We are hopeful that the proposed increase in SU’s general fund appropriation will materialize. Committee members should be aware, however, that the proposed increase will not permit the institution to fully recover from the budget cuts of recent years. We are having trouble recruiting and retaining faculty and staff, as our salaries and benefits packages have not kept pace with those offered by our peers.
I want to thank Chancellor Kirwan for acknowledging the funding needs of Salisbury University and trying to address funding differences among the USM institutions. As you have heard me report previously, Salisbury University’s general fund allocation per FTES has historically been lower than others in the System, and we have had to rely heavily upon tuition revenue in order to continue to maintain educational programming.
We are asking to raise tuition again this year by 5.9%, which is considerably lower than our original tuition proposal and, in fact, less than what we think we need and what our market will bear. Actual costs for our undergraduates would increase by $400 per year
for in-state students and by $500 for out-of-state students. Note that, at SU, a 5.9% tuition increase yields far fewer dollars than the same percentage increase at the other Maryland public institutions with which we compete for students. (In Texas, the legislature has just given public institutions greater flexibility to set tuition rates, and increases there are expressed in actual dollar increases, not in terms of percentages.) In part, for this reason, proposals to cap tuition must be given very careful consideration. If campuses are funded at variable rates per student, as they are in Maryland, should campus CEOs not have greater flexibility in setting tuition rates? We must meet the State’s projected enrollment growth, and to do so, new approaches may be needed. As I mentioned earlier, we are allocating a significant portion of the proposed tuition increase to student scholarships.
Please note that SU is an extremely responsible and efficient state agency. A recent letter from the State Comptroller recognized Salisbury University as one of the top five agencies making timely payments on our agency bills during 2004. Overall, the efficiency and effectiveness efforts of the USM Board of Regents have greatly helped us focus our efforts to make the best use of our limited resources.
I have already mentioned the importance of our securing building funds for our much needed Teacher Education and Technology Complex. We are equally in need of a new library. Our current library was noted as one of the 20 worst libraries in the 2003 Princeton Review’s Best 345 Colleges. Blackwell Library has not gotten any better in the intervening two years! In addition, we are actively exploring private and corporate funding for a new building for our Perdue School of Business, a Field House, and a Fine and Performing Arts Center. We have recently completed a 10-year Master Plan, and we are eager to move forward.
The University has targeted $525,000 for state-supported maintenance projects in FY 2006. Many of these projects are small, ranging from repairing and painting rooms to replacing windows, ceilings, and lights, but all are long overdue because of budget constraints. The Ward Museum for Wildfowl Art also has major maintenance issues. On the auxiliary side, continued maintenance of our residence halls ($426,000), repairs to our student union ($70,000), and resurfacing and/or recoating of most of our student parking areas ($224,000) are projects slated for completion in FY 2006.
I’d like to conclude by re-committing to the Regents’ efficiency and effectiveness efforts. Their leadership on this front has been unprecedented in my experience in several public systems of higher education.
My heartfelt thanks to members of this Committee and the Maryland General Assembly for recognizing the importance of funding public higher education. Your leadership and support are greatly appreciated.
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