Increases in financial aid, tuition and fees, and employee wages are included in the 2015-16 fiscal year operating budget of $134,471,000 approved by the Kenyon College Board of Trustees last week in New York City. The budget’s bottom line is a boost of 4.62 percent from 2014-15.
Meetings over two days included working-group discussions on Kenyon 2020, the developing strategic plan guided by President Sean Decatur and based on conversations with hundreds of alumni, faculty, parents, staff and students. Those conversations have been distilled by campus leadership groups and then by a 2020 steering committee composed of faculty, staff and students.
Decatur emphasized the importance of Kenyon as a leader among colleges in preparing for the challenges of the mid-21st century and of the entire College community pulling in the same direction toward its goals.
The 2020 plan focuses on directing the student experience toward post-graduate success; strategic use of College resources to attract and retain an elite, high-potential and diverse student body; and making the most of the Kenyon community to enhance the learning environment and strengthen alumni ties. Trustees, working with senior administrators, sought to fine tune the priorities, tactics and metrics for success to be used in executing the strategic plan. The board will consider a final version of Kenyon 2020 at the April meeting in Gambier.
Additionally, the board participated in a panel discussion led by Decatur; Debra Humphreys, a public-policy vice president at the Association of American Colleges and Universities; and David Asai, director of the undergraduate science education program at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, on the challenges facing liberal arts institutions and the opportunities that await those colleges well-prepared for the future. The discussion centered on a new awareness of the achievement potential of admitted students and on the intellectual and practical skills sought by employers in the marketplace.
Trustees also agreed to celebrate the achievements of Barry F. Schwartz ’70, the board chair, with an honorary degree, to be awarded at Commencement on May 16. “When I accept that degree in May, I will do so with a great sense of pride for what we have accomplished,” Schwartz said. “Kenyon College is in great condition today due to what the board has done over a long period of time.”
The budget includes a tuition-and-fees increase of 3.75 percent to $61,100 for the next academic year.
The increase in student fees includes a 5.96 percent boost in the health and counseling fee that covers, in part, an increase in the cost of mandatory, accident-only health insurance. The new mandatory accident-only plan will automatically cover all full-time students as of Aug. 15, 2015, or the first day the student arrives on campus, whichever is later. The plan will cover accidents at 100 percent up to $5,000 per injury.
Due to changes mandated by the federal Affordable Care Act, the College also will offer a new, voluntary comprehensive insurance plan expected to cost students about $1,400 a year. Students not interested in that insurance coverage will be required to opt out of the plan via an online waiver.
The commitment to student financial aid was increased to $30,792,000 — up by 7.85 percent from the 2014-15 fiscal year. The trustees:
The board also approved a $300,000 commitment to enhance compliance with federal Title IX mandates governing gender equity and protection, including money for more robust staffing, campuswide education, and faculty and staff training.
Trustees approved a 2.5 percent increase to the salary pool for faculty, administrators and non-union staff for the next fiscal year. Pay increases will vary based on pay-scale comparison with the marketplace, job classification and length of service. Pay for employees in unions is dictated by negotiated contract.
The administration will move employee-contribution rates for the premium employee health insurance plan to the levels of 19 percent for those in the lowest pay tier, 24 percent for those in the middle tier and 32 percent for those in the highest pay tier. Contribution rates for the basic plan will remain at 16 percent, 20 percent and 27 percent for the various pay tiers. Co-pays, deductibles and coverages remain the same for both the premium and basic plans.