The Board of Regents of Washington State University met pursuant to call in Open Meeting at 10:45 a.m., on Wednesday, June 20, 2001, in the Compton Union Building, Pullman.
Present in Pullman: Regent Robert Fukai, President; Regents Richard A. Davis, Darren P. Eastman, Peter J. Goldmark, and William D. Marler; Regents Joe King and V. Rafael Stone participated via teleconference. Also present were: President V. Lane Rawlins, Interim Provost Ronald Hopkins, Vice President for University Relations Sally P. Savage, Senior Assistant Attorney General Antoinette Ursich, Faculty Senate Executive Secretary Thomas Brigham, GPSA President Victoria Hansel, and ASWSU President Jesse Keene,
Also present were Executive Director of Planning and Budgeting Karl Boehmke and Assistant Director of Media Relations Sue Hinz
1. Opening Remarks. Regent Rob Fukai opened the meeting and introduced new student Regent Darren Eastman. He also noted that Regents King and Stone were participating via teleconference. He expressed his appreciation to the Regents for making the extra effort to attend the special meeting of the Board. He also thanked the staff members who worked diligently to prepare all the necessary material at the last minute. Regent Fukai welcomed Dr. Charlene Jaeger to her first meeting as the new Vice President for Student Affairs.
Regent Fukai said the Board would consider setting tuition and Services and Activities fees for the 2001-2003 biennium. He informed the Board that any recommendations regarding this issue would be subject to legislative approval.
2. Presentation and Proposal. President Rawlins provided a PowerPoint presentation regarding tuition and fees. This is attached as Exhibit A. President Rawlins noted that when the Governor’s budget was released, the recommendations on salaries and tuition were far different than what is being presented today. He emphasized that no one likes to raise tuition and that WSU made a major effort to get the rates down to where they are now. He said that the overall budget, as it is expected to pass, would include some reductions in WSU’s operating funds. He also said that it would include some mandates, particularly for salaries and benefits, as well as some cost increases that were not covered.
President Rawlins commented that WSU has always been a relatively low-tuition institution, and that with the proposed increases, we would remain below the average of our peers for undergraduate tuition. He also informed the Board that WSU is “in step” with what is going on across the country in tuition increases; this is not an isolated event, but is a national phenomenon. He added that we are fortunate that Washington is a state that has protected the interest of students and given access to them by keeping costs low, but we must take into consideration the importance of providing a high-quality education. He emphasized that any reduction in programs, faculty, or facilities would damage the education of our students and the reputation of the University.
President Rawlins pointed out that WSU would have proportional and corresponding increases in financial aid. He said that work is being done to make more private scholarship dollars available and that this was a personal goal for him.
President Rawlins informed the Board that, while the legislature gives the Regents the nominal right to set tuition, the budget assumptions are that they will be set at the maximum level and to not do so is effectively a budget cut, which would cause reductions in our services. He noted that many of the institutions in the state are setting tuition at the maximum level.
Regent Fukai asked about recommendations for activity fees. President Rawlins mentioned that he had a conversation with ASWSU President Jesse Keene to discuss charging the maximum on student fees, as there are significant demands for student activities. He noted that Mr. Keene had made some changes in the ASWSU budget, and felt that WSU might go a bit less than the maximum for the first year in the biennium. President Rawlins said he readily agreed and wanted to give full credit to the student government association for making a major effort to limit fees. Mr. Keene stated that he realized there is much to be cut out of the student activity fee budget from many groups.
President Rawlins pointed out that the administration’s recommendations for Service and Activity fee rates were based on the recommendations of Mr. Keene, Ms. Hansel and members of the student government. Regent Goldmark noted the figures for S & A fees stating that it could have been a 6.7 percent increase, but it has actually been reduced from that to 5.5 percent.
Regent Fukai informed the Regents that they were free to comment or ask questions. He said that following those comments, a public comment period would ensue, ending with an action brought to the Board.
Regent Marler said that the presentation showed that the amount of tuition, $11 million by this increase, was not going to capture all the additional costs. He asked about the $2 million shortage and how this has been dealt with. President Rawlins said that money had actually been shifted to cover that due to the fact that our grants and contracts are doing quite well. He also said that some of it would be coming from reallocations, but no budget cuts.
Regent Marler asked if this figure took into account some analysis of students who might choose not to attend WSU because of the cost of tuition. President Rawlins said that the estimates of student enrollment are fairly conservative. He noted that all other institutions in the state are raising their tuition by the same amount. He also mentioned that at the next Board meeting, he would discuss enrollment assumptions of this budget. He emphasized that he feels very good about this issue. Executive Director of Planning and Budgeting Karl Boehmke, said that, in making the estimates, it was assumed that enrollment would stay at the current levels. He noted that these are assumptions that are not easily measured.
Regent Marler commented that he appreciated President Rawlins’ comments about tuition increases, because, in principle, he is certainly opposed to them as well. He noted that he initially thought that, by the legislature granting the Regents the authority, it would be a great tool to increase faculty salaries and the quality of education. He pointed out that the Board had been given a “right” with no “power,” and that was not what was expected. He asked if there were any figures on the amount of student debt carried by college students. President Rawlins said there had not been any recent studies at WSU, but that the national trend of rising student debt is probably accurate for WSU, as well.
Regent Fukai asked for public comment. ASWSU President Jesse Keene reiterated that no student likes the idea of tuition increases. He noted that President Rawlins has agreed to recommend a lower rate for student fees, and he said that it shows the commitment the administration has toward the students.
GPSA President Victoria Hansel said that 3.5 percent would be fair and reasonable and was approximately what they were expecting. She noted that the professional students that she represents feel their tuition at 6.7 percent, is a large sum for them. She mentioned that it is hard for them to try to get an outside job while keeping up with their workload and program schedule.
Regent Goldmark expressed his appreciation to the students for their support. He added that he is also reluctant to raise tuition, but feels that President Rawlins’ quality initiative, plus the corner WSU has been painted into by the legislature, gives us no alternative. He pointed out that to maintain the quality of the institution, students need to understand and support the process, and he thanked them again for doing so.
3. Tuition and Services and Activities Fees for the 2001-2001 Biennium. It was moved and seconded that the Board of Regents set tuition for the academic years 2001-2002 and 2002-2003 according to the schedule attached as Exhibit B, subject to legislation allowing the increases.
Regent Marler pointed out that he wished this meeting could have taken place when the students were still on campus, but with the delay in the legislature, there was no alternative. He also mentioned that he was much more comfortable with the budget process this time as opposed to two years ago. He stated that although he voted for the increase reluctantly, he appreciated the budget process instituted by President Rawlins and this administration.
Regent Fukai asked if there were any other questions or comments, and called for the question. Carried unanimously.
President Rawlins thanked the Regents for going out of their way to have this meeting in Pullman and for the fact that they were adamant about setting tuition in the place where most students would be present. He noted that it was indicative of their commitment to the institution and the students.
Regent Fukai thanked Regents King and Stone for joining by phone. The meeting was adjourned at 11:12 a.m.