Trustees Approve 3.89 Percent Room and Board Increase
by Michael Martin Garrett
It might soon cost some extra cash for students to secure a stay in Penn State’s dorms.
The Penn State Board of Trustees committee on finance, business and capital planning tentatively approved an increase to the university’s room and board costs at its meeting on Thursday in Hershey. If the full board also approves the proposal on Friday, the average cost of room and board will increase by 3.89 percent.
Under the increase, the cost of a double room and meal plan at University Park will increase $190 to a total cost of $5,075, said Penn State associate vice president for auxiliary and business services Gail Hurley.
Hurley said the increase is fairly small and will offset rising costs associated with benefits and pension costs. She explained that Penn State’s housing and food services and residence life departments are self-sustaining, and are not funded by tuition or money from the state.
Only three Big Ten schools have a lower room and board rate than Penn State, Hurley said. Trustee Bill Oldsey said he was glad that Penn State has such competitive rates, but he was confused by the “disconnect” between the low cost of room and board and the high cost of tuition.
President Eric Barron responded that Penn State receives a much lower state appropriation than other Big Ten schools. The University of Minnesota receives about $8,000 more per student from state appropriations than Penn State does, for example.
“I worry that sometimes, when we give that answer, we’re ignoring the things that we can be doing,” Oldsey said. “Yes, we need to work on government relations… but there are internal things we can do that are drivers on tution.”
The finance committee also honored longtime Blue Band director Richard Bundy by approving a proposal to name the Blue Band building after him. Committee members also moved forward with a number of renovation and construction projects, some of which come with a hefty price tag.
The committee gave the okay to move ahead with an ongoing $60 million project to construct two new data centers, one at University Park and one at Penn State Hershey. The two centers will back each other up and will serve the university’s growing technological needs, according to vice president of the office of physical plant Ford Stryker.
A $62 million project to build a new water treatment facility was also given the green light. $45 million of the total cost has been set aside from state funding over the past several years, Stryker said. The new water facility will improve water quality and pressure, and is expected to serve Penn State’s needs for the next 50 years.
The committee also set aside $8 million dollars for heating system upgrades to the visual arts building, and approved architecture firms to design a new lacrosse field and chemical engineering building.