Before any new professors can be hired, salaries can be raised, courses can be added and buildings can be built, Boise State officials must first pitch and plead with the Idaho State Legislature for funding.
This January, Boise State will primarily lobby to raise professor wages and garner nearly $7 million for adding professors and reducing the amount of bottleneck upper division courses.
The State challenged public institutions to award 60 percent of Idahoans between the ages of 25 and 34 with diplomas by 2020, and Boise State believes $7 million of the over $77 million requested in the newest budget proposal.
Boise State will first have to go in front of the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee (JFAC), along with the three other public four-year institutions, Idaho State, University of Idaho and Lewis and Clark State.
JFAC will then make its funding decision by late February or March, according to Paul Headlee, Deputy Division Manager of Public Schools and Higher Education.
All of the Idaho institutions are requesting some money to reach the 60 percent goal, but Boise State has made reaching the milestone a top priority, according to Associate Vice President for Communication and Marketing Greg Hahn.
More than 40 percent of all the bachelor’s degrees in Idaho come from Boise State.
“If we’re going to get to that 60 percent goal, a lot of those students are going to come through Boise State,” Hahn said. “We’re going to be a bigger part of that.”
The $7 million will go to hire 54 tenured track faculty, add 12 new advisors move 18 adjunct professors into lecturing roles and reduce the difficulty for students to enroll in necessary upper division courses. This will all, ideally, reduce the length of time it takes for students to complete earn their degrees or certificates, making the long-run cost of attending college cheaper, Hahn says.
Funding decisions made by JFAC are loosely influenced by changes in enrollment, which is evaluated by the enrollment workload adjustment (EWA). Boise State experienced a 3 percent decrease in enrollment during the Fall of 2013, but 2013 enrollment numbers will not be considered by the EWA until the full year is complete.
“The formula uses a three-year rolling average of weighted credit student hours, so a decrease in one year may be offset by an increase in another,” Headlee said in an email with the Arbiter. “EWA forms the basis for the Board’s request to the Idaho Legislature for funding.”
Boise State is also hoping to get a 1 percent funding match from the state for raised wages of university faculty by getting approval for a change of employee compensation (CEC). If the State approves the CEC proposed by the university, but does not decide to award matching funding, the funding must then come from tuition hikes.
“The top request is kind of joint, it’s like a three-pronged request,” Hahn said. “To have a CEC, because we haven’t had one in a couple of years; to cover the health care benefit cost changes; and to keep tuition from going up.”
Keeping tuition rates low, while increasing graduation rates and building a stronger faculty base are at the forefront of Boise State’s funding request this upcoming year. In the end, JFAC will have the ability to award however much money they choose to the given programs described in the proposal.