SBU trustees talk budget, witness $1 million gift
By Brian Koonce
October 18, 2005
BOLIVAR – Trustees for Southwest Baptist University (SBU) met Oct. 10-11 and discussed fall enrollment and revisions to the budget before witnessing the presentation of an unexpected $1 million gift to the university.
Despite a small drop in full-time students on the Bolivar campus, strong increases in enrollment at the university’s Lebanon and Springfield campuses boosted SBU’s overall headcount statewide two percent to 3,440 this year. A 17 percent increase in part-time students and double-digit increases in both transfer and non-degree seeking students helped even out the 1.6 percent dip in full-time students.
Cary Summers, chairman of the finance committee, reported that though SBU is on firm financial ground, the university needs to increase enrollment – especially among full-time students on the Bolivar campus.
Trustees unanimously acted on several recommendations from committees, including a revised and balanced 2005-06 budget in light of fewer-than-expected full-time students on campus. The cost for a full-time student for the 2006-07 academic year will be $17,500, representing a 6.7 percent increase over the current cost. The board approved recommendations to raise tuition $850 to $13,300, an increase of 6.8 percent. Room and Board will jump 7.3 percent to $2,200 and a standard 20 meal ticket will now cost $2,000, a 5.3 percent increase.
The good news for parents and students but bad news for the university is that as tuition goes up, the discount rate – the percentage of tuition revenue that is turned right back into financial aid – is also going up. Students can often end up paying less with lower tuition than with a lower discount rate, leaving less money for the university’s bottom line. The board is looking at the possibility of lowering the discount rate several percentage points which would shore up the university’s financial footing even more.
Although the enrollment news was mixed and increases in tuition are necessary, there was at least one item on the agenda that universally brought a smile to the trustees’ faces. Board member Wayne Gott presented the university a check for $1 million.
“We are not doing this so we can get any accolades,” he told the board as he signed the check. “We want to do this for the glory of God. God has blessed me and my family. We wanted to share this with Southwest Baptist University.”
Gott not only serves as trustee, but he also served as the school’s interim president for nearly three years in the early 1990s.