ASU Board of Trustees Approves Budgets, Tuition Rates for 2014-15
NEWPORT, Ark. — The Arkansas State University Board of Trustees approved $238.5 million in operating budgets and campus tuition and fee rates for the 2014-2015 academic year at its meeting today on the ASU-Newport campus.
System President Charles L. Welch told members of the board that campus administrators emphasized operating expenses control while trying to keep faculty salaries competitive. Most recent data from the Southern Regional Education Board shows Arkansas State’s faculty salaries for every rank are above their peers in the state, and they exceed averages for professors and associate professors across the SREB region.
“Once again we have worked hard to minimize the increased financial burden on students and their families," Welch said. "Through reallocation of resources and cost containment, we’re able to be very competitive with tuition rates and still address the needs of students and faculty.”
Tuition and fees at the Jonesboro campus will increase by a total of 2.8 percent. Included is an additional $2 academic excellence fee to help fund a 2 percent merit salary increase for faculty. The average additional cost to full-time students will be $105 per semester.
“This is the second-lowest tuition and fee increase at our Jonesboro campus in 10 years,” Welch said. “We continue to explore new opportunities to generate revenue to support our mission because we simply can’t do it on the backs of students and parents, nor can we count on increased state funding.”
The overall ASU System budget of $238.5 million is only 1.5 percent higher than this year’s projections, which is less than the U.S. higher education inflation rate of 2.8 percent, Welch said. The Jonesboro campus revenue budget for 2014-15 is $180.6 million, an increase of 1.47 percent over the current year’s projections.
“The fact that our budget increases aren’t even at the same level as basic inflation is testament to the hard work of our campuses to reign in expenses and be very conservative in the budgeting process,” Welch said.
Chancellor Tim Hudson said A-State’s budget would also provide a 1 percent merit salary increase for non-classified employees. A 1 percent cost of living increase for classified employees will be budgeted but cannot be paid unless approved by Gov. Mike Beebe for all state classified employees.
Hudson said the less than 1 percent increase in university educational and general fund expenses would also provide continued support of institutional and performance scholarships; four additional faculty positions due to program growth and accreditation requirements from reallocated resources; an additional faculty position from new revenue sources; and employee health care cost increases.
Other approved tuition increases included ASU-Beebe, 4.8 percent; ASU-Mountain Home, 2.8 percent; and ASU-Newport, 5 percent.
The board agreed to the recommendations of Welch and the four chancellors to maintain the system’s Weapons Policy and “opt out” of Act 226 of the Arkansas General Assembly. The act gives colleges the option of not allowing staff and faculty to carry a concealed handgun on campus.
In other business, the Board approved:
• A resolution to restructure and rename Arkansas State’s departments of Psychology and Counseling and Health, Physical Education, and Sports Sciences to form the School of Behavior and Human Performance.
• Resolutions for several new academic degrees and emphasis areas in the system, including the Doctor of Occupational Therapy and the Master of Science in Molecular Biosciences degrees at Arkansas State.
• A resolution that authorizes the sale of residential property owned by the ASU System that may become nonessential to operations.
Following an executive session, the Board approved several academic and non-academic appointments, as well as contract extensions.