Get the scoop on the budget: Provost Stearns and Vice President Scherrens host meeting with students at Ike’s

by   Posted on April 26th, 2010 in Uncategorized

By Yuri Svjagintsev, Broadside Correspondent

George Mason University will undergo a drastic budget cut and a tuition raise in the fall semester as a response to the global credit crunch and the Virginia General Assembly slashing part of its state subsidy to Mason.

Last Monday, Provost Peter Stearns and Senior Vice President of the University Maurice Scherrens hosted a town hall meeting at Ike’s with complimentary sundaes and giveaways. The idea behind the event was to inform students about what would be behind the cut, what would be cut and when it would be cut. The meeting also gave students the opportunity to discuss the budget directly with two of the senior decision-makers who influenced these new university-wide decisions.

Out-of-state students will be particularly affected. Already, many out-of-state students pay double the tuition their Virginia peers pay. With housing and living expenses included, out of state students can expect to pay more than $33,388 for an academic year as tuition is raised by $1,730. In-state students will be looking at a tuition increase of $950 or a rise of 6 percent from this year.

The tuition increases and budget cuts have been the trend for the last few years, but the rates have not been as dramatic as they are this coming fiscal year. Provost Stearns noted that “Many neighboring states are slashing their budget as well, some even more so than Virginia.” He added, “This may actually not negatively affect our national ranking.” This is because neighboring states are cutting their university stipends more.

According to Scherrens, the revenue from increased tuition and student fees will be going to a decreased budget.

“Most of the budget decreases will be coming out of the support operations of the university and not the academic programs,” said Scherrens. “This includes things such as maintenance, dining services and administrative staff.”

“Our primary focus is not to take money from academics,” said Scherrens. “In fact, we will be adding some new programs, [including an] environmental policy [course].”

Stearns also commented about the new Masonvale neighborhood and how it would fit into the budget.

“Masonvale was built [with] borrowed money, but it is expected to start making revenue in the fall,” said Stearns.

Most of the construction projects Mason has undertaken over the past decade will start to wind down. Other than new dormitories planned to be built near the corner of I-123 and University Drive, all current construction projects will be the last ones for some time.

Student Government also had their opinions about the new budget and tuition policy to be enacted by the university.

“The tuition and budget increases are unfortunate, but they are necessary due to the policies enacted by Virginia,” said Vice President Tyler King,

According to King, “The student government sits on many of the committees responsible for making these decisions.”

Student Government was responsible for organizing the budget town hall meeting at Ike’s to raise awareness on the issue.

“The feedback to the meeting was positive,” said President Devraj Dasgupta. “It gave a chance for the Mason administration and especially the freshmen to interact over this issue. Regardless, Mason received the highest budget cut of all universities in Virginia. A difficult time is ahead.”



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