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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Gates: Student fee will not be raised

A&M President Dr. Robert Gates said the University can surpass other schools in national ranking despite budget cuts if the University prioritized funding and hired more faculty, and also pledged to heed student opinion this year and not raise the student service fee.
“The greatest opportunities come at the toughest times to those who are willing to be bold,” Gates said Wednesday during a question-and-answer session with the Student Senate.
Gates explained at the begining of the meeting about consequences of the recent fee increases being voted down by students. He said the computer service and student services fees will not be increased this year because of student wishes but will be enforced eventually.
Michael Konopacki said that Gates not enacting the fees shows his commitment to the students.
“I was very impressed that President Gates followed student input and didn’t increase the computer fee,” said Konopacki, Veterinary Medicine senator and senior biomedical science major.
Most of the questions focused on how the budget restraints will affect students.
Gates was optimistic about A&M’s ability to deal with the budget problems which he said are also affecting schools across the country, some with greater financial problems than A&M.
Gates said that if A&M becomes more efficient it can put together the resources to hire more faculty as other schools reduce the size of their faculty.
“Because of these budget stringencies elsewhere all of our deans report that they are getting resumes from faculty around the country that they wouldn’t have seen at A&M before the budget crisis,” Gates said.
Gates said hiring faculty is essential because, according to U.S. News and World Report, of the top 100 American colleges, A&M has the lowest percent of classes with fewer than 20 students and highest percent of classes with fewer than 50.
Gates said he plans to hire 100 new faculty a year for several years starting in the 2004 fiscal year, in order to offer fewer students per class. Gates said presently the faculty to student ratio at A&M is 22-1, while at the University of Texas it is 19-1 and 13-1 at peer institution.
“If we don’t increase the size of the faculty more than it has been increased in the past our ability to provide the kind of programming which makes you nationally competitive with students from other Universities will be impaired,” Gates said.
Gates said greater flexibility with tuition is needed to hire 100 faculty per year due to state funding dropping 13% over the last 12 years.
Gates also answered questions on other issues including; University funded condom distribution on campus, which he said he was unaware of; expansion of the fine arts program, which he said will continue at a slow pace.
A question about diversity spurred a lengthy explanation by Gates of an issue which he sees as an area A&M needs improvement.
“My view is that you are going out into a diverse world and you have not been prepared for that by Texas A&M,” Gates said.
Gates said that recent publicized incidents such as the “Ghetto Party” and a racially insensitive comic in the Battalion last spring have caused a state-wide attitude that minorities are unwelcome at A&M, and caused many minority students who were admitted not to attend.
After Gates speech the Student senate approved two resolutions; encouraging faculty to use WebCT to post grades and showing support for a course in Mandarin Chinese being offered.

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