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Murray State Board Of Regents Approves Potential Tuition Increase, Swears In New Regent


  The Murray State University Board of Regents during a special meeting Friday voted to allow the university administration to increase tuition and mandatory fees up to 1% if necessary. The board also swore in a Murray dentist as a new regent. 


President Bob Jackson said an increase of 1% to tuition and mandatory fees would generate about $650,000 across undergraduate, graduate and doctoral programs, with a net cost increase of about $60 to $65 for each student. 


“We have many deferred maintenance, asset preservation projects and renovation areas we need to focus on...including the Curris Center,” Jackson said. “Last year, we had a zero percent increase in faculty and staff raises, and we hope to be able to recommend faculty and staff raises.”


Regent Melony Shemberger, an associate professor of Journalism and Mass Communication at Murray State, and Student Regent Warren Norman opposed the potential increase. Shemberger said after speaking with university faculty, she was concerned about the university staying competitive with other institutions, particularly with enrolling graduate students. She also said she was concerned about the financial impact the increase could have on students. 


“That one percent could be the difference sometimes between, do I pay a semester’s worth of education or taking care of school supplies, or on the other hand do I take care of that portion of the rent for the month, buying groceries for the week, or even taking care of a family member’s medical needs,” Shemberger said. 


Shemberger said the university should explore all of its options, whether through budget changes or innovative academic approaches, before increasing tuition and fees. Jackson responded to Shemberger, saying tuition rates at Murray State remain low compared to other universities in Kentucky and that he wants those rates to remain low. He said the administration will look to find ways to make further potential budget cuts in an effort to be fiscally responsible. 


“That’s vitally important to all of us, including me. Last year, we cut $7 million out of our budget,” Jackson said. “We can keep doing that. I wouldn’t recommend it. It’s going in the wrong direction, and I think over the last three years we’ve moved in the right direction.”


Jackson said a potential tuition and fees increase could be up to 1%, but isn’t guaranteed to be 1%. 


The board also approved to keep housing costs flat for the 2021-2022 academic year, and also voted to affirm a dining costs increase of about 3.35%. President Bob Jackson said the university’s food service contract with Sodexo allows the company to increase dining rates in line with inflation, tied to the Consumer Price Index


New Regent Sworn In


The board also swore in a new regent, a dentist in Murray.


Governor Andy Beshear appointed Dr. Robert Fitch to the board last week to fill the expired term of Dan Kemp. Fitch told WKMS News in an interview that Beshear personally called his phone while he was on vacation, and he ignored the unsaved number because he didn’t want to appear rude to his guests on the trip.


“I accidentally ignored the governor’s call,” Fitch said. “He left a really nice message...I called that number back and it went straight to voicemail. I’m assuming governors don’t call from their personal cell phones.”


Fitch said his top priorities as a board member will include campus revitalization and increasing enrollment. 


Fitch attended Murray State from 1999 to 2003 and graduated from the University of Louisville School of Dentistry. He replaces former board member Dan Kemp. Fitch’s term expires on June 30th, 2026. 


Dalton York contributed to this story. 


Correction: This story previously misstated the name of former board member Dan Kemp.


"Liam Niemeyer is a reporter for the Ohio Valley Resource covering agriculture and infrastructure in Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia and also serves Assistant News Director at WKMS. He has reported for public radio stations across the country from Appalachia to Alaska, most recently as a reporter for WOUB Public Media in Athens, Ohio. He is a recent alumnus of Ohio University and enjoys playing tenor saxophone in various jazz groups."
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