The Auburn Board of Trustees approves the budget with significant support from Auburn staff

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In a sign of significant investment support for Auburn employees, the Auburn University Board of Trustees approved its largest-ever budget — $1.593 billion — for fiscal 2023 at its September 16 meeting.

The new budget, which begins Oct. 1, was increased by $64.2 million, or 4.20%, over fiscal 2021. These include a 5% earnings pool, resources to recruit top-quality faculty and resources to provide competitive staff salaries, professional family and faculty grants and other salary adjustments, and employee benefits.

Friday’s action follows an announcement by Auburn President Christopher B. Roberts at the April board meeting that the university was committed to investing heavily in its employees. Nearly 85% of the proposed budget, or $1,348.9 million, is for the main campus, including $110.5 million for Auburn University in Montgomery, $70.4 million for the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, and 63 $.2 million for the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station.

Salaries, wages and employee benefits are the largest expenses and together account for 52.4% of the budget. Kelli Shomaker, vice president of business and finance and chief financial officer, said tuition and fees and government grants continue to be the university’s largest sources of revenue, accounting for nearly 67% of the total budget.

These areas also grew more than other revenue streams, with an additional $27.3 million in government appropriations, $21.5 million in tuition and fees revenue, and $11.4 million in assigned revenue. This accounts for $60.2 million of the total $64.2 million increase in the new budget.

Shomaker said the changes in the operations and maintenance budget were almost entirely due to inflationary costs in areas such as the City of Auburn’s public safety contract, cost increases for administrative and academic software, insurance premiums and new square footage for the campus.

In addition, the board accepted a proposed 3% increase in tuition and fees in Auburn and a 4% increase at Auburn University in Montgomery for the fall of 2023. Housing prices will also increase slightly in Auburn next fall, but not by that Montgomery campus.

In other matters, the Board:

  • Accepted a proposal to build the Gulf Coast Engineering Research Station and initiated the architect selection process. The Samuel Ginn College of Engineering proposed construction of the building in Orange Beach, Alabama, to provide laboratory, office and community space for research into coastal environments and Gulf Coast communities and to provide Auburn with opportunities to collaborate with other institutions in the Navy Environmental Sciences Consortium. Funding will come from grant funds from the RESTORE Council in cooperation with the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

  • Accepted a proposal to renovate part of the research and innovation center at Auburn Research Park and selected Goodwyn Mills Cawood of Birmingham, Alabama as project architects. The project will create a research commons for the College of Architecture, Design and Construction. The work includes the completion of an 8,000 square foot tenant fit-out of the center for research support and administrative space and the renovation of 4,000 square feet of the center’s support building for a fabrication and research workshop.

  • Initiated a project to refurbish the consultancy suite at Lowder Hall and approved the architect selection process. The Herbert College of Business is seeking a suite renovation to improve the reception area and add counseling offices and common areas to accommodate growth in student enrollment and improve department efficiency.

  • Accepted plans to carry out Phase II of the Village Residence Halls repair and renovation project. Work on Holloway Hall, which is expected to begin and end in the summer of 2023, will include the replacement of floors, milling work, countertops, mechanical units and furniture. Phase II of the overall project is estimated at US$3 million and will be funded by University Housing. Phase I of the project included the repair of Matthews and Aubie Halls.

  • Granted final approval for a project to create a new environmental education building at the Kreher Preserve and Nature Center. The new facility will feature indoor and outdoor classrooms to support and expand research and outreach programs, which cater to groups of all ages. The estimated total cost of the project is US$1.95 million. Previously, Leers Weinzapfel Associates from Boston was selected as the project architect.

  • Selected Cooper Carry of Atlanta as project architects for the renovation of rooms in the Student Activity Center for the School of Kinesiology’s new Doctor of Physical Therapy program. The project will provide classrooms, a research lab, offices and other supportive spaces for the school to begin the new program.

  • Selection of Barge Design Solutions Inc. of Dothan, Alabama as general consultant for Auburn University Regional Airport. The Federal Aviation Administration and the Alabama State Aeronautics Bureau require that the airport engage a general consultant to provide certain airport planning, engineering, and administrative services.

  • In addition, Barge Design Solutions Inc. was selected as the engineer for the runway safety perimeter expansion project. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recently told Auburn that the current security perimeter at the north end of runway 18-36 must be expanded to allow the airport to continue and expand operations. To allow for a more timely and efficient design process, the university architect recommended approval from the airport’s general consultant, Barge Design Solutions Inc. The project is expected to be funded by grant funds from the FAA and local funds from the cities of Auburn and Opelika.

  • Passed an Order approving Conservative Easements for the Alabama Cooperative Extension System project to construct a new pavilion at Graham Farm and the Nature Center Pavilion in Jackson County, Alabama.

  • Accepted the College of Forestry, Wildlife and Environment’s proposal to create the Center for Natural Resources Management on Military Lands. The center will support the college’s agreement with the US Army to conduct research-based activities to help the Army better govern its country. In addition, the center will provide faculty expertise and natural resource management services at one or more of the Army’s eight Southeast facilities.

In addition, the board learned that Herbert College of Business has renamed its Department of Management to the Department of Management and Entrepreneurship. The change in nomenclature better reflects the current breadth of entrepreneurship teaching, research and outreach programmes.

Herbert College also renamed the Department of Systems and Technology to the Department of Business Analytics and Information Systems. The change was necessary because the department is no longer home to these scientific disciplines.

For Auburn University in Montgomery, the board accepted a proposal to establish a Master of Science in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in the College of Sciences. The new degree includes degree and non-degree options and three majors: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Biotechnology and Environmental Sciences. The aim is to offer doctoral students in biology and chemistry opportunities to tailor their studies to their individual career goals. The degree is unique in the country due to its options that are not similar to other programs. Currently, more than 370 undergraduate students are enrolled in biology and environmental science majors and more than 50 undergraduate students are enrolled in chemistry majors.

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