Western Courier

BOT votes to keep fees level

Nicholas Ebelhack, editor-in-chief

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The Western Illinois University Board of Trustees voted unanimously Friday to keep 2018-2019 student costs level with 2017-2018 rates, establishing zero percent increases on tuition, student fees and room and board for incoming undergraduate and graduate students.

Although passed, Trustee Lyneir Cole expressed concerns during discussion that not raising the technology fee would hurt Western as other universities continue to improve, citing some of Western’s outdated technological infrastructure. Budget Director Matt Bierman responded, saying that although raising fees would be helpful it could impact revenue.

“We need to increase all of these fees to keep up with other campuses, the problem though is that we have to balance that with declining enrollment that might occur,” Bierman said. “One of the things that the student cost task force has studied is that for every percent we raise costs we are going to lose a percent in enrollment, so that’s the conundrum that we live in, and that’s why this revenue conversation as a tuition and fees driven institution is difficult.”

Cole suggested finding other ways to bring in revenue dedicated to technological improvements, as it would affect students being attracted to the university.

“I’m more concerned about the ability to provide the technology, and I’m sure that there are ways to utilize some student funds to increase technology,” Cole said. “I bring children down here every year and the first thing they say is that the technology isn’t up to par, we need to bring it up par. That affects our enrollment on a regular basis.”

“The most tangible one is WiFi, especially in library,” Gradle said. “I work in the Library at the Honors College and I have trouble connecting with WiFi, and if you are a student visiting campus, first of all it’s difficult to get synched up with our network and secondly depending on where you are on campus whether or not you have WiFi is questionable.”

“We have funds that we can use or that we could have used for something else,” Cole said. “I’m just saying that in order for us to recruit appropriately, we have to understand the battle we are in. We are not in a battle just with us, we are in a battle with the whole state and with other states, and if we don’t come up on technology we are going to continue to lose.”

Prior to discussion on student costs, President Jack Thomas gave his opening remarks to the board and those in attendance.

“Together, we have kept this university progressing, even while being criticized externally as well as internally,” Thomas said. “We have spent a great deal of time advocating for our university in Springfield and finding creative ways to keep the university moving forward in financial crisis.”

In his remarks, Thomas noted that it is imperative to restore confidence in the state of Illinois in order to combat falling enrollment across institutions of higher education in the state, mentioning that all public universities with the exception of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have seen declining enrollment since 2011 at a similar rate. He also urged for Western and University Professionals of Illinois to reach an agreement to their prolonged contract negotiations.

In a similar vein, during the public comments section of the meeting, College of Business and Technology (CBT) Development Director Becky Paulson spoke on UPI relations with the CBT.

“I am embarrassed that other faculty members say that the College of Business and Technology does not teach critical thinking, and that it can only be achieved through a liberal arts degree. I’m disappointed when I hear that some of the UPI leadership believe that unit B faculty members don’t deserve respect and should be eliminated, and that business, engineering and similar programs are simply vocational training.

“Yet the UPI is supposed to respect and represent its members. At a time when we should all be working together in the best interest of everyone, and certainly with the best interest of the students in mind, it appears that 120 members of the university’s faculty have lost sight of why they are here, who they should be serving, and who they should be giving their time and attention.”

Among other news, Vice President for Advancement and Public Services Brad Bainter said that there will be potential for campus community members to have their ashes placed at Western as their final resting place, and that a brick can be purchased at the Rocky Memorial Plaza to have a person’s name placed on the campus.

Bierman updated the Board on state funding, saying that all FY 17 funds have been received and that 9.3 million is still expected over the rest of the academic year for FY 18. The board unanimously voted later for a resolution asking for the state to restore full funding to higher education following a decrease in funding over the last decade.

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The independent student newspaper of Western Illinois University. Serving Macomb since 1905.
BOT votes to keep fees level