UCF trustees reluctantly approved tuition increases Thursday, including a 15 percent increase for undergraduate Florida residents. Trustees made it clear that they are concerned about repeated state budget cuts to higher education and how those cuts leave students “paying more for less.”
The state has cut $144 million from UCF’s budget during the past five years, including $52 million this year. Tuition increases have made up for only a portion of those cuts.
“None of us wants to impose additional burdens on our students, but we want to provide them with the best education possible,” said Olga Calvet, vice chair of the Board of Trustees. “We cannot continue to pass on these costs to the students.”
Even with the increases, UCF’s tuition costs would remain among the lowest in the nation. UCF also has been named among the nation’s universities offering the best-value educations by Kiplinger and The Princeton Review, and 49 percent of UCF students graduating last year left with no debt from their time at UCF compared to 33 percent nationally.
Tuition and fees combined for an undergraduate in-state student taking 30 credit hours of courses would increase from $5,584 to $6,247 if the Florida Board of Governors votes next month to approve the amounts set by the Board of Trustees.
Tuition and fees for an in-state graduate student would increase 4 percent, bringing the total tuition and fees to $8,816 for a student taking 24 credit hours.
Trustees and administrators said nobody wants to raise tuition, but they said the impact on students would be severe if the university could not increase tuition and was forced to cut course sections in response to the state cuts. The 2012-13 tuition increase would raise about $20 million, which would support additional class sections, new faculty hires and need-based financial aid.
UCF already has made significant strides in operating as efficiently as possible. Administrative expenses total 39 percent less per student compared with the State University System average, and the university is saving $4.5 million annually by making campus buildings more energy efficient. However, trustees and administrators said they will continue to look for innovative ways to save money.
Trustees also approved a policy to establish a smoke-free campuses starting Aug. 20, the first day of classes in the fall. More than 600 other colleges and universities around the country already have smoke-free policies in place.
The new policy covers employees, students, visitors, vendors and others while on all UCF-owned or leased property, including in university vehicles. Out of concern for the health and safety of the UCF community, President John C. Hitt laid the groundwork for the campaign last fall.
Groups such as the Faculty Senate, Student Government Association, USPS Staff Council and Greek Council have supported the initiative, which is designed to encourage a wholesome lifestyle and a change in behavior so that everyone’s right to clean air is respected. It is not designed as a punishment for those who smoke, as there are no fines or other penalties.
To help those who want to stop smoking, UCF is offering cessation services and resources, including individual and group classes, support groups, telephone and online counseling, self-help materials and medications.
For details, visit www.ucf.edu/smokefree.
Honoring Valencia’s President
Trustees approved awarding an honorary doctorate to Valencia College President Sanford C. Shugart. Shugart has served as Valencia’s president since 2000, and Valencia was recognized nationally last year with the Aspen Award for Community College Excellence.
“President Shugart has been a long and valued partner of UCF,” President Hitt said. “His support and engagement with DirectConnect to UCF and the students served through that program are testimony to his commitment to provide access to baccalaureate education and to promote student success.”
Trustees voted to grant tenure to more than 30 faculty members from eight colleges and the NanoScience Technology Center.
Navy Capt. William H. “Roto” Rooter IV gave a presentation about the impact of Team Orlando, a community of organizations including UCF, that work together to improve human performance through simulation and provide high-quality training for military personnel. Central Florida is nationally recognized as a hub for modeling and simulation.
New Student Government Association President Cortez Whatley participated in his first Board of Trustees meeting. Whatley also has been elected chair of the Florida Student Association, and he will serve on the Florida Board of Governors.
Trustee Ida Cook was elected to her fourth one-year term as president of the Faculty Senate, and she will continue to serve on the Board of Trustees during 2012-13.
Manoj Chopra, former chair of the Faculty Senate and a former UCF trustee, has been elected chair of the Advisory Council of Faculty Senates of Florida. In this capacity, he also will serve on the Florida Board of Governors.
President Hitt congratulated the six winners of the Pegasus Professor Award, UCF’s most prestigious faculty honor. They are Sudipta Seal and Donald Malocha of the College of Engineering and Computer Science; Stella Sung and Talat Rahman from the College of Sciences; Stella Sung from the College of Arts and Humanities; and Martin Richardson from the College of Optics and Photonics.
Trustees applauded students from the College of Engineering and Computer Science, who won the top prize of $100,000 in a competition sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy. Team members Brandon Lojewski, Johan Rodriguez, Cheng Li and Thomas Yang will compete in the National Clean Energy Business Plan Finals in Washington, D.C., in June.
Trustees recognized four Burnett Honors College spring graduates who have received prestigious national scholarships. The graduates are Jennifer Bencivenga, who was chosen for a Fulbright English teaching assistantship in Germany; Ashley Ewh, who won a National Science Foundation graduate fellowship and a National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship; Christopher Frye, who earned the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship; and Gabriel Willman, who received the David L. Boren Scholarship for Undergraduate Studies to study in Israel.
President Hitt recognized several UCF teams for their success this spring. The women’s track team won the Conference USA championship; the men’s golf team placed fifth in the NCAA’s Stanford Regional and will compete next week in the national championships; and the softball and women’s golf teams also earned spots in their respective NCAA tournaments. The baseball team finished second in Conference USA and was ranked as high as No. 7 this season.