UW Trustees raise student tuition and employee salaries

[Press Release] March 28, 2014  — A tuition increase approved by the University of Wyoming Board of Trustees will provide an improved learning management system and other enhancements for students. The tuition increase also will contribute to the first ongoing pay raise for UW employees since 2009 — including a market adjustment and a merit-based component.

The board voted today (Friday) to raise tuition for all students by 5 percent in the 2014-15 academic year, amounting to $5 per credit hour for resident undergraduates and $22 per credit hour for nonresidents. Additionally, the trustees approved a $91 annual increase in student fees.

As a result, the total bill for tuition and fees for full-time resident undergraduate students will rise from $4,404 to $4,646 in the coming academic year — still the lowest among the nation’s 173 public doctoral institutions. Nonresident tuition and fees also will remain among the lowest in the country.

The same 5 percent tuition increase will apply to all graduate students, as well as to UW professional programs that have their own tuition rates: the College of Law, the master of business administration program in the College of Business, and the pharmacy program and nursing doctoral program in the College of Health Sciences.

“No one likes to raise tuition, but this modest increase is necessary to meet the university’s most pressing needs,” UW President Dick McGinity says. “UW continues to enjoy one of the highest levels of state appropriation support among public universities nationwide, but we cannot rely solely on state support.”

The tuition increase is expected to generate about $2.5 million. Under the plan approved by the Board of Trustees, the money will be used to:

— Add $1 million to the $4.15 million approved by the Legislature for UW employee salary adjustments in the coming fiscal year.

— Help fund UW’s new student learning management system, which teachers use to communicate with students, present assignments, post grades, facilitate class discussions and promote the use of audio and video features, among other functions ($570,000).

— Increase base-level funding for the College of Arts and Sciences ($350,000).

— Increase library funding ($250,000).

— Enhance student retention efforts ($250,000).

— Increase funding for laboratory operations, equipment and supplies ($80,000).

“These investments will directly enhance the quality of the educational experience for UW students,” says Board of Trustees President Dave Bostrom.

The Associated Students of the University of Wyoming supported the use of tuition revenues for employee salaries, noting that UW has been losing top faculty members to other institutions at an accelerating rate due to four years of no state funding for salary adjustments.

A salary distribution policy adopted by the Board of Trustees today (Friday) calls for $2.5 million of the Legislature’s $4.15 million appropriation to be used for a market pay adjustment — equal to a roughly 1.7 percent increase to the base pay of most employees — beginning July 1, 2014. Excluded from the adjustment will be employees whose performance is rated less than satisfactory; the president, vice presidents and college deans; contract employees earning more than $100,000; employees hired after June 30, 2013; and employees who have received other pay increases since that time.

The remaining $1.65 million appropriated for salaries by the Legislature, combined with the $1 million in tuition revenue for salaries, creates a $2.65 million pool for merit increases. That pool will be allocated to vice presidents to distribute to employees they supervise, upon approval of plans by McGinity.

Performance appraisals will factor into merit awards, although the plan recognizes that “the performance appraisal system has not been applied in detail to compensation for several years, and may require adjustments or additional supervisor training.” Not eligible for merit increases will be the president, vice presidents and college deans; and those whose performance is rated less than satisfactory.

The total $5.15 million increase for UW salaries equates to an overall 2.92 percent boost.

The board did not make any decisions regarding how it will allocate $8.35 million appropriated by the Legislature for salary adjustments in the 2015-16 fiscal year.

“It has been nearly five years since UW received funding for ongoing pay increases,” McGinity says. “We hope these adjustments are a first step toward bringing UW employee pay closer to the average of our competitor institutions.”

The pay adjustments approved by the board will apply to UW’s self-sustaining operations as well. Those include housing, residence halls, dining services, student health services, the student union, transportation, parking and the University Store. However, because those auxiliary enterprises are largely self-supported, fee increases are necessary to cover pay adjustments for their employees. Those adjustments are responsible for much of the $91 annual increase in mandatory student fees. Other reasons for fee increases include higher maintenance and repair expenses, replacement of buses, and the addition of a full-time health educator.

A rise in the student fee for intercollegiate athletics accounts for $25 of the total $91 increase. The additional revenue will be used to address an array of needs, including student game promotions, medical expenses, student-athlete academic counseling, recruiting and team travel. UW student fees supporting intercollegiate athletics are among the lowest in the region for universities with Division I athletics programs.

The Board of Trustees also approved increases in the rates for Residence Life and Dining Services: 3.33 percent for residence hall rooms, 3.15 percent for food plans and 2.5 percent for apartment rent. Driving those increases are higher costs for utilities, food and health insurance, in addition to employee pay adjustments.

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