University of Central Arkansas Board of Trustees members voted unanimously to increase tuition and fees for students at its quarterly meeting Friday.
Vice President for Finance and Administration Diane Newton explained that the three student fee increases and the tuition increase that were endorsed by the Student Government Association represented an overall increase of 3.9 percent.
President Allen Meadors reminded the board and meeting attendees that UCA receives less state appropriations than the Arkansas Department of Higher Education’s definition of average funding per full-time student.
According to the UCA Office of Institutional Research, UCA’s state appropriations per student in 2009 and 2010 were just below $5,000 — placing the university as least-funded among large institutions such as the University of Arkansas, University of Arkansas at Little Rock, and Arkansas State University at Jonesboro.
Scott Roussel, board chairman, reminded attendees that UCA did not receive a funding increase following the Legislative Session.
"Our budget is under control, and it is being watched under good eyes, but we’re going to have to increase tuition to keep up," Roussel said.
Newton said that the tuition increase of $5.05 per hour for undergraduate students and $6.25 for graduate students would generate $1.3 million for the university to pay for fixed costs.
For the average student bearing a 15-hour credit load, the change means a semester increase of $75.75.
Other fee increases included a 25-cent per hour increase in the student center and recreation fee and a new fee of 35 cents per hour for the writing department and the Academic Success Center.
The new fee would support additional tutoring opportunities and expand online tutoring through the Academic Success Center.
Newton said that the third fee, an increase of $3.50 per hour for the use of the university’s workout facility, the HPER Center, would allow for expansion for the popular feature on campus.
"This is part one of three increases so that we can issue bonds on construction. Operational costs will come in phases two and three," Roussel said.
Tuition increases and fees combined, which represent 42.28 percent of the university’s budget, equate to a change of $137.25 more in charges per semester for the average student.
Despite reports presented of low funding, Meadors revealed a "healthy" cash position of $40,644,159 to the board in a short review of the fiscal year.
Figures from April in 2008 show a negative cash position of $4.5 million, a positive $6.7 million in 2009 and $25.1 million in April of 2010.
The board declined to vote on a proposal presented by the Student Government Association to "forever protect" the Jewel Moore Nature Reserve from future development.
Meghan Thompson, SGA president, presented 1,954 signatures obtained by "the Green Bears Project" in support of protecting the acreage on campus.
Board member Randy Sims said that "forever is forever," and he would not be comfortable with the permanence.
Roussel said that the group’s enthusiasm and hard work ensured that the Board would take the proposal into consideration.
"The board is not ready to vote on it at this time," he said.
Also at the meeting, the board adopted:
• A resolution to offer a master of fine arts in creative writing.
• A strategic plan for university growth and advancement.
• 24 provisional employment positions
• A memorandum of understanding between UCA and Conway Regional Medical Center, Inc. for the construction of a health care education facility.
• Operating budget for 2011-12.
(Staff writer Courtney Spradlin can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 505-1236. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)