SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. -- Lake Superior State University's Board of Trustees approved the university's $37.6 million budget during its regular meeting on Friday, July 26, and heard a variety of university reports, including the status of the construction of a new school of business and the search for a president to succeed Dr. Tony McLain.
In addition, the board discussed enrollment and fundraising, listened to reports on academic affairs and charter schools, and elected officers for the coming year.
In his remarks at the beginning of the meeting, McLain lauded the Michigan Legislature for approving the construction phase of LSSU's $12 million remodeling of South Hall, a former Fort Brady barracks-turned-classroom that will be home to the Lukenda School of Business. The building, which has housed many university departments over the years, will be completely remodeled, using $9 million in state funds and $3 million raised through donations. Construction is set to begin in spring 2014, with a completion date set for spring 2015.
McLain noted that State Sen. Howard Walker and Rep. Frank Foster were instrumental in moving the project through the legislature.
The board approved a $37.6 million general fund budget, approximately a third of which comes from a state appropriation. The budget includes an increase to tuition and room-and-board costs of 3.32 percent and 2.94 percent, respectively, as well as a $10 increase to the student activity and media fee that students pay each semester. The increase brings the cost of tuition to $9,960 and room and board to $8,728, annually. The SAM fee is now $60.
McLain noted that public universities throughout the state increasingly rely on tuition and fees to pay for services as state support has dwindled through the years. He said state support at LSSU is slightly less today than it was in 1991-1992.
In his enrollment report, LSSU Vice President of Enrollment Services Bill Eilola said while enrollment appears as if it will be down somewhat this year -- final counts will not be available until mid-September -- several programs, including business, engineering and nursing, are seeing more interest from students. He also said LSSU is increasing its marketing efforts in the coming year, revising prospective student publications and contracting with a communication firm that specializes in working with colleges and universities to personalize contacts with prospective students and increase the number of students who go from inquiring about the university to applying for admission.
Eilola also noted that LSSU is increasing its presence in the Straits area, most notably through a seasonal storefront in Mackinaw City that features things to do in the Eastern Upper Peninsula. The shop is a joint effort between LSSU and the Sault Convention and Visitors Bureau. It is staffed by LSSU students who encourage tourists to visit Sault Ste. Marie, the LSSU campus, and other EUP attractions north of the Mackinac Bridge.
Trustee Patrick Egan said the search for a replacement for LSSU President Tony McLain, who is retiring within the year, is continuing on schedule. A search committee named during the spring has hired a firm that specializes in assisting universities with finding candidates for the position. Representatives of the firm were on campus this week to conduct focus groups with employees, students and members of the community to gauge their opinions about the qualities and qualifications of the next LSSU president. The company, EFL Associates of Kansas, will help LSSU find a few presidential candidates that Egan said will be presented to the board in November.
Egan said a web page with more details on the search will soon be available through the university's website, lssu.edu.
In his report on academics, LSSU Provost Morrie Walworth had encouraging news on LSSU's teacher education program, saying that visits from state governing organizations noted marked improvements in the program. Walworth said current pass rates for LSSU education students taking the Michigan Test for Teacher Certification are above state requirements. As a result, LSSU expects to be able to soon reinstate fields of study in the program that were discontinued in recent years while the program was revamped to improve student success.
In his report on fundraising, LSSU Foundation Director Tom Coates said the Foundation is closing in on what may have been its best year in the 30 years it has been in existence. Final numbers will not be available for a few weeks, but as of the end of May, the Foundation had raised $2,433,120, which is a 46 percent increase over the previous year.
Coates said an increasing number of alumni are supporting their alma mater, and the campaign to raise funds for the South Hall refurbishment has increased enthusiasm for and donations to the university.
At the end of the meeting, the board elected officers for the coming year. Egan will replace Jenny Kronk as board chair, while trustees Scot Lindemann and Ann Parker will be first vice chair and second vice chair, respectively. -LSSU-
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