CU announces new provost hire, tuition increase
Joe Stowell announced in a university-wide chapel on Feb. 24 that Cornerstone will be raising tuition 3.8 percent for 2009-10.
Stowell, CU’s president, also said the provost search committee has selected a new provost, Rick Ostrander, of John Brown University in Arkansas.
He said he decided to “do chapel differently” than he had initially planned for that morning because he felt it was an appropriate time for a “state of the university” address to mark the end of his first year as president, and to update the school on what has happened and what could be happening.
Some of the changes already introduced include the dorm upgrades begun in Keithley, and the changes to the Corum and the chapel format. Possible changes to come include the demolition of Pickitt Hall to make way for a new dorm in its place, the building of a chapel and a media/fine arts center, upgrading classrooms and a new soccer and track stadium. [NEED TO CONFIRM PICKITT DEMOLITION]
Stowell said some of those goals are closer to realization than others.
One thing is for sure, according to Stowell. Tuition couldn’t stay the same next year.
He said with the rising price of health and liability insurance, utilities and other costs, the budget had to be adjusted to keep the school running.
In an e-mail interview, he explained why 3.8 percent was chosen.
“We wanted to keep it under 4 percent to stay competitive with other schools, and combined with other budget cuts we were able to make the budget work at 3.8,” he said.
Nancy Schoonmaker, senior vice president and chief financial officer, agreed. She also noted that donor contributions don’t account for as significant a portion of the budget as some might suppose.
As Stowell mentioned, CU is trying to balance its budget while competing with other local colleges.
Davenport University and Aquinas College raised tuition by 5.5 percent this year. Calvin, like CU, raised by 3.8, and Hope raised by 2.9.
Even with a 3.8 percent higher cost, Cornerstone still offers the lowest tuition rate of any of Grand Rapids’ major private colleges, rounding off at $20,520. Including the $6,510 for room & board, total cost for residential students for 2009-10 is $27,030.
In addition to its financial competitiveness with area schools, Stowell said Cornerstone offers something unique to its students.
“The value of a CU experience is hard to beat,” he said. “Transferring to a community college or state school will give you an incomplete exposure to the world, academics and life in general. Having God at the center of all learning is pivotal to building our intellect and career preparation.
“We’re not about us,” he reminded students during his address. “We’re about something much bigger.”
Since taking her job at CU, Schoonmaker said she has come to appreciate Christian higher education more than before.
“As a mom of a high school junior, I can’t tell you how critical a time the college years are for not only getting a quality education, but for the spiritual formation that takes place in a student,” she said. “To have the opportunity to learn and grow in this environment where Christ is central is an amazing opportunity that you could not get at a public institution.”
All that remains to be seen next year is whether students can continue to afford that blessing.