June 26, 2006


To: Deans
  Department Chairs
  Budget Officers
From: Darrell Bazzell, Vice Chancellor for Administration
Subj: Revised Policy on Assessments for Graduate Assistant Tuition Remissions

Over the course of the past year, the university community has devoted a tremendous amount of time and energy searching for potential solutions to the budgetary problem associated with graduate assistant tuition remissions.  Last summer, the Chancellor and University Committee jointly appointed a faculty task force on tuition fee remission with the charge of “proposing a campus-wide approach for administering the costs of tuition remissions for graduate students.”  After eight months of detailed analysis and discussion, the task force delivered its final report and recommendations to the University Committee in February.  (The full text document can be found on the Secretary of the Faculty website.)  The report and its recommendations were unanimously accepted by the University Committee and forwarded to the Chancellor.

Since that time, the Chancellor and the Deans’ Council have carefully deliberated and analyzed the potential impacts and viability of the various recommendations contained in the final report.  Individual meetings with each school and college have been conducted to evaluate how changes in policy might have differential effects on specific schools and colleges as the result of local conditions, such as program and funding arrays.  In addition, careful thought and analysis has been given to the potential impacts on graduate student programming and the quality and reputation of the university’s graduate student training.  Throughout these deliberations, the university has been guided by principles aptly set forth by the task force:

From the very beginning of this process, it has been clear that the magnitude and severity of the budgetary problem is without precedent in recent university history.  The problem has had significant, deleterious effects on the fiscal health of the university and has caused distortions in programming and budgetary decisions and priorities at the institutional, divisional, and departmental levels.  Solving a problem of this magnitude will by its very nature require the collective will and shared sacrifice of all members and all facets of the university community.  The problem and its remedies are not confined to any particular localities, whether divisional, departmental, or disciplinary.

To fully address this problem, the Deans’ Council in its final deliberations last week unanimously recommended that the university implement the major policy change proposed by the task force, which is to impose a tuition remission surcharge of a fixed dollar amount on all PA and RA positions.  The Chancellor has formally accepted this recommendation, and by way of this memorandum, the new policy is established.

More detailed information on the change in policy is provided below.

I realize this is a profound change.  It’s clear that in some cases units will find it extremely difficult to develop funding mechanisms that will accommodate the new surcharge, and that in isolated cases the policy change could affect long-term funding and programming options.  The mitigation provided to certain divisions, as well as the recommended set-aside funds in the Deans’ Offices, are intended to address those issues by providing an adequate resource base to transition units in need of support to the new fiscal model.  If you feel that your particular situation warrants such support or assistance, I urge you to contact your Dean’s Office.

Notwithstanding the shared difficulties which lie ahead, the change in policy does offer the best strategy available to the university to resolve a longstanding structural budget imbalance, while at the same time clarifying and making more coherent the true cost of graduate instruction.  I look forward to working through this complex process together.

xc:    Chancellor Wiley
  Provost Farrell
  University Committee
  Tuition Remission Task Force