Board of Trustees approves fixed tuition rate, new programs amid budget uncertainty

Kalee Ball

The last Board of Trustee's meeting for the fiscal year was held on the top floor of Osprey Commons. Photo by Kalee Ball
The last Board of Trustee’s meeting for the fiscal year was held on the top floor of Osprey Commons.
Photo by Kalee Ball

UNF’s Board of Trustees Committees met Wednesday for the last meeting of Fiscal Year 2014-2015.

Plenary Session

Vice President of Administration and Finance Shari Shuman presented a flat 2015-2016 budget to the Board because there is still so much performance funding uncertainty in Tallahassee. There have been debates about whether or not to add another metric.

If UNF ends up losing money, the budget will come back to the Board. If UNF gains money, it will be put into a reserve account.

The budget was approved as is, but the tension was tangible as the 2015-2016 budget will go into effect in 3 weeks. President John Delaney made jokes, and the board responded with nervous laughter.

Finance & Audit Committee

There will be no tuition increase for either in-state or out-of-state students for the 2015-2016 year. This is the first time that tuition has not increased since the 2006-2007 school year. However, the Athletics Fee will see a $0.29 increase per credit hour.

Out-of-state fees for graduate assistants and fellowships will be set at $0.00 because they provide teaching and research support, as well as being paid by the University. Originally, the Board approved a waiver system to these students fees, but because a $0.00 fee looks more competitive and accomplishes the same thing, the Board chose this system.

The late payment fee for meal plans will also be removed, as UNF does not have specific authority to charge the fee.

The MOCA repayment schedule was approved due to the state Operational Audit that stated UNF was not authorized  to provide loans to their Direct Support Organization.

The museum will pay $50,000 each year until the loan is paid in full, in 2024.

Workshop

After a brief break, Enrollment Services presented the University’s new initiatives to improve recruitment and retention.

Their new motto is: “Start Strong. Stay Strong. Finish Strong.” The motto illustrates their initiatives to follow each student through their UNF journey from enrollment to commencement.

The department is currently using Stamats, a marketing firm, to analyze historical data and perform surveys. They have implemented a Transfer Student Services Office and a Student Enrollment Communication Center in order to better communicate with every student.

Several phone call campaigns have been launched to facilitate improved communication.

“We are purposeful in our approach,”  said Director of Admissions Karen Lucas.

Materials that are sent to prospective students, as well as websites, have been completely redesigned.

“When it’s completed, it will be one of the most robust communication plans in public universities everywhere,” said Associate Vice President of Enrollment Services Albert Colom.

Academic Affairs

A new degree program in Deaf Education was created and approved for the College of Education and Human Services (COEHS) .

Before, the closest major was American Sign Language and minor in Deaf Studies.

According to the agenda, “This degree will prepare teachers to meet the standards that the COEHS believes are essential to meet the special needs of students.”

Later, the Department of Music proposed a change of designation to the “School of Music”, but a formal announcement has not been made regarding the switch.

Student Life & Facilities Committee

With the BOT meeting almost over, the time allotted for public comments, which is usually empty, was filled with a concerned father’s pleas for action.

Ismael Texidor-Rodriguez has been at the University for a year and a half, raising his three children with his wife. They cannot afford daycare.

He believes that the Board has focused too much on First Time in College (FTIC) students, as there is a lack of support for non-traditional students.

“It’s not just me,” he said.

For non-traditional students, he said, the goal is the most linear path through school. But because of life and other circumstances, they can’t find that at UNF.

Texidor-Rodriguez has set up a donation for the daycare center on campus, which will reach its 40th year in January. He wants to begin a collaboration between the Board and the student population he belongs to.

He offered solutions like providing priority registration for parents, so that they can get the best schedule possible. There is already a scholarship that waives daycare tuition, but he believes this is only a start, not a final solution.

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