Jun 262007
 
Authors: Erik Myers The Rocky Mountain Collegian

The CSU Board of Governors approved the CSU’s general budget Wednesday, allowing the university to increase tuition by 16 percent for the 2007-08 academic year.

The approved $376.3 million budget, CSU’s largest in 15 years, also allows the hiring of 45 new faculty members, an increase in faculty salaries and the addition of new academic programs.

The tuition increase – about $287 per semester for full-time, in-state students and $1,243 for out-of-state students – is a much-needed and painful step in the right direction, officials say.

“The state isn’t funding higher education, and CSU needs the money to remain competitive,” said Katie Gleeson, president of the ASCSU. “It’s really sad that students have to bear the brunt of these costs.”

Despite new, promising shifts for faculty, the tuition raise adds weight to an already inflated cost of higher education in Colorado.

Gleeson said the ongoing problem stems from a lack of funding from the state, which ultimately forced the Board to pull funding from students.

In addition to opening new spots on campus, the top fiscal shifts in the budget include a 5 percent raise for faculty/staff salary.

CSU political science professor John Straayer said the budget’s changes showed promise, noting that a salary increase would help the university retain faculty.

More importantly, though, Straayer said it’s important that the university invest in the newly available faculty spots.

“(Tenure faculty) should be, hands down, the institution’s number one priority this year, next year, the year after that,” he said. “This year.they’re making an effort to do exactly that. That’s what they should be doing.”

For Straayer, a university’s intellectual foundation depends on its tenure faculty. Giving a professor a permanent residence, he said, allows for long-term scholarly research and requires professors to take on internal maintenance, from sorting out a program’s curriculum to participation in various faculty committees.

“It’s like any organization. Do you want a solid, high quality employment base? Or do you want a parade of temps?” Straayer said.

Short-term, lower-paid faculty, are mostly useful to ease budget cramps, but ultimately contribute little outside of classes because of their transient nature, he added.

New academic programs are another notable feature of the new budget. Additional degree programs will be added to the several departments. Next fall will bring the addition of a doctorate program for Biomedical Engineering. For the school of Health and Exercise Science, a doctoral program in Human Biogenetics will be made available next semester as well.

The school of Journalism and Technical Communications will feature a PhD program that will begin operations in the fall of 2008. The addition for two new “superclusters”- innovative academic alliances between business and science departments to effectively study and market research studies- will be added with a tag price of two million dollars.

As a rule, modest tuition increases are considered a good thing for universities, but last spring, leaders at the state capitol and on campus were crying foul against CSU President Larry Penley for trying to drastically increase the university’s spending authority, which would have ultimately increased tuition by more than 32 percent.

In March, CSU officials pushed an amendment to the state’s budget that would allow for an additional $34 million in spending authority – at students’ expense.

“Blindsided” by what some charge was a questionable technique, state legislators axed the bill.

In student government, Penley faced harsh criticism for never discussing the measure, one that could have raised tuition by more than $1,200 a year for in-state students, with students.

Students were involved in the budget approval and tuition increase this time, Gleeson said.

Ron Hale isn’t happy with the increase either. Hale, whose son Jay plans to attend the university in 2009, said the 16 percent increase strayed too far from average increase in universities, and thought there were better ways of collecting such a number.

“If they want 16 percent, they should phase it over in like three years or something, they shouldn’t hit students and parents in one year.” Hale said.

Luke Ragland, director of legislative affairs for ASCSU and an opponent of drastic tuition increases, said keeping CSU competitive isn’t cheap.

“I hope students aren’t too discouraged by the tuition increase, because they’re still going to see a pretty decent tuition increase next year,” Ragland said. “We understand that CSU needs more money. We just hope that’s a partnership (with the state).”

Staff writer Erik Myers can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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CSU’s 2007-2008 budget will include:

-16 percent tuition increase ($287 for in-state students, $1,243 for out-of-state students)

-45 new tenure-track faculty positions

-5 percent salary increase for faculty/staff

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New degree programs will be added to the following departments:

-A PhD program for Journalism and Technical Communication for Fall of 2008

-A doctorate program for Human Bioenergetics in the school of Health and Exercise Science for Fall of 2007

-A doctorate program for Biomedical Engineering for fall of 2007

-In addition, two new “superclusters” will be added for 2 million dollars

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