Trustees Approve Budget, Tuition for '97-98

By Douglas Whiting
Director of Public Affairs

Members of the University's Board of Trustees Friday approved a fiscal year 1998 operating budget of $376 million that includes a 4.5 percent increase in tuition, fee, room and board charges and a 10.6 percent increase in Boston College financial aid.

The budget, balanced for the 26th consecutive year, reflects administrative productivity improvement savings of $1.3 million, and includes funding for new positions on the faculty, in the University Libraries, the Office of Development and international programs. Also included is an increase in the academic enhancement fund of $2 million to be used for the implementation of future University Academic Planning Council initiatives.

The cost of a Boston College education in 1997-98 will be $28,472, a 4.5 percent increase over the current year. Tuition will rise $950, or 5 percent, to $19,770, while the average room rate will increase 3.3 percent to $4,840 and the board rate will rise 3 percent to $3,430. Fees will increase 3.8 percent to $432.

In a letter to the parents of undergraduate students, Executive Vice President Frank B. Campanella explained that annual cost inflation accounts for two-thirds of the increase, while the remaining third "will fund investments in services to students, such as increasing the number of full-time faculty to strengthen undergraduate teaching; making fuller use of new technology applications to bring the classroom to each student's dormitory room; and widening opportunities for special academic programs, such as international study."

Campanella told parents University administrators are "sensitive to the fact that any added cost represents a financial burden to many Boston College families," and that efforts are being made to keep cost increases down while the academic program is enhanced.

"In pursuit of those goals," he wrote, "the University is in the midst of a major change process. In addition to a top-down look at the organizational structure and plans for management review of all organizational units, we are in the midst of a comprehensive business process redesign."

Campanella cited recent changes to the student access system available on the campus network - which provides students with access to course descriptions and syllabi prior to on-line registration - as an example of the kind of value-added program the University will be offering to students.

"Our long-term strategy is to contain tuition increases by rolling out similar projects which simultaneously improve service to our students and provide significant gains in administrative productivity," he wrote.

Trustee Michael Murray, recommending the tuition, room and board increase to the full board, said members of the board's Finance and Audit Committee were satisfied that the University is not overpriced with respect to its competition, and found the level of financial aid provided to accepted students "fair and generous." Boston College financial aid for the 1997-98 academic year will total $59.9 million, a $5.7 million increase over this year's expenditure.

In other action, trustees received updates on the status of several building projects, and discussed the recent campus gambling situation and the likelihood of a capital campaign in the near future.

While Boston College continues to prepare for trial in its lawsuit with the City of Newton over the Middle Campus Project, Trustee Patrick Carney said plans are moving forward for a late spring start of the second phase of the Law School construction project. Carney said work on the demolition of Barry Pavilion and subsequent construction should begin shortly after Commencement in May.

Carney also reported that trustees continue to discuss with University administrators various options for a remodeling of Higgins Hall, which he called outdated and overcrowded. According to Academic Vice President and Dean of Faculties William B. Neenan, SJ, the facility is "woefully inadequate" to accommodate the number of students who choose biology to fulfill their core science requirement, as well as new and current research faculty in biology and physics.

Several trustees voiced concern about the scope of potential renovations, as well as the likely cost of extensive work on the facility, but most agreed the current facility is unacceptable and the board's Buildings and Properties Committee will study construction options prior to the board's May meeting.

University President William P. Leahy, SJ, brought trustees up to date on recent actions taken in response to the investigation of illegal gambling activity on campus, and several trustees reported favorable reaction from the University community to the sanctions imposed on students.

The president also reported on a recent meeting in Washington, DC, during which presidents of the 28 Jesuit colleges and universities met with nearly 50 graduates of Jesuit schools now serving in the Congress. Fr. Leahy said he and the other presidents urged congressional reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.

Trustee Marianne Short told members of the board that representatives of the Undergraduate Government of Boston College and nine AHANA sophomores were encouraged by recent University initiatives in the area of race and gender relations. Short cited as evidence of progress in this area the establishment of the David S. Nelson Chair, diversity training workshops for Boston College Police, the establishment of an intercultural discussion series, plans to develop a racial harassment network and plans for vice presidents to be the first constituency to attend diversity training programs developed and sponsored by the Department of Human Resources.

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