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SVSU Adding Nearly 20 Percent to Campus Buildings, Enrollment Seen 9,000+

Tuition Hikes Continue, Aimed at Making Up for State Budget Cuts

July 21, 2003       Leave a Comment
By: Dave Rogers

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SVSU's Founder's Hall
SVSU's Ryder Center

By the time the next crop of freshmen hit the Saginaw Valley State University campus in late August, campus facilities will have grown by nearly 20 percent.

Under construction, although not all on schedule for immediate use, are a new College ofEducation, Student Center and Living Center, and additions to the Ryder Center, Marshall Fredericks Museum and Zahnow Library.

The total estimated cost of the new construction is $72 million, a figure amazing to visitors who are aware of the state's stringent finances at the moment.

The school's enrollment of 8,876 from the last winter semester, is expected to grow by more than two percent, climbing to more

than 9,000, according to university officials. Enrollment increases were held down to 2.26 percent from a projected 2.7 percent last winter because foreign students are having more difficulty entering the country. Many of last winter's hike of 196 students were transfers from other universities. Fear of SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) reduced attendance by half, from 12 to six, on a SVSU-sponsored trip to Japan, and may have also affected enrollment.

Hordes of neophytes and their parents are touring the campus, "oohing" and "aahing" over the monstrous metal and concrete paladins rising in mid-campus. "These new buildings will all be done by fall," says an optimistic college tour guide, drawing nods of approval from the visitors.

All the construction, and student enrollment growth, seems an appropriate, if ostentatious, way to mark the 40th anniversary of the university. SVSU was founded as Saginaw Valley State College on Nov. 13, 1963.

President Eric Gilbertson told campus journalists last winter that the coming school year will mark "one ofthe biggest growth spurts the university has ever had." It was an understatement at the least.

The new construction is financed by appropriations from the state legislature, donations from private individuals and student fees, which are slated to rise 9.5 percent this year after a 10.7 percent hike last year. Graduate students will pay 11.4 percent more in tuition this year. The SVSU Board of Control voted to raise tuition to make up for a possible 6.74 percent cut in state funding.

Despite the increase, officials boast that SVSU will continue to have the lowest tuition among the state's universities.

Dr. Gilbertson bemoaned the tuition increases, noting that "inflation is an economic reality" and that the additional funds go mainly to employee payrolls since universities are so labor intensive. He pointed out that SVSU has worked hard to keep its tuition the lowest of any public college in the state, probably one main reason for SVSU's rising enrollment.

The university also has a self-study process underway in connection with reaccreditation scheduled this year. Faculty members from other institutions will visit the campus during the school year to conduct the process. The reaccreditation team is meeting with studentsand representatives of student organizations to consider whether SVSU provides adequate educational opportunities. One of the main concerns, of course, is continually rising tuition.

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Dave Rogers

Dave Rogers is a former editorial writer for the Bay City Times and a widely read,
respected journalist/writer in and around Bay City.
(Contact Dave Via Email at

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