Board postpones decision on tuition, budget

By Colleen Miller

Oakland University’s board of trustees adjourned the July 24 public meeting without voting on the proposed 11 percent tuition increase for undergraduate students or the general fund budget. The meeting ended shortly after 11 a.m., following just over two hours of presentations, public comment and comments from board members. The proposed budget was based on the assumption that state funding would decrease 3 percent, as recommended by Gov. Jennifer Granholm but has not been approved.

Along with the 11 percent undergraduate tuition increase, the budget also compensated for a 1 percent enrollment increase and took into consideration the salary freeze, “healthy living benefits savings,” Macomb initiatives and “aggressive financial aid strategy” such as new student full aid guarantee, the economic hardship fund and federal stimulus funds.

The discussion on the budget and tuition is postponed until a meeting scheduled for Wednesday, July 29 at 2 p.m. in the Elliott Hall auditorium.

Before discussing details of the 2010 budget, President Gary Russi describing the transformation of OU from a comprehensive university into a doctoral/research university. Vice President of Finance and Administration John Beaghan supported this statement with a tuition chart (page 26 of proposed budget) showing OU among the ranks of other research universities in Michigan like Central Michigan, Wayne State, Michigan State and Michigan Tech.

This transition into the “major leagues” was questioned by board member Henry Baskin. If the higher standards for being a research university required increased tuition to pay for those expenses, Baskin asked the rest of the board if those upgrades could wait another year.

“I’m trying to understand why at this time this administration said ‘Let’s get into the big time.’ … It’s the wrong time for us to be sitting here asking for an increase when the rest of the world is giving back.”

Student body president Kristin Dayag, vice president Saman Waquad, and student liaison to the board Tawnee Milko all spoke on behalf of the students, asking for a reconsideration of the increase. 


Milko told the board that if they do decide on the increase, then they need to reconsider the content of the “You can afford this” billboards that have become “infamous among students.”


After hearing the pleas from student leaders, board member Dennis Pawley said it would be very easy for him to vote with his emotions and vote no to the increase. But he said if the board did that, they would be back next term talking about it again. Pawley, along with other members, is in favor of the tuition increase, citing the need to maintain the quality of education at OU, but preferably improving upon it.


Baskin requested the matter be postponed until next week’s meeting where he asked Beaghan to present the budget with the student fees separated from the tuition.


The details of the presentation given by Beaghan are available on the board of trustees’ website.