Editorial: Rowan University's no-hike tuition laudable

Editorial: Rowan University's no-hike tuition laudable

By South Jersey Times

With the cost of everything Jersey from turnpike hamburgers to state-owned helicopters rising, it’s good to know that undergraduate tuition at Rowan University will hold stable for the next year.

The university board of trustees adopted a lean, mean $296 million budget for 2013-2014 that keeps tuition at last year’s rate for Rowan’s 11,000 anticipated undergraduates. Although tuition and related fees are scheduled to increase for graduate students (including those in Rowan’s lauded MBA program and its new Cooper Medical School in Camden), the Rowan administration deserves applause for keeping costs down for most students.

After two decades of escalating tuition, with increases of 8 or 9 percent in some years, it’s refreshing to hear Rowan president Ali Houshmand apply restraint to the academic budget.

The value of a college degree has been questioned especially hard lately. A concerted effort to hold down tuition, and not just at Rowan, could preserve worthy courses of study that might otherwise vanish if subjected to strict cost-benefit analysis.

Under the previous administration, Rowan had faced criticism from students, parents and the State Commission on Investigation for empire-building expenses called extravagant at best and questionable at worst.

But that’s not Houshmand’s style. The man wields a common-sense frugality that respects not only those who pay tuition but also those who pay state and federal taxes which supplement tuition in running the institution.

To handle funding requests from the university’s many departments, Houshmand told the trustees that he asked two questions:

“One, is it necessary? Two, can it wait?”

Would that every state department or agency could ask the same two questions at budget time. Would that the Legislature could critique every line item in the state budget with the same care. Would that Gov. Chris Christie could ask himself such questions about his own spending on frills like, well, helicopter rides.

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Date Published: Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - 09:38