Discovery Park, April 3, 2012
Editor's Note: The summary for the April 3 session at Discovery Park is shorter than usual because the session ended early due to severe weather and tornado warnings in the area. Everyone in Discovery Park at the time was moved to emergency shelter within the facility until the severe weather passed.
President V. Lane Rawlins talked with students about tuition, parking and litter problems during his second Really, let’s talk session of the spring 2012 semester, held at Discovery Park, UNT's 300-acre research park.
Warren Burggren, provost and vice president for academic affairs, joined Rawlins to field questions from students.
"Every time I come out here I'm amazed at this facility," Rawlins told students.
UNT's 3.95 percent increase in tuition and fees was the first topic of discussion. The UNT System Board of Regents approved the increase in March and it will be effective for the 2012-13 and 2013-14 academic years. On top of the 3.95 percent increase, the board also approved a $25 per semester credit hour increase for graduate tuition starting in fall 2012. It also approved a 3.6 percent net increase in room and board rates to account for higher food, fuel and operational costs.
"I used to be upset when they raised my tuition and even more upset when they raised the tuition of my children. And now it's happening to my grandchildren," Rawlins said. "But the truth is, how we fund higher education has changed."
Rawlins said public higher education institutions, including UNT, have been receiving less financial support from the state than in the past, forcing UNT and other public universities to seek tuition increases.
The increase will allow UNT to continue offering students a world-class education taught by highly qualified faculty in state-of-the-art facilities with cutting-edge technology, he said.
"The one promise that I really care about -- not the only one but the most implied -- is that we will offer you an education that will make you competitive in the world," he said. "We're trying to do that as cheaply as possible. UNT continues to be ranked as one of the most efficient, least costly public research institutions."
Limited parking at Discovery Park is problem for many students, one student told Rawlins. He said he received four parking tickets in one semester, which he couldn't afford to pay. This caused him to have his car towed.
The student asked Rawlins why the university increased parking rates last fall when students are already dealing with limited parking on UNT's main campus and at Discovery Park.
Rawlins told students that even he pays for parking. The university increased parking rates because the rates at the time did not fully cover the costs to provide parking, he said.
"I've never been at a place where parking wasn't the most important issue," Rawlins said. "One of the reasons is that we're a community now of 40,000 people, counting our students and employees."
UNT is a very compact campus, which makes having enough parking for students, faculty and staff difficult, Rawlins said. The solution would be to build parking garages to accommodate more cars but that, too, is an expensive solution, he said.
"I know parking is expensive but we will continue to work on it," Rawlins told students. "I know how deeply you feel because I've been there."
Litter problems on both UNT's main campus and Discovery Park also came up when a student asked Rawlins whether the university planned to address the issue.
Rawlins said that he hadn't heard about litter problems on the campus but would look further into matter.
"I, too, am disturbed when I see our beautiful learning space littered," he said. "I think the quality and look of a space has something to do with how we treat it."
It has to be an organized effort to address litter problems, Rawlins said.
"Universities should be clean, they should be neat and feel like a university," he said.