Update: OPB’s Rob Manning reports on the latest from the HECC, here:
… HECC commissioners were critical of the large universities, suggesting they had not done enough outreach to affected groups, like students.
One commissioner also suggested that by rejecting tuition hikes it would send a message to state lawmakers that more funding is needed for public universities.
… In a statement released Thursday night after the meeting, HECC executive director Ben Cannon signaled an expectation the big public universities would come back to the commission to make their arguments again.
Meanwhile, InsideHigherEd reports that UO’s old friend, former OUS Chancellor George Pernsteiner, will soon be available to help out the HECC:
The State Higher Education Executive Officers Association has hired Robert E. Anderson to be its new president, beginning in August. He will replace George Pernsteiner, who has led the group for four years.
5/12/2017: Pres Schill responds to HECC’s denial of tuition increase
Dear University of Oregon community members,
The Higher Education Coordinating Commission’s decision yesterday to reject the University of Oregon’s tuition plan is disappointing and creates uncertainty on our campus. If it stands, we will be forced to make even deeper cuts at the UO than are already anticipated, including cuts that will likely affect student support services, academic programs, and jobs. While we would like the HECC to reconsider its vote, we are already evaluating additional budget reduction steps that can be taken if this decision holds and the state does not provide additional support for public higher education.
No one wants to increase tuition, but the university is left with little choice given that tuition is the UO’s main source of revenue after decades of declining state support. Prior to the HECC’s vote, the UO’s tuition plan would have required more than $8 million in budget reductions next year, which would come on top of more than $6 million in cuts made in the previous fiscal year. I have steadfastly expressed my view that we will try to shield the academic part of our university from the impact of this year’s budget cuts, but if we are forced to limit our tuition increase to less than 5 percent, then that aspiration will likely be impossible.
In the face of cost-drivers that institutions do not control—including retirement and health benefit costs—Oregon’s public universities have been clear that significant additional state support for higher education is necessary to keep tuition increases low and to maintain critical student support services. State legislators still have the opportunity this session to approve a higher-education budget that prioritizes Oregon students and their families and makes the proposed tuition increase at the UO and other institutions unnecessary.
The state of Oregon deserves a world-class research institution like the UO. The HECC’s decision to overturn a tuition plan that was reached through months of inclusive campus engagement and careful deliberation by our institutional Board of Trustees, however, threatens our ability to deliver on that promise for all Oregonians. We will continue to work with students, faculty, staff, and alumni to make the case in Salem that cutting higher-education funding and usurping campus independence will lead to untenable outcomes for the UO and all of higher education in Oregon.
As we have said repeatedly, the UO stands ready and willing to provide HECC commissioners with the information they need to reconsider their decision about tuition on our campus. This situation is very fluid and time is of the essence, given that the fiscal year starts on July 1, but you have my commitment that we will communicate with the campus community as we hear more. I appreciate your patience and understanding.
Michael H. Schill
President and Professor of Law
5/11/2017: HECC turns down UO’s 10% tuition increase
That’s the bad news from the HECC meeting today. The tuition increase for in-state student tuition will be capped at 4.99%.
The vote on UO was 4-4, and a majority was needed. Will Campbell has a “to be updated” report in the Emerald here.
The docket is here, the official HECC statement is here:
PRESS RELEASE: HECC Takes Action on Public University Tuition Proposals, Approving Increases at OIT, SOU, WOU
MAY 11, 2017
Contact: Endi Hartigan, Communications Director, Higher Education Coordinating Commission, firstname.lastname@example.org, 971-701-4032 cell
Salem, Oregon — Oregon’s Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC) voted today at a public meeting in Salem to approve three out of five requests for resident undergraduate in-state tuition increases at Oregon public universities. The Boards of Trustees for Oregon’s seven public universities generally set tuition for their students, but under Oregon law* passed in 2013, HECC is required to determine for the State of Oregon whether any public university proposal for undergraduate in-state tuition and fee increases greater than five percent is appropriate.
