BOT raises tuition 4.2%, adds master’s programs

A 4.2% increase in tuition rates was the focus of the Oakland University Board of Trustees (BOT) meeting on Monday, June 21. The additions of two new master’s programs and a report on alumni success were also discussed. 

President’s report

President Ora Hirsch Pescovitz opened her report with an acknowledgment of OU’s student athletes for their success this past academic year. OU athletics was awarded its fifth McCafferty Trophy — a total sports award given to the Horizon League institution with the most performance points.

OU’s men’s and women’s swim and dive and men’s golf teams were highlighted for their success in their championships, and OU shared the McCafferty Trophy with Youngstown State. 

“We’ve already accumulated the third most trophies in the league history,” Pescovitz said. “So there is no question that the Oakland University Golden Grizzlies are indeed champions.” 

In addition to athletic success, the president’s report also shared results of a recent survey conducted by the senior director of career services, Wayne Thibodeau. The survey measured alumni career success from a sample of 5,095 graduates from 2010 or 2015. 

“Oakland University has moved up and ranks an impressive third among Michigan universities that employers want to hire talent — meaning they hire our students with internships, co-ops and full time jobs,” said Glenn McIntosh, vice president of student affairs and chief diversity officer. “Our students have character. They have talent. They have a strong work ethic, and they are dedicated to being exceptional in their career field.”

Tuition increase

In a unanimous vote by the BOT, tuition prices will be raised this year following last year’s freeze due to COVID-19. 

Vice President for Finance and Administration and Treasurer to the Board of Trustees John Beaghan proposed a budget of almost $261 million for fiscal year 2022 (FY2022), which demands a 4.2% tuition increase. 

This budget is a $14.9 million expenditure increase from last year, which is attributed mostly to the need to replenish the financial reserves. The budget for fiscal year 2021 relied on the financial reserves in order to impose a tuition freeze — a near $7 million expenditure. 

“The total proposed FY2022 budget is relatively comparable to the budget two years prior, FY2020 — an increase of only $4 million after two years,” Beaghan said. 

The budget in fiscal year 2020 was more than $257 million. Fiscal year 2021’s budget was considered an anomaly, which is why the BOT looked to fiscal year 2020 for comparison while creating this year’s budget.

Addition of master’s programs

Beginning fall 2022, graduate programs in social work and business analytics will be available to students. 

The department of sociology, anthropology, social work and criminal justice saw a need for a master’s in social work (MSW) from both students and the labor market. This program offers two tracks — a traditional two year program for those without a bachelor’s in social work and an advanced one year program for those with. 

“OU’s MSW program will seek accreditation to offer a high quality MSW program to prepare students to become licensed in social practice for research,” Maria Beam, director of social work, said.

The master of science in business analytics is a rebranding of a concentration in an existing graduate program in information technology management. This new business analytics program will follow the 4+1 model that many business graduate programs boast, and will be easier for prospective students to find through name recognition. 

“We place students [with future employers] even before they finish for the most part, so they’re being paid anywhere from $60-75 [thousand starting salary], in that range,” said Vijayan Sugumaran, chair of the department of decision and information sciences. 

The next BOT meeting will be on Thursday, Aug. 12 at 2 p.m.