The Board of Trustees discussed potentially raising student fees should enrollment rates decline and state appropriations decrease during their meeting held on Tuesday.
According to Dale Hamel, executive vice president, the fee increase would cover personnel incremental costs, non-personnel inflation and Strategic Priorities Initiative funding.
The cost per student would be $380. If state appropriations come in lower than expected or student enrollment decreases, said Hamel, the cost would be $480.
Hamel said administration is waiting on the House of Representatives budget before making any decisions regarding the budget.
Student Trustee Fernando Rodriguez asked if there were other ways to cover these costs besides raising student fees.
Hamel said the budget planning committee has already gone through a “cutting exercise” during which they cut “a little bit from a lot of the trust funds and put a couple of other projects off.”
He added student fees is “not the first place to turn to,” but “we’ve probably gone through that exercise at this point and something more dramatic would have to happen if we choose not to raise the fee.”
FSU is the least expensive compared to its sister schools in terms of tuition and fees, and is the second lowest in terms of room and board, according to Hamel.
Trustee Fernando Quezda said in the time he has been on the board, FSU has “bettered itself in so many ways, and I don’t know if that gets thoroughly quantified. Quality costs.”
The trustees also approved a motion to revise their by-laws. The revisions include shortening the term of service for a trustee from two full terms to one, as well as increasing the number of trustees who serve as a Governance Committee from two to three.
Richard C. Logan was re-nominated for Trustee Chair, as was Kevin Foley for Vice Chair.
The trustees also approved a motion to establish a trust fund for the Warren Conference Center and Inn.
Hamel said the Warren Center is a revenue producing operation, which will essentially pay for itself. He added FSU is still scheduled to close on the center on April 13.
Lorretta Holloway, vice president of enrollment and student development, updated the trustees on enrollment numbers.
She said while admissions is ahead on applications, there is a downturn in transfer students state-wide.
The uptick in applications is likely due to FSU’s adoption of the common app, she said.
She added the number of high school students is dropping, and FSU is now competing for a smaller number of students.
FSU has received 20 fewer deposits than the previous year so far, according to Holloway.
She added she believes students are not only applying to multiple schools, but are now submitting deposits to multiple schools.
“We have people that come to orientation during the summer that are going to four different orientations and still deciding after they have deposited whether or not they like us enough,” said Holloway.
Several schools are raising their deposit fees, she added.
Rodriquez said some students told him they could not access their financial aid award letter until they submitted a deposit.
Holloway said students get their award letter before they submit the deposit.
She also shared how impactful the donations to the housing and food security programs have been. She said with one of the donations, she purchased laptops for students to borrow.
“Just this week, I had a student come into my office and she said to me, ‘I was sent here by IT and they told me you might have a laptop I can use.’ I was like, ‘Yes, I have a laptop!’ and she started crying.”
She said the student was enrolled in a course that required a laptop, and her computer had just died. If not for the borrowed laptop, the student would have had to withdraw from the course.
“So if anybody asks you if that little small donation is having an impact, please tell them that story,” said Holloway.
Linda Vaden-Goad, provost and vice president of academic affairs, said FSU is participating in a workforce preparation program called “World of Work” with Liverpool John Moores University in England.
FSU has also signed a memorandum of understanding with a University located in Costa Rica, according to Vaden-Goad.
“Many departments in the University will be able to work together there in Costa Rica and learn Spanish. It’s really going to be a good experience,” she said.
She added FSU is one of 44 universities selected to participate in “Reimagining the First Year,” an initiative which focuses on first-year students’ success. FSU’s involvement with the initiative is a three-year commitment.
“It’s something that will bring the whole University together,” she said.
Vaden-Goad also said the Black Lives Matter teach-in brought the University together.
“It’s something that grew up organically among the students, the faculty and the staff,” she said, adding every academic discipline was involved and 300 people attended the following town hall meeting to discuss their experiences.
She said the town hall meeting was “the best thing that has happened here. There was a … kind of community we say we have, and I would say after that, we do have it.”
President F. Javier Cevallos said Chris Herren, a former professional basketball player, will serve as the undergraduate commencement speaker this spring, while Mike Powers, an alumnus, will serve as the graduate commencement speaker.
He added State Representative Chris Walsh be the Citizen Laureate at the ceremony.
Cevallos also announced that FSU student Bailey McLernon has been selected as FSU’s representative at the “29 Who Shine” ceremony held at the Massachusetts State House.
According to mass.edu, “29 Who Shine” is a commencement season awards program designed to recognize 29 students graduating from the Commonwealth’s public higher education system.
The trustees will now be digitizing all their documents dating back to 1986, according to Cevallos. He said they hope to have all documents scanned by the end of the summer.
Cindi Glickman, director of institutional processes and efficiencies, presented on how she improved the process of distributing contracts to part-time faculty.
She said they now use the program Banner, a web information system, to build their contracts, adding faculty members are now able to access their contracts online through a program called “The True Contract Online.”
Glickman added every faculty member will be provided with an analysis of their workload from the day they started up to the current term in order to accurately determine if they are working their load or if they are working an overload.
Additionally, Glickman said APR management is monitoring responsibilities through Banner in order to calculate workloads correctly.
Trustee Brian Herr requested to see a dollar figure impact behind her improved process.
He said in terms of marketing FSU, “We want people to know that we’re providing a great product at the best price possible,” adding what Glickman has described is called lean manufacturing, which entail providing the consumer with the most efficient product at little cost.
“If we can articulate that, I think it would help the process and get some good PR,” he said.
SGA Student Activity Treasurer Patrick O’Connor presented on SGA’s student activity trust fund, including how they distribute money and where it comes from.
The trust fund is used to fund all student-run groups on campus, said O’Connor, and is the “biggest and most important part” of the SGA budget.
He said the fund is “devised by the students for the students.” Each semester, every FSU student pays a $70 student activity fee which allows them to participate in activities on campus.
The fee money goes into the trust fund, which usually accumulates to $500,000, said O’Connor.
He said SGA has “a very important process” for deciding how to spend that money because they are “spending other people’s money, so we want to make sure we’re making the best decisions possible. It’s not our money – it’s everyone’s money.”
He added groups requesting money must fill out a form with the full breakdown of what they are going to do with the money. The form is reviewed by O’Connor and then by the committee. The group is asked to present on their request before the committee, and afterward, the senate and the committee will ask the group questions. Then, SGA will entertain a motion to allocate the money.
Two types of groups are funded by SGA, said O’Connor. Clubs, which are smaller groups, can request money on a need basis. Organizations, which are larger groups such as Hilltop and WDJM, will be budgeted money ahead of time.
O’Connor said they rarely reject funding requests. He added SGA requires requests to benefit the whole campus, be accessible to all students and in line with the club’s constitution and mission statement.
Rodriguez presented on the new program Brother 2 Brother along with freshmen Kevin Pena and Miguel Arias.
“This program just started up, but we are already bonding and trying to impact our community,” said Rodriguez.
The goal of Brother 2 Brother, according to their mission statement, is to “engage, encourage and empower men of color in the pursuit of excellence. We aim to create and support a community of members who are committed to achievement through campus and community engagement, academic achievement, professional development, mentorship and fellowship.”