Trustees approve K4, tuition hikes

During its weekend meeting, the Board of Trustees approved the construction of a new dorm, discussed the University’s financial state and raised the total cost of a Duke undergraduate education past the $50,000 mark for next year.

The Board approved a 3.9 percent increase in tuition, room and board for undergraduates, bumping the total cost of attending Duke up to $51,865 from $49,895. The new price includes a 4 percent increase in tuition to $38,985, which is $1,500 more than the current academic year. It also ties in a 5.2 percent increase for all dining plans, but whether that amount will be added as a fee or as additional food points is yet to be determined, said DSG President Awa Nur, a senior. Nur sits on the Board’s Business and Finance Committee.

“We’re not trying to close the budget deficit on the back of our students,” President Richard Brodhead said. “There are things here that enrich the students, and that investment is reflected in the increase, but we also try to keep it as low as we can.”

Tuition increased by 3.9 percent last year and by 5 percent in 2008. Duke’s tuition hike comes at a time when peer institutions are raising their prices as well. The University of North Carolina’s Board of Governors signed off on a 5.2 percent increase in undergraduate tuition Feb. 12, pending legislative approval. Yale University announced a 4.8 percent tuition increase Feb. 23, Stanford University has approved a 3.5 percent increase and Brown University will see a 4.9 percent jump.

Financial aid will not expand this year, but officials emphasized the University’s commitment to need-blind admissions. Board Chair and Democratic state Sen. Dan Blue, Law ’73, said that between 30 and 40 percent of the tuition increase will go toward funding financial aid.

University officials are also working to balance increases in revenue from tuition with budget cuts by the Duke Administrative Reform Team, Provost Peter Lange said. Duke has consistently stayed below the median in tuition hikes among its peer institutions, Lange added.

“That’s not a relief for our parents, but that does give you some sense of the context,” he said. “We recognize that when we raise tuition, it’s an added cost for our families. We recognize that we are being very rigorous in sustaining our financial aid program—we’re trying to strike the right balance.”

This weekend, the Trustees also approved increases in next year’s tuition for the University’s graduate and professional schools.

The Pratt School of Engineering’s Master of Engineering Management program, School of Nursing and Law School will each see tuition increases of 5.5 percent or more. Tuition for the Sanford School of Public Policy, School of Medicine and Graduate School will all increase by 4 percent. The Divinity School’s tuition will increase 3.5 percent, the Fuqua School of Business will see an increase of 4.6 percent and the Nicholas School of the Environment will see the lowest increase of 2.8 percent.

The Trustees also heard an update on the University’s overall financial situation.

Duke has reduced its approximately $100 million deficit by half, one year into its three-year track, and Blue attributed the University’s progress partly to voluntary retirements. He reiterated that substantial layoffs are not a part of the budget cutting plan.

“We don’t anticipate any large-scale mass layoffs to adjust to what’s happening financially,” Blue said. “The feeling is that we’re about halfway home with DART, the challenge is to get the other half way.... The University is in a sound position financially but looking for more opportunities to be more efficient.”

In other business:

The Board approved the construction of K4, a fourth building that will complete Keohane Quadrangle. The 150-bed dormitory will be split into two houses and consist of single rooms, doubles and two-story suites. The building is expected to be completed by January 2012. It will serve as a precursor to New Campus, testing the housing model that will be the basis for that long-term initiative.

Trustees agreed Saturday that the building’s external appearance should match the rest of Keohane, said Steve Nowicki, vice provost and dean of undergraduate education.

“We can’t wait for New Campus. We have to start doing things now to make the residential experience of Duke students now tangibly better, and that’s what part of K4 is about,” he said.

University officials also presented and reviewed the strategic plans of Duke and its individual schools, highlighting interdisciplinary education and globalization.

“We need to build the infrastructure on campus that acknowledges we’re an international institution, making sure there’s an international component within those programs, but truly international in its scope and its approach to analyzing where we’re supposed to be,” Blue said. “It’s just a question of implementing the general plan once we fully identify it.”

The Board discussed extensively the financial state of the Trinity College of Arts and Sciences, Blue said, pointing to challenges with soliciting donations for the school.

The Trustees also approved an 18-month Master of Engineering degree program that will begin this Fall. The program will incorporate an internship along with business and management-based coursework.

A $20 million chilled water plant was approved to serve the Duke Medicine Pavilion and the Cancer Center, both currently under construction. The system will include two large chillers and be located on Circuit Drive.


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