Money Tuition Talks lead to heated debate between students and administrators By ALEXANDRIA SCHELL Posted on April 18, 2013 5 min read 0 0 433 A simple presentation turned into a heated discussion this past Wednesday in Baker 231, as Executive Vice President and Provost Pam Benoit and Vice President of Finance and Administration Stephen Golding visited a student student-organized program called “Tuition Talks.” Tha administrators laid out some guiding principles that Ohio University is in charge of as an institution of higher education, such as sustaining academic excellence, maintaining affordability, focusing on strategic priorities, attending to the needs of university workforce and addressing critical infrastructure needs. With only 17 students in attendance, the presentation quickly became very personal and informal over the two-hour long presentation. Benoit and Golding will be making a similar presentation in a closed meeting to the Board of Trustees on April 18. Benoit commenced her portion of the presentation and discussed in-depth numbers and figures related to funding. Ohio University is ranked seventh out of all Ohio public universities in the Inter-University Council of Ohio for faculty salaries. Ellie Hamrick, along with FUSS party executives, VOICE members and fellow Student Union members were present at the meeting. Hamrick had lots of questions for Golding and Benoit. “It’s great that Senate organized this forum and I think that often students don’t even find out about these decisions either until right before they happen or even after they happen. I think it’s good that it’s early in the process and that students are being kept informed,” said Hamrick. About every student who attended the meeting asked at least one question to the two OU faculty members. “I think that they dodged a lot of questions and were more focused on being rhetorically suave and talking around it than they were to having an honest and open engagement with students,” said Hamrick. Numbers and financial figures such as faculty salaries, bonuses, raises, healthcare and drug claims per employee were all brought up in this discussion, with many topics becoming debates. The need for an increase in tuition and to set in place a guaranteed tuition model was justified by both Golding and Benoit, who both pointed out the many costly project that need to get done around campus such as capital improvements, Baker Center: Phase 2, the Lausche power plant project, Tupper Hall, Lindley Hall, McCracken hall, Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine, deferred maintenance and residential housing issues. “Guaranteed programs are not tuition savings plans, but are intended to offer a greater amount of transparency,” said Benoit. “These plans would include tuition, room and board and most mandatory course fees.” Study abroad programs and graduate-level tuition wouldn’t be covered under the proposed guaranteed tuition plan. The plan itself would not go into effect until the fall semester of 2015, if approved. Some benefits of the model, according to the two executives, would include predictability, stability, flexibility, increased affordability, completion incentives and would help reduce the student-debt burden. Although Benoit and Golding names a lot of benefits to this tuition plan, they also listed off some major obstacles such as starting it up, a plan that would require legislation, communication to incoming freshman, potential of lower revenues and an evolving political and business environment.