Budget Pushes Higher Learning
By NIA BENTALL
On Jan. 11, 2012, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell proposed his budget for fiscal year (FY) 2013-2014 to the Virginia House of Delegates. If his proposed budget for Higher Education is approved by the General Assembly on Feb. 19, it could affect the University of Mary Washington’s funding.
The budget proposed is in accordance with the Virginia Higher Education Opportunities Act of 2011 (TJ21), designed to “provide for reform-based assessment and affordable access through a higher education funding policy,” according to the Higher Education budget proposed.
TJ21 allocates funds to public schools in Virginia based on six categories. The first is base adequacy, a “formula driven by student enrollment and average faculty salaries, that indicated amounts needed to support the operations and academic missions of public colleges and universities” according to the Higher Education budget. The remaining five categories are: degree incentives, operating initiatives, enrollment growth, research, and financial aid. UMW is proposed to receive $1,336,520 for FY 2013 and FY 2014.
If the budget passes, it will affect funding at UMW. The Virginia legislature is pushing increased funding for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). UMW will be receiving an allotment for the substantial number of students in the sciences at UMW, said Paul Messplay, the executive director of budget and financing.
“If these funds stay in the budget that is finally adopted by the General Assembly, they will be used primarily to advance our work in the sciences and math since we don’t have programs in the other two areas,” said President Rick Hurley.
Senior Brittany Combs, a biology major, said, “Everyone of my labs and field research classes seemed very well equipped with relatively new materials.”
Science and mathematics will not be the only areas affected. UMW will be receiving and additional $81,340 in need based financial aid for in-state students said Messplay.
There is also a proposal to increase funding to the Virtual Library of Virginia (VIVA), designed to “support a major new e-book initiative and sustain current databases.”
According to Messplay, some programs have been cut, including the Emanate Scholars Program, which supplemented faculty salaries and attracted professors by matching endowment earnings on a dollar-for-dollar basis.
“The cut will not affect faculty salaries, as UMW plans to find these funds from within the institution,” Messplay said.
McDonnell proposed an amendment that would limit the amount of tuition revenue gathered from in-state students that could be used supplement financial aid to the amount proposed in the years 2012-14.
The Higher Education Advisory Committee in the General Assembly is asked to “evaluate using tuition for this purpose as part of the goal of enhancing affordability for low- and middle-income students and families,” according to the Higher Education budget.
UMW President Rick Hurley weighed in on the budget discussion, stating, “I believe that any funds we receive from the state will benefit students because they allow us to keep tuition lower than it might be and strengthen our programs.”
Junior Kara Arbogast, a chemistry and biology major, said, “We could use some new equipment because the equipment we have now is [not the best].”
Similarly, junior Raihana Sherdil, a chemistry major, said, “It would be nice to have more equipment or more space.”
The Bullet attempted to reach Fredericksburg Delegate William Howell, but he was unavailable for comment.