Discussion over the University’s budget, which will include tuition rates for the upcoming 2011-2012 academic year, will take center stage at the University’s Board of Regents monthly meeting this Thursday.

The budget is typically approved at the June Board of Regents meeting and though details on the proposal will not be released before the regents gather later this week, University officials told The Michigan Daily earlier this spring that a tuition increase can be expected.

The state budget, currently awaiting a signature by Republican Gov. Rick Snyder after receiving approval from the state House and Senate, cuts funding to all state universities by 15 percent. The budget includes a stipulation that would cause schools to lose additional state funding if they increase tuition by more than 7.1 percent — the average state tuition hike over the past five years.

In an April interview with The Michigan Daily, University Provost Philip Hanlon said any tuition increase would be below the state mandated level.

“I think that we will be within the tuition restraint that (is) required to get the extra piece of (the state appropriation),” Hanlon said.

If the University ultimately maintains tuition within the state’s limit, the University would lose approximately $47.5 million in state funding. The University was appropriated $316 million by the state in last year’s budget, which was signed by former Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm.

The University has also planned to use several cost containment efforts — like consolidating IT units and reducing the amount of general fund money given to schools within the University — in order to eliminate $120 million from its budget by 2017 to help accommodate shortfalls without increasing tuition exorbitantly.

“We’re in a cycle now to continue the cost savings,” University President Mary Sue Coleman said in a February interview with The Michigan Daily. “We’ve even projected out to 2017 because in our view we’re going to have to make ourselves more efficient, get value for every dollar that’s being spent (and) make tough decisions because we don’t see the economic climate in the country bouncing back any time soon.”

Despite potential tuition hikes, Coleman said in an April interview that the University would continue to provide as much financial aid as possible.

“We have always tried to match, with even more commitment, financial aid than with the tuition increase because we know that families are struggling,” Coleman said.

Regents to consider $33.5 million in construction projects

The regents are also expected to approve three separate projects to renovate and expand several University facilities.

The regents are likely to authorize the awarding of contracts for a $23 million addition to the Institute for Social Research, a project approved by the board at their meeting last July. The addition is expected to be finished in spring 2013.

The construction plan consists of a four level, 44,700 gross square foot addition to the current ISR building as well as renovations of 7,200 gross square feet of the current building to accommodate new offices, meeting spaces and several research areas.

An $8.5 million expansion of the University Hospital’s patient food kitchen is also expected to receive approval, and construction is expected to be completed in winter 2013.

The 13,000 square foot renovation will allow the hospital to use a “room service” style of providing meals for patients. This “approach to nutrition enables patients to have more control of their environment,” Timothy Slottow, the University’s executive vice president and chief financial officer, and Ora Pescovitz, the University’s executive vice president for medical affairs, wrote in a communication to the regents.

The regents are also expected to green light a 5,200 square foot renovation of laboratory space on the sixth floor of the Medical Science Unit II building.

Construction is expected to cost $2 million and is scheduled to be finished by spring 2012.

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