By Jesse Wood
Appalachian State University’s Vice Chancellor of Business Affairs Greg Lovins gave updates on upcoming construction projects, housing plans, campus safety, tuition increases, projected enrollment and more at a Boone Area Chamber of Commerce Community University Engagement Committee meeting on Wednesday afternoon.
In the latest numbers released by the college on its website, the enrollment for the fall 2014 semester is 18,026, which includes 1,510 distance-education students.
Lovins, stressing that projected enrollment figures are estimates, said that he expects the university to increase enrollment at just over 100 for the 2015-16 academic year. Following the 2015-16 year, he said that university enrollment is expected to increase by 200 or so students in 2016-17 and 2018-19.
“One question a lot of folks in the community have asked is, ‘How is the university going to grow and grow, and, of course, the University of North Carolina Board of Governors asks that question frequently, too,” Lovins said. “So you have pressure on one side to grow and then infrastructure issues on campus and in our community, and we are sensitive to that.”
Lovins noted that the projected increases include main-campus students and distance-education students.
Even with the enrollment growth, Lovins said that the university hasn’t hired an “awful lot of faculty.” He said that when students are added, the state, utilizing a funding formula, allocates more money to the higher-education institution.
“But then what’s happened in recent years, they’ve come back on the backend and cut us. Technically we can’t use that enrollment increase money to fund cuts, but we have to kind of manage the overall budget,” Lovins said. “So we are sensitive to that.”
Housing, Construction Projects
Renovations to Anne Belk Hall on the west side of campus should be complete in the summer. Lovins noted that when Belk Hall opens, no other dorm will go off line next year – as has happened in the past.
“We’ll be adding those beds and not subtracting them,” Lovins said.
He said that a number of other residence halls will be renovated in the future.
An onsite replacement of Winkler Hall, which was demolished last June, is at least two to three years out. Lovins said that the UNC Board of Governors must approve the project – plus a year to plan and a year to build.
Lovins said he expected to see a couple more dorms go up in the next several years after Winkler Hall is rebuilt, but – with a disclaimer – he said that he wasn’t speaking in an official capacity regarding that particular statement. Lovins stressed that a housing study for ASU hasn’t concluded.
Lovins noted that a lane on Rivers Street will likely be closed at some point in the summer as repair work for a line that runs from the steam plant to the Holmes Convocation Center will be repaired. The Town of Boone is also replacing a sewer line that runs through Durham Park, which is located across the street from the Holmes Convocation Center.
He noted that Appalachian State University has $125 million in deferred maintenance projects, such as replacing the roofs on the JET building, which is nearly 20 years, and steam plant, which is more than 20 years old, and refurbishing Sanford Hall.
Lovins said that while Sanford Hall has a “really good structure” it will cost $20 million to refurbish the hall, where the English department is based, to fix HVAC issues, plumbing, flooring and more.
He spoke to progress on the $82 million, 200,000-square-foot building for ASU’s College of Health Sciences proposed on nine acres of land at the corner of Deerfield Road and State Farm Road. He noted that ASU has received $5 million for planning of the building, and that Director of External Affairs Susan McCracken is in Raleigh nearly almost every weekend when the legislators are in session.
“Our building is at the top of the list with UNC Board of Governors with priority. We remain cautiously optimistic so that we could get additional funding so we can put some shovels in the ground sometime soon,” Lovins said.
Boone Area Chamber of Commerce Director Dan Meyer piped in and said that this project would be an “economic boon” and an “incredible opportunity” for the community from the vantage point of construction-related jobs and services that the final product would offer.
He talked about tuition increases of 5 percent over the current costs for the next two years. ASU’s Chancellor Sheri Everts recommended the increase to the ASU’s Board of Trustees in December and the UNC Board of Governors approved of the increases in February.
This is from a prior release from the university that describes the increases in detail:
Under the proposal, total costs for an in-state undergraduate residing on campus choosing the standard room and board option will be $13,872 in 2015-16 and $14,386 in 2016-17. Out-of-state undergraduates would pay $27,697 and $28,902 and 2015-16 and 2016-17, respectively.
Members of the UNC System schools submit budget requests for a multi-year period to provide more predictability and clear guidance for students. Under the plan implemented by the UNC Board of Governors, tuition increases are capped at 5 percent.
Tuition for in-state undergraduate students would increase $189 to $3,961 for the 2015-16 academic year. A $198 increase would bring the tuition totals to $4,159 in 2016-17.
The 2015-16 increase, totaling some $4.2 million, will be used to address faculty salary equity, fund the equivalent of seven faculty positions, support faculty development and scholarly activities, support the library’s operating fund, create three academic advising positions, psychological counselor and wellness case manager positions and fund a director of graduate student enrollment services and development position.
The additional revenues in 2016-17, an estimated $4.4 million, will address faculty salary equity, fund the equivalent of nine full-time faculty positions, support faculty development and scholarly activities, support the library’s operating funds, create three academic advising positions and a financial aid counselor position.
General fee increases of $62 in 2015-16 and $74 in 2016-17 were also recommended following input from committees comprised of students, faculty, staff and administrators.
An increase in room, board, book rental and transportation fees, totaling $424 in 2015-16 and $514 in 2016-17, was approved for in-state undergraduates living on campus.
Lovins also addressed campus safety. He acknowledged the recent tragedies that have occurred involving ASU students. Nine ASU students have died since the fall semester began. He noted that three were suicides and three died in car accidents, two of which happened out of the area. The three other deaths were by other causes.
“It’s been a tough year for us. We want our young people to be safe and hope the rest of the year is better. We pray everyday for quiet,” Lovins said.
Counseling services have increased with more available hours and staff to serve students. He also noted that in light of budget cuts throughout the years the university has never cut any law enforcement officer and intends to add one or two more officers to the campus police force.
He also praised Chancellor Sheri Everts for the job she’s done so far.
“The chancellor has provided great leadership. She’s done a really thoughtful job in communicating. It started with the Anna Smith tragedy, trying to keep the campus informed,” Lovins said. “What a tough situation to walk into. Come in and you’re the new chancellor and then literally weeks later dealing with this. She’s done a really good job. She’s handled this amazing.”