University of Louisville faculty and staff will have to navigate a 5 percent universitywide spending cut, while students will see a 4 percent tuition increase next year, the school’s board of trustees decided Wednesday.

The board unanimously approved the 2018-19 budget, which includes the slash in spending and tuition hike, without any major changes or discussion.

Outgoing student representative Vishnu Tirumala was the only one to make a comment on the matter during the meeting, calling the tuition increase “unfortunate” but “necessary” due to the state of the university. 

Continued cuts in state funding — UofL saw a drop of around $8 million this year — and a need to boost emergency cash are key causes for the tightened budget and pull for additional revenue from students, UofL officials said.

The spending decrease is likely to be felt acutely by academic departments, which faced a hiring freeze last year. Deans will be in charge of determining what to cut in their respective schools, UofL President Neeli Bendapudi said.

Arts and Sciences Dean Kimberly Kempf-Leonard penned an Op-Ed about the impact of the budget cuts in the Courier Journal Tuesday, saying state funding cuts will hurt students and the community.

“Our new university president, in whom we see great potential, had to impose cuts on budgets for academic operations and salaries that will curtail what UofL can contribute to our region and raise tuition that will burden our students and families,” Kempf-Leonard wrote. “We have everything in place — the programs, faculty, and infrastructure — to live up to our great promise, but without financial support to our institution’s progress will flatline.”

Neeli Bendapudi is UofL’s new president | Courtesy UofL

Called a “necessary evil” by Bendapudi last week, the increase amounts to over $200 per semester for full-time, in-state students.

Interim CFO Susan Howarth noted that the student athletic fee, typically $100, would be cut in half, so the tuition increase ends up around 3.5 percent instead of 4 percent. Board chair David Grissom noted in a finance committee meeting last week that the difference would be “important for messaging.”

Other student expenses will increase next year, too. Student housing will see increases of 2 percent to 3 percent, depending on the style of the room. Meal plans will go up 3 percent.

Under state law, 4 percent is the maximum yearly tuition increase allowed, with 6 percent allowed over any two-year time frame. UofL froze tuition last year, so officials were allowed to raise tuition 4 percent this year and will be able to raise it another 2 percent next year.

Top roles filled

Two top positions have been filled, Bendapudi announced at the meeting. Dan Durbin will take over as the CFO, and Brad Shafer will step in as the interim vice president for advancement.

Shafer steps into the school’s top fundraising spot at a time where UofL is fighting to recruit donors after donations dropped over the past year. The VP for advancement role has been empty since the spring when the former VP resigned from the role. Shafer is set to being in July.

Durbin has worked as the CFO for the UofL Health Sciences Center since May 2017. Bendapudi said his appointment could help bridge the HSC and the main Belknap campus.

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Olivia Krauth
Krauth reports on education in Louisville, including JCPS, the University of Louisville and state policy.Before joining Insider Louisville, she covered technology and business as a reporter at TechRepublic. She also spent time on the data team at the Austin American-Statesman in Texas as a Dow Jones intern.Krauth graduated from UofL, where she was an award-winning editor of The Louisville Cardinal and obtained a degree in investigative journalism with a minor in Russian studies.Email Olivia at [email protected]