By WILL BRORSEN
Work on the six-year plan for the University of Mary Washington is underway by the Board of Visitors. Allocations of funding strongly influence the campus, as well as tuition. The committee had its first meeting on March 22. UMW has three projects underway that will potentially have a major impact on the operating budget. The current projects are the Jepson Science Center expansion, a new parking deck and the renovation of Seacobeck Hall.
The north side of UMW’s campus is getting revamped with the recent addition of the Hurley Convergence Center and now the expansion of Jepson Science Center as well. The six-year plan is a document used by the Commonwealth of Virginia to ensure that the budgetary priorities of the universities are aligned with the strategic goals of the governor and state officials.
There will be an approximately 40,000 square foot addition to the Jepson Science Center. This project should be moving into construction and the addition is estimated to cost UMW about $250,000 annually. Student tuition and fees will increase to cover the costs that aren’t covered by state general funds.
This will allow for an expansion of the STEM majors and more lab space. Additional funding for our Geospatial Analysis program will be given to support the Master of Science in Geospatial Analysis. Almost 15 percent of geospatial skills jobs advertised nationally are in the northern Virginia area.
“In my experience, having GIS skills has definitely helped me with jobs, internships and research projects,” said senior geography major Krissy Frye. “It is a versatile skill that can apply to almost any job and it’s a skill that diverges into so many different avenues, even within the GIS world.”
UMW is aiming for the potential to also attract out-of-state graduate students in this expanding field.
There will be a construction of a new parking deck as well, which has required tuition to increase $200 per full time student. Parking has been an issue in the past and some students would rather opt out of buying a parking pass. “I wouldn’t buy a parking pass it’s not worth it,” said freshman Lucas Prunczik. Even with the increase in tuition, students will still have to pay for parking passes.
Before the University Center, Seacobeck Hall was the main dining hall on campus, and now the third project underway with renovation. Seacobeck will be renovated for use in education and general programs. The estimated annual operating budget is $175,000, including utilities, housekeeping and security services. This project serves as another reason for possible student tuition raises.
Summer session enrollments at UMW have been declining, and there has been talk of allocating more funds to make summer classes more viable.
“It’s a great way to stay on track and get ahead, but I wish more business classes had been offered during the summer,” said recent UMW graduate Mathieu Wetmore. Efforts by UMW in the past to expand online classes showed in increase in enrollment. Online classes are great for students as they are convenient, and flexible, while also not requiring a commute.
However new funding allocations for the expansion of summer class offerings at UMW have been deferred. The upcoming 2017 six-year plan draft may attempt to fix the decline in summer enrollment. Online classes may be a solution, if it is economical for the student.
Martin A. Wilder, Chief of Staff of the Office of the President at UMW, and Clerk of the Board of Visitors said, “The UMW Board of Visitors is interested in being engaged with the 2017 plan as it is developed; therefore, it has established an ad hoc committee on the six-year plan,” said clerk of the Board of Visitors and the Office of the President’s chief of staff Martin Wilder.
This new plan will affect the tuition of UMW students, and many students are curious how much more they will have to pay. The Board of Visitors, “anticipate that the draft plan will be submitted to the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia by July 1, for review by the designated group of state officials.” The draft will be amended by these state officials and then returned to the Board of Visitors for their approval or disapproval in November.