In its second official meeting with new members, Monday UWA's board of trustees met in a special called meeting. One of the main topics of discussion was the university's budget for the next school year. Items approved included a 15 percent tuition increase for undergraduate students and a five percent tuition increase for graduate students.
"The necessity of it is the lack of funding for higher education in Alabama," says UWA Board of Trustee president Alex Saad. "If you look at where UWA falls with all the other state universities, we're number 10 in terms of tuition costs and there are between 13 and 16 state funded universities, so we're not way up, we're an absolute bargain!"
Also approved was a salary/benefit increase for UWA faculty and staff for 7.24 percent Speaking of faculty, during the meeting longtime board member Dr. Doris Oliveira raised concerns about the lack of minority faculty.
"You know this is very serious business. This is 2004 and you're asking minorities to support efforts that don't even help them," says Dr. Oliveira.
The board is expected to further discuss the matter in a special retreat in August.
Meanwhile in September, a review committee from the Southern Association of Colleges or SACS as its known is set to visit the campus. During a follow-up visit last fall, a SACS committee placed the school on probation because of a feud at the time among board of trustee members.
University President, Dr. Richard Holland says he's optimistic about the outcome of the visit.
"I'm very optimistic because the only issue they're coming to look at is governance and that has been addressed. With three new members of the board, new officers of the board and board committees functioning, that issue has been addressed."
The board's next official meeting has been moved to Sept. 9 at 10:00 a.m. so that SACS officials can sit in on the meeting. Officials say it will likely be December before they know whether or not the school will be taken off probation. UWA was placed on probation in December 2003 due to governance issues, not academic concerns.