By Adam Baker/Editor

The Board of Regents threw their support to the university’s first ever capital campaign Monday. The OK allows the university’s Foundation Board to move forward with a major fundraising operation expected to raise “tens of millions of dollars,” according to Bart Meyer, vice president of university advancement. Support from the Board, Meyer said, means Eastern and the Foundation can now begin the campaign.

Meyer added the program will help address some of the university’s “most pressing needs.”

Eastern’s Foundation Chairman Dustan McCoy, told the Board, via speakerphone from London, England, money raised will be divided into five categories: endowments for students, endowments for faculty, endowments for academic programs, campus improvements and new initiatives.

Forty percent of funds raised will be allotted to students, he said, and the rest will be divided equally among the other categories.

Meyer said the new initiative category is meant to provide donors with the opportunity to fund a program that does not already exist on campus. He added any new initiative must follow the university’s mission and strategic plan goals.

The Board’s endorsement Monday took the campaign into a beginning phase called the “quiet stage.” Meyer said in this initial part of the campaign efforts will be made to secure gifts of $100,000 and up.

With a decrease in the amount of help expected from the state, Meyer said the capital campaign was needed to improve teaching and learning environments at Eastern.

“Over the next four years, the EKU capital campaign will attempt to secure private gifts and grants that will be used to enhance programs and services across the campus,” he said.

A fundraising goal, he said, will be released in October of next year and the campaign’s conclusion is scheduled for June 30, 2008.

In addition to endorsing the capital campaign the Board also approved a $155.4 million budget for next year — up nearly $11.2 million from last year.

This year the Board is preparing for a $1.9 million cut in state funding.

Debbie Newsom, newly appointed interim vice president of financial affairs, said the expected cut reflects the amount of decrease in state appropriations the university continues to hear from Frankfort.

However, she said there is no certainty that an additional cut won’t come after the year begins, like in past years.

“If such cuts did occur, the affect on the university would depend on the amounts,” she said. “Given that we’ve experienced a total of several million dollars in cuts in the past few years, it becomes more and more difficult to absorb these cuts and maintain our current level of support in all levels.”

She explained last year when cuts came mid-year, the university had to offset them with internal cost reductions. Students also encountered a mid-year surcharge in tuition.

Significant cuts in state funding coupled with the fact that the university experienced its largest single-year enrollment increase in 12 years last year have made it harder for Eastern to provide services without compromising academic quality, according to administrators.

Faculty Regent Pam Schlomann, also a nursing professor, said she has seen her class sizes triple and some classes are nearly 50 students over capacity.

“What’s going to happen to the quality of education?” she asked the Board. “As we talk about becoming a university of national distinction — we’re not putting enough money in academics. That’s what’s going to make us a university of national distinction.”

Staff Regent David Williams, assistant director of campus and grounds, also had concerns about the budget and was the only regent to vote against approving the budget.

Williams said he objected to the budget because cuts made in past years due to state funding shortages were not restored in the new budget.

“Instead we found new ways to spend the revenue generated from our 20 percent tuition increase,” he said.

Williams also said the budget values “student activities and recreation more than academics, essential services and maintenance.”

“We will spend more to staff our student recreation and intramural programs than we spend for cooperative education and career services combined,” he said. “Not to mention that we did not add any much-needed faulty positions with our new-found wealth.”

Also included in next year’s budget is a 1.5 percent raise for university employees, $3.5 million more funding for scholarships, $500,000 more money for need-based student aid and $1 million for campus maintenance projects.

In other business, Eastern students won’t be the only ones paying more to attend classes next year, the Board also upped tuition at Model Laboratory School.

Elementary and high school students will pay $585 a semester, up from $514. Pre-kindergarten students will pay $1,141 a semester, up from $993. Students will also pay 10 cents more per meal.

In April the Board voted to increase tuition a little over 16 percent for in-state students at Eastern.

Other actions by the Board included:

* Approval of an Ethics Code for university employees dealing with principles of ethical behavior, possible conflicts of interest, acceptance of gifts and benefits and university property and services

* Acceptance of $493,595 in endowment gifts that qualify for matching through the Bucks for Brains program

* Approval of a general psychology master’s degree program

* Approval of changes to the Student Government Association’s Constitution allowing student representatives to earn two academic credit hours for service in student government