Despite no increase in state funding, the budget allocates more than $10.3 million for strategic initiatives. That figure includes more than $1 million for student initiatives and a faculty/staff salary increase pool of 3 percent. In addition, the budget sets aside $750,000 to fund recommendations in UofL’s 21st Century University Initiative, which will position the university to better serve its students and the Commonwealth for decades to come.

The capital plan includes projects proposed by the university; all projects require legislative approval. UofL’s plan includes an instructional building on the Health Sciences Campus, an expansion of Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium and several research and office buildings on the ShelbyHurst Campus, all of which are proposed for the 2016-18 biennium.

It also calls for funding of much smaller projects, including renovations of a number of buildings and purchasing of technology systems and equipment to enhance IT services throughout the university. Funding sources range from the state’s general fund to restricted funding and agency bonds, in addition to funding from private sources.

The plan now goes to the Council on Postsecondary Education and the Capital Planning Advisory Board, which will incorporate it into a statewide recommendation for upcoming budget cycles. Only projects proposed for 2016-18 will be considered for the next state budget.

In other business, the board approved increases in tuition and fees for the 2015-16 academic year. The increases include a 3 percent across-the-board tuition hike. In-state undergraduate tuition will increase $153 to $5,271 per semester, while non-resident tuition will rise to $12,424.

The board voted to raise housing rates in university-owned residence halls by 3 percent in non-family units and 2 percent in family units. The increase impacts residents of Louisville, Miller, Threlkeld and Unitas halls, Medical-Dental Apartments and University Tower Apartments.

In addition, the board approved meal-plan increases of 3 percent for resident students and $25 per semester for commuter students. The increases will cover increased operating costs and enhancements to customer service. For the 2017 and 2018 academic years, resident meal plans will increase no more than 3 percent; commuter rates will not change.  The meal-plan increases were approved by the Student Government Association.

The board also approved creation of a doctor of nursing practice (DNP) degree effective May 2016. The degree will help the School of Nursing meet an American Association of Colleges of Nursing mandate that all programs preparing advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) transition to the DNP.

John Drees is a 35-year veteran in the Office of Communications and Marketing. As vice president, communications and marketing, he works closely with the president, provost and other senior administrators, oversees the Office of Communications and Marketing, including media relations, marketing and brand, broadcast, social media, internal communication, crisis communication, visitor services and special events and activities. A former sports editor for the Voice Newspapers, he was a regular contributor to a variety of publications, including the Kentucky Sports Report and the Courier-Journal. A poor but enthusiastic golfer, he is an avid Cardinal sports fan. He also loves the Detroit Lions, so pity him.