Board of Trustees approves a 3.8 percent increase in tuition

In a crowded Elliott Hall auditorium, the Oakland University Board of Trustees raised tuition, selected a new chair and vice chair and made a change in donor policy during a two-and-a-half-hour meeting Monday, June 4.

Tuition increase

The BOT unanimously approved a 3.8 percent undergraduate tuition increase for the 2018-19 academic year, matching the limit set by the state. John Beaghan, vice president for finance and administration and treasurer to the BOT, proposed the tuition increase after taking into account the university’s mission, academics, student services and minimizing the net student cost.

Each public university in Michigan receives funding from the state for every student. Oakland currently receives the least amount of funding from the state with $2,872 per student, while Wayne State University receives the most with $8,914 per student. Since the amount of state funding can play a roll in how much tuition will cost for the next academic year, many members of the OU community have gone to Lansing to lobby for more state funding.

Trustee Marianne Fey said she was concerned that there has not been a discussion about what Oakland can do to change the amount of funding the university receives from the state. Rochelle Black, vice president for government and community relations, explained why Oakland has not been able to increase the amount throughout the years.

“What we do in our office is measure how Oakland University fairs relative to the overall increase for higher education,” she said. “There was a point in time many years ago when we were getting close to double digit increases based on funding per student but now, for example, the budget John is presenting will show that the overall increase for higher education is 2 percent and the percentage slated for Oakland is 3.1 percent. Because everything is relative, that’s the best we can do.”

The 3.8 percent tuition increase means Oakland undergraduates will be paying $17 more per credit hour in 2018-19. The average tuition cost for full-time resident freshmen will now be $12,892.50 per year.

Donor policy change

The BOT approved a change in the university’s donor policy that makes all donors anonymous. In previous documents that listed gifts given to Oakland, the donor’s name would be next to the amount donated to the university; however, this practice was surprising to some administrators because it did not follow industry standards.

Trustee Ronald Robinson expressed concern over keeping donors anonymous due to transparency.

“I think from a standpoint of transparency and disclosure, people should know who’s gifting money to the university and maybe where they’re directing it,” he said. “I’m just wondering why we switched that.”

President Ora Hirsch Pescovitz explained that the only time a donor should be named is when the donor makes a large-scale naming gift.

“Mike Westfall [vice president for University Advancement] said that the industry practice is to maintain confidentiality of the donors unless it’s a large naming gift, like for example the Elliott Tower, then it’s typically a name gift which is largely known,” she said. “For the most part smaller gifts are kept confidential.”

While the BOT approved the change in policy, there will be further discussions on the matter.

Additional agenda items

In addition to setting tuition for the upcoming school year, the BOT unanimously appointed a new chair and vice chair who will serve two year terms. Vice chair David Tull was appointed as the new chair, replacing Richard L. DeVore, and BOT member Tonya Allen was named vice chair.

Chief Operating Officer Scott Kunselman asked the BOT for approval of a contingent lease and gift transaction for Cobblestone Manor on University Drive in Auburn Hills. According to the proposal, Moceri Companies would buy the building, lease it to the university for two to three years and after a few years gift the property to OU.

After six months of waiting, the Higher Learning Commission finally approved OU’s new mission statement. The BOT approved the new mission statement in December 2017, and a fourth strategic goal was officially adopted into the university’s strategic plan.