Board of trustees discuss raising student fees, tuition fees

The Board of Trustees discussed raising student fees by $590 should the University not receive sufficient state funding at their meeting on March 22.

Additionally, there would be an “aggregated increase” of $1,000 for tuition, fees, room and board per student, according to Dale Hamel, executive vice president.

Hamel said he will have definite numbers once both the House and the Senate budget become available to the University in May, along with new student enrollment numbers.

“This is a difficult time for public higher education. Costs are higher than we have seen in state support. There have been a lot of discussions about enrollment and the enrollments aren’t there to make up that difference. So, a number of campuses are in financial constraints at the moment, and looking to respond to that,” said Hamel.

With the increase in fees, FSU will be the second least-expensive university compared to its sister colleges, with Fitchburg State University being the lowest.

According to Hamel, the University is predicting a steady number of incoming students, which will result in a small decline of aggregated enrollment.

“We want to keep our cost as a target approach at this point … at least below the average of the system,” Hamel said.

The University will continue to increase tenure-track faculty movement, according to Hamel.

If the state allocates the University more revenue than projected, Hamel added, “we would be in a position to reduce fees.”

Loretta Holloway, vice president of enrollment and student development, updated the trustees on admission comparisons.

She said the number of admitted students is up from last year, but freshman deposits are down.

She added the University is seeing an increase in number for the accepted students receptions.

According to Holloway, last year, 131 students RSVP’d for the first accepted students reception with 352 guests. This year 153 students RSVP’d with 431 guests for the first day. For the second day, last year 123 students RSVP’d with 388 guests and this year 164 students RSVP’d with 442 guests.

Holloway said, “All we know is that if we can get people off of Route 9, up the hill, on campus, we tend to keep them.”

She added, “People are often surprised at how beautiful the campus is and how friendly the people are.”

She said the University is doing more advertisements and events than they have done in the past, but are not receiving the bump in numbers they expected.

She added, “I don’t think anyone expected a huge bump, but it would be nice to see a bigger bump than what we are seeing.”

Holloway highlighted the work the Suicide Prevention Task Force has done in partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation to install two signs on the bridge across Route 9.

The task force has also been working with a suicide prevention hotline and a call-to-text resource, according to Holloway.

Additionally, the task force is working to put a suicide barrier on the foot bridge. Holloway said, “Those have been known to keep people from actually going over. … You aren’t going to accidentally fall off the bridge, but it is easy to climb.”

The University is also close to hiring a financial aid counselor and a new financial aid director, according to Holloway.

Kevin Foley, vice chair, discussed the presidential review that will be submitted by June 30. Foley will be setting up a presidential review committee during the year, which will review the performances of the president.

Student Trustee Karl Bryan discussed SGA’s recent budget meeting during his report.

According to Bryan, the organization cut around $80,000 in total from the Student Activity Trust Fund’s budget.

He said, “Mainly, the reasoning was we only have so much money. … So, we don’t think it’s fair for 50 clubs to fight between 30 percent of the funds, so we tried to really cut it down.”

He added SGA went through each budget line and cut what they felt didn’t fit the needs of the campus.

Bryan said, “We had to keep reminding E-board members and senators that the numbers we see on the page aren’t just numbers on the paper but real dollars we pay. So, say when a club wants water or something like that, hundreds of dollars for that is our money and do we really want money to go towards that?”

Junior Jake Nowlan, who attended Alternative Spring Break, spoke to the board about his experiences.

Nowlan discussed the type of work the students preformed in New Orleans during the service trip. “Through the week, we learned how to put up drywall and repair parts of a house. … We also did a lot of roofing on houses that were destroyed during the tornado that happened there last month.”

He added, “I think it’s easy as a college student to get distracted in your own path. … So, it was really eye-opening to see that there is so much in the world. … It was without a doubt the biggest experience I got out of Framingham State.”

Biology department chair Aline Davis introduced student speaker Shirley Amunya.

Amunya is biology major with a concentration in pre-health and a bio-chemistry minor. Her long term goal is to attend medical school. During her time at FSU, she has worked as a foundations mentor and a supplemental instructor. Aminya will be working with Teach for America during her gap year, according to Davis.

“One of the main reasons I came to Framingham State was that it is a small school where everyone pretty much knows each other and the fact that the classes are very small,” Aminya said.

She added, “When I got into the school, I noticed that, due to the small class sizes, my teacher actually knew me, which I love and I actually got to form a relationship with them.”

Aminya said she decided to join Teach for America after speaking to her advisor and said the movement resonated with her.

“I thought that applying for Teach for America would be a great opportunity for me to say thank you to a school like Framingham State for giving me an equal opportunity at a good education,” she said.

She said in her home country of Kenya, girls don’t have the opportunity to attend school, which was a factor in her decision to teach during her gap year. She will be teaching math and science at a middle school level in Springfield.

Linda Vaden-Goad, provost and vice president of academic affairs, presented some of the outcomes of the strategic planning initiative.

She said, “We did a little bit of looking at a number of different things.”

She said the committee looked at the mixed reality education lab, which was a grant-funded project.

She added the project “allows students to learn how to manage a classroom with avatars. They also get to practice teaching content.”

She said the history department noticed a need for students to work in better detail in primary and secondary research. As a response, the department made small YouTube videos on the subject matter.

Vaden-Goad announced that the University will not be teaching mathematical remedial courses anymore.

The decision stemmed from a positive result of the University’s a co-requisite model.

She added, “We are saving money. The students are learning. We are having better outcomes.”

Dawn Ross, director of Career Services and Employer Relations, presented the work the office has done throughout the year to the trustees.

Ross said, “We had a record number of events and a record number of students utilizing our office. We have over 300 local employers coming to campus. Just in these next two weeks, we will have over 100 employers coming to campus recruiting our students.”

According to Ross, the office is doing employer site visits this year.

“We find when we bring students into the local, wonderful large corporations, they see the variety of jobs that are available for Framingham State students,” she said.

Ross added, “We are very busy. We could not function without our student team. We have wonderful student employees.”

Dawn will be presenting at accepted students day about the Career Services office and its work.

Rita Colucci, chief of staff and general counsel, presented an update on the strategic planning committee’s work.

The committee’s final report on the strategies to achieve the goals the University set were due on March 22.

Colucci said the committee “will be working with those reports, sharpening them up, getting them ready to be in the document that we can then present to you for preliminary approval in May.”

The final draft of the strategic plan is to be presented to the board at the end of September.

Sean Huddleston, chief officer of diversity, inclusion and community engagement, discussed the University’s second annual Women Making History Now award. Board members Sonia Diaz and Colucci are recipients of this year’s awards.

Huddleston said, “It’s one of the events that we have to honor Women’s History Month, but, more importantly, to honor people in our midst.”

The event is co-sponsored by M.I.S.S. and will be held on March 30 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the McCarthy Center Forum.

Chon’tel Washington, the director of the Center of inclusive Excellence, presented some of the initiatives the center has undertaken during the academic year.

Washington said, “We had over 62 events that we either led or co-sponsored, and were heavily involved in.”

Board member Anthony Hubbard said the Governess committee nominated Richard Logan and Kevin Foley for chair and vice chair for next term’s service.

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