By Cady Inabinett, Managing editor of content
Montevallo’s Board of Trustees approved to spend $3.4 million on two real estate transactions at their Nov. 4 meeting.
The real estate transactions, recommend by the board’s Audit and Finance Committee, are to purchase two buildings near campus with the intention of converting them into apartment-style student housing.
University President Dr. John Stewart spoke on the need for more student housing at the meeting, saying that there has been a demand for more apartment-style student housing specifically.
The $3.4 million expenditure approved by trustees will come from university assets according to Audit and Finance Committee chair Brian Hamilton.
The board voted on several other measures during their meeting as well. This included approving Montevallo’s 2023-2024 fiscal budget request. Each year, public universities must submit an annual budget request to the state’s Executive Budget Office, used to develop the Governor’s Budget.
In the approved budget request, the university is asking for $32,732,352. This would be a 20% apportion increase from the 2021-2022 fiscal year apportionment budget, which totaled in at $27,232,352.
With increased state funding, the university hopes to fund annual faculty and staff salary increases, existing scholarships, deferred maintenance and technology advancements, certification requirement for existing academic programs and development of new academic programs.
The Audit and Finance Committee also presented the board with information about 2023 summer semester tuition rates. Trustees voted to approve the tuition rates proposed by the committee: $335 per credit hour for in-state undergraduate students or $700 per credit hour for out-of-state undergraduate students. These tuition rates are a 16% decrease from fall and spring semester rates.
The committee’s report showed that tuition and fees revenue for the summer 2022 semester decreased about $6,000, or 0.2%, compared to summer 2021 semester’s revenue. In total, the university earned $2,902,783 from summer 2022 tuition and fees.
The board also voted to renew Stewart’s employment contract. Stewart’s renewed employment contract, which extends his time as university president for another five years, includes a $50,000 annuity every year, a performance bonus, a retention benefit that will last until 2026, an increased car allowance for university related travel and ability to take paid sabbaticals.
Following this, Stewart is expected to retire. Following retirement, however, Stewart is expected to serve an emeritus year to aid in the transition of university leadership. This is reflected in the employment contract, which includes a $30,000 incentive bonus for a successful emeritus year.
In addition to voting on various measures, the board heard reports from several university bodies at their meeting.
In her report, Faculty Senate President Dr. Claire Edwards highlighted the work done by the senate so far this year. This included looking into campus’s parental leave policies, restructuring the senate’s constitution and bylaws, updating the university’s academic integrity policy—which Edwards said should be ready for the trustee approval by their February meeting, investigating improving wages for staff adjunct professors and advocating against a proposed real estate development project near Ebenezer Swamp.
Staff Senate President Alyssa Green, in her report to the board, outlined Staff Senate’s goals for the year. These included improving the university’s paternal leave policies, establishing an observed Veteran’s Day holiday for future academic years, building camaraderie among staff and building relationships with the Faculty Senate.
SGA President Cody Hodge updated trustees on SGA’s activities so far this semester. Hodge said that SGA’s Freshman Forum has been filled, emphasizing the role the group has in preparing freshman students to serve on SGA and in other leadership roles later in their college careers.
Hodge also highlighted the work of SGA’s Student Rights and Interests committee this semester in working to establish gender-neutral bathrooms on campus. He said that all of the research into this project has been completed, and that the only step left is to pass a bill in SGA Senate.
Student involvement was another topic of Hodge’s report. Hodge called two WOW Weekends held this semester successful. He also pointed toward Mr. and Mrs. Montevallo elections as a sign of increased student involvement this year—saying that 208 total votes were cast, an increase from last year.
Student Trustee Ethan Ivy used his report to outline the results of SGA’s student feedback surveys. The group received 60 survey responses throughout August and September. The surveys are used to gauge student satisfaction with various campus services, asking respondents to rate their satisfaction on a 1-5 scale.
Survey results indicated that respondents are most satisfied with campus security, which received an average rating of 4.23, and least satisfied with campus dining services, which received an average rating of 3.03.
Open-ended survey questions also showed that respondents feel the university needs to focus on improving Wi-Fi on campus, the cafeteria and campus dining services and parking.
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Courtney Bentley provided an update on the university’s 2021-2022 strategic plan. The strategic plan outlines goals for the university to work towards. This includes increasing diversity and social justice on campus, focusing on campus growth and innovating teaching and learning.
As part of the board’s Marketing and Communications Committee’s report, Vice President of Advancement and External Affairs Scott Dillard pointed out that the university raised $5 million in donations over the past year.
Trustee Todd Strange, Chair of the board’s Executive Committee, spoke on the success of the Board of Trustee’s annual retreat. Strange said that he came away from the retreat feeling an increased sense of fellowship with fellow trustees.
He also said the retreat allowed trustees to delve into and discuss many different topics. Specifically, he asked everyone to consider what the next big thing at Montevallo will be.
Before adjourning the meeting, Strange emphasized the role the Board of Trustees plays in helping students. He pointed toward the accomplishments of UM alumni as a testament to the work the board does.
Cady Inabinett is the editor in chief of The Alabamian. She’s majoring in English and double-minoring in political science and peace and justice studies. She enjoys reading, watching movies, caring for houseplants and generally just being pretentious in her free time.