Board of Trustees approves $1,000 fee for new students

Board votes 6-2 in favor of fee, which will fund six components of the university's Strategic Plan

The Ball State Board of Trustees broke its silence and voted to approve a $1,000 fee Thursday, and administrators are now pledging faculty will have voice in how to use the impending funds.

Whether they could have had a voice earlier, however, depends on who is asked.

By a vote of 6-2, trustees agreed to levy the additional fee to fund six components of the university's Strategic Plan. Though administrators call the $1,000 a fee, faculty members who send their children will not have to pay it. Usually, faculty who send their children here have tuition waived but do have to pay fees.

Instead, it's more an extension on next year's tuition, which won't be established until Spring, said Heather Shupp, executive director of university relations.

The money is estimated to bring in $3.5 million in its first year and reach $14 million by the 2007-2008 academic year. By then, administrators hope to have about $30 million for the plan, said President Blaine Brownell, who urged the board to implement the fee.

Both administrators and trustees had kept quiet about the issue since its first public appearance -- a front-page article in the Indianapolis Star.

Administrators and trustees would only say that the money would be used to advance the Strategic Plan.

After Thursday's meeting, Beverley Pitts, provost and vice president for academic affairs, said it would have been inappropriate to discuss the proposal with the public before the board approved it.

The trustees must decide if they want public input on decisions, she said.

"It's the job of the Board of Trustees to determine how they want the information presented to them," Pitts said. "That's their job to seek that, not ours."

Board President Tom DeWeese, however, said during a separate interview that the board is not responsible for actively garnering public opinion, though he maintained trustees should be well informed.

"It wouldn't be for us to say, 'Here, go back and take this to the professors,'" DeWeese said. "That would be really disruptive to the operation of the university."

Now that the increase is ensured, Pitts said she will consult the University Senate's Financial and Budgetary Affairs Committee on how to specifically fund the six areas guaranteed to receive a portion of the cash.

* $1 million will go to financial aid, including scholarships for minority students.

* $1 million will go to freshman programs, such as Freshmen Connections, special-interest needs students and minority student programs.

* $250,000 will go to attract and retain faculty.

* $500,000 will go to graduate student support of undergraduate programs. 25 graduate assistants will be used for direct tutoring, residence hall assistance and other programs. They won't teach, Pitts said.

* $500,000 will be used to strengthened applied research.

* $250,000 for library collections.

Trustees Melanie Scott and Kimberly Hood Jacobs voted against the measure. Jacobs said she was concerned about low-income Hoosiers and needed more time to discuss the issue.

"I have to weigh what we do today with the anguish of what the families will feel," Jacobs said. "Someone has to come to this table on their behalf.

"I think the cost is going to feel outrageous. There is going to be anguish in those families tonight."

Scott said she was concerned that the proposal was still open-ended, and she questioned why money was appropriated to these particular aspects of the Strategic Plan and not multicultural awareness, for example.

"Why do these things make a person better?" she said. "When you have vague things, money tends to go in different directions."

DeWeese, who had not commented until that point, said he didn't think the the proposal was vague.

Trustee Ceola Digby-Berry said she had originally planned not to vote for the increase, but she changed her mind after she received a specific idea of where the money would go.

Near the end of the meeting, Brownell also assured her the money would be sequestered for those purposes.

"I applaud that," Digby-Berry replied. "I'm going to quote you. I'm going to use those words."

While Jacobs said the money's designated recipients were worthy, she maintained that the average Indiana family -- living off an income of about $40,000 -- would suffer.

Trustees who voted for the increase said they don't want to block students' opportunities, but Trustee Richard Moake countered that students will have access to other universities, and Trustee Greg Schenkel said Ball State can't service every person in the state.

"We can't take care of every child. I'm trying to do the best job we can," Schenkel said. "They'll go to other institutions in the state."

Purdue implemented a similar fee this year, and their enrollment went up, said Doug McConkey, vice president for student affairs and enrollment management.

Julie Maugherman, the guidance counselor at Burris Laboratory School, said the increase won't deter students, though she has heard concern from parents about the rising cost of education in general.

"In my opinion, students will have to find more money to go to school," Maugherman said. "In general, nobody is saying, 'I'm just not going to do it.'"<<28.+â-¦*FBoard of Trustees 9/26 tuition DNEditorial<<2+â-¼8&+â-ô2AUDT

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