Learn more about budget, trustees

By Blythe Austin

Over the past two weeks, The Mac Weekly has published several articles pertaining to the issues covered on the Board of Trustees’ January conference calls. As the Board’s student liaison, I participated in these discussions, and would now like to offer you a student’s perspective on the motions passed, particularly the comprehensive fee increase. One of the board’s main jobs is to oversee the management of Macalester’s finances. Every March it approves the budget for the next school year. This year, the college ended up having money left over, so the Board approved funding for some special onetime projects, such as energy efficient lighting upgrades and bike area enclosures. You may be surprised to know that the Board spends time learning about these relatively small costs. When it comes to funding things at Mac, the trustees often see many of the nitty-gritty details. They receive large spreadsheets detailing what the college’s money is going towards and then hear about all the things that students would like to have funded, but that are left out because of financial constraints.

All this provides the backdrop for the trustees’ conversation on the motion to raise the comprehensive fee by 7.3 percent next year. Make no mistake: no one likes increasing tuition. Before approving the new fee, the trustees asked questions about our cost’s impact on the diversity of our applicant pool and on students from low- and middle-income families. At first the conversation centered on the proposed comprehensive fee, but, aware of student concerns about Macalester’s accessibility, I gave a presentation that explained to the trustees how the fee increase would be factored into financial aid packages. After a long and difficult conversation, the trustees approved the proposed comprehensive fee, but immediately afterwards several members of the Finance Committee spoke of their desire to discuss further the rising cost of education.

Meanwhile, the administration is preparing the budget for the upcoming school year, and it includes increased funding for several popular programs. $29,500,000 is being allocated for financial aid. All student employees will receive 30-cents-an-hour raises, and semester work-study allotments are being increased. There will be 275 slots for study abroad. Kickboxing, tai chi and alternative health medicine classes will be offered. New tenure-track faculty positions are being created in Chinese language and the Geology department.

For further details, you can come hear Vice President for Administration and Finance David Wheaton give a presentation on next year’s budget to the Legislative Body this coming Tues, Feb. 12 at 7:00 p.m. in the Weyerhaeuser Board Room. All students are welcome.

Also, several trustees and President Rosenberg are having an open dinner in Café Mac on Mon., Feb. 18, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Bring your tray to the South Side and talk with them directly about tuition, the budget or anything else on your mind.

Contact Blythe Austin ’08 at [email protected]