Trustees hear report from affordability task force

By: ISU Communications and Marketing Staff, ISU Communications and Marketing Staff
February 17, 2012

Alternative fueled vehicles, letting students work in residence halls to help pay for housing and reducing the number of credit hours and time needed to complete bachelor's degrees are just a few of dozens of proposals Indiana State University faculty, staff and students submitted to an affordability task force.

Jack Maynard, the university's provost and vice president for academic affairs, presented the task force's report to Indiana State's board of trustees on Thursday.

More than 40 faculty members, students, staff and administrators made up a task force steering committee which Maynard chaired. Subcommittees examined the specific areas of textbooks and supplies; facilities, services and administrative structure; housing and dining; and instruction.

"It is clear that everyone on the Indiana State University campus is committed to making higher education more affordable," Maynard said. "It is also clear that there is no simple solution to the problem. Rather, making college more affordable will require the university to evaluate almost every function it performs."

University President Dan Bradley appointed the task force last fall after challenging the campus to hold future increases in student costs to annual increases in the cost of living.

Bradley will now work with the steering committee to develop a set of recommendations for immediate and long-term consideration, Maynard said.

Sub-committee recommendations include:

Textbooks and Supplies
• Develop an education program to better inform faculty and students of the issues impacting the cost of textbooks and instructional supplies
• Modify university policies regarding textbooks, explore new models of buying, selling, and returning (buying back) textbooks, including exploring a course-fee model that has been implemented at other universities

Facilities, Services, and Administrative Structure
• Reactivate an energy awareness and conservation program
• Connect more university facilities to the campus' central heating plant
• Convert university vehicles to alternative fuel sources
• Explore outsourcing of services where appropriate
• Develop clearer guidelines for assignment of offices, storage space and classrooms

Housing and Dining
• New housing models such as co-operative housing in which students would work in exchange for all or part of the cost of housing, should be explored
• Continue to invest in current housing to make it more attractive, functional, and energy efficient
• Explore expanded use of student employees to reduce personnel cost

Instruction
• Explore a number of academic program changes, such as reducing the total hours required for undergraduate degrees and establishing limits for the number of hours in undergraduate majors
• Reorganize summer school to be more similar to a third semester
• Continue to develop a more seamless transfer model with Ivy Tech Community College.
• Redesign high-enrolled undergraduate courses with the goal of improving learning while being more efficient
• Create a University College to better focus on the needs of first-year students
• Explore new advising models.

Bradley said he plans to forward specific recommendations to the board and the ISU campus this spring.

"These recommendations will address the campus' commitment to ensuring more Hoosiers can afford to pursue their higher education aspirations at Indiana State University," he said.

Media contact and writer: Dave Taylor, media relations director, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3743 or dave.taylor@indstate.edu