Detailed budgets, legislative requests approved by Board of Trustees

Topic: Administrative

July 18, 2008

Specific spending plans for Ball State's various colleges, programs and other academic and administrative units for the 2008-09 academic year were approved by the university's Board of Trustees during its regularly scheduled July 18 meeting on campus. The move followed the board's earlier approval in May of an overall general fund budget of just over $290 million for the 12 months that began July 1.

In other financial action, the board agreed to additional auxiliary fund budgets totaling approximately $75 million and covering the operations of the university's residence halls and dining facilities, as well as intercollegiate athletics, Emens Auditorium, the Ball State bookstore and various vehicle facilities and parking garages on campus.

It also authorized sending to the Indiana General Assembly two requests — for capital improvement and operating funds, respectively — ahead of the legislature's upcoming consideration of the state's own two-year budget plan for 2009-11.

Higher energy costs

As explained by Randall Howard, associate vice president for finance and assistant treasurer, salaries and benefits continue to represent the lion's share of expected expenditures by the university in the new fiscal year, accounting for roughly 75 percent of all institutional outlays. Included in those figures are pay increases averaging 4 percent for faculty and staff.

Also included is a roughly $1.5 million increase in funds to pay fuel and utility costs, which have risen significantly since last year's budget allocation of $9.7 million.

This year's general fund budget projects revenue of $129.8 million from student tuition and fees as well as $146.4 million in state appropriations. The spending plan also calculates about $12.4 million in income from other sources, including gifts and grants.

Building on success

The university's priority capital project for the next state budget biennium is the second phase of the Central Campus Renovation Project (CCRP), said Thomas Morrison, associate vice president for business affairs. In 2007, the General Assembly approved Ball State's request for $33 million in bonding authority for Phase I of the project, which aims to improve the life expectancy and instructional capabilities of three important buildings in the central campus area: Teachers College, the Applied Science and Technology Building and North Quad.

Planning for Phase I of the CCRP has revealed more extensive renovation needs for those buildings, Morrison reported.  As a result, the university is seeking as part of its latest legislative requests an additional $19.7 million for Phase II, allowing for "further structural changes that will greatly increase the functionality of these facilities" while also accounting for inflationary increases in construction materials during the past two years.

For the coming biennium, the university also is asking for roughly $14 million in state funding for repairs and rehabilitation of other campus facilities, infrastructure and utilities.

In terms of operating funds, meanwhile, Morrison said the university is requesting overall state appropriations of just under $150 million in 2009-10 and approximately $154.6 million in 2010-11 in order to build upon the success of the Ball State Strategic Plan in setting the future direction of the institution as well as to help offset price inflation for personnel, supplies and equipment.

In conjunction with the goals set forth in the strategic plan, Ball State has realized significant gains in both graduation rates of students and faculty research in recent years, observed Morrison, noting that both measurements also are used by state lawmakers to determine possible performance-based funding increases for Indiana's public universities. He expressed the hope that Ball State's clear improvements in both areas will, in fact, persuade legislators to boost state investment in campus facilities and programs generally and to view favorably the accompanying legislative request for an additional $5 million during 2009-11 to advance specifically the university's efforts to expand immersive learning opportunities for all students.

The Entrepreneurial University

"As we continue to pursue our vision of transforming how higher education is delivered and, as a consequence, the very nature of the student learning experience, it is vital that we continue our commitment not only to recruiting more better-prepared and high-achieving students but also to improving the quality of the academic experience we offer," said President Jo Ann M. Gora. "We do this by giving our students access to a growing number of nationally recognized faculty and programs that advance knowledge while also creating, through immersive learning, opportunities for students and teachers alike to become involved in improving Indiana's economic vitality and quality of life.

"I certainly view last year's base funding adjustment by the General Assembly of $1 million to propel further Ball State's drive toward becoming 'The Entrepreneurial University' as a strong endorsement of our approach to student-driven, collaborative and multidisciplinary education," Gora added, "and I'm optimistic that our state senators and representatives will again see the wisdom of supporting these kinds of initiatives."

User fees rise for parking, freshman orientation

Before adjourning, the board members also approved proposals to increase on-campus vehicle registration and parking rates effective with the fall semester of 2009 and to impose a $100 fee on students participating in Ball State's two-day freshman orientation program.

Starting in fall 2009, the cost of registering a vehicle for parking on many campus lots will climb from the current $75 to $80. Meanwhile, the costs of obtaining a parking decal for leaving a car in one of the university's restricted surface lots (other than residence hall lots) will also rise in 2009-10.

According to Thomas Kinghorn, vice president for business affairs, parking facilities operate on a self-supporting basis and the increases are designed to keep up with debt service, operations and maintenance costs.

Similarly, Kinghorn indicated that in order to provide sustained and adequate funding for freshman orientation, the university needs to follow the example of a growing number of colleges and universities in charging incoming students a modest fee, which a survey of 14 universities in Indiana and/or the Mid-American Conference (MAC) revealed range from $65 at Southern Indiana University to $200 at Eastern Michigan University.

(Note to editors: For more information, contact Kevin Burke, director of university communications, at 765-285-5948 or kburke@bsu.edu.)

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