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The University of Arkansas Board of Trustees voted to keep tuition and fees unchanged for the upcoming fall semester and to suspend all in-person summer classes, part of a special meeting conducted via teleconference Wednesday.
Trustees were also briefed on state funding reductions amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The overwhelming majority of the funding for our institutions from [Arkansas] general revenue is placed in Category A, and Category A funding was reduced from 100% to 95.8%, or a 4.2% reduction,” said Melissa Rust, vice president of university relations. “Category B funding was simply eliminated.”
Category B included the funding increases that some schools earned by performing well under the state’s new productivity funding formula, as well as a 1.8% increase awarded to entities not funded through the new formula, such as the UA System Division of Agriculture, she said.
The largest reductions were for that division, UA in Fayetteville and the UA Hope-Texarkana campus.
Rust told the trustees that the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences’ state funding was reduced by about $5.7 million, but that UAMS is seeking to have those funds restored through Arkansas’ new COVID-19 rainy day relief fund.
CFO Gina Terry told the board that many institutional budgets won’t require adjustments because the state funding reductions represent just a 1%-1.5% decrease in their budgets.
“One other thing that I wanted to also note is that we don’t know really the effect of everything we’re dealing with, on UAMS — and UAMS, just to give you some guidance on that, last year they were 41% of our operating revenues and 52% of our operating and non-operating revenue,” Terry said. “So they have a huge impact on our financial situation for the entire system. I just wanted to make sure that that was clear.”
The trustees didn’t have any questions, but the two women were asked to provide more insight on the state funding reductions at the board’s next virtual meeting set for May 4.
UA System President Donald Bobbitt said the decision to hold the line on tuition would only apply to the fall 2020 semester.
“I would expect that, at some point in time, the board would want to give the campuses guidance for a resolution that would take into account the spring 2021 semester,” he said.
In other business, the board voted to:
Authorize schools that closed student housing to offer prorated credits or refunds for room and board to students;
Authorize schools to temporarily modify admissions policies. The measure gives them flexibility in admitting students for the fall 2020 and spring 2021 semesters because some testing required for admission has been delayed.
Cancel all in-person athletic and academic camps that had been scheduled this summer.