Volume I  Issue # 11   
Monday, March 1, 1999

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The President's Post

  The recent Board of Trustee retreat in Hot Springs was a resounding success. This is a    Board that is able to balance business, committee work, and well-deserved relaxation and conversation. I want to keep you informed about what occurred.
   The major item of business at the annual retreat is to approve the budget for the following year. The submitted budget was developed by the University's Financial Plan Committee, a group of sixteen elected and appointed campus members. It is a conservative budget built upon no anticipated increase in enrollment and a decrease in our endowment spending rate from 7.25% to 6%.
   The budget contains a combined tuition, room, and board increase to students of 5.96%, which translates to an additional $700 next year. However, our "retention grant" to returning students means that they will be assessed only one-half of the $540 tuition increase, or $270. The room and board rates were increased by $80 each. The budget also includes a 1.5% inflationary increase for faculty and professional staff salaries and a 4% salary pool for support staff raises. If you have any specific questions about the budget or want to review it, please see John Jones.
At the retreat we also discussed our progress on the strategic plan (we are making impressive progress!) and our enrollment management strategies. I will not go into detail, but the system we are implementing, "Prospect Management," involves recruiting high school students at a much earlier time: during their sophomore and junior years.
   The major topic of discussion was the new Campus Master Plan. As you know, a twenty-seven member committee has been working with architects from Gaskin, Hill &Norcross to develop this plan, and it was our first chance to share our ideas with the Board. Although we still have a long way to go, the plan is starting to take shape. We also discussed the residence hall renovations, several concepts for student townhouse apartments, and Hurie Hall.
   The true highlight of the retreat, however, was a presentation by Dr. Rickey Casey and five Walton Scholars: Otto Mejia, Alex Meza, Marcella Pang, Maria Pineda, and Cesar Romero. The students gave an update about the ongoing relief effort in Honduras. All of you can be proud of our campus-wide support and the difference we are making. They also presented a video about the Alpha and Omega Organization's mission project in Nicaragua. During the trip the students and Dr. Casey did some pretty amazing carpentry and community-building work. I am proud to be associated with Dr. Casey and this group of students. I know that our Board of Trustee members left the retreat feeling equally proud as well.

Rick Niece, Ph.D.

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