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Business college hires more profs

By Shelley Shelton
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday September 3, 2003

New $250 fee pays to bring additional faculty for Eller College undergrads

Six-year tenure-eligible faculty have joined the Eller College of Business and Public Administration thanks to a $250 semester program fee implemented for undergraduates who entered the college this year.

The fee of $500 per semester for out-of-state students and $250 for in-state was approved last spring by the Arizona Board of Regents. It only affects those students newly accepted to the business school this semester and beyond.

"Most of our peer public institutions actually reported being down (in numbers of faculty) again this year. So the fees have allowed us to run counter to the herd," said Mark Zupan, dean of the Eller College.

More importantly, he sees it as a reversal of the college's own trend: between 1989 and 2002, the college had lost 35 tenure-eligible faculty members, he said.

Because of the additional teachers, class offerings have increased.

"That will stand us in good stead, reputation-wise," Zupan said. "Our aspiration is to be a top-five public school."

Before deciding how to allocate the fees, the business college sought student feedback about what could be improved. Class availability and quality of faculty were the overriding responses, he said.

However, former student lobbyist and ASUA Executive Vice President Melanie Rainer expressed deep concerns about the precedent the business college's fee could set for other UA colleges.

"It's definitely something to worry about. Essentially, it's like another tuition increase," Rainer said.

Rainer's main concern lies with the fact that ABOR did not cite any precedents when they approved the differential fee, nor did they set any procedures for determining when it is appropriate for a college to implement such a fee, she said.

"What will keep other colleges from passing similar differential fees?" she asked.

Eller College Student Council members strongly supported the plan to implement the fees when it was before ABOR last spring.

"I think they are absolutely necessary," said Andrew Collins, ECSC president.

The students' first priority was faculty improvements, he said.

The need for this became apparent last October, when Vernon Smith, who taught at the UA for 25 years, won the Nobel Prize in economics. Smith had left the UA just one year prior to receiving that honor.

"When people are looking at your school for rankings and accreditation, they want to make sure you have good faculty," Collins said.

Before the ECSC decided to support the fee, it went to the students to see how they felt about it.

"We never experienced a high opposition to the differential fees. When you look at the price we charge for tuition and add the $250 fee, we're still very competitive, and what the fee goes toward just makes the degree worth more anyway," he said.

Faculty issues aside, Zupan had a seemingly endless list of other improvements that funds from the new fee will help with.

These include increased elective course offerings, updated computers in the Sands computer lab, better communication via a web-based periodical for students, cable TV installation so students can watch CNN throughout the day, increased assistance with internship placement, and an orientation lunch featuring a keynote speaker so that students feel more welcome to the school.

Additionally, the college has set aside 15 percent of the funds for need-based and merit-based scholarships, and students also asked for a Student Excellence Fund, which is an endowment that will grow and give the ECSC access to money for student activities, Zupan said.

"Over time, we'll need to keep talking to our student leaders about what are the best uses of the fund," he said.

ECSC member Jenny Rimsza said that in general, she has seen a very positive response to the fees and how they are being used.

She pointed out that there is a system of checks and balances in place. A student board reviews the money as it comes in and then determines where it should go.

"The student board was a big part of the reason (the ECSC) thought the fee should be passed," she said.

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