University President says New Partnership will end 30-year streak of tuition increases
Money issues are nothing unfamiliar for anyone, especially when it comes to university institutions and students. The University may have found a solution, however, and Wednesday evening that solution was discussed with campus and community members.
Proponents for restructuring finances held a town hall meeting on campus in the EMU Ballroom featuring University President Lariviere and his New Partnership with the State plan. He, along with John Chalmers, a professor of finance, and attorney Jeff Condit of law firm Miller Nash detailed on the nuts and bolts of an endowment that would be funded privately and publicly.
Currently, the school receives its funding through state investments, tuition and private gifts. Tuition and fees make up the largest percentage of the budget at around 40 percent, and a mere eight percent is given by the state. Twenty years ago, the University was appropriated $63 million, while 2011 is projected to bring only $58 million appropriated to its name. Minus the stimulus, the number stands at $54 million.
In the past 38 years, tuition increased on average 7.5 percent, and in a given year it fluctuated anywhere from two to 25 percent.
“This pattern has gone on for a long time, and it is an unfair burden on students and their families,” Lariviere said. “The endowment will give a degree of certainty.”
Lariviere’s proposal consists of three steps drawn up into two separate bills. The first bill, SB 559, details the government structure for the board, and the second bill, SJR 20, consists of the endowment.
First, a new publicly appointed board will be set up and will have the responsibility of observing the operations of the University. This board of 15 members, some of whom will be students and faculty, will have the power to adopt and enforce benchmarks that the University would be required to meet. Secondly, the accountability will be increased for the board which oversees the University’s goals. Lastly comes the endowment itself.
The state will issue $800 in bonds after locking down appropriations at $63 million over 30 years time. As this is happening, the University will commit to raise an equal amount through private fundraising and donations before the public money from the bonds are used. This will make for a more stable financial stance with an investment of $1.6 million. In addition, the private funds will be used to support the entire costs of the University, thus incentive is provided for unrestricted gifts.
“We are working under a system now that isn’t working. This is a risk, but not a high one,” Lariviere explained at the meeting.
Lariviere did not try to deny that the plan could go unflawed, but did express full confidence in the fact that it would provide the University with a better shot at substantial increases in funding.
“This University cannot continue on its course for the sake of the University, students and faculty,” said University Senate President Nathan Tublitz, who organized and acted as the master of ceremonies for the gathering. “I strongly support this plan.”
Some students present at the meeting expressed their support for the plan.
“It is important to talk about and understand what this plan is about and what it can do for future Ducks,” Student Alumni Association president Carissa Surace said. “Before now I have never heard of anything trying so hard to bring down the outrageous tuition costs that we have.”
Copies of both legislative bills and more information on the proposal can be found on the New Partnership website at newpartnership.uoregon.edu.