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Auburn Board of Trustees adopts budget with significant support in Auburn employees

Published: September 16, 2022
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In a show of significant investment support in Auburn employees, the Auburn University Board of Trustees accepted its largest budget to date—$1.593 billion—for fiscal year 2023 at its Sept. 16 meeting.

The new budget, which begins Oct. 1, increased by $64.2 million, or 4.20%, from fiscal year 2021. That includes a 5% merit pool, funds for the recruitment of high-caliber faculty, funds to provide staff with market-competitive salaries, job family and faculty promotions and other salary adjustments, as well as employee benefits.

The Friday action follows an announcement made by Auburn President Christopher B. Roberts at the April board meeting that the university was committed to investing greatly in its employees. Nearly 85% of the proposed budget, or $1,348.9 million, is for main campus, with $110.5 million for Auburn University at Montgomery, $70.4 million for the Alabama Cooperative Extension System and $63.2 million for the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station.

Salaries, wages and employee benefits are the largest expenses, making up a combined 52.4% of the budget. Kelli Shomaker, vice president for business and finance and chief financial officer, said tuition and fees and state appropriations continue to be the university’s largest revenue sources, making up almost 67% of the total budget.

These areas also increased more than other revenue sources, with an additional $27.3 million in state appropriations, $21.5 million in revenue from tuition and fees and $11.4 million in restricted revenues. This accounts for $60.2 million of the overall $64.2 million increase in the new budget.

Shomaker said the change in the budget for operations and maintenance is almost exclusively related to inflationary costs for areas such as the City of Auburn public safety contract, administrative and academic software cost increases, insurance premiums and new square footage added to campus.

Additionally, the board accepted a proposed 3% increase for tuition and fees at Auburn and a 4% increase at Auburn University at Montgomery for fall 2023. Housing rates will also increase slightly next fall at Auburn, but not on the Montgomery campus.

In other matters, the board:

  • Accepted a proposal to construct the Gulf Coast Engineering Research Station and initiated the architect selection process. The Samuel Ginn College of Engineering has proposed the construction of the building in Orange Beach, Alabama, to provide laboratory, office and collaborative spaces for the research of coastal environments and communities of the Gulf Coast, as well as to provide Auburn with opportunities for collaboration with other Marine Environmental Sciences Consortium institutions. Financing is anticipated to come from grant funds from the RESTORE Council in cooperation with the State of Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

  • Accepted a proposal to renovate a portion of the Research and Innovation Center in the Auburn Research Park and selected Goodwyn Mills Cawood of Birmingham, Alabama, as the project architect. The project will create a Research Commons for the College of Architecture, Design and Construction. Work involves completing a tenant fit-out of 8,000 square feet of the center for research support and administration spaces and renovating 4,000 square feet of the center’s supporting building for a fabrication and research shop.

  • Initiated a project to renovate the advising suite in Lowder Hall and authorized the architect selection process. The Harbert College of Business seeks the suite’s renovation in order to enhance the reception area and add advising offices and collaborative spaces to accommodate the growth of student enrollment and improve departmental efficiency.

  • Accepted plans to conduct phase II of the Village Residence Halls repair and renovation project. Work on Holloway Hall, which is expected to start and end in the summer of 2023, includes replace flooring, millwork, countertops, mechanical units and furnishings. Phase II of the overall project is estimated to cost $3 million and to be financed by University Housing. Phase I of the project involved repairing Matthews and Aubie Halls.

  • Granted final approval to a project to create a new environmental education building at the Kreher Preserve and Nature Center. The new facility will provide indoor and outdoor instructional space to support and expand the research and outreach programs aimed at groups of all ages. The estimated total project cost is $1.95 million. Leers Weinzapfel Associates of Boston was previously selected as the project architect.

  • Selected Cooper Carry of Atlanta as project architect for the renovation of space in the Student Activity Center for the School of Kinesiology’s new Doctor of Physical Therapy program. The project will provide instructional space, a research laboratory, offices and other support spaces to enable the school to commence the new program.

  • Selected Barge Design Solutions Inc. of Dothan, Alabama, as the general consultant for the Auburn University Regional Airport. The Federal Aviation Administration and the State of Alabama Aeronautics Bureau require the airport to engage a general consultant who will perform certain airport planning, engineering and administrative services.

  • Also, selected Barge Design Solutions Inc. as the engineer for the runway safety area extension project. The Federal Aviation Administration, or FAA, recently advised Auburn that the current safety area on the northern end of Runway 18-36 must be extended for the airport to continue and grow its volume of operations. To facilitate a more timely and efficient design process, the University Architect recommended the approval of the airport general consultant, Barge Design Solutions Inc. It is anticipated that the project would be financed by grant funds via the FAA and local funds from the cities of Auburn and Opelika.

  • Adopted a resolution to approve the conservancy easement for the Alabama Cooperative Extension System’s project to build a new pavilion at the Graham Farm and Nature Center Pavilion in Jackson County, Alabama.

  • Accepted the College of Forestry, Wildlife and Environment’s proposal to establish the Center for Natural Resources Management on Military Lands. The center will support the college’s agreement with the U.S. Army to conduct research-based activities to help the Army better manage its lands. In addition, the center will provide faculty expertise and natural resource management services at one or more of the Army’s eight installations in the southeast.

Additionally, the board learned about the Harbert College of Business renaming its Department of Management to the Department of Management and Entrepreneurship. The change in nomenclature better reflects the current breadth of entrepreneurship instruction, research and outreach programs.

The Harbert College also renamed the Department of Systems and Technology to the Department of Business Analytics and Information Systems. The change was necessary, as the department is no longer home to those academic disciplines.

For Auburn University at Montgomery, the board accepted a proposal to establish a Master of Science in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in the College of Sciences. The new degree program includes thesis and non-thesis options and three concentrations: Biochemistry and molecular biology, biotechnology and environmental science technology. The aim is to provide opportunities to biology and chemistry graduate students to tailor their studies to their unique career goals. The degree is unique in the state due to its options, which are not similar to other programs. Currently, there are more than 370 undergraduate students enrolled in the biology and environmental sciences programs and more than 50 undergraduate students enrolled in the chemistry program.

 

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.

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