Trustees approve budget

Updates given on campus construction

A new budget was approved at the Board of Trustees meeting September 1.

The budget includes increased funding for Historic New Harmony, a contract with the Vanderburgh County Sheriff’s Office to increase campus security and a STEM Innovation and Expansion Initiative to support the growth of the university’s engineering program.

At the meeting, Vice President for Government and University Relations Cynthia Brinker gave her report on the Operations and Capital Improvement Budget Request. The report included funding metrics created by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education.

Currently, USI is only eligible to receive funding through four out of six metrics available. The currently eligible metrics are Overall Degree Completion, At-Risk Degree Completion, Student Persistence Incentive, and On-Time Graduation Rate.

The Overall Degree Completion only counts Indiana residents pursuing bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. The amount of completed bachelor degrees from USI has increased 38.3 percent from 953 in 2005-2006 to 1,318 in 2014-15, and completed master’s degrees have increased 11 percent from 169 in 2004-2005 to 187 in 2014-2015.

The On-Time Degree Completion in the past four years only applies to Indiana residents and has increased 70 percent since 2005 -2006 from 207 degrees to 352 degrees in 2014-2015. The On-Time Graduation Rate has increased 11.8 percent to 19.9 percent.

The Overall Persistence Rate calculates resident students who completes 30 and 60 credit hours and has stayed steady over the four year period. At-Risk Degree Completion includes students eligible to receive Pell Grants when they graduate from USI and has increased over 97 percent from 193 degrees to 380 degrees.

Brinker said an additional $2.8 million would be eligible in additional funding if the university kept the budget the same when it came to graduation metrics and added eligibility for the High Impact Degree Metric. This metric measures the completion of degrees in STEM fields.

Director of Facility Operations and Planning Jim Wolfe also gave updates on past and future construction plans on campus.

Over the summer, the university completed renovations for the Saletta, Marshall and Welsh apartment buildings, changed the carpeting in Newman Hall, added Chick-Fil-A and Steak n’ Shake and completed roofing on the Orr Center.

The Welcome Center, which had its groundbreaking ceremony Sept. 1, has a construction plan in review.

The expansion of the Physical Activities Center is currently in the last phases of the design stage.

Phase 2 will expand instructional space for academic programs, enhance the technological capabilities of the PAC, and add 98,500 additional square feet. The pool will also be relocated as part of this program and will be out of commission for four years.

The pool will be taken out when Phase 1 begins, and the installation of the new pool will begin alongside Phase 2. Each stage is estimated to take two years.

Vice President for Finance and Administration Steve Bridges announced an increase of $88 per semester for the 2017-2018 school year housing rates. $50 of the increase will go towardsimproving the technology across the on-campus living spaces.

Bridges also announced a $65 increase to all meal plans. The increase will go toward normal changes and food and labor costs.

A rewards program will also be implemented for all sophomores, juniors and seniors who have participated in a red, white or blue meal plan for 2 consecutive semesters with no gap within a year. The reward will be a $500 discount per semester.