ASU Board Approves Campus Budgets With Flat Spending, No Tuition Increases
WEST MEMPHIS, Ark. — Flat overall spending and increased security measures highlight the Arkansas State University System budget for 2018-19, which was approved today by the Board of Trustees at its regular meeting on the ASU Mid-South campus.
ASU System President Chuck Welch said the system’s $282 million budget is an increase of just 0.3 percent compared with a year ago and it includes new state funding for some campuses from the higher education productivity formula. None of the campuses will increase in-state tuition next fall, while four of the campuses will raise fees targeted mostly for increased security measures.
“When you make that sort of commitment, it’s difficult for campuses to ensure the same level of service and success when you have rising costs of operations,” Welch said. “These fee increases are as minimal as you can get, and our campuses took to heart the challenge of keeping college as affordable as we can. It speaks volumes about the work our campuses are doing to be as efficient and effective as possible.”
The flagship Jonesboro campus will add a $4 per credit hour security fee, increase the academic excellence fee for faculty salaries by $1 and eliminate a $40 annual yearbook fee. The overall impact on in-state tuition and fees at A-State for next year will be $130 annually or a 1.53 percent increase to $8,608, which ranks as one of the lowest rates among public universities statewide.
“Despite being the second-largest public university, A-State will have only the sixth-highest cost in the state,” Welch said. “I’m pleased Arkansas State was able to fulfill Gov. Hutchinson’s request not to raise in-state tuition. The governor also asked for no more than a 2.1 percent increase at the two-year institutions, and our four campuses won’t be raising tuition at all. The overall financial impact on students at every campus will be very minimal, and the additional productivity funding from the state certainly helps make this possible.
“Our total system budget actually would have been less than last year if not for productivity funding for some of our campuses,” Welch added. “I’ve very proud of the cost control measures that are being implemented, and we’re seeing some immediate impact from the Huron efficiency study recommendations. By the next budget cycle, I think we will see even more positive financial results as we implement revenue generating initiatives and work to keep our institutions as affordable as possible while delivering high-quality educational opportunities.”
ASU Mid-South will have no increase in fees. ASU-Beebe will add $1 per credit hour for security and $1 per credit hour for infrastructure. ASU-Mountain Home and ASU-Newport will add $1 per credit hour for security.
“Increased security measures may include personnel and/or equipment,” Welch said. “Campus safety remains an important priority for our employees, students and their families. All the fee increases were specifically for students and faculty.”
“I wholeheartedly thank you for the work done on tuition and budgets,” Trustee Price Gardner of Little Rock said. “Our mission is to view things from student and parent perspectives. You have brought forth budgets that allow us to deliver a premier product while maintaining affordability. The Huron study noted we are already lean.”
A-State’s $167.8 million budget for educational and general operations includes a 1 percent merit pool for faculty raises. Other salary increases of up to 2 percent will be considered at mid-year based on sufficient revenues from enrollment.
At the two-year institutions, ASU-Beebe and ASU-Newport will provide 2 percent cost of living raises for faculty, non-classified and classified staff; ASU-Mountain Home will give a $1,500 cost of living increase for faculty and non-classified staff and 2 percent cost of living raise plus up to a 3 percent merit increase for classified staff; and ASU Mid-South budgeted no salary increases.
The board officially approved the appointment of Dr. Jennifer Methvin as chancellor of ASU-Beebe with a three-year contract effective July 1 and an annual salary of $194,000. Welch expressed his gratitude to interim chancellor Roger Moore, who will return to his role as vice chancellor for finance and administration.
The board also extended Welch’s five-year contract to 2023 and all campus chancellors’ three-year contracts to 2021.
In other business, the board:
- Approved an agreement for Arkansas State to sell four of 26.2 acres the university owns at East Johnson Avenue and Red Wolf Boulevard in Jonesboro to a limited liability corporation affiliated with Colliers International of Little Rock for $1.5 million, which will be paid in the form of infrastructure improvements to the entire tract. Gardner, who represents the buyer and did so prior to his appointment to the board, recused from discussion and the vote.
- Approved members of the ASU-Mountain Home Board of Visitors. They are Tim Byler, Jackson Rhoades, Sara Zimmerman, Stewart Brunner, Jeff Gunn, Ray Stahl, Cheryl Davenport, Sonny Elliott and Ron Peterson.
- Approved applications for a $400,000 grant for funding of recreational trails on and near the Jonesboro campus. A-State would pay a $100,000 match from reserve funds if awarded.
- Agreed to restructure the A-State College of Agriculture Engineering and Technology into two colleges: the College of Agriculture, and the College of Engineering and Computer Science.
- Approved the strategic plan for ASU-Beebe for 2018-2023.
- Approved ASU-Beebe to offer Associate of Applied Science degrees in automotive technology and computerized machining technology.
- Approved ASU-Newport to offer an Associate of Applied Science degree and a Technical Certificate in paramedic, as well as an Associate of Applied Science degree in surgical technology.