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Administration unclear on details about HB 152 fees

March 9, 2017

The Nicholls administration has yet to determine what specifically will be funded by the two new HB152 fees approved by the University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors last week.

The two fees, listed at $5 each, are named the “Quality Enhancement Fee” and “Student Success Fee” on the Nicholls website. Collectively, the fees will raise an amount between $100,000 and $120,000 per year for the programs. They are replacing the current $10 fee that funds the La Pirogue yearbook.

Lynn Gillette, provost and vice president for academic affairs, said he does not yet know what the fees will specifically pay for, nor does he know whether the fees will go toward the university’s general fund or to a specific department’s fund. However, he did say that those details would be determined after the 2017-2018 academic year budget is finalized in the summer.

In documents sent to the University of Louisiana System, University President Bruce Murphy wrote that each of the fees would fund the following for their respective programs: “Educational materials and supplies; program development and enhancement costs; acquisition of equipment, hardware and software to support (the program); travel, training and related services for program development and staff support; and other program related costs deemed necessary by the University President and Provost.”

Gillette said the Student Advising and Mentoring program, a part of the QEP plan, will improve the quality of advising.

“These plans will help the students transition from their University College advisor to their new department advisor,” said Gillette. “We want to make a shift from a transactional approach to more of a mentoring relationship to help students design a whole set of experiences while they are here to maximize their success.”

He also believes more students will succeed if the advisor knows important aspects about their students, including their financial stability, if they are first generation students, their views on college and what they want to do after college.

The administration plans to incorporate several initiatives into the Student Success program including the revision of the mandatory class for freshmen, UNIV 101.

“The class should be more about student success, connecting with the students, and building a sense of camaraderie,” said Gillette. “We also want to use faculty development funds to help our professors develop a broader skill set and become more effective in the classroom.”

Services offered by the Office of Career Services will also be implemented in the Student Success plan because the administration thinks it necessary for freshmen to begin building resumes early in their college career, Gillette said.

While these newly funded programs have the potential to assist all classifications levels, they are primarily beneficial to freshmen students.

The decision to replace the $10 yearbook student fee with two $5 fees aimed to improve student academic experience was based on the administration’s belief that such repurposing matches the students’ best interests, Gillette said.

Gillette also said that administration didn’t feel comfortable charging the students a mandatory fee to fund the yearbook, because he believes that not enough students are interested in having a copy of it. According to La Pirogue Editor Hollyn Millet, the staff distributed more than 90 percent of the 2016 yearbooks that were printed.

According to Gillette, the administration considered a few other options before deciding to discontinue the yearbook.

“We looked at different functions on campus and analyzed whether they fit into Nicholls’ vision, mission and strategic plan,” said Gillette. “It was a pretty rigorous set of questions that numerous groups on campus had to respond to.”

Austin Wendt, SGA vice president, said the SGA was a part of these initial discussions, but that other student input was not considered. Wendt said the SGA is creating an ad hoc committee to address the lack of student voice regarding the matter.

Gillette assured that the fees collected this academic year for the yearbook that is currently in production, roughly $120,000, will still be available to complete this year’s book. The La Pirogue staff will publish its 69th edition during the fall semester with full hopes of being given the opportunity to reach a 70th.

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