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Oregon Tech Board of Trustees Endorse Tuition Rate for 2015-16, continue work on Committee charters, Board policies

Apr 07, 2015
The Board endorsed the proposed tuition rate for 2015-16 academic year, which will be considered for final approval by the State Board of Higher Education at their June 2015 Board meeting
KLAMATH FALLS, OR: April 7, 2015 – The Oregon Institute of Technology (Oregon Tech) Board of Trustees, met April 6 and 7 to continue their foundational work prior to their formal transition of governing authority on July 1. The Board also endorsed the proposed tuition rate for 2015-16 academic year, which will be considered for final approval by the State Board of Higher Education at their June 2015 Board meeting, the final meeting of that entity before it sunsets on June 30. The Oregon Tech Board of Trustees will be the full governing authority for Oregon Tech beginning on July 1.
2015-16 Tuition: MaryAnn Zemke, Vice President for Finance and Administration at Oregon Tech, presented the tuition proposal to the Board, noting the factors that influenced the increase. These include a continued decrease in the percentage of state funds that Oregon Tech receives; the need to stabilize the operating budget and fund balance; and increases in costs outside of the university’s control, such as increases in retirement and healthcare benefits. 
Oregon Tech has a base tuition rate, and a higher rate – called differential tuition – for higher cost degrees in engineering and technology and higher cost courses in healthcare. Zemke noted that this is done so that students in lower cost programs are not subsidizing students in higher cost ones, and is a common approach in higher education which recognizes the higher average salaries earned by graduates in those fields. She noted that Oregon Tech students have an almost 90% graduate success rate, meaning that within six months after graduation, our graduates are either employed or pursuing further education. Oregon Tech graduates also have a high return on their tuition investment, with average starting salaries of about $54,000 a year; this has been well noted nationally in a number of rankings that look at the return on investment for students, and in which Oregon Tech ranks very high. Zemke noted that in 2014-15, students had a 0% increase because the state provided a total of $40 million dollars for the 2013-15 biennium to all of the campuses to “buy down” tuition increases.

1516 tuition

The Board discussed the tuition proposal, including the need to align tuition rates with the university budget and known resources; with estimated enrollment for the coming year; with the need for a healthy fund balance; with the need to provide financial aid to students to help with access and affordability; with the need to provide quality education in the hands-on, applied approach that also requires high cost equipment and labs; and the need to assess market rates at peer institutions. Oregon Tech student leaders are actively engaged in discussing and helping to establish the rate, and have agreed with the tuition proposal because of the need to invest in student instruction, equipment and degree-related areas. After some discussion, the Board voted unanimously to endorse increasing base tuition by 5%, and the differential tuition rate by 5%, the final year of the three-year differential phase in, for the 2015-16 academic year and Summer Session.

In other actions and discussions by the Board at both Committee and Full Board meetings:
  • Dr. Jeremy Brown, chair of the Academic Quality and Student Success Committee (AQSSC), and Brad Burda, Oregon Tech Provost, led the Committee in a discussion of the proposed AQSSC charter, which is based on the Board’s oversight role in the areas of teaching, research and public service programs at Oregon Tech. Some of the components of the charter include protecting faculty shared governance; academic achievement compact and performance measures; academic programs; accreditation; policies related to student and faculty areas; research and scholarship policies; online education and extension programs; and athletic programs. After some discussion, the AQSSC voted unanimously to approve their charter.
  • Dr. Steve Sliwa, chair of the Finance and Facilities Committee (FFC), and MaryAnn Zemke, led the Committee through the agenda, including the proposed charter, consideration of tuition, outlined above, and review of the audit report. The charter includes the FFC’s role in setting budgets and financial reporting, treasury policies, debt issuance, investments, tuition and fees, property and facilities, risk management, internal and external audit and related areas. After some discussion, the FFC voted unanimously to approve their charter. Sliwa congratulated the finance team on the clean audit for FY 2014, which identified no material weaknesses despite the major transition from the Oregon University System to Oregon Tech for responsibility for the financial audit.
  • Dr. Lisa Graham, chair of the Board and the Executive Committee charter, led the Committee through the agenda. The Committee voted unanimously to approve the charter with some amendments related to monitoring of strategic plan. An update was provided on recent activities within the Higher Education Coordinating Commission, including Board evaluations and mission alignment, academic program approval, and the relationship between the HECC and the Oregon Tech Board going forward.
  • Approved several foundational items, with minor amendments in some cases: Board Values Statement; Delegation of Authority; Board Policy on Ethics and Conflict of Interest; Policy on Categories of Authority; Resolution on Shared Governance; and Resolution Authorizing the President to Repeal Administrative Rules and Adopt Certain Administrative Rules as University Policies.
  • Provost Burda reviewed the Oregon Tech 2020 Strategic Action Plan with the Board, focusing on the deliverables from each segment of the university, due to President Maples by June 30, 2015. He also reviewed the planned implementation of Outcomes-Based Funding model, developed by the HECC, which will begin in the 2015-16 academic year. Burda described changes to state funding for Oregon Tech based on the model, and how our sister universities in Oregon will also be impacted.
  • The Board also heard brief updates from Robyn Cole, President of the Faculty Senate; and Stacee Halvorsen, Administrative Officer for the Associated Students of Oregon Institute of Technology.
  • Distinguished guests were also in attendance to welcome the Board to Klamath Falls, including Mayor Todd Kelstrom and Klamath Community College President Roberto Gutierrez.
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