Office of the President

 

Holloway Hall

2005 Budget Testimony

Legislative Analyst Questions

1. Retention Rates for Minority Students:

a) The President should comment on whether retention rates are expected to increase for African-American and racial/ethnic minority students in the near future.

Salisbury University is on track with our retention goals as projected in our MFR (Managing For Results) program. We anticipate a slight increase in retention for all students.

For African-American students, it must be noted that the institution has surpassed its benchmark of 78% retention rate and the rate is expected to increase and then stabilize at levels near that of all students.

For the most recent cohort, our data show that the African-American student two-year retention rate for those entering in Fall 2003 was equivalent to that of white students (82.7% vs. 82.8%). Similarly, MHEC data report that SU’s minority retention rate has surpassed the benchmark of 80% for two consecutive years.

b) The President should explain why the estimates of graduation rates between all students and African-American and all minority students fall short of the goals and how Salisbury is working to attain these goals.

The benchmark set by the Department of Budget and Management was not one that Salisbury University administrators thought would be achievable within a given time frame.

Our data show large annual variations because of relatively small cohorts. Not until the larger 2001 cohort begins to graduate in 2005, 2006, and 2007 will we have a more valid indication of what the minority student graduation rate will be. I estimate that our MHEC reported graduation rates for that cohort will be between 60% and 64%. This would place SU among the highest graduation rates for minority students within the USM.

Since February 2001, I have made increasing diversity an institutional priority. Over the last five years, we have increased the number of African-American students enrolled by 49% (from 416 in Fall 2000 to 621 in Fall 2004) and more than doubled the number of Hispanic students enrolled (from 60 in Fall 2000 to 146 in Fall 2004). We have done this through special programs in selected high schools on the Western Shore, marketing, and expanding our institutional scholarship programs.

Numbers cannot be the whole story. SU offers special orientation programs for families of in-coming minority freshmen and transfer students prior to the start of the Fall semester. We monitor the progress of any student who may need special assistance in adapting to college life. This past summer, I hired a new Director of Diversity, Mr. Kevin Carreathers, former director of the Department of Multicultural Services at Texas A&M University and co-founder of that school’s Diversity Education Institute. Mr. Carreathers is also the founder of the Southwestern Black Student Leadership Conference, the largest student-run conference of its type in the country. I have charged him with developing a variety of programs and activities that will ensure that Salisbury University is a welcoming place for all students, employees, and others who use our campus.

2. Efficiency Initiatives:

The President should comment on the challenges and opportunities provided by the efficiency initiatives. The President should also comment on alternative initiatives to achieve academic efficiencies.

We anticipate that containing energy costs through cooperative purchasing, gaining efficiencies through the strategic deployment of information technologies, and implementing new academic polices to enhance capacity and time to degree will likely have the most immediate impact.

  • The University is in the process of aggregating demand with its sister institutions to purchase electricity cooperatively. A cooperative pricing structure should yield savings when compared to per kilowatt cost escalations predicted for FY 2006.

  • The University is continuing to refine its administrative software (PeopleSoft) to streamline processes and implement best practices.

  • Academically, the University is pursuing alternatives related to enrollment management, time to degree, and on-line learning.

On the academic front, SU’s enrollment for FY 2005 is approximately 200 FTES above earlier enrollment projections. Thus, Salisbury University has supported 255 additional students at no cost to the State. The University also is reviewing the workloads of adjunct and temporary faculty to maximize instructional workload. Finally, faculty and student advisors are receiving additional opportunities for training on PeopleSoft so that they can provide expedient, accurate, and efficient advising recommendations, thereby reducing the potential of students taking classes not needed to earn their degree.

3. Institutional aid:

The President should comment on the distribution of SU institutional aid and on the school’s future financial aid strategies.

For a number of years, Salisbury University has had among the lowest annual per student scholarship dollar amounts and highest loan amounts of any USM institution. Historically, inadequate state funding and relatively low tuition levels have been the cause of this dubious distinction. Simply put, because of our revenue situation, Salisbury University is unable to package financial assistance at levels comparable to what is offered by our peer institutions.

In order to address the financial needs of our students, over the last five years we have increasingly dedicated more funds to institutional aid and, further, more of those funds have been earmarked for need-based scholarships. Over the past five years, SU has tripled its allocation of institutional funds for student assistance.

 

Institutional Aid

Academic Year

Merit-Based

Need-Based

Total Aid

2000-01

 $ 397,796

 $ 133,250

 $ 531,046

2001-02

 $ 408,188

 $ 131,275

 $ 539,463

2002-03

 $ 358,638

 $ 244,000

 $ 602,638

2003-04

 $ 432,636

 $ 570,000

 $1,002,636

2004-05

 $ 507,636

 $ 730,000

 $1,237,636

2005-06

 $ 707,636

 $1,100,000

 $1,807,636

We have made considerable efforts to raise scholarship funds through the SU Foundation. Here, too, the amount of funds available for additional student financial aid has increased significantly over the past few years, growing to almost a half million dollars in AY 2004-2005, though we remain well behind our peer institutions in terms of financial aid we can offer.

The Financial Aid Task Force, with the leadership of Treasurer Nancy Kopp, has directed that all institutions establish strategies for reducing student debt and for addressing the financial needs of those students who most depend on economic support. The Financial Aid Task Force also recommended that alternative tuition models be studied for a possible pilot project in Maryland. Salisbury University will be exploring such models.

I am pleased that Chancellor Kirwan has given me approval to begin to explore the Miami University of Ohio model and others. Given our general fund allocation per student, selectivity, size, and aspirations, Salisbury University may be the logical campus to pilot a new tuition model that could result in diverting more of our revenues to fund need-based scholarships.

4. FUND BALANCE CONTRIBUTIONS:

The President should comment on the outlook for contributing unrestricted funds to fund balance and facilities maintenance.

The Chancellor has set fund balance targets for Salisbury University and the other USM institutions, and we have met those targets, even when challenged by severe fiscal constraints. We are striving to exceed the established fund balance goals in order to improve our capital position and to ensure a source of funding for auxiliary facilities renewal projects. As the overwhelming majority of these funds are generated through self-funded operations, the University is implementing a ten-year plan to identify and fund renewal projects for auxiliary buildings (e.g., residence halls, student union, dining hall).

The University acknowledges the need to maintain a strong facilities maintenance schedule. Unfortunately, funding for facilities maintenance was reduced drastically as part of the University’s response to cuts in State appropriations over the past several years. The University has increased its annual internal funding back to $250,000 and continues to list this as a top institutional priority.

 

 

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