The Jacksonville State University Board of Trustees met on Monday, October 21, at 10 a.m. on the eleventh floor of the Houston Cole Library.
At the meeting, the Board approved the university's $110.6 million budget for fiscal year 2014. The unrestricted funds include a state appropriation of $35,958,784, representing 32.4% of total budgeted revenues. Through participation of all divisions, the institution's operating budget has been balanced despite a drop in student enrollment. In fall 2013, JSU experienced a loss of 468 students compared to fall 2012. This decrease is consistent with the 4% drop in 2-year and 4-year regional university enrollments statewide, largely due to Federal changes in Pell Grant eligibility. At JSU, 590 fewer Pell Grants were awarded in fall 2013 compared to fall 2012.
The university is using three strategies to offset budget losses from declining enrollment, including imposing a 5% operating budget reduction, carefully reviewing personnel vacancies and limiting the use of part-time faculty due to decreased enrollment.
Funding has been provided in the budget for faculty promotions, scholarships, the Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), and a two percent salary increase for all regular faculty and staff hired by June 30, 2013. The two percent raise is effective October 1, 2013.
Close to $2.3 million for the new general university fee is included in the budget as part of the student tuition and fees estimate. Among the uses for this revenue will be enhanced student/SGA activities, student health services, upgrades to technology, and maintenance of the university’s transit system.
Also at the meeting, the Board voted unanimously to raise JSU's conditional undergraduate admissions requirement for freshmen from a minimum 17 ACT composite score to a minimum 18 ACT composite, and a minimum SAT of 830 in critical reading and math to a minimum SAT of 870 in critical reading and math. This change also mandates a high school GPA requirement of 2.00 on a 4.00 scale. These changes will go into effect in Fall 2015.
The Faculty Senate also brought before the board FS Recommendation #2013-01, which asked the Board to waive the general university fee for faculty and staff as part of the tuition assistance benefit. This will keep salary and benefits competitive with other institutions and encourage continuing education for faculty and staff. The measure passed unanimously.
In other business the Board—
• Received Reports from the administration, including:
• Heard a presentation from Dr. Alicia Simmons, Executive Director of the Office of Planning and Research, and Mr. Andy Green, Director of Enrollment Management, about recruitment, SACS, strategic planning, the University’s Quality Enhancement Plan, and the university's new customer relationship management system;
• Set the meeting dates for 2014 as follows:
- January 27
- April 21
- July 21
- October 20
• Approved minutes from the July 15, 2013 meeting;
• Approved the university's new organizational chart;
• Heard from Jacksonville's Quality of Life Committee, which came before the Board to express concern for the future of Forney Hall, one of the university's early buildings, which sits near the Jacksonville Board of Education offices on the Kitty Stone Elementary School campus. Speaking for the committee, Dr. Paul Beezley told the Board that the committee recognizes that the building is not in great condition and asked the Board to assess the building, “mothball” it and hold onto it to consider improvements in the future. The building and land are currently in a 50-year lease to the Jacksonville Board of Education.
• Heard a presentation from Mr. Steve Wagner with Adventure Rides and Concepts, which is interested in installing a recreational zip line facility on JSU property adjacent to the JSU Canyon Center. The zip line, if approved, would be funded and installed by an outside developer.