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Regents FY03 Budget Request Has Strategic Focus on Access, Retention and Graduation Rates

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Atlanta — September 12, 2001

Sticking to its theme of “a more educated Georgia,” the University System of Georgia Board of Regents approved a budget request aimed at bringing public higher education to a potentially huge market of non-traditional students (students who don’t enroll in college directly from high school) and improving the number of freshmen students who return to college for a second year.

Today the Regents approved these items as part of the $1.8 billion Fiscal Year 2003 Budget Request. Included in this total was a $31 million request for enhancement funding, consistent with the two percent cap for such requests placed by the Governor’s office. The board also approved the FY03 major and minor capital projects request. The multi-year capital budget request is $565 million (though the General Assembly normally funds only a portion of this rolling list); the fiscal year’s minors request is $59 million. The board also approved a one-time, $72 million request for the FY02 Supplemental Budget. These requests are now submitted to the Governor’s office. The Governor will recommend a final budget to the General Assembly for funding during the 2002 legislative session.

While no specific dollar amount was indicated, the budget request includes language urging the Governor to provide a significant average merit salary increase for faculty and staff. A strong salary year would allow the University System to improve its competitive position nationally (in 2000, Georgia was at 98.7 percent of the national average and regionally Georgia is fourth in the 16 Southern Regional Education Board states).

In his presentation to the board, Chancellor Stephen R. Portch focused on the direct relationship between the budget request and the regents’ Strategic Plan. “Strategically, the budget should follow planning,” he said, “and over half of our proposed $31.1 million in enhancement funding request is in two key strategic areas: enhancing access and improving retention. Our benchmarking data indicated these areas need our focused attention.”

Consequently, included in the $31.1 million budget enhancement request are two special funding initiatives to address these issues:

  • A $7.6 million request to enhance access to public higher education among non-traditional students and African-American males. Among working age students, defined as 25-44 year olds enrolled part-time in college, Georgia enrolls only 1.7 percent of the population compared to 4.7 percent in the top five states in the country. And, consistent with or like national data, the University System’s undergraduate African-American student population is 63 percent female and only 37 percent male, compared to the white undergraduate split of 51 percent female and 49 percent male. The request would include funding for: start-up funding for centers designed to make higher education more convenient to non-traditional students; universities to bring select baccalaureate degrees to two-year institution sites; and for market research; expanded specialized programs to serve non-traditional students; and market research targeted at African-American males.

  • A $9 million request to provide funding for the University System to establish or expand programs based on the freshman year experience. Programs that help students during their freshmen year are critical to improving retention, and this initiative would help institutions identify and implement such programs. Improved retention rates ultimately improve graduation rates, a goal of the regents under the theme, “a more educated Georgia.”

The remainder of the $31.1 million in enhancement funding includes request for:

  • $5 million to establish a pool of funds to be used to match private donations for eminent scholar chairs;
  • $4 million to increase the numbers of health care professionals through expanding the ICAPP Advantage program to include the health care industry;
  • $1 million to continue the System’s efforts to meet new state accountability requirements;
  • $750,000 to support North Georgia College & State University’s mission as Georgia’s public military college;
  • $750,000 to provide a System-wide master’s degree program for P-12 teachers that would enable them to seek national certification;
  • $160,000 for a minority doctoral scholars program operated under the auspices of the Southern Regional Education Board and designed to increase the number of minorities who hold Ph.Ds and;
  • $2.85 million to provide for health insurance to teaching and research graduate assistants.

The FY03 budget request also proposes that the technology factor of the formula (the mathematical equation that provides the base funds for operation of the System’s 34 institutions) be increased from its current 1.7 percent of base formula funding to 2 percent and the rate of funding for operations and maintenance of the System’s facilities be increased from $5.75 to $5.99 per square foot.

The capital budget request includes 22 major projects ($504.5 million), 14 minors projects ($59.3 million) and one payback project ($1.1 million).

Included in the FY02 Amended Budget request is a $9.1 proposal to provide for repairs and renovations, to increase the holdings of books and materials and meet technology needs in the state’s public library system.

Assisting Chancellor Portch in the presentation were: Dr. Ansley Abraham, director of the Southern Regional Education Board Doctoral Scholars Program; Bill Keith, a graduate of Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College and Georgia Southwestern State University; Dr. William McCartney, eminent scholar at Georgia Southern University; Amanda Rickling, member of the Corps of Cadets at North Georgia College & State University; and Carol Smith, vice president and chief nursing officer, Memorial Health University Medical Center, Savannah.

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