To:                   Board of Regents

 

From:               Richard A. Crofts

                        Commissioner

 

Date:                March 8, 2002

 

Subject:           Fee related issues        


Laurie Neils has provided you an excellent summary memorandum of proposed fee increases for FY 2003.  However, there are two additional issues to which I wanted to draw your special attention.

 

  1. You have doubtless read a good deal about the plan for resolving the athletic budget difficulties at MSU – Bozeman.  Part of that resolution involves a series of increases in the athletic fee at MSU – Bozeman.  The first of those increases is on the list of recommended fee increases for FY 2003.  I asked President Gamble to prepare for you a brief summary of the plan to eliminate the athletic deficit on his campus and his executive summary is attached to your agenda materials.  It is my recommendation that you approve the increase in the athletic fee.  We will also want to take care to receive student input before making this decision. 

 

  1. The proposals for mandatory fee increases include a request by MSU – Billings to reinstate a mandatory library fee.  I agreed with Chancellor Sexton two years ago for a one-time imposition of the fee.  The fee was assessed in FY 2001, but rescinded in FY 2002.  I agreed on a one-time basis because the fee was strongly supported by students and because the campus was significantly below the Board of Regents’ guideline for 6% of budget allocated to the library.  I made it clear at the time that I was opposed to the extension of mandatory fees to any additional areas (such as libraries).  My fear is that we would in short order have a library fee at all of our campuses and more of the cost of education would have been moved from tuition (widely known, publicized, and understood) to fees (much less widely known, publicized, and understood).   Last year’s discussion of course and program fees ended in our consensus that we wanted to move in the direction of covering more of the cost of education by tuition with less reliance on mandatory fees.

 

I agreed with Chancellor Sexton to include the library fee at MSU – Billings in the Board item, but that I would indicate to the Regents my opposition to it.  I hope that you will devote some time to discussing this issue when fees are under consideration and then make a decision to include or exclude the MSU – Billings library fee.  As a reminder, when we were establishing tuition increases last May for this biennium we included a .68% increase for improvements in our libraries.  That provided MSU – Billings about $170,000 over the biennium for improvement in libraries.  

 

I add only one further point.  Mandatory fees at MSU – Billings are the third highest of our four-year campuses, exceeded only by The University of Montana – Missoula and Montana Tech.

 

Please give me a call if you have questions about these two issues.