SRU trustees advance approximate $183 tuition and fees increase for 2022-23 to BOG
From left, Slippery Rock University trustees Samantha Hawk and Dominic Ionta were among the 11 council members who voted on several action items at the Dec. 10 quarterly business meeting.
Dec. 10, 2021
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. — Slippery Rock University's council of trustees voted to advance a proposed tuition increase to Pennsylvania's State System of Higher Education board of governors for approval. The proposed 2% increase would amount to approximately an extra $183 in tuition and fees per student for the 2022-23 academic year and would represent SRU's first tuition increase since 2018-19.
The council's action, based on the recommendation from University administration, was conducted at its quarterly business meeting, Dec. 10, at the Smith Student Center. The tuition proposal passed by a 6-5 vote.
Prior to the three straight years of tuition remaining flat, annual increases were at or near 3% since 2013. A proposal for a 3.5% increase was approved for 2020-21 and tentatively for fiscal year 2021-22, but it was not implemented because of economic uncertainty related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Like many other universities, SRU continues to recover from the economic impact of the pandemic," said SRU President William Behre. "Our goal is to keep delivering value to our students by providing a high-quality education at a cost that is affordable compared to other institutions in our region and the State System."
SRU's current $20,430 cost of attendance is the second lowest among the 14 schools in the State System, and its six-year graduation rate of 67.6% since 2009 is the second best in the State System.
The proposal for 2022-23 is expected to result in an approximate tuition and fees increase of $183 per student for the entire academic year. The tuition increase would generate approximately $1.7 million in revenue for the University to address an anticipated budget shortfall that is expected to range up to $4 million based on the increasing costs of goods, utilities and other operating expenses, as well as employees' wages, salaries and benefits that are collectively bargained at the state level.
Tuition and fees account for 64% of the University's revenue that offset a budget of nearly $150 million in total expenditures.
"This tuition increase will allow us to keep our commitment to financial aid that our students rely on," Behre said. "We've continued to invest in financial aid without recent tuition increases, and with this new increase, we'd be offering as much or more aid as we have in the past to keep an SRU education affordable, especially for those with the greatest need."
SRU supports students with $8.8 million in institutional and SRU Foundation-supported financial aid and it will maintain and enhance this commitment through the approval of this proposal. More than 68% of the 2021 freshman cohort received some level of institutional aid.
"The council always takes a request to increase the tuition very seriously," said Matthew Lautman, chair of the SRU council of trustees, who was among the five dissenting votes. "We held a special workshop in November and we had our committee meeting this week to really vet it. I voted against it because, to me, it's really not the right time for this, but I appreciate and respect that majority rules on this council. These are always difficult decisions, and I know that even the people who ultimately voted in favor of it, they recognized (the increase) as a necessary evil. These are sensitive matters because they affect so many people."
SRU's tuition rate proposal will now be voted on by the BOG at their quarterly meeting, April 13-14, 2022, in Harrisburg.
Other action taken at the meeting included the approval of a naming resolution in which Room 207 in the Strain Safety Building will be renamed the Rockford Systems Classroom. Rockford Systems, LLC, from Rockford, Illinois, has pledged to provide SRU's safety management program with machine safeguard training and equipment, including a mechanical press, for an in-kind gift totaling more than $167,000 for the next five years.
Additionally, the council approved amendments to its bylaws, the evaluation of the president and the certification of compliance for affiliated entities.
Also at the meeting, the council received a presentation from Karla Fonner, dean of students, about student care coordination and behavioral intervention, as well as the President's Report, reports from its standing committees and the trustees heard a review of finance and divisional reports.
Through its standing committee meetings Dec. 9 and earlier in the day, Dec. 10, the trustees received:
- An update on administrative affairs from Amir Mohammadi, senior vice president for administration, global engagement and economic development.
- A presentation from David Jacobson of CliftonLarsonAllen regarding the University's 2021 audit results. Jacobson concluded that the University's financial reporting was accurate and that the audit was "clean" and had no findings.
- A review of SRU's Annual Security and Fire Safety Report from Kevin Sharkey, chief of University Police.
- An update on the University's budget from Carrie Birckbichler, chief financial and data officer.
- A review of personnel items from Lynne Motyl, chief human resources officer.
- A review of contracts, fixed assets and service and supply purchase orders; the quarterly financial report; and the facilities and planning project list.
- An update on the Pennsylvania Association of Councils of Trustees from Jeff Smith, SRU trustee.
- Information items for review include an updated University calendar.
- An update regarding the University's capital campaign from Dennis Washington, vice president for University advancement.
- Quarterly reports related to development, alumni relations and the SRU Foundation, Inc.
- An update regarding academic affairs from Abbey Zink, provost and vice president for academic affairs.
- An enrollment update from Amanda Yale, chief enrollment management officer.
- A student affairs programming update from David Wilmes, chief student affairs officer.
The next quarterly business meeting is scheduled for March 3-4 at the Smith Student Center.
More information about the trustees is available on the SRU website, as well as a link to the Dec. 9-10 meeting materials.
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