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Marshall board OKs budget plans, tuition increases


The Herald-Dispatch

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Members of Marshall University’s Board of Governors on Wednesday passed four potential tuition and budget proposals as they waited on the West Virginia Legislature and Gov. Jim Justice to agree on one budget solution of their own.

The Marshall University Board of Governors met Wednesday at the Memorial Student Center at Marshall University in Huntington
(Photo by Tori Lavender)

None of the approved tuition and budget proposals drastically change Marshall’s spending from the previous fiscal year, but each budget depends on tuition increases between 5 and 14 percent. Those various tuition increases depend on how much lawmakers cut Marshall’s state allocation for fiscal year 2018, which begins July 1, 2017.

In addition to their tentative budget plans, board members approved an intent to plan statement for the establishment of a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering during their regular meeting in the Memorial Student Center.

The board approved budget-tuition plans by a 14-1 vote, with Marshall University Student Body President Matt Jarvis being the lone vote against them.

Each budget proposal keeps Marshall in an operating budget of $119.8 million for fiscal year 2018. In fiscal year 2017, Marshall had an operating budget of $119.6 million.

Marshall President Jerome Gilbert told board members he is actively lobbying for no cuts, or at least smaller cuts, to Marshall and other higher education institutions in the state.

“The budget situation did give me reason to pause,” Gilbert told board members. “But I’m still hopeful that we’re able to carry out the goals that we’ve talked about for this year, which include increasing enrollment with special emphasis on diversity, fighting addiction, doing more in undergraduate research in expanding our student activities, and also doing more economic outreach.”

Although the budget doesn’t create additional expenses, Marshall officials will compensate for a restructuring in the budget that took place in fiscal year 2017.

Officials withdrew about $3 million from the university reserve fund in 2017 to bolster recruitment and other resources. Now that the recruitment structure is in place, the university aims to fund it without using money from reserve funds.

The four budget scenarios are based on whether the Legislature cuts Marshall’s allocation by roughly 2, 4, 8 or 12 percent.

University officials would absorb the state cuts and the absence of revenue from the reserve funds by raising tuition and hiring freezes, with departmental reorganization if state cuts are drastic enough, Gilbert said.

In 2017, Marshall received $45.9 million from the state, which was cut 2 percent mid-year by then-Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, according to a preliminary draft budget handout provided by Marshall’s Interim Chief Financial Officer Mark Robinson.

Using that 2 percent cut as a base, Marshall would expect $45 million from the state, which would result in a 5 percent tuition increase.

If Marshall’s state allocation is reduced by 4 percent, they expect to receive a little more than $44 million and tuition would increase by about 8 percent, raising $2.4 million for the university’s operation.

If lawmakers cut Marshall’s budget by 8 percent, the university would receive about $42.25 million and tuition would be increased by about 11 percent, generating $4.2 million for the university.

A cut in state allocations of 12 percent or more would give Marshall $40.4 million in support from the state, about 33 percent of its total operating budget, and it would mean a tuition increase of 14 percent. That level of increase would mean Marshall students and their families would be paying $6 million in additional tuition and fees costs to supplement state cuts.

In House Bill 2018, which was approved by the full Legislature on April 9 and vetoed by the governor on April 13, Marshall would have received $37.6 million in support from the state, which was a little more than an 18 percent cut.

Ahead of the start of fiscal year 2018 on July 1, West Virginia lawmakers are working to close an estimated $500 million budget hole.

Justice has called a special legislative session to begin May 4 as lawmakers wait to see if West Virginia experiences a third consecutive month of higher-than-expected revenue.

Since 2013, Marshall has lost $11.5 million in annual base funding from the state.

Biomedical engineering

In other business, the board also approved the intent to plan a bachelor’s degree program in biomedical engineering, set to be available to students during the fall 2017 semester.

Biomedical engineering combines the design and problem-solving skills of engineering with medical and biosciences to advance health care treatment, monitoring and therapy. Among all of the engineering disciplines, biomedical engineering has the highest percentage of female graduates.

Gilbert has a doctorate in biomedical engineering from Duke University.

The program is expected to cost the university $2.88 million during its first five years. In the program’s fifth year, it is expected to generate net revenue of $244,000.

Full support of Gilbert

The board also completed its evaluation of Gilbert during the meeting Wednesday, giving him a positive review overall.

“It was an excellent evaluation,” Board President Wyatt Scaggs said in a news release after the meeting. “The board is in full support of Dr. Gilbert and feels he is doing an exemplary job. When we hired him as our president just over a year ago, we had high expectations. He has lived up to those expectations and, in many ways, surpassed them.”

MU Board of Governors

Here is the membership of the Marshall University Board of Governors

Chairman Wyatt Scaggs, owner and operator, Baisden Brothers Hardware

Vice Chairman James Bailes, lawyer, Bailes Craig & Yon

Secretary Joseph McDonie, CEO, Rock Branch Community Bank Inc.

Phyllis Arnold, regional president for BB&T Corp.

Phil Cline, former president of Monumental Concrete Co. and Broughton Foods Co.

Oshel Craigo, owner and operator, Better Foods Inc.

Michael Sellards, president and CEO, St. Mary’s Medical Center

Tim Dagostine, division manager, Champion Industries

Ed Howard, former senior vice president and regional manager of J.C. Penney Co., West Region

David Haden, owner, i-Source LLC

Christie Kinsey, financial adviser, Northwestern Mutual

Dale Lowther, accountant, Cain & Associates

Gary G. White, former president and CEO of International Industries Inc. and past interim Marshall president

Faculty representative: Cam Brammer, professor, communication studies

Staff representative: Miriah Young, business manager, Department of Housing and Residence Life

Student representative: Matt Jarvis, Student Government Association president

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