Facing significant budget shortfalls in 2017-18, five of Oregon’s seven public universities** proposed 2017-18 tuition and mandatory fee increases above the five percent statutory threshold. These proposals were based on anticipated state funding levels, as described in the Governor’s Recommended Budget for higher education. The Commission’s action today approved proposed tuition increases at Oregon Institute of Technology (OIT), Southern Oregon University (SOU), and Western Oregon University (WOU). The proposals for Portland State University (PSU) and University of Oregon (UO) were not approved, in part related to concerns about student involvement in the tuition-setting process. Both PSU and UO fell one vote short of the five Commissioner votes required for passage. The vote followed nearly four hours of public testimony from students and other stakeholders over the last two days of Commission meetings, as well as vigorous discussion among the Commissioners.
|*=Weighted Average Increase
**Resident undergraduate tuition and mandatory enrollment fee
Cognizant of the precedent-setting nature of its action, the Commission’s votes followed a careful evaluation of the universities’ requests against a set of criteria substantially shaped by Governor Kate Brown, who on April 10, 2017 issued a letter to HECC Commission Chair Neil Bryant detailing conditions for tuition approval. In her letter, the Governor expressed concern for whether universities gave serious consideration to alternatives, how tuition increases would impact underrepresented students, how they would be balanced with institutional cost-saving measures or cuts, the degree to which students and faculty were involved in tuition-setting processes on campuses, whether additional state funding would reduce these tuition levels.
Institutions prepared detailed responses about how they satisfied these concerns; those responses, along with HECC staff analyses are available on the HECC website under materials for the May 10 and 11 public meetings here. The Chairs of the Boards of Trustees of all five universities joined senior university administrators before a HECC subcommittee on May 10 to personally attest to how they met the Governor’s conditions.
Neil Bryant, Chair of the HECC, said, “This was an unprecedented scenario for our Commission, as Oregon faces stark challenges in higher education funding. We appreciated the Governor’s student and equity-focused vision, which we share, and her clear criteria, which reinforced HECC priorities. The fact that universities are committed to reducing tuition increases should the Legislature provide additional state funding was an especially important consideration to the Commission. Although the Commission did not approve the UO and PSU proposals, we are committed to supporting the institutions in every way we can on next steps.”
The Commission’s discussion focused heavily on the insufficiency of state higher education funding levels, which has a direct impact on tuition. A recent national report on higher education funding showed that while Oregon made significant investments in 2015, this was in the context of many years of underfunding. Oregon still ranks substantially low (37th) for educational appropriations per student, and has seen some of the steepest reductions in the country since before the 2008 Recession.
Ben Cannon, executive director of the HECC, said, “Our Commissioners were faced today with the same unwelcome dilemma that has tested university Boards of Trustees: namely, the gap between steadily rising costs and flat state funding levels. Under these circumstances, the Commission concluded that the proposed increases represent the ‘least bad’ option for WOU, SOU, and OIT. We look forward to hearing how UO and PSU intend to either adjust their tuition proposals or present additional information to the HECC that could result in reconsideration.”
In their remarks, Commissioners expressed appreciation for the institutions, students, agency staff, and all who testified and contributed to the public process. Commission Chair Neil Bryant said, “I commend all public testimony, both pro and con, concerning the tuition increases. The HECC understands the tremendous burden that is placed on students and their families and is committed to supporting additional funding to reduce tuition.”
Under Oregon law, UO and PSU will need to do one of the following before finalizing their 2017-18 tuition rates for resident undergraduate students: 1) Modify their plan such that it falls below the 5% increase threshold requiring HECC approval, 2) Receive approval from the HECC for a modified or resubmitted proposal that is at a level of 5% or greater, or 3) Receive approval from the Legislative Assembly for a tuition increase greater than 5%.
**Eastern Oregon University (EOU) and Oregon State University (OSU) did not seek HECC approval, as their boards approved tuition increases of less than five percent.
2.0 DRAFT March 8, 2017 Minutes
4.0 2017-19 Community College Strategic Fund
5.0 Community College Support Fund Distribution: Growth Management
6.0a Public University Support Fund Distribution: Overview of SSCM Model
6.0b SSCM Funding Model Overview presentation
6.0c SSCM Summary
6.0d SSCM Calculation Map
7.0a Public University Tuition and Fee Increase Requests
7.0b UO Tuition & Fee Increase HECC summary
7.0c UO Tuition & Fee Institutional Board Packet
7.0d PSU Tuition & Fee Increase HECC summary
7.0e PSU Tuition & Fee Institutional Board Packet
7.0f PSU Tuition & Fee Institutional Finance Committee Packet
7.0g Letter from Governor Brown to HECC re tuition increases