There were mixed feelings at the Fleming Administration Building Thursday during the monthly Board of Regents meeting, with the Regents voting 6-1 to approve the 2002-2003 general fund budget including a 7.9 percent tuition hike.

Paul Wong

“I think it’s a prudent budget,” Regent Olivia Maynard (D-Goodrich) said, adding that while it is not the first preference to raise tuition, “you have to have resources” to maintain the University’s standing.

Regent Andrea Fischer Newman (R-Ann Arbor) was the lone dissenter, praising interim Provost Paul Courant’s work in putting the budget together but calling for further belt tightening rather than tuition increases. She also was the sole dissenter last year when the regents approved a 6.5 percent tuition increase.

“We have to do better for our students,” she said, asking Courant to make “tougher choices” in the future.

But Courant supported the budget, saying every possible step was made to minimize tuition.

“We work very hard to identify the resources needed to maintain the high quality of the University,” he said. “Tough decisions are made at every step.”

The University’s tuition increase is the result of a deal made between Gov. John Engler and state universities. Engler promised not to cut appropriations from higher education if schools did not raise tuition more than 8.5 percent.

While the University has one of the lowest tuition increases in the Big Ten and the state of Michigan this year, it still has one of the highest base rates.

Also at the meeting, Athletic Director Bill Martin presented the budget for the Athletic Department.

He said the department has a $1.8 million surplus for the 2002-2003 budget, mainly because the University will have seven home football games next year rather than the usual six.

But Martin also emphasized the need for the construction and renovation of athletic buildings, including an academic success center, comparing the advantages and disadvantages of the University Athletic Department’s $13 million debt to Ohio State University’s $260 million debt.

“The difference is that they’ve built (on) their campus for the past 100 years and we’ve ignored ours for the past 20,” Martin said, adding that the need for fundraising and donations has grown over the past 15 years because the number of varsity sports has nearly doubled.

Maynard also stated the importance of keeping current campus buildings in good shape, saying that if a building needs work, “you have to renovate it.”

Earlier in the week, the regents also held a special meeting held by conference call to finalize and approve the contract for President-elect Mary Sue Coleman.

According to the contract, Coleman will receive a base pay of $475,000 per year, to be reviewed annually. A provision was added July 15 giving Coleman deferred compensation of $75,000 per year unless she terminates her employment prior to July 31, 2007 by reasons other than death or disability.

Given other benefits and a five-year retention bonus of $500,000, as well as a retirement package of up to $200,000, Coleman’s yearly pay will total approximately $650,000, University spokeswoman Julie Peterson said.

But Peterson said that total, while competitive with other colleges and universities, still does not beat the pay received by incoming leaders at the University of Texas and the University of Tennessee, who could receive more than $700,000 annually, according to a Chronicle of Higher Education report.

Coleman’s contract finalization is the end of a six-month-long, $334,637 search process. The total cost of the search was released by the University last Monday and includes a $169,345 consultant fee, as well as $63,858 in consultant’s expenses, such as traveling and lounging.

Both those figures are much higher than they were for the 10-month-long search that resulted in Bollinger’s presidency, when consultant fees cost $91,666 and expenses were $29,798.

– Daily News Editor Maria Sprow contributed to this report.

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