in a 1 percent merit pool.

Reductions made
Dalton pointed out that $1.13 million in budget reductions are being made. Those reductions include a mandated salary savings of $631,000 and elimination of a $500,000 contingency reserve. “And I should add that these follow a whole series of reductions totaling about $16 million” over the past several years,” he said.

Academic matters
Trustees also approved changes to the student handbook and the academic charter; recommendations for faculty promotion and tenure; the appointment of Dr. H. Peter Lu as an Eminent Scholar in the chemistry department, and the naming of Dr. Hokey Min as the James R. Good Chair of Global Strategy in the management department and Dr. Rodney Rogers as dean of the College of Business Administration. 

Other business
In addition, the board adopted resolutions opposing the Tax Expenditure Limitation (TEL) amendment, because of the proposed measure's potential negative effects on higher education, and enabling the University to enter into mutual aid agreements with other state universities, the Wood County sheriff and the county’s municipalities. 

New board officers elected
Trustee Michael Wilcox was chosen as the next chair of the board, and Trustee Michael Marsh as vice chair. Executive Vice President Linda Dobb was re-elected secretary to the board.

Outgoing Chair Sharon Cook told her colleagues, “This is a special place, BG, and we all know we have something to treasure here.” She was commended for her leadership, dedication and devotion by Wilcox, and for keeping the board focused on its tasks with a high degree of professionalism.

Constituent group reports
Constituent group leaders Dr. Robert Boughton, chair of Faculty Senate, and incoming Graduate Student Senate President Deanna Woodhouse expressed concern about the recent decision on student health care coverage at BGSU. Boughton informed the board of a Faculty Senate resolution opposing the separate fee for optional abortion coverage and asked trustees to reconsider its decision on the policy. “We want to assure students that all legal aspects of student health care are covered by our plan,” he said.

Boughton also said that while the faculty appreciates the 4 percent salary increase passed by the board, they are concerned that BGSU is losing ground in comparison with other state universities. He asked the trustees to continue to make faculty compensation a priority.

Incoming Undergraduate Student Government President Bernard Little told the board of plans to nurture positive relations between BGSU students and the community, explore the possibility of a downtown shuttle and monitor developments with the new BG1 Card, which is replacing the traditional student ID. “But for this summer we’re going to focus all our attention on the TEL initiative,” he said. “We’re serious about funding for higher education.” One avenue will be to promote voter registration during orientation, he said.
May 8, 2006