Auburn University Board of Trustees agrees to freeze tuition at Auburn, AUM for fall

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Students at Auburn University and Auburn University at Montgomery, or AUM, will not see an increase in tuition for the first time in at least 30 years.

Kelli Shomaker, Auburn’s vice president for business and finance and chief financial officer, said the fall 2021 tuition freeze was recommended as many parents and students are facing ongoing financial hardships from the COVID-19 pandemic, and the university received a significant increase in state appropriations for fiscal year 2022.

The pandemic has also resulted in more Auburn students utilizing the mental health resources on campus. By increasing the mental health fee by $5 per semester, Shomaker said Auburn could acquire at least two new staff members “to assist with mental health issues and ensure timely services to our students both virtually and in person.”

Shomaker added that the current Miss Auburn, Caroline Keim, ran on a platform of mental health and is supportive of the fee increase, as the resulting services will have a positive impact on students.

Shomaker also recommended a $10 per semester fee to grow transit bus routes in order to cover the expansion of student living areas in the city, as well as provide a more environmentally friendly fleet of buses. She said students have asked for a move to more sustainable buses.

The board agreed to the $30 increase in the student services fee, as well as a 2% increase in housing rates at Auburn and AUM. Auburn last increased its housing rate in fall 2020 and AUM last did in fall 2015.

The rate increases will be used to provide adequate funds for new developments, renovation projects and deferred maintenance projects. In his presentation to trustees during the April 15 board workshop, Senior Vice President of Student Affairs Bobby Woodard said campus residence halls remain popular among students.

The board also agreed to finance up to $30 million in revenue bonds for a new fleet of transit buses that will begin operation on Aug. 1.

Among the awards and namings accepted by the board was a resolution to name the auditorium in the Walker Building, which is home to the Harrison School of Pharmacy, in honor of Auburn alumni Johnny and Sue Bell.

This was the first meeting for Tim Vines, who was confirmed by the Alabama Senate on April 15 as an at-large member of the board. Vines fulfills the unexpired term of Gen. Lloyd Austin, who resigned in January to become the U.S. Secretary of Defense.

A 1988 Auburn alumnus, Vines is president and CEO of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama.

In other matters, the board agreed to:

  • Grant final approval to the project to renovate the Ham Wilson Arena into a training facility for university staff. Plans call for renovating approximately 12,500 square feet of existing space to create flexible training rooms, make accessibility improvements and mechanical and electrical system upgrades, as well as repair or replace exterior metal panels, replace the roof and make other site improvements. The estimated total cost is $2.8 million to be financed by Facilities Management financial reserves and University Repair and Renovation Funds. JMR+H Architecture of Montgomery, Alabama, was previously selected as the project architect.

  • Select Williams Blackstock Architects of Birmingham, Alabama, as the architect for a project to renovate the AUM Science Laboratory Facility.

  • Award a posthumous degree to Tyler Grogan, who passed away on Jan. 17. Grogan would have earned a Master of Science in homeland security and emergency management from AUM.

  • Create a resolution for the family of Lamar Higgins, a longtime friend of Auburn and 25-year member of the Troy University Board of Trustees, who died Thursday. Higgins, 61, was a native of Marbury, Alabama. He was the first Black student to serve as Troy’s Student Government Association president and became the first Black member of the Troy board in 1996.

  • Recognize Jane DiFilco Parker, who recently retired, for her service to Auburn as vice president for development and president of the Auburn University Foundation and grant her the title of vice president emeritus.

  • Recognize Gary Lemme, who has also retired, for his 10 years of service to Auburn as director of Alabama Cooperative Extension System and grant him the title of director emeritus.

Additionally, the board learned during the meeting that:

  • Admissions for the master’s in architecture degree program in the College of Architecture, Design and Construction would be temporarily paused, effective this summer, due to a pandemic-induced lack of projects at the Rural Studio. During the pause, the Rural Studio will continue to provide opportunities for undergraduate students.

  • The Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures in the College of Liberal Arts would be renamed as the Department of World Languages, Literatures and Cultures.

  • The Department of Theatre, also in the College of Liberal Arts, would be renamed as the Department of Theatre and Dance.

Auburn University is a nationally ranked land grant institution recognized for its commitment to world-class scholarship, interdisciplinary research with an elite, top-tier Carnegie R1 classification, life-changing outreach with Carnegie’s Community Engagement designation and an undergraduate education experience second to none. Auburn is home to more than 30,000 students, and its faculty and research partners collaborate to develop and deliver meaningful scholarship, science and technology-based advancements that meet pressing regional, national and global needs. Auburn’s commitment to active student engagement, professional success and public/private partnership drives a growing reputation for outreach and extension that delivers broad economic, health and societal impact.