Tution increase set for incoming students

By Felix Sarver

DeKALB | The Board of Trustees (BOT) approved of tuition rate increases for incoming students at a meeting Thursday.

The university recommended a 4.75 percent increase in tuition for students attending NIU this fall. NIU President John Peters said there will be no tuition increase for the rest of the students as the Truth-in-Tuition legislation guarantees them nine semesters of fixed tuition rates. The students attending NIU this fall will represent 28 percent of the student population.

Peters said tuition costs are directly correlated with state support. NIU is still owed $34.6 million from the state for Fiscal Year (FY) 2012, Peters said.

“We cannot possibly raise tuition at a level to offset the state’s support levels, nor should we ever contemplate that,” Peters said.

The tuition increase for incoming students will generate about $2.67 million in new revenue for NIU, Peters said.

The revenue could go toward relieving the burden of the state’s unfunded mandates but it wouldn’t cover a single quarter of the state’s annual $11 million tab for new and continuing mandates NIU is required to comply with, Peters said. The revenue could also offset the annual increases in operating costs, commodities and utilities the university spends millions on.

“I think you see the challenge that NIU administrators have to stretch our precious dollars to cover critical operation expenses,” Peters said.

Brian Hemphill, vice president of student affairs and enrollment management, updated the BOT on NIU’s Residential Renaissance and plans for increasing student retention rates.

Hemphill recommended NIU focus more efforts on sophomore students to increase the retention rate.

“We found that we’re losing significantly more sophomore students in good academic standing than we are first-year students,” Hemphill said.

Sophomore students faced many challenges like not meeting academic requirements, not having career development, lacking faculty contact, having financial issues and having little social integration and involvement, Hemphill said. NIU does much to help freshmen integrate and succeed but little for sophomore students, Hemphill said.

Hemphill recommended the implementation of a second-year residential policy beginning fall 2015. All full-time students in the first two years following high school graduation would be required to live in university housing. Students participating in full-semester distance education courses or moving to formally recognized Greek organizations would be exempt from this policy.

The second-year residency requirement would have academic benefits like tutoring centers, technological resources and ResTech help desk. The residency requirement would also have security benefits like enhanced night security and mediation from community advisers.

Peters took a moment to praise Hemphill’s work at NIU. Hemphill will leave NIU to become president for West Virginia State University effective July 1. Peters said he liked how Hemphill handled the crisis following the Feb. 14, 2008 shooting. Peters also praised the way he personally involved himself in the development of student leadership.

“He’s going to be a successful president,” Peters said. “It’s our loss.”

Funding in support of the Vision 2020 WiFi Access Initiative was approved by the BOT. The university requested an increased number of wireless access points to provide WiFi campus coverage to students and academic areas, Peters said. The university’s goal is to meet 100 percent coverage by fall 2014.

The BOT approved of faculty promotions, tenure and promotions with tenure for 66 faculty members.

The BOT held officer elections for FY 2013. Cherilyn Murer was elected board chair, Robert Boey was elected board vice chair, Robert Marshall was elected board secretary, Anthony Iosco was elected fourth member of the executive committee and Robert Marshall was elected as representative for the universities civil service merit board.

Jaemin Robertson received an honorary resolution for serving as student trustee from 2011-2012. Elliot Echols was sworn in as the new student trustee.