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W&M Board of Visitors approves six-year plan

Support for employee salaries and increases in need-based financial aid are among the top priorities outlined in a six-year plan adopted Friday by the William & Mary Board of Visitors.

The plan, part of a new ongoing process that began this summer following the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2011 (TJ21),  identifies other critical needs and priorities, including support for enrollment increases, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) research, the recently added marine science minor, and continued investments in information technology and campus security. Pursuant to the new legislation, all public universities are submitting six-year plans to the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) by Oct. 11, 2011.

While the Board approved the proposed plan, universities won’t formally adopt operating budgets, including setting tuition or other costs, until the spring semester when the state’s funding support is known for the 2012-14 biennium. On Friday, the Board approved the priorities and expenditures included in the plan and members agreed to continue discussing funding options, such as tuition levels, for raising additional College revenue.

In his presentation to the Board, Vice President for Finance Sam Jones said the six-year plan was informed by two factors: 1) W&M’s unique characteristics within the Commonwealth’s system of higher education, reflected in the College’s on-going strategic planning process; and 2) objectives included the recently adopted TJ21 higher education legislation.

For example, Jones said, William & Mary has already started addressing some of the TJ21 goals, including a modest increase in the total number of undergraduates from Virginia, he said. Starting this fall, the College is adding 150 additional in-state undergraduates over the next four years while maintaining the percentage of undergraduate students from Virginia.

“This has been a valuable process and we took it very seriously,” Jones said. “We looked closely at our most critical resource needs, as reflected in the College’s comprehensive strategic plan, as well as the goals and objectives of the TJ21 legislation.”

To fund its priorities, William & Mary’s plan calls for approximately $11 million in incremental funding for both fiscal years 2012-13 and 2013-14. In 2013, nearly half of the revenue ($4.9 million) would go toward salary increases for faculty and staff who haven’t seen base pay raises since November 2007, Jones said. The plan calls for annual salary increases for faculty (5 percent) and staff (4 percent) over the next two fiscal years. Jones noted that the state has not provided pay increases for state employees for nearly four years and faculty salaries now rank in the 7th percentile of the College’s peer institutions. The state’s goal is to have faculty salaries in the 60th percentile.

The plan also provides substantial increases in both undergraduate and graduate financial aid. Approximately $1.8 million in new annual funding would be identified for undergraduate financial aid and another $500,000 would be provided toward graduate aid, Jones said.

In terms of raising revenue for 2012-13, Jones said the mix of funding will be influenced by the level of state support. In 2013, the College’s plan assumes the state would provide roughly $1.8 million, or 16 percent, of those new dollars. William & Mary would provide the remainder through reallocated cost savings ($600,000) and additional College revenue of $8.6 million. In the second year, the College would again need to raise $8.6 million in new revenue. The plan assumes the state will provide an additional $1.1 million while the amount of new revenue from reallocated cost savings would increase an additional $1.2 million. The College’s reallocated savings will come from an on-going business innovation and efficiency review process launched last fall. The review determined the College has reduced expenditures by $9.1 million since 2008.