FLORENCE---The Francis Marion University Board of Trustees adopted a $37.7 million operating budget for the university’s 2005-2006 fiscal year during its quarterly meeting Friday (June 3).
The trustees also increased tuition and fees 8 percent per semester. The increase means that full-time South Carolina resident undergraduates will pay $2,992 in required tuition and fees per semester, up from the current $2,770. Required fees for the new nursing program that will be offered by FMU this fall were established at $4,652 per semester with a one-time application fee of $75 and a testing fee of $275.
Full-time out-of-state students will now pay $5,916.50 per semester, and out-of-state nursing students will pay $9,236.50 per semester.
The $37.7 million budget includes $14.9 million in state appropriations, $21.2 million in student fees and $1.6 million in other revenue. The biggest part of the budget goes for personnel costs set at $29.2 million, $6.6 million for operating expenses, $1.8 million earmarked for the nursing program and $80,000 for reserves.
While higher than a year ago, the $14.9 million in state appropriations is still well below the $16.2 million allocated in the 2000-2001 year.
The fee increase will yield $1.3 million in new revenues. Those fees will allow the university to fund reductions in the governor’s savings plan; provide a 6 percent pay increase for faculty and staff; provide a 3.5 percent increase to departmental operating budgets; provide performance bonuses; appoint three additional faculty research scholars; and provide a contingency fund.
Bill Ellen of Columbia, chairman of the board’s finance committee, said that despite the increase in tuition and fees, the cost of an education at FMU is still one of the best educational buys in the state of South Carolina. “Comparatively, FMU still will be at the low end among state schools in costs,” he said.
In other business, the trustees:
• Approved a conveyance of 9.5 acres of land and property from the Pee Dee Educational Research Corp. in exchange for a 99-year lease of the building back to the corporation, subject to approval of the lease by the S.C. Budget and Control Board.
• Authorized the issuance of $1.3 million in state institutional bonds to fund construction of a Student Activity Center. The bonds will mature in 10 years and carry a 3.74 percent interest rate.
• Learned that on May 31, the FMU Foundation obtained 109.24 acres across the street from the university’s campus. The land was purchased from the family of Robert P. Wilkins Sr. of Lexington. As part of the agreement, Wilkins deeded his one-fifth interest in the property as a gift to the foundation. The tract is located on the south side of US 76-301 and west of S.C. Highway 327.
• Received as information a request from FMU President Fred Carter to name the new nursing building in honor of Dr. Frank B. Lee Sr. Dr. Lee, who practiced medicine in Florence for more than 50 years, is chairman of the board of trustees of Drs. Bruce and Lee Foundation that made a $5 million gift toward construction of the nursing building. The board will consider a formal resolution at its August meeting.
• Learned that freshman applications for fall semester have set a new all-time high of 2,372 and are running 16.7 percent ahead of the same period a year ago. The admissions office is processing 46.6 percent more applications than it did in 1998.
• Elected new officers for the next two years. Kenneth W. Jackson of Florence will be the new chairman, with George C. McIntyre of Bennettsville serving as vice chairman and Carolyn Shortt of Laurens as secretary.
In his report to the trustees, President Carter praised the hard work of the faculty and staff during the last year. He also singled out Sen. Hugh Leatherman for his legislative leadership over the last few years, including budgetary support of services vital to the state.
Carter also said that the university would look at locating the Center for the Child on the property being acquired from the Pee Dee Educational Research Corp. The university obtained a $2 million appropriation from the legislature to build the facility. This center will be a child development and evaluation clinic within the School of Education to train professionals and provide direct service to children and their families. The center will include a child study lab that will provide state-of-the-art day care for children and their families.
#172 / 6-3-05