UVI board votes to increase tuition in 2013
Published: October 29, 2012
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ST. THOMAS - The University of the Virgin Islands board met Saturday, taking action on a number of items including raising tuition, adopting a new bachelor of science in psychology degree program, and setting aggressive fundraising goals for the coming year.
The board also approved new policies governing accounting practices and investments and transferred almost $440,000 in untapped scholarship funds to the Foundation of the University of the Virgin Islands for better management and investment to make more scholarships available for students.
The board also adopted a new agreement with Nevis to attract students from the eastern Caribbean - the first of several such agreements UVI President David Hall said he is working on.
The board voted to increase tuition starting in the fall of 2013.
Hall said the university did not increase tuition last year, and that the increase for 2013 is small. It is about a 5 percent increase, and will generate approximately $500,000 for the university.
Board members asked whether the relatively small increase, which Hall said will be about $100 more per semester for the average student, will even make a dent.
Hall acknowledged that it does not make up for the $3.5 million budget cut the local government made to UVI's appropriation this year but said it will help keep the university running and meet some of the goals outlined in the new five-year strategic plan.
"This in no way comes close to providing the resources we need to achieve those goals, but it is a step," Hall said.
Before the tuition increase was proposed to the board, UVI administrators met with students, held open forums and discussed the plan with those it will impact the most, Hall said.
"Our present students understand and accept it," he said.
Any more of an increase would have had a negative impact on current students and prospective students, Hall said.
"We are trying to be reasonable," he said. "Unless we get greater support from the local government, this will be a discussion we'll be having on a regular basis."
The new tuition rates for fall 2013 will be:
- Part-time undergraduate student, resident - $140 per credit;
- Part-time undergraduate student, non-resident - $420 per credit;
- Full-time undergraduate student, resident - $4,190 per year;
- Full-time undergraduate student, non-resident - $12,570 per year;
- Graduate student, resident - $350 per credit;
- Graduate student, non-resident - $700 per credit.
New bachelor degree
Professor Kathleen Dudemaine made a presentation to the board Saturday on the new bachelor of science in psychology degree program.
UVI received a $1.5 million grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences last year, some of which was used to develop the new psychology degree program, she said.
While UVI already offers a bachelor of arts degree in psychology, the new program is a more research-based scientific course of study, Dudemaine said.
The new program does not add any new courses to UVI's curriculum; it simply structures the degree program using existing mathematics, statistics, science and psychology courses.
Dudemaine said the new program will attract new students to the school and keep students interested in the field from transferring out of UVI to pursue their studies.
She said about two dozen current students have expressed an interest in the degree program.
UVI board member and psychology professor Aletha Baumann said she has two psychology students now who are waiting for the board's approval of the program. She also said it will create more neuropsychologists to work in the local community. The territory has only one such professional who focuses on early diagnosis of autism, Baumann said. Her plate is full and the need for more professionals in the field is great, Baumann said.
Dudemaine said with the new BS in psychology, students will be fully prepared to continue their studies, pursuing doctoral research degrees at competitive schools.
The university has wrapped up its 50/50 fundraising campaign to get 50 percent of UVI alumni to make a donation to the school to celebrate the institution's 50th anniversary.
The end result fell short of 50 percent, with 42 percent of UVI alums giving to their alma mater - a huge jump over the 16 percent who donated the year before, Hall said.
"We are just very appreciative of the response that our alums showed during this campaign," Hall said.
To put it in perspective, he told the board that the three schools with the highest amount of alumni giving are Princeton, with 61 percent; Dartmouth, with 49 percent; and Notre Dame, with 41 percent.
Vice President of Institutional Advancement Dionne Jackson said total alumni contributions went up 63 percent -from $94,000 last year to $153,089 this year.
Overall fundraising increased as well. Jackson said the goal for Fiscal Year 2012 was to raise $2.5 million. At the end of the year, $2.9 million had been raised, she said.
The board voted to set the goals for FY 2013 to raise $500,000 more than in FY 2012 - for $3.4 million total - and to maintain the alumni giving rate at 42 percent.
The board approved the transfer of 11 endowed scholarships totaling about $438,382 - $258,542 in scholarships and $179,839 in interest earned on the money - to the Foundation of the University of the Virgin Islands.
"The interest was not touched for many, many years. This money could have been going to students and it was not," Hall said.
He said he could not provide an explanation for why the scholarship funds were overlooked and untouched for years, but when it was discovered, he recommended moving the money to the foundation for investment.
"The monies were clearly not misappropriated in anyway, but they were sitting there not being used," Hall said.
The interest earned on the scholarship donations will be used for scholarships, and the principle will remain invested with the foundation, Hall said.
Saturday the board approved a memorandum of understanding with the Nevis Island Administration.
"We're trying to be much more aggressive in attracting students from the eastern Caribbean to us," Hall said.
The 10-year agreement will offer a reduced tuition - 1.75 times the Virgin Islands resident tuition - to Nevis students. The normal tuition level for non-residents is about three times the resident tuition rate.
As part of the agreement, the Nevis government is committing to a certain number of scholarships for their students to study at UVI, Hall said.
Included in the agreement is a provision to allow UVI to set up a satellite campus or offer courses on Nevis.
Hall said he is close to finalizing similar agreements with the British Virgin Islands and with St. Kitts.
In other business, the board:
- Ratified action taken by the executive committee to amend the board goals for FY 2013 to reflect some of the president's goals.
- Approved a resolution commending Hall for his job performance in the last two years.
- Granted former UVI President Laverne Ragster professor emeritus status.
- Adopted an accounts receivable write-off policy in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles.
- Adopted an investment policy for the university.
- Heard a report on key performance indicators, which showed that enrollment has dropped by 7 percent.
- Contact reporter Aldeth Lewin at 714-9111 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.