MC announces spending freeze, tuition hikes

Economic conditions are forcing Maryville College to freeze spending and raise tuition, although college officials say rate hike is the lowest in many years.

In an emailed letter to faculty and staff Jan. 23, Maryville College President Gerald Gibson announced several changes to be made in an effort to impact the Maryville College 2009 budget.

“Maryville’s faculty and staff know all too well that the College is working its way through budget challenges that are unprecedented in the experience of most,” wrote Gibson. “The Planning and Budget Advisory Committee (PBAC) has spent many hours in analysis and debate, seeking the best possible resolution to the problems we face.”

Since the fall, College administrators and budget managers have been making monetary cuts to departmental budgets and closely managing all expenditures to minimize the impact of a budget shortfall in a difficult economic climate. Gibson said, “That close watch led to the conclusion that further budget cuts would be required, and PBAC has spent the past several weeks addressing that reality. They have had as their objectives the balancing of the fiscal year 2009 budget and the reduction of the ‘operating footprint’ for fiscal year 2010 and beyond.”

The Planning and Budget Advisory Committee (PBAC) is a standing body composed of the college’s vice presidents, as well as representatives from the staff, faculty and student body.

After receiving and accepting the recommendations from PBAC, Gibson made it a priority to communicate the necessary changes to faculty and staff in the email correspondence. Detailed in the email were the following five changes:

n an immediate spending freeze

n a hiring freeze

n a reduction in the College’s contributions to TIAA-CREF retirement accounts from 5 percent to 1 percent

n an initiation of employee contributions to health care insurance premiums

n a rollback of all salaries and wages (based upon a graduated scale to minimize impact to those in the lowest pay ranges).

All measures are effective as of Jan. 1, 2009.

“It isn’t possible for me to describe how much I regret that these steps must be taken,” wrote Gibson. “Be assured that many alternative actions were considered, and that those chosen were deemed to provide the least possible negative impact on the learning experience of our students.”

In the face of the souring economy, the Maryville College Board of Directors approved the 2009-2010 tuition and fees during a specially called Jan. 23 meeting. The adjustment to tuition and fees marks the lowest percentage increase since Gibson began his tenure at the college 15 years ago.

Gibson sent a message prior to the holidays to students, their parents and families pledging to hold down college costs and apprising them that a final decision would be made on Jan. 23. On Monday, Jan. 26, the approved costs for 2009-2010 were posted to the college’s web site and communicated to parents, students, faculty and staff via both printed letter and email communications.

In his follow-up letter, Gibson said, “In arriving at the 2009-2010 tuition and fees, the primary objective was ensuring that Maryville continue to provide an outstanding educational experience. This experience must continue to be academically challenging, coupled with a supportive community. This experience must continue to provide opportunities for growth and transformation that lead to concrete outcomes for graduates, in the most desired internships, careers and graduate schools.”

The tuition increase from 2008-2009 is $1,024, while standard room and board (the 19 meals-per-week plan) each will increase by $160. Activity and technology fees remain unchanged at $350 and $325, respectively. Total cost of tuition, standard room and board and activity and service fees will total $36,531 for the year.”

On average, students will be paying roughly $1,344 more per year, which translates to roughly $44 per credit hour. Maryville’s increase is modest, both historically and when compared with increases being announced at other institutions in the region, say college personnel.

In step with the communication regarding fee and tuition adjustments has been assurance that the college will continue to provide the significant financial aid it has historically provided. “We remain one of the most competitive schools for scholarships and aid,” noted Bill Sliwa, vice president for enrollment. “Some students and parents become intimidated by the ‘sticker price’ of college. What they must do is go the next step, talk with admissions, and talk with financial aid. What they will then discover is exactly how affordable an education can be,” he said.

To help with communication regarding education and affordability, Sliwa has added a special session for prospective students and families on Jan. 31, as part of “Meet Maryville,” an event designed to help people become more familiar with the nationally recognized liberal arts college.

The special session, titled, “College and the Economy” will begin at 2 p.m. in Room 205 of Fayerweather Hall, and comes at the close of a full morning of Meet Maryville events. Led by Dr. John Gallagher, associate professor of management and chair of the faculty at MC, the session will discuss college affordability and the value of a Maryville College education in today’s climate.

Continued communications are planned for the campus, including a message to all current students and special meetings with each division of the college. Additional forums, similar to those held earlier in the fall, are also scheduled for faculty and staff.

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