Photo by Andy Heidt / MTSU News
The MTSU Board of Trustees approved motions involving increased fees and tuitions and discussed incoming students and statistics on the university’s safety in their quarterly meeting on Monday.
Stephen Smith, the chair of the Board of Trustees, began the meeting by explaining how much time and effort the Trustees have put into their work at MTSU. Smith stated that he has met with deans, professors, other board members and MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee during his time with the Trustees, which added up to about “24 hours of meeting time.”
Smith turned the meeting over to McPhee, who stated, “I join Chairman Smith in extending a True-Blue welcome to our trustees and all those who came today.”
The Trustees then gave motions to approve items discussed in past meetings, which included an increase of tuition and mandatory fees by 3.9 percent for the 2017-18 academic year, a 3 percent raise for university employees, which is effective July 1, 2017, a recommendation to extend tenure to 30 faculty and to promote 34 other faculty, a new Interactive Media degree program, which will begin in Fall 2017 and will be part of the College of Media and Entertainment and a 2.5 percent rate increase for campus apartments and 3 percent for residence halls, which will help cover rising utilities, physical plant and maintenance costs.
All increases to tuitions and fees made by the Board of Trustees must be approved by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission.
After the motions of approval, McPhee began the “President’s Report,” in which he discussed the recent strategies introduced by MTSU and community leaders and the current state of the university.
McPhee acknowledged promising trends for fall 2017 enrollment. He stated, “We are making excellent progress in attracting more high-ability progress for the freshman class entering in fall of 2017.”
He said that the university was able to offer first-year guaranteed scholarships to 1,634 of the incoming fall freshman, so far, which is a 27 percent increase from last fall. Each of these scholarships require, at minimum, an ACT score of 25 and a 3.5 GPA. The MTSU guaranteed scholarships for transfer students begin with a transfer GPA of 3.0 and a completion of 45-105 transfer hours. 387 transfer students have been offered these scholarships for the fall semester, which is a 22 percent increase from last fall.
“We believe that this is a promising trend that points to the probability that the incoming freshman class and transfers of 2017 will be among the best prepared we’ve had at MTSU,” McPhee said.
Overall, according to McPhee, freshman applications have seen a 15.6 percent increase from last year, transfer applications have seen an increase of 7.2 percent and overall applications are up 12.5 percent.
In addition to these increases, admissions are up this year, with an overall increase of 2 percent, a 3.8 percent increase for freshman and 3.5 percent increase for transfer students.
“All universities have experienced some real challenges in the last two or three years with regards to maintaining their enrollment, and, so, these numbers are significant for the size of MTSU,” McPhee said.
McPhee then began to announce the strategies that MTSU and city officials have introduced and discussed to combat crime in Murfreesboro.
“Due to the recent violent crimes and gun-related incidents in some of the areas adjacent to our campus, your university leadership in partnership with the city of Murfreesboro,” McPhee said. “(The City’s) police department has been working diligently and aggressively to address this unfortunate situation.”
McPhee referenced the meeting that was held last Thursday, in which city officials, MTSU officials and apartment owners met to discuss safety strategies.
“We are currently putting in place a strategy that addresses some of the key issues identified by the police,” McPhee said.
Some of the changes included in the strategy are stronger enforcement of rental property agreements, increased police presences with areas with large amounts of criminal activity, holding housing complexes and owners accountable when they fail to secure their properties and more cooperation between the MTSU Police and the Murfreesboro Police, according to McPhee.
“Our campus is relatively safe compared to institutions of the same size,” McPhee said. “We have invested considerable resources toward making the campus safer.”
McPhee listed examples of these resources that have been implanted in the last year, which included the installation of 428 interior and exterior surveillance cameras throughout the campus, installed seven new emergency call boxes, improved campus lighting and the hiring of additional police officers.
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The raise in tuition is always troubling news, especially for those who already are in the university. It is a great thing that over a thousand high school graduates are getting the first year scholarship guaranteed, yet what about students who are looking for a four year university that are not eligible for the scholarship? Many people who are smart, creative people are kicked to the curb because it is hard for them to take ACT’s or SAT’s, or tests in general. They may be able to squeeze out a 3.5 GPA, yet get less than a 25 on the ACT, so they are automatically out of the running for that scholarship. They will have to scramble for other financial aid to be able to afford the rising tuition rates while those who are currently in college have to either take out more loans or pay more out of pocket if they do not have scholarships. It gives cause to think that universities only gauge their tuition on how much they can get out of scholarships while disregarding those who have little to none.
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