The University’s Board of Regents will have its hands full when it meets later this week with major items on the agenda like tuition rates for the upcoming year, the University’s annual operating budget and approximately $60 million in new construction projects.
At the center of the regents’ June agenda will be the University’s budget and tuition schedule, which in recent tradition have always been approved at the June Board of Regents meeting.
And while University officials carefully guard the secrecy of the budget until its public release at the meeting, several indications have been made by top administration officials that an increase consistent with prior years is on the way.
In an interview with The Michigan Daily following her testimony before the State Senate Subcommittee on Higher Education in March, University President Mary Sue Coleman hinted that an increase would be necessary to balance the University’s budget next year.
“In our three-year model … we wanted to let students know about planning for more regular and modest tuition increases,” Coleman said at the time. “We’re not talking about 10 percent, we’re talking about less than that.”
However, Coleman admitted at the time that much planning had yet to be done and that figures had not been finalized.
“I don’t know what we’re going to do yet, so I don’t want (people) to sort of think that that’s the way,” Coleman said in March of a possible 5.6-percent tuition increase for next year. “But our notion was to try to keep things regular and steady rather than have big swings one way or the other.”
Coleman explained at the time that tuition revenue and cost containment would have to be able to fill the gap expected to be left by declining state appropriations. She added that tuition revenue enhancements, slight residency changes and alternative course offerings were ways that the University could cope with expected shortfall in state funding.
Earlier this year, University Provost Teresa Sullivan told The Michigan Daily that projections of state funding showed a possible $68 million decrease from this year’s state appropriation to the University.
Based on last year’s in-state and out-of-state tuition levels and undergraduate, graduate and professional enrollment figures, a 5.6-percent increase next year would result in a roughly $45 million increase in University funds.
$60 million in new construction to be considered
The University’s Board of Regents is also scheduled to approve nearly $60 million in new campus construction projects later this week, with proposals to renovate Alice Lloyd Residence Hall, a partial renovation of the Carl A. Gerstacker Building and structural repairs to Burton Memorial Tower.
In a communication sent to the University’s regents, Tim Slottow, the University’s executive vice president and chief financial officer, and Royster Harper, the University’s vice president for student affairs, requested $56 million for the renovation of Alice Lloyd Residence Hall.
As part of the project, the building’s infrastructure – including fire detection and suppression, heating and cooling and wired and wireless network system – would all be updated. Additionally, spaces in the building – like the cafeteria – would be renovated and repurposed as community spaces for academically-related and living-learning student activities.
If approved, work on a design proposal would begin immediately and would be brought back before the regents for final approval before physical work on the project began.
In a separate communication to the regents, Slottow also requested $1.7 million for a 6,000-square-foot renovation of the Carl A. Gerstacker Building.
According to his request, the partial renovation would “create a state-of-the-art laboratory for research using molecular beam epitaxy.” The upgrade would allow for manufacturing of devices like photovoltaics and semiconductors.
If approved on Thursday, construction on the project is expected to be completed by spring 2011.
Regents are also expected to approve a $1.6 million repair project to Burton Memorial Tower.
According to a letter sent by Slottow to the regents, these repairs will include repairing deteriorating exterior stonework, repairs and upgrades to the building’s steel and concrete structure and necessary replacement and waterproofing of certain flooring.
A University press release issued earlier today reported that work on the project will be scheduled around the migratory pattern of the peregrine falcon, which is an endangered species in Michigan and a seasonal visitor to the University’s campus.
If approved, the project is expected to be completed by fall 2011.