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ASU Board of Trustees Approves Tuition Rates, Smaller Budget


JONESBORO – The Arkansas State University Board of Trustees approved $243.7 million in operating budgets and campus tuition and fee rates for the 2015-2016 academic year at its meeting today on the Arkansas State University campus.

System President Charles L. Welch told members of the board that the campuses have worked hard to control costs and noted how administrators and the board are second-guessed about tuition increases.

“There’s lots of feeling that higher ed spending is out of control, but that’s absolutely not true with the ASU System,” he said. “Over the last five years, our total budget has risen 10.6 percent — that’s just 2 percent annually. This year’s budget is lower than last year’s. Jonesboro had the lowest increase in tuition and fees of any Arkansas university last year.

“Over the last five years, the amount of new money put into higher education by the state is 0.0 percent. Higher education needs adequate funding just like K-12 schools. The state has determined it takes a 2.5 percent increase in funds every year for K-12 to maintain an adequate education. Why shouldn’t it be the same for higher education? We should feel good about what we’re doing. I want to applaud our campuses. They are doing more with less.”

Tuition and fees at the Jonesboro campus will increase by a total of 4.27 percent. The average additional cost to full-time students will be $165 per semester.

Other approved tuition increases included ASU-Beebe, 4.6 percent; ASU-Mountain Home, 2.7 percent; and ASU-Newport, 3.8 percent.

Welch announced the pending retirement of ASU-Beebe Chancellor Eugene McKay, effective Jan. 15. He has served in various roles on the campus for 49 and a half years.

“He’s put his entire life into ASU-Beebe,” Welch said. “You can’t think of that institution without thinking of him. It’s bittersweet because we’re happy for him, but it will leave a gaping hole on that campus.”

A-State Chancellor Tim Hudson told the board it was a “watershed moment” when A-State welcomed NYIT College of Osteopathic Medicine to campus recently. NYIT announced it received the go-ahead to proceed with development of an additional site on the Jonesboro campus and plans to open in August 2016. Trustee Dr. Tim Langford of Little Rock, who is chief of staff at Baptist Medical Center in Little Rock, congratulated NYIT, A-State and their staffs for successful efforts regarding the medical school site plans.

Welch said that pending approval of the Higher Learning Commission, Mid-South Community College in West Memphis will become ASU Mid-South. The HLC has scheduled its site visit on May 18-19. He said 57 individuals applied for the chancellor position to succeed Dr. Glen Fenter, and four candidates will be interviewed during May.

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.

Welch acknowledged the recent death of KASU News Director Greg Chance, who was a staple at board meetings for more than 30 years.

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