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Case Western Reserve University's independent student news source

The Observer

Case Western Reserve University's independent student news source

The Observer

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Provost updates students on tuition increase

On Thursday, Feb. 23, Case Western Reserve University provost William “Bud” Baeslack spoke to a sparse audience in Strosacker Auditorium about next year’s tuition increases and other school initiatives.

He began by discussing the university’s strategic plan, “Forward Thinking.” The plan focuses on making improvements in student advising, enhancing the Kelvin Smith Library (KSL), graduate student healthcare, student life initiatives, updating classroom technology, and international opportunities for students.

For the past few years, CWRU has attempted to address complaints about insufficient advising and mentoring. During the 2010-11 school year, the administration secured five seed grants for various advising initiatives. Some students said that advising in large departments like biomedical engineering is still lacking, but overall the grants seem to be money well spent.

One of the goals of the strategic plan is to tailor the CWRU experience and the school’s offerings to what students want to get out of their time here. “Many of you are here to transition to graduate school or into a career,” Baeslack said, noting new opportunities like the LaunchPad grant that supports entrepreneurship. He also said the school is continuing to invest in career fairs and its career services to better aid students’ job searches, not just after graduation but between academic years as well. Starting this summer, there will be another research opportunity called the Provost Summer Undergraduate Research Grant, for which students can now submit proposals.

Baeslack also recapped the student life initiatives set to take effect in the next few years. The new bookstore and other Uptown businesses are slated to open later this month. The design for Wyant Field House – a workout facility near the Village and a significant improvement over the current Village gym – is nearing completion. Also set for this spring is the groundbreaking for the Tinkham Veale University Center. Finally, the Veale Center received 25 new pieces of cardiovascular exercise equipment.

However, Baeslack’s highest priority continues to be internationalization efforts. He wants to create more study abroad opportunities and make it easier for students to go abroad, return, and resume their studies at CWRU seamlessly. The school has been narrowing its study abroad programs in the past year, making them more targeted to specific universities in other countries. This minimizes costs and maximizes logistical efficiency for students, especially in terms of ensuring credits will transfer.

After going over the numerous improvements to which CWRU has committed, Baeslack transitioned to the central purpose of the address: tuition increases. Tuition will rise by 3.5 percent to $40,120 for the 2012-13 academic year, which is more palatable than last year’s 3.9 percent increase. Room rates will go up between 3.9 and 5 percent, depending on the type of room. Board rates will increase 4.5 percent. Tuition for graduate students will increase 4 percent to $37,120.

Baeslack assured students that the tuition hikes will be accompanied by an increase in available financial aid. “Tuition increases provide for salary increases and support for strategic initiatives like internationalization,” he said. He also mentioned that board rate increases result from rising food, labor, supply, and energy costs, which all cause Bon Appétit’s operational costs to grow.

The question and answer session took up the second half of the hour-long presentation. A major topic was the cost of the Village. One student wanted to know why living there costs $9500 per year. Baeslack said the school invests a sizable amount of money in improvements for the Village and is trying to cut costs. However, the greatest cost cut he mentioned was last year’s removal of landlines from CWRU dorms.

Another person stated that CWRU is still paying off loans for the Village and she felt that the burden for that falls on the students. She asked if Village costs will go down once that is finished and if CWRU will begin to focus on other residence halls. Baeslack avoided the first part of the question, but commented that the school wants to replace all its dorms eventually.

One student asked whether the administration has considered that tuition increases might negatively impact retention, and said that most people who transferred away from CWRU last year cited financial reasons. Baeslack responded that the university conducts extensive reviews to determine how to pay faculty better while keeping costs down and maintaining solid revenue. He said that offering courses internationally and “increasing CWRU’s global footprint” will help bring in more revenue in the future.

Finally, a student asked how the university is adjusting for the new orientation format, which will feature a single large session right before Welcome Days. Baeslack said there will be a bigger pool of orientation leaders because more students will be back on campus at that point and able to participate.

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