Regents OK tuition increase; report says SEMO costs less than other state institutions

Friday, May 9, 2008

Tuition is rising faster at Southeast Missouri State University than most other public Missouri institutions, but the university remains one of the cheapest, records presented to the board of regents on Friday show.

Regents raised tuition the maximum amount allowed under a new law, equal to the cost of inflation, 4.1 percent. Combined with general fees increases approved by students, tuition will rise $11 per credit hour, to $208.50. For an undergraduate from Missouri, a semester of college will now cost $2,502.

Southeast's tuition increase is the third-highest out of seven state institutions. Only the University of Missouri and Central Missouri State had a bigger fee increase, according to information compiled by Southeast's budget office and presented to regents. Nevertheless, the report lists Southeast as the cheapest overall, squeezing out Missouri State University by $68 a semester.

A law signed by the governor last May puts a cap on incidental fees, or fees that cover most educational expenses. But self-imposed fees approved by student body institutions are exempt. At Southeast, two such fees exist, one that goes toward funding the aquatic center and student programming and another that is being used to renovate science labs.

Money from the tuition increase will mainly go toward covering pay raises and increases in operating expenses, said Kathy Mangels, vice president of business and finance.

"None of us like to raise fees. However, expenses do go up, and there is no other way to handle that," said Brad Bedell, president of the board of regents.

The board also approved two changes to faculty policies Friday. Now, a faculty member's promotion to associate professor and the granting of tenure are linked. Provost Dr. Jane Stephens referred to the action as "one of the more significant board items in the last couple of decades."

Previously, promotion and tenure were handled by different committees and required excessive, separate paperwork, Stephens said. "Finally they were combined with one committee, but they were not in the same time span," she said.

Pay increases associated with promotion remain the same under the motion approved by the board. The amounts will be reviewed during the 2010 budget review process. The criteria for achieving tenure or promotion also remain the same under the policy, said university president Dr. Ken Dobbins.

Professors will now also have another option for receiving merit pay. Currently, the university offers a merit plan that awards professors $5,000 after five years if they meet the same requirements again that were necessary for original professorship. After another five years, they will be able to attain the $5,000 in the same manner or through a new method approved Friday.

They will have the option of specializing, or focusing on one area, which would be outlined in an approved contract. "Maybe by that time they want to write a book," said Stephens, adding that the method would allow the professor to focus on the book without having to also make presentations, apply for grants or complete service work.

In closed session, the board granted tenure to seven people: Dr. Lisa Bertrand, Department of Educational Leadership and Counseling; Dr. Robert Conger, Department of Music; Dr. Mary Ann DeLine, Department of Middle and Secondary Education; Dr. Karie Hollerbach, Department of Communication; Dr. Donald Jung, Department of Communication; Dr. Julie Ray, Department of Elementary, Early and Special Education; and Dr. Paul Watkins, Department of Educational Leadership and Counseling.

335-6611, extension 123

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