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P&B Meeting Outlines Savings Projects

Jules Struck ’19, Co-Editor-in-Chief

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The Planning and Budget Committee outlined four projects that are set to roll out over the next year to alleviate projected upcoming budget concerns.

“The college is facing financial challenges in the next couple of years,” said Dominique Laurent, chair of the All College Committee on Planning and Budget and associate professor of French & Francophone studies, at the meeting. 

A committee of faculty and administrators, whose task was to “look at how to balance the budget,” convened over the summer. “At the time, everything was on the table,” said Laurent. “The committee selected the measures that seemed to us the least painful.”

Four areas identified for pricing adjustment at the Feb. 11 meeting were student housing pricing, the Wellness Center fee, parking fees and a new “centralized travel program.”

Differential pricing for Dickinson housing options was instituted in 2002, “and the college has not touched its differential pricing since then,” said Vice President for Finance and Administration Brontè Burleigh-Jones. 

At a Feb. 7 Student Senate meeting, Vice President for Institutional Effectiveness and Inclusivity Brenda Bretz reported that housing prices are projected to change from the 2018-19 annual rates to the 2019-20 rates as follows: standard double rooms from $7,064 to $7,310, single rooms from $7,314 to $7,960, triple rooms from $6,814 to $6,960, apartment double rooms from $7,614 to $8,260 and apartment single rooms from $7,854 to $8,910. The new pricing would total $350,000 in savings for the college in a fiscal year, said Bretz. Fiscal years renew every July 1. 

Since fiscal year 2006 to fiscal year 2018, annual price increases in room and board fees have totaled $5.2 million, said Burleigh-Jones. In that same time period, Dickinson has invested $42 million in housing upgrades, with another $2.5 million planned to be spent on Dickinson’s townhouses this summer, she said.

“So understanding the capital investment that we’ve made in our residential holdings, and the fact that we’ve not touched the differential pricing since 2002, was the impetus for the changes in our housing prices going forward.” 

The Wellness Center’s fee will increase from the current $100 to $200, saving the college roughly $100,000 total in a fiscal year. In fiscal year 2011 the Wellness Center was spending $730,000 more than it made in revenue. After the $100 fee was put in place in fiscal year 2012, the difference between spending and revenue decreased to about $620,000, said Burleigh-Jones. 

“We have not touched that fee since we instituted it… yet we have expanded our staffing, our services and our hours for the Wellness Center,” said Burleigh-Jones, which means today the center spends more than it makes in revenue by about $1 million. “We’re not trying to make up the $1 million gap,” said Burleigh-Jones, “but we are trying to defray some of the expenses.” 

Students and faculty will need to pay $50 for a “hang-tag” to park their cars on campus next year, which will save Dickinson about $60,000 in a fiscal year. Burleigh-Jones said one tag will be available for each of the 1,200 spots on campus. She said there will be free visitor and disabilities parking, but “other than that, I’m not sure how the lots will be coded and who can park where… Going forward, information will be shared.” 

Further specifics are being ironed out by a working group of faculty, staff and students. “We have talked about parking in every potential iteration that you can think of,” Burleigh-Jones said, and questions can be directed to Ken Shultes, associate vice president for Sustainability & Facilities Planning, at [email protected]

The college also plans to partner with a travel management company, Uniglobe Travel International Limited Partnership, to organize Dickinson travel. Dickinson faculty, staff and students will have access to an online platform that “looks and acts like Orbitz,” said Sean Witte, associate vice president for Financial Operations and controller, at the Feb. 11 meeting. “This pulls [travel options] all into one place, so it should be an easier process,” he said.

Uniglobe will negotiate and find discounted travel costs like hotel and airline prices, said Witte, and individuals will get to keep their frequent flyer miles as the school gathers miles at the same time.  

Better reporting on travel costs means that “we have better bargaining power to say [to hotels and airlines] ‘we want to see more discounts,’” said Witte. In response to a question about whether Dickinson is trying to reduce carbon emissions in travel, Witte said the issue “hasn’t been linked up in the way that we’re reducing travel at this point, [but] enhanced reporting does help us identify at least what we’re doing to see if there are opportunities” to reduce carbon consumption. 

A working group needs to outline Dickinson’s travel policy by March, said Witte, which will be sent to Uniglobe to help them develop a website for Dickinson. Training sessions on the interface will also be held in the future. 

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P&B Meeting Outlines Savings Projects