March 10, 2003

Trustees Increase Statutory Tuition

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The tuition increase in the four contract colleges was the focus of discussion at Friday’s meeting of the University Board of Trustees. The meeting and following press conference featured discussion of possible cuts in aid from the state of New York, cuts that President Hunter R. Rawlings III termed “devastating.”

Rawlings also discussed the search for the Dean of Arts and Sciences, the progress of the West Campus Residential Initiative (WCRI), and the steps the University will take to reduce the expenses for the coming year.

Though all 34 of the state-operated campuses of the State University of New York (SUNY) will be affected by the budget cuts, Rawlings stressed that as the state’s land-grant university, Cornell will be especially hurt by the cuts. Carolyn Ainslie, vice president for planning and budget, estimated that the cuts to the contract colleges, including the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS), the College of Human Ecology, the School of Industrial and Labor Relations and the College of Veterinary Medicine would be between $20 and 26 million from last year’s total aid of $141 million.

Unlike other SUNY schools, tuition makes up less than 10 percent of the overall budget for Cornell’s contract colleges, with much of the state aid going to research. Rawlings stressed the impact of the potential cuts.

“The news is bad and getting worse, both for the endowed and contract colleges,” Rawlings said. “This is not unique to New York state, but reductions are being experienced in land-grant universities in many states.”

Last week the Board approved a $1,360 increase in the yearly tuition of in-state resident students of the contract colleges, bringing tuition to $14,500, up 10.3 percent. An increase in the tuition for non-resident students was also announced, but the Board did not present an exact figure. Ainslie did suggest it would be larger than the increase experienced by resident students.

The proposed tuition hike will offset $10 million of the deficit, but Henrik N. Dullea ’61, vice president for University relations, said the administration is considering many other options to offset the rest. These measures include layoffs, program eliminations and reductions in the rate of salary increases.

“We have lots of alternatives,” Dullea said. “But the tuition increase doesn’t begin to close the gap.”

Rawlings said that a reduction in spending was inevitable, including money spent on research.

In response to the proposed measures, Rawlings and other members of the administration will travel to Albany on Tuesday to discuss the impact of such measures with lawmakers and other government officials. There will also be a reception attended by faculty, staff and students.

“We will be meeting with legislative leaders and representatives of the executive branch to inform them of the magnitude of the potential cuts that may be assigned to Cornell University and indicate to them the impact cuts will have on those programs,” Dullea said.

Dullea added that despite the issues created by cuts to the New York State Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) and the raise in tuition for both the endowed and contract colleges, the Office of Financial Aid was committed to providing students with a means to fund their education.

“We will continue our need-blind admissions, and the financial aid office will make the adjustments necessary for us to keep our students funded,” Dullea said. “In should be noted that the cuts to TAP are much, much smaller than the cuts to the contract colleges.”

In addition, Rawlings discussed the search for the new Dean of Arts and Sciences. He announced that the field has been narrowed to four individuals, who would be announced today on the Office of the Provost’s web site. He added that the four candidates would be on campus at the end of March and that President-elect Jeffrey S. Lehman ’77 would be involved in the decision-making process.

Rawlings also updated the audience on the progress of the WCRI, stating that the University had secured final approval for phase 1 and preliminary approval for the entire project. He said that a groundbreaking ceremony would take place later this spring.

Archived article by Gautham Nagesh