EMU hikes tuition, which might not be such a bad idea….

I just heard on WEMU public radio (and then I found it posted in this press release) that EMU is going to raise tuition 13.5%. Oh, and once again, new prez John Fallon has taken to the WEMU airways to plead his case, something that Kirkpatrick never did.

Now, the down-side of this for students is pretty obvious, and I do agree (in part, at least) with the EMU-AAUP, which is the faculty union: before we raise tuition, the institution ought to cut administrative folks.

But I have to say that this particular tuition increase is probably a good idea, and I think it signals positive things about Fallon. Here’s why:

  • It could have been much MUCH worse. Like I wrote about in this post, Central Michigan raised their tuition 19%, and I’m pretty sure that every other university in the state raised their tuition, too. U of M raised theirs 12.3% and MSU raised their 9.3%, and I think most of the regional schools were somewhere between EMU’s 13.5% and CMU’s 19%.
  • EMU is still a bargain, relatively speaking. According to the press release, “a typical resident undergraduate student will pay $6,540 for 30 credit hours.” Over at that quaint liberal arts college in Ann Arbor (and I’m not talking about Concordia), tuition is around $9,300 for in-state students for the same number of credit hours. (As an aside: when I started at the University of Iowa in 1984, tuition was just over $1000 for the year. When I finished in 1988, tuition was about $1,000 a semester, quite an increase in four years, but a heck of a lot cheaper than tuition now…).
  • Most significantly, a good chunk of this tuition increase is going to go toward a bond to borrow something like $80-100 million for a “classroom facility improvement fund.” What that means is that EMU might finally do something about two very large classroom buildings, Mark-Jefferson (where they teach science classes) and Pray-Harrold (which is where the English department offices and classes are taught, along with a bunch of other classes).

I know there are problems in Mark-Jefferson, but I know the problems in Pray-Harrold more intimately, and I can say with some certainty that it is the among the crappiest academic buildings in this country. I have serious reservations about what “refurbishing” this building might mean. If I were in charge and had no budget concerns, I’d recommend tearing it down and constructing three or four different buildings. I doubt seriously they’ll do that. And I must say that I am not looking forward to the year or two or three of enduring the construction in Pray-Harrold. Lord only knows what that will mean– living in trailers, or, worse yet, trying to work in Pray-Harrold while construction is going on inside the building. But personally, I’m willing to endure a lot if it means having something less crappy than Pray-Harrold for the future.

When might this happen? Well, on WEMU just now, when Fallon was asked “will incoming freshmen see these changes to Mark-Jefferson and Pray-Harrold in their time at EMU?” Fallon responded “Oh, absolutely. This is going to be on the fastest track possible.”

Looks like I might have to pack up the books and snow globes in my office this semester….

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