Provost Peter Lange and Executive Vice Provost for Finance and Administration James Roberts discussed tuition Wednesday.
Philip Catterall / The Chronicle
Provost Peter Lange and Executive Vice Provost for Finance and Administration James Roberts discussed tuition Wednesday.

Provost Peter Lange and Executive Vice Provost for Finance and Administration James Roberts addressed the Duke Student Government senate Wednesday night about tuition and affordability.

The discussion followed the Board of Trustees' approval of a 3.9 percent increase in undergraduate tuition for the 2014-15 academic year. Lange said that each dean of the University’s schools takes several factors into consideration when determining tuition rates, such as programmatic needs, affordability, market factors and alternative revenue sources. Each dean then uses these factors to individually determine their school’s tuition.

Lange noted that Duke’s tuition and its annual increase are comparable with those of peer universities.

Several of Duke's peer institutions have also raised tuition for the 2014-15 academic year. Stanford University's Board of Trustees approved a 3.5 percent increase, the University of Pennsylvania's board approved a 3.9 percent increase and Dartmouth's board approved a 2.9 percent increase.

Lange noted that student tuition goes toward supporting many factors to enhance the student experience, including more than 60 undergraduate majors, 23 languages taught, and the University’s 8:1 student-to-faculty ratio.

“Most of our peers are around 7 or 8 to 1 [student-to-faculty ratio],” Lange said. “In the past few years, we’ve been doing a lot more things that utilize the small student to faculty ratio, like senior theses.”

Although 53 percent of undergraduates paid full costs of attendance in the 2012-2013 academic year, the University’s financial aid program adjusts to the median family income so that all students are given sufficient aid, Lange said.

“The families that have been paying the full tuition are also the families that have been doing remarkably better than more families in the U.S. to the extent that as the cost of tuition is increasing, the percentage of income for families who are paying the full tuition is able to stay constant,” Lange said.

Lange ended the presentation by displaying several statements about Duke, including “it is a very expensive institution,” “the cost of tuition at Duke is considerably more than it was some years ago,” and “most of the Duke students are wealthy.” He then revealed that these statements were from 1932, emphasizing that these perceptions concerning Duke’s financial culture have existed throughout the University’s history and are not likely to change.

“I’m pretty confident that there isn’t some hard threshold [for tuition],” Lange said. “We have lots of way of recognizing the early stages of trends if things start going in the opposite direction.”

In other news:

Aaron Welborn, director of communications for Duke Libraries, gave the senate an update on the library renovations. He noted that the Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library renovation is on schedule and is due to be finished in the summer of 2015. He explained that the scaffolding visible on the exterior of the library is there because workers are currently cleaning the façade of the building and refurbishing the leaded glass windows, both of which were installed 86 years ago.

Welborn also noted that the main entrance to Perkins library will close on May 5 of this year and will not reopen until the renovations are finished in the summer of 2015. Renovations to the main entrance include removing the steps, moving the exhibit gallery into the lobby area and keeping the rare book collection open to the public.

Along with these renovations, Welborn said that a small renovation will take place on the first floor of Bostock Library from May to December 2014. This renovation will create a “research commons,” a space Welborn describes as similar to the Link.

“Everyone at Duke will be able to use this space,” Welborn said. “We want it to be a space of creativity, collaboration and exploration.”

Senior Daniella Cordero, senator of equity and outreach, said Greek Ally Week will take place March 24 to 28. It will be hosted by Duke Student Government, Blue Devils United, Interfraternity Council, National Pan-Hellenic Council, Panhellenic Association and the Office of Fraternity and Sorority life. All the events will be open to everyone, except for the “private conversation” events on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The Student Organization Finance Committee Chair Joyce Lau, a junior, noted that SOFC will recover approximately $40,000 in funds following the dissolution of inactive student organizations.

The senate approved $10,570 to the Asian Student Association for the Triangle-Area Asian American Student Conference on April 12 and $2,300 to Blue Devils United to bring a spoken word group called DarkMatter to campus on March 30.