March 9, 2001

Committee Recommends State College Tuition Hike

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The Committee on Land Grant and Statutory College Affairs met in the Statler Hotel yesterday to discuss the welfare of Cornell University’s four state-funded colleges: the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the College of Human Ecology, the School of Industrial and Labor Relations and the College of Veterinary Medicine.

The panel, led by committee chair Peter Ten Eyck, discussed the University’s need for funding in areas such as on-campus renovations and improvements, financial aid, staff and faculty salaries and outreach programs, all as a result of the committee’s unanimous decision to propose an increase in Statutory tuition. The Board of Trustees will vote upon the proposal today.

“The operating budget and tuition for 2001-02 does not look as promising as we hoped,” said Carolyn Ainslie, vice president for planning and budget. “We are expecting we will be short $13 million after allocation from SUNY, contract rents, central services costs and library acquisition.”

To fill the $13 million gap, the proposed increase for undergraduate state residents is $1,140 and $1,300 for non-residents. This is more than last year’s increase of $500 for residents and $1,000 for non-residents. Graduate tuition is increasing by 9.5 percent as well.

“We want to maintain our quality of excellence, [but also] attract and retain students,” Ainslie said. “The state will still provide aid to families and we will continue to work with SUNY to gain state help.”

Though the amount of tuition allotted for financial aid has been steadily dropping and is currently at 12 percent, Ainslie stated that, to ease off students, the committee has solicited three outside sources for aid. First, the Board of Trustees increased the endowment payoff contribution by 18 percent. The Board also devised a long-term fundraising campaign to relieve the budget while still meeting the costs of increasing faculty salaries. Lastly, the Trustees decided to request a larger statutory contribution from the State University of New York (SUNY).

According to Ainslie, the major drive for the increase in tuition is a $5.9 million staff and faculty compensation initiative.

Ainslie stated that the University could not meet its financial needs last semester, having received only $58.3 million of the $175 million requested from the SUNY Construction fund.

“[Receiving SUNY funds] is a real challenge for a major national research university,” said Henrik N. Dullea ’61, vice president for University relations. “We do not have a lot of area representatives for Ithaca, but Cornell has a reputation in our state capitol for excellence.”

After taking legislative action, Cornell received $77.1 million from SUNY, which was still not enough to meet the budget. As a result, Mann Library and Stocking Hall were not renovated, though the University has been seeking state support for renovation projects in these buildings for years.

This year Ainslie stated her hopes for the University to receive more money from the SUNY Construction Fund, but is also looking to other sources for aid.

“Our wish list for the next cycle is not finished,” she said. “But it is in the hundred million dollar range.”

There was some controversy on the panel about whether to turn to sources outside of SUNY for funding.

“We want to generate new programs at the state level but we don’t want to go outside the SUNY system because of the possible ramifications,” Dullea said.

Some feared that using private funds for state projects would cause the state to refuse to pay when a renovation was needed.

Though the funds have not been received yet, Ainslie reported that plans for a Bailey Hall construction project are underway and some of the money will go towards that.

According to Provost Biddy (Carolyn A.) Martin, the University has to prove its excellence to SUNY before more funds can be received.

“We can’t just ask SUNY for more money because we do the best research,” Martin said. “We have to present the totality of what we do and why it is better than what other SUNY campuses do.”

Francille Firebaugh, director of special projects, stressed the importance of outreach and extension to the community in addition to the teaching and research that occurs in the statutory colleges. The committee agreed that land grant colleges want to do more than just educate their students. Land grant has a duty to inform the public of Cornell’s research, and conduct research that is in public interest.

“We have initiated discussions about what it means to be SUNY land grant to rethink land grant missions,” Martin said. “It is our opinion that we can do a better job. We want to think about land grant in terms of the whole college, not just the statutory colleges.”

CALS Dean Susan Henry agreed.

“We want to offer a practical, liberal education that is relevant to the lives of its citizens and thus requires the entire University to provide education that is absolutely essential,” she said. “We want to point out research as a component to our education and convey that research to the public.”

In addition to keeping the community well informed the panel spoke of incorporating a business component to the outreach.

“Economic development is about creating jobs,” said Patsy Brannon, dean of the College of Human Ecology. “We need people with knowledge and skills to take those jobs. We are not just building new jobs but training the people to sustain them.”

“We need to reconceptualize the land grant mission,” Martin said. “We need to lessen the lines between the statutory and endowed colleges.”

Archived article by Rachel Einschlag