ATHENS, Ala (WHNT) - The board of trustees at Athens State University held their very first meeting this morning. It was an organizational meeting. The newly appointed board has been given the task of taking Alabama's oldest university forward and into the future. But that future could include higher tuition for students.
Governor Robert Bentley opened the meeting. The board members selected Athens State graduate Dr. Sandra Sims-deGraffenried to be the chairperson. Huntsville attorney Tazewell Shepard will serve as vice-chairman.
"I think this is a historic time for this university. You're no longer under the post-secondary, you're going to be under ACHE. I don't know if that's good or bad. But that's the way it is," said Gov. Bentley.
With the procedural matters behind them, the board heard from University President Dr. Bob Glenn. He explained the university staff has not had a pay raise in four years. He says a tuition hike may be necessary but urged caution as the board looked at how to raise the necessary funding.
"We need to be very, very careful that we do not resort to raising tuition as a cure-all for our financial ills because to do so would have a much more negative impact on our niche than it would on many traditional campuses," Glenn explained to WHNT News 19 following the meeting. He added their typical student is a woman in her mid-thirties with a full-time job and a family. He says efforts to keep tuition low has made it possible for many to attend school who could not afford tuition elsewhere. But he also says inevitably the economy and other factors is going to drive tuition higher.
The Board of Trustees is scheduled to meet again in January and its expected the issue of a tuition increase will be discussed at that time.