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BOT approves 3% tuition increase, funding will support high-impact student services

Changes to tuition, graduate program success and faculty approved for tenure, promotion or emeritus status highlight May 9-10 gatherings.

By Dan Vaccaro

May 13, 2019

MSU Denver Board of Trustees meeting in progress.Metropolitan State University of Denver’s Board of Trustees met May 9-10. Here are the highlights from two half-days of presentations, discussion and big decisions.

Tuition increase of 3% will fund high-impact student services

After much deliberation, the board approved the Budget Task Force’s recommendation of a 3% tuition increase for resident and nonresident students for the 2019-20 fiscal year. The increase will bring the tuition rate from $260.20 to $268 per credit hour.

“I want people to know how much time and angst we have spent on this issue,” said Board Chair Jack Pogge. “Raising tuition is never something we want to do, but in this case, it is absolutely necessary for the survival of the school.”

George Middlemist, associate vice president of Administration/COO and the leader of the Budget Task Force, echoed Pogge’s sentiment. “Not raising tuition would be catastrophic to student services,” he said.

Middlemist noted that despite a 13% increase in state funding this year ($488 per student) and the approved tuition increase, the University is still facing a $1.5m deficit and cannot cover mandatory costs that will support students and the faculty and staff who serve them. The situation is made even more challenging because of a projected 3% decrease in enrollment.

President Janine Davidson, Ph.D., reported that this predicament is the result of an incremental based state allocation model, coupled with the ramifications of being chronically underfunded for decades.

“We are still committed to affordability,” she said. “We want to keep costs low, but we also need to do more than just keep the lights on.”

The board also approved the Budget Task Force’s recommendation to close the tuition window by 50% this fiscal year. That decision comes after a year of research and analysis, including student surveys and focus groups, and much robust discussion among University leadership.

The tuition window was put into place 10 years ago and allowed students to take up to 18 credits for the price of 12. While 41 percent of students fall within the window, the majority of students surveyed did not know they were benefiting from it. Those that did tended to have more support from their families and work fewer hours per week than their peers. In short, the program was not helping the students it was intended to support.

The $4.25M in funds generated by closing the window at 50% will be used to support the areas that students identified as their top priorities: student services, scholarships and additional full-time faculty members.

Student representatives on the Budget Task Force voted in favor of the tuition increase and tuition window closure, saying that it would fund and sustain additional faculty and staff positions and high impact student services, such as peer mentoring and advising that directly benefit them and their peers.

A mandatory student fee increase of 5% was also approved.

With the above changes, a full-time undergraduate student who falls within the tuition window would see a cost increase of $741.82 per semester.

Davidson noted that MSU Denver’s tuition and fees would still be among the lowest in Colorado. Total tuition and fees would be $9,150 per year, significantly less than the statewide average for four-year schools of $11,073.

Faculty approved for tenure, promotion or emeritus status

Provost Vicki Golich, Ph.D., recommended the approval of 24 faculty members for tenure and promotion, two for tenure upon appointment and five for emeritus status. She also shared highlights from some of the faculty members illustrious careers.  

Tenure and promotion approval

  • Azure Avery, Ph.D., Physics
  • Rosemarie Allen, Ed.D., Special Education, Early Childhood, and Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Education
  • David Bechtold, Ph.D., Management
  • Eric Blomfelt, J.D., Management
  • Randi Brazeau, Ph.D., Earth and Atmospheric Science
  • Maureen Flynn, Ph.D., Psychological Sciences
  • Christopher Garris, Ph.D., Psychological Sciences
  • Mark Harris, M.M., Music
  • Eric James, Ph.D., Communication Arts and Sciences
  • Samuel Jay, Ph.D., Communication Arts and Sciences
  • Meredith Jeffers, Ph.D., Modern Language
  • Janelle Johnson, Ph.D., Secondary Education, K-12 Education and Educational Technology
  • Kristen Lyons, Ph.D., Psychological Sciences
  • Edgar Maldonado, Ph.D., Computer Information Systems and Business Analytics
  • Joshua Martin, Ph.D., Chemistry
  • Hyon Namgung, Ph.D., Criminal Justice and Criminology
  • Christine Pink, Ph.D., Sociology and Anthropology
  • Sanaa Riaz, Ph.D., Sociology and Anthropology
  • Gene Roberts, M.M., Music
  • Shelley Rohde, Ph.D., Mathematics and Computer Sciences
  • Richard Russell, J.D., Accounting
  • Ellen Spitler, Ph.D., Elementary Education and Literacy
  • Summer Trentin, Ph.D., Art
  • Jessica Weiss, Ph.D., Art

Tenure upon appointment approval

  • Michele Trujillo, Ph.D., Special Education, Early Childhood and Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Education
  • Kathryn Whitmore, Ph.D., Special Education, Early Childhood and Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Education

Emeritus approval

  • Russell D. Barrows, Ph.D., Chemistry
  • Iliya K. Georgiev, Ph.D., Mathematics and Computer Science
  • Marilyn “Cookie” A. Hetzel, Ph.D.,Theatre
  • Linda Stroup, Ph.D., Nursing
  • Tara Tull, Human Services and Counseling

Hails and farewells

President Davidson officially welcomed new trustees Russell Noles and Marissa Molina to the Board. She also saluted Middlemist, who was recently honored with the President’s Award, and thanked him for epitomizing the “professionalism and passion that we know makes MSU Denver an incredible place.”

Davidson also recognized Matt Makley, Ph.D., professor of history, who is stepping down from his role as president of Faculty Senate. His successor is Katia Campbell, Ph.D., associate professor in Speech Communications.

The president saluted the work of two retiring members of the MSU Denver community: Robert Hazan, Ph.D., chair and professor of Political Science, and Barb Weiske, the CEO of the Auraria Higher Education Center. Between them, they have served the Auraria Campus for 72 years.

Graduate program success 

Shannon Campbell, Ph.D., director of Graduate Studies, presented on the University’s growing stable of graduate programs. She spoke about the excellence and innovation exemplified in each of the eight master’s degrees and three certificate options available to students. She also reported that the enrollment for the programs was up 43% this summer.

Students from the programs then shared why they chose MSU Denver and what makes each degree unique. The common theme was the importance of a diverse and welcoming community. Al Bush, who is working toward his Master of Health Administration, may have put it best, when he said, “The thing that made me want to stay (at MSU Denver) is the family I met here.”    

Student-auditors take on student issues

In what has become an annual tradition at MSU Denver board meetings, student-auditors from the Master of Professional Accountancy Program shared their findings on University programs and initiatives. This year, the student teams took on issues of particular importance to their peers: campus employment and registration holds.

The presentation on student-employment sparked an in-depth conversation about how to ensure that students get a work experience that prepares them for the real world. Likewise, the presentation on registration holds prompted discussion about how holds might correlate to retention rates.

All of the students’ recommendations will be delivered to the programs that were examined to explore implementation. 

Board of Trustees business meetings are open to the public. You can also listen to audio of the entire meeting on the trustees’ website.

Topics: Board of Trustees

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