LOGAN – Utah State University President Stan Albrecht says students should expect at least a 5 percent tuition increase in the future.
He said he is going to do everything he can to keep tuition down, but that Tier 1 tuition could increase anywhere from 0 to 7 percent. “I hope we’ll be closer to 0 percent,” Albrecht said.
Albrecht said the State Legislature created the two-tier tuition structure several years ago. Tier I tuition is set by the Board of Regents and Tier II is set by the individual campuses. He said the Tier II amount at USU is determined in consultation with the students.
“Tier I tuition, imposed by the State Board of Regents, is probably going to be 5 percent this year,” Albrecht said. “That’s not set, it won’t be set until March.”
USU’s president said he is going to do everything he can to minimize Tier II increases, which have varied from 2-9 percent in past years. He said he is going to the Board of Trustees next month and he will ask them to approve a range that would go from 0-2 percent.
Albrecht also addressed student questions about the Legislature, meeting currently in Salt Lake City.
“If you look at the last five or six years at the outcome of the legislative session. Utah State has always done better than any other college or university in the state,” he said.
• See related story on USU building projects.
Albrecht said USU’s regional campuses around the state give the university a large presence at the legislature which other universities don’t have. He said the presence at the legislature is why USU does so well compared to other universities. Still, getting the legislature to promote higher education is a struggle, Albrecht said.
“It’s a constant battle to get a legislature to promote higher education,” Albrecht said.
Albrecht said some legislators will say schools have the ability to raise tuition so they don’t need funding from the state. Albrecht said USU’s funding from the state is currently about 25 percent of the the schools funds, the rest of our funding comes from sources such as research grants and contracts.
During this year’s legislative session a bill which would have removed tenure from all universities except USU and University of Utah was once again shot down by the House Education Committee.
The bill was misdirected, Albrecht said. He said the process of obtaining tenure is very difficult to go through, and a lot of people don’t make tenure because they are weeded out due to nonperformance. After faculty obtain tenure they still have to work, Albrecht said.
“Basically what they’re saying is ‘well, once one gets tenure it’s guaranteed employment for life and so people get lazy and they quit doing a good job,'” Albrecht said.
Tenured faculty are required to have an annual review with a more comprehensive review every five years, Albrecht said. He said they have ways of addressing any issues found during the review.
The danger with the tenure bill is it would make it difficult for Utah universities to attract quality employees because they would choose to go to a university with tenure instead, Albrecht said.
Journalism students asked Albrecht about the perception of the school being more focused on athletics than academics.
“The university is not more focused on athletics,” Albrecht said. “Our focus is primarily focused on strengthening academics.”
Albrecht said most of the funds raised by the university go towards academics.
“We will finish off a $400 million campaign in the next several weeks, the vast majority of that money is going to the academic side of the operation,” Albrecht said. “We will have added 23 buildings during my ten years as president both here and at regional campuses. All but two of those are academic buildings.”
Athletics is the most visible aspect of the university because it attracts the most alumni and donor interest, Albrecht said. He said athletics has also created many opportunities for students through the years.
“We created, as a part of the land grant tradition, an orientation that says we have to do everything that we can to provide opportunities for academic success for students who would otherwise be denied them for economic or other reasons,” Albrecht said.
Many students have been able to go to school at USU because of the academic programs here, Albrecht said. He said the people who went to USU with athletic scholarships, and attribute their time at USU to their success in fields such as business, are the people who give back to the school.
For example, construction of new Blue Square student luxury housing is ongoing on private property of USU alumnus David Miller. Miller’s donation to the university will not only provide housing but entertainment and recreational facilities, including a restaurant, fire pits, cardio equipment and tanning beds.
Blue Square, located near Romney Stadium, will eventually include a skywalk across 800 North to the stadium parking lot. “People can stop in and get a sandwich and drink before the game,” Albrecht said.
He said that Blue Square will “create more of a tail-gating and game-day” atmosphere. “It’s going to be a great addition.”
Athletics are also important because it helps create a college atmosphere and experience that is not available at an online institution, Albrecht said.
“Student comes first in the student-athlete equation, and I think we’ve done that well,” Albrecht said.
In addition to current students, Albrecht said Aggie sports teams create a way for students to stay involved post-graduation. “It’s the vehicle that connects so many of our alumni,” Albrecht said.