Topics: Administrative, College of Applied Sciences and Technology, College of Architecture and Planning

January 29, 2010

For the first time in decades, Ball State will offer room and board rates based upon a range of meal plans, each with a different price. Such flexibility in pricing has been a frequent request of students and will offer lower cost options for those who prefer fewer meals.

Prices for standard room and board during academic year 2010-11 will range between $7,390 and $8,438 — depending upon one of four meal plans chosen by individual students — after the new rates were approved by the university's Board of Trustees during its regularly scheduled Jan. 29 meeting on campus.

The trustees also voted to extend for another two years the terms of office for Thomas L. DeWeese, board president; Frank A. Bracken, vice president; Hollis E. Hughes, secretary; and Rich Hall, assistant secretary. A proposed two-year renovation of the Studebaker East residence hall complex and a new bachelors degree in athletic training received the board members' assent as well.

Room and board rates

For the current academic year, the standard double-occupancy room and board rate for new students and those not participating in Ball State's premium housing plan that guarantees rates for two years is $7,932.

Randall Howard, vice president for business affairs and treasurer, advised the board members that beginning with the 2010-11 academic year, the university will begin offering differentiated room and board rates based upon the meal plan selected by each residence hall student. For the standard double-occupancy room, the lower $7,390 price will entitle students to 10 meals each week and the higher $8,438 charge will provide them with 21 meals per week. In between, students also may select plans offering 14 or 18 meals each week, for $8,088 or $8,376 per year, respectively.

Students who signed up for Ball State's Premium Plan when they moved into their residence halls last fall will see no adjustment in room and board charges next year, unless they choose the 10-meal plan option, in which case they will see a reduction in price. Up to 1,920 current students would experience no increase in rates if they return next year because they used the Premium Plan in 2009-10, Howard reported.

Actual charges for individual residence halls and room types also will continue to vary because of the specific accommodations and amenities offered by each, he said, adding that Ball State's residence halls and dining services operate as a self-supporting unit. Factors in the setting of next year's room and board rates include anticipated higher expenditures during the coming year for personnel costs and price inflation on supplies, food and other purchased services.

The university always is looking at improvements that reflect what today's students desire, stressed Howard, who predicted that the lower cost options made possible by the change in approach to meal plan pricing will be popular with many at Ball State.

Residence hall renovations

Later this spring, the Studebaker East residence hall complex will close for a two-year renovation, following the board's approval of the estimated $24.1 million project.

The eight-story Menk and Hurlbut Halls that comprise Studebaker East first opened to students in 1965 and today house approximately 440 students. Although a series of minor improvements to the building have been made during the past four decades, Howard said, the upcoming major upgrade is the next priority in the university's comprehensive housing and dining replacement and renewal plan.

When complete, it will be a complete renovation similar in scope to that of DeHority Complex, which reopened in fall 2009 after its own extensive remodeling as the principal home of students enrolled in Ball State's nearby Honors College. In particular, the masonry exterior will be restored, the roof and windows replaced, the plumbing, lighting and other electrical systems updated and a single controlled point of entry established in place of two existing entrances on the north and south sides of the building. Interior changes will include improved residential layouts (some featuring bathrooms with increased privacy), lounges, kitchenettes, study areas and meeting rooms.

A new passenger elevator providing access to every floor will be installed, too, and the building's heating and cooling mechanics will be replaced to include central air conditioning and compatibility with Ball State's new geothermal energy system.

In recent years, the university has put an emphasis on major renewal of housing and dining units, all of which, with the exception of Park Hall and Thomas J. Kinghorn Hall (the latter opening this fall), were constructed more than 40 years ago. During the intervening years, hundreds of thousands of students have been served by each of those facilities, Howard pointed out by way of underlining that "the high volume of use combined with normal obsolescence drives decisions to address facilities renewal as a high priority."

"As we move through the challenging economic environment of today, we must continue to make the investments that will help us thrive tomorrow and many years into the future," said Howard.  "Our students expect contemporary housing facilities and amenities. The new and renovated facilities help very much in differentiating us in the marketplace. Sound fiscal management and operations in residence life and dining services over many decades have made these advances possible."

Major promotion

The university's previous major in athletic training is now a Bachelor of Athletic Training (BAT) degree. Acting on a recommendation by Provost Terry King, the board members approved the change in order to maintain accreditation standards with the National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA). The association is requiring that students graduate from a degree program in athletic training, rather than with a BA/BS major in athletic training, in order to assure professional preparation.

Beginning with the 2014-15 academic year, NATA will permit only students from accredited degree programs to take the certification exam and, upon passing, become licensed to practice, King said.

The proposal now moves on to the Indiana Commission for Higher Education (ICHE) for its approval.

Global vision

Before adjourning, the board members also entertained a presentation from Guillermo Vasquez de Velasco, dean of the College of Architecture and Planning (CAP), starting with the college's growing list of professional accolades and including strategic initiatives through the year 2015, when CAP will celebrate its 50th anniversary.

Recently, Ball State students nearly swept the competition in the annual American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS)-Kawneer Student Design Competition. This just weeks after the college was named by Architect Magazine as one of the top three schools in the country to excel in digital design and fabrication, outpacing programs at Harvard, Cornell, MIT and Berkeley, among others.

Central to its strategic efforts, Vasquez de Velasco said, will be expanding and enhancing the college's theme of "campus unlimited" — sometimes called "campus without borders" — meant to help re-identify CAP as not only well-engaged with business and community partners in Indiana and the Midwest, but also, increasingly, with communities, firms and organizations throughout the country and around the world.

"We want to be looking, and we want to be seen, in a more global context," said Vasquez de Velasco, emphasizing that the college has a long tradition of "building on our vocation to operate beyond the borders of our campus."

As evidence, he also provided board members with a brief on this year's Polyark/World Tour currently involving 40 students on a four-month "whirlwind" tour of 23 countries and 56 cities.

"That is only a snapshot of the future of our international programs," Vasquez de Velasco said.