Students Say Promises Kept, Academic Excellence Fee Dollars Well Spent – Dec 5, 2003
55 Percent of Fees Spent on Faculty Salaries
BATON ROUGE, La. — An “Academic Excellence Fee” endorsed by university students and authorized by the Legislature has improved classroom instruction and raised the quality of education on campuses, student leaders said today.
Student member of the Board of Supervisors for the University of Louisiana System Jennifer Porter told the board that UL System universities have applied the $10-per-credit-hour fee imposed this fall toward faculty pay, hiring new faculty, instructional resources and equipment, student scholarships, and other academic resources.
“Students put a lot of faith and trust in the UL System and in our university presidents that this fee would go towards improving the quality of education on our campuses,” Porter said. “I testified before the Senate and promoted this fee. I couldn’t have a clean conscience if I didn’t follow up to ensure the money is spent the way students intended.”
Porter, who is also Student Government Association President at Louisiana Tech, led students in testifying to the Legislature on behalf of the fee. SGA leaders signed a resolution endorsing the fee and stipulated that the money be dedicated for academic purposes only.
Legislation allowing a fee at UL System universities, as well as all other Louisiana colleges and universities, passed the Legislature in June. The measure calls for a fee of up to $120 per semester ($80 per quarter), but it also contains a “hardship clause” for students who are unable to pay.
Acknowledging the benefits the fee has brought to his university, McNeese State University SGA President Mark Steward called the fee “a blessing in disguise because it is allowing our universities to maintain quality” even as the state budget tightens.
The UL System’s eight universities have allocated about 55 percent of the fee to new faculty and increasing faculty salaries, about 22 percent to increased student scholarships, about 17 percent to instructional resources and equipment, and about 6 percent to academic program accreditation. The fee is expected to raise about $16.3 million for UL System universities this year.
Commissioner of Higher Education Joseph Savoie commended UL System President Sally Clausen, the UL System Board and university presidents for their dedication to improving faculty pay. UL System faculty salaries have increased each year since 1999, bringing them close to the southeastern average.
“Your campus presidents are making tough decisions with limited dollars, but they’re putting the highest priority on faculty pay,” Savoie said.
The University of Louisiana System includes eight universities: Grambling, Louisiana Tech University, McNeese State University, Nicholls State University, Northwestern State University, Southeastern Louisiana University, University of Louisiana at Lafayette and University of Louisiana at Monroe.
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