UT Trustees Approve Lowest Tuition Increase Since 1997

KNOXVILLE — The University of Tennessee Board of Trustees today approved its 2006-07 budget, which includes the lowest student tuition increase since 1997.

At its annual meeting held in Knoxville, the board approved tuition increases ranging from 4.1 to 4.6 percent — which will translate to additional student academic fees ranging from $148 to $212 a year. The university’s budget for the next year will be $1.49 billion.

UT President John Petersen noted that the General Assembly provided $24.1 million in additional operating funds for units across the state that allowed for lower tuition increases than administrators had originally anticipated.

“We are very grateful to the General Assembly for its willingness to supplement our operating funds in this manner because it allowed us to not pass on as much of our costs to our students,” Petersen said. “Each year, we work to find that balance between enhancing the quality of education with ensuring that we remain accessible and affordable. Receiving additional operating money allowed us to do that.”

State funds account for $461 million of the total budget, an increase of $21.3 million from last year.

The budget includes a 2 percent, state-mandated pay raise or $600, whichever is greater for all staff. Faculty will receive a 1 percent pay raise and be eligible for additional merit pay that will be drawn from another 1 percent pool.

The state appropriation includes funds to enhance UT’s employee 401K match, longevity pay program and full funding to cover employee health premium increase. State funds also allow for a one-time $350 bonus for all employees with three or more years of state service.

Petersen called the additional funds from the General Assembly a “win for the parents, students and for the State of Tennessee,” but acknowledged that challenges remain for improving employee compensation and growing the budget to fund initiatives that enhance the quality of education.

The tuition and program and service fees approved by the board are as follows:

• In Knoxville, in-state students will pay an additional $212 — or 4.6 percent more — annually for tuition. Program and services fees were increased by $120. Working with student government leadership, the administration proposed program free increases only once every four years. This year’s increase will enhance student health and counseling services, provide a new Student Health Clinic and improve intramural fields and other student recreational facilities.

• In Chattanooga, in-state students will pay $148 — or 4.1 percent more — a year for tuition. An additional $40 has been added to program and services fees to fund improvements to the campus’ athletic facilities and programs.

• In Martin, in-state students will pay $172 — or 4.6 percent more — a year for tuition. Student program and service fees remain the same.

Tuition increases relate to substantial increases in utility costs. All student campuses also have proposed the addition of new scholarship programs, which include several new need-based scholarships and academic initiatives, including online educational programs and additional library acquisitions.

Student campuses also have proposed the addition of permanent faculty, additional general education classes and enhancements to graduate student positions. Each relates to projected enrollment growth for this year or accommodates growth in the previous years, particularly at Knoxville and Martin.

In other action, the board:

• Voted to adopt a strategic plan for the university system, which highlights the following key goals: increasing student access to education and providing students with the tools to be successful; enhancing research and economic development initiatives; and focusing on outreach and efforts that prepare students to compete in the global economy.

The plan has internal and external “scorecard” that monitor set benchmarks and annual progress in goal areas that can be viewed at: http://scorecard.tennessee.edu.

• Voted to name two athletic facilities after key benefactors. Larry Pratt, of Athens, Tenn., is a Knoxville alumnus and recently donated $5 million for construction of a basketball practice facility. It will be called the Larry F. Pratt Basketball Practice Pavilion and more commonly referred to as Pratt Pavilion.

Sherri Lee, a Knoxville resident and UT graduate, recently made a large-scale commitment to the new softball stadium. Now under construction, the stadium will be called the Sherri Lee Softball Stadium and more commonly referred to as Lee Softball Stadium.

• Voted to extend Petersen’s contract through 2008 after a favorable evaluation by the board, led by Vice Chair Don Stansberry. Stansberry noted substantial progress by Petersen in defining the roles of the campus and system, communication with key constituent groups as well as setting the agenda for the future through the development of the strategic plan.

• Elected trustee Andrea Loughry of Murfreesboro to serve as vice chair. Don Stansberry has been vice chair since 2004. Petersen and other trustees thanked him for his leadership and service. Loughry chairs the Academic Affairs and Student Affairs committee, a role she has filled for the past four years. Board bios available here.

Contact:

Karen Collins (865 – 974-5186 or 865-216-6862)

Full Budget Document available here.

Executive Summary available here.

Student Fee Recommendation and Schedules available here.