Trustees talk money

  An increase in summer tuition and a new, web-based academic initiative may be on the University’s horizon.   Increased tuition, online learning, renovation costs and an endowment report were all on the agenda at the Budget, Finance and Investment Committee of the Board of Trustees on Oct. 21.   Ted Winfield, associate vice president of budget and resource management, brought up two proposals regarding summer session tuition rates.   The first proposal was for a 5.8 percent increase in credit hour tuition for students enrolled in summer courses, which the committee voted to pass.    “Basically, the tuition credit levels are still 15 percent lower [than the academic year] to encourage students to stay and take summer courses,” Winfield said.   The increase will now move up tuition credit hours to $456 per in-state student and to $1,151 for students out of state, he said.   The board also approved a $15,250 fee for the US-Sino Pathway Program, a bridge program that partners with Kaplan China to get new Chinese students adapted to their course work at UVM.   Trustee Deborah McAneny expressed her concern regarding the tuition rate for Chinese exchange students, which is the same fee charged to in-state students.   “I’d like assurance that this is profitable,” McAneny said. “Some students [enrolled in the program] don’t need the discount.”   The students in this program are charged the in-state tuition rate during the summer, but are expected to pay the out-of-state rate once they are enrolled at the University, said Richard Cate, vice president of finance and enterprise services.   “We want to measure long term; [these students] pay full out-of-state tuition rates for four years,” Cate said.   Winfield and Cate went on to discuss the status of the Distance Learning Initiative, which would provide an online course of study available to students who cannot attend the University physically and still wish to earn professional degrees.   “The world is changing and many people are choosing to obtain their education by non-traditional means,” Cate said. “If UVM is to thrive in the future, we need to adjust to this changing environment.”   UVM would partner with Bisk Education, a private company specializing in distance education, for the proposed program, he said.   Bisk would be in charge of program development, marketing and enrollment management, although Cate said Bisk would “work with faculty members to convert courses into an appropriate online format.”   “Intellectual property will still belong to the University,” Winfield said.  “The vendor (Bisk) will just help us package it.”   Cate said that the lack of infrastructural costs would make this program feasible, and that credit hour rates would “be framed somewhere between in-state and out-of-state rates.”   The contract with Bisk has not yet been brought to the trustees for approval and is expected to be decided on within the next month.   The committee then approved the $4 million renovation that will be completed in the Mason/Simpson/Hamilton complex.   Slated for completion in 2012, the renovation will focus on the interior of Mason and Hamilton Halls, according to Cate.   The docket for the committee meeting stated that renovations will “be accomplished through 100 percent of unrestricted plant funds in residential life.”   Phase one of the Redstone renovations included full roof repair of Mason/Simpson/Hamilton and a complete, interior renovation of Simpson Hall.   Finally, the report of the Investment Subcommittee, led by Trustee Sam Bain, appeared to deliver some good news for the University.   Bain reported that the University’s endowment is currently valued at $330 million.   “Our portfolio right now for the fiscal year is up 23 percent from last year,” he said.   UVM’s investment consultant firm, Cambridge Associates, manages nearly 70 percent of higher education endowment assets in the U.S.    Cambridge Associates has placed UVM in the top three percent of the institutions it represents regarding endowment performance in the past year, Bain said.