Tuesday, May 01, 2001

Agency identifies faults

Remedies include partial scholarships, fewer adjuncts

By Ben L. Kaufman
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        When routine re-accreditation was postponed last year, Thomas More College undertook a quiet revolution. Among faults identified by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools:

        • The school mistakenly accepted transcripts directly from two teachers. The accuracy was not challenged but transcripts must come directly from schools that faculty attended.

        • An undergraduate language teacher who lacked sufficient graduate education is being replaced with someone who meets SACS criteria.

        • Just before the SACS evaluation team visited the campus, the sole teacher with a doctorate in the master's of business administration program quit. A graduate program must have teachers with doctorates. None was left. Thomas More is advertising for a qualified replacement and other MBA faculty are completing their doctorates.

        More challenging was the way flaws in finances and planning flowed together. A new plan was drafted with these immediate cost-cutting measures:

        • Faculty administrative duties were delegated differently.

        For years, 18 department heads taught three instead of four courses each semester in exchange for handling paperwork. Adjuncts often were hired to fill in.

        Faculty have been regrouped into seven divisions and seven teachers handle paper in exchange a reduced teaching load. The other 11 professors are teaching four courses again and less money is being spent on adjuncts.

        • Thomas More is spending less of its operating budget on scholarships.

        • Some classes are being offered less often, freeing teachers for other courses and reducing the need for more full-time faculty and adjuncts.

        Chief financial officer John R. Parker said these economies will cover this year's $500,000 deficit by the end of fiscal year 2001 on May 30.

        These changes cannot cope with anticipated cost increases. The new plan says further savings will come from:

        • A change in the way scholar ships are given to recruit more paying students.

        In fall 2001, Thomas More will charge full-time undergrad tuition of $6,600 for one semester, compared with nearby Northern Kentucky University's $1,230.

        Thomas More will give more partial scholarships, assuming recipients will opt for the smaller school and classes once the cost gap is reduced.

        • Increasing the student population with financial incentives and more aggressive recruiting. The goal is to rise from 756 to 779 in the coming year. The campus has facilities for 2,000.

        • Raising the student-teacher ratio to 15:1 from as low as 9:1.

        That intimacy was purchased at a price Thomas More can no longer afford but Dr. Myers said 15:1 still assures individual attention. This term, it was 14.8:1. This will save the equivalent of two or three full-time faculty salaries at the current enrollment and more as the school grows.

        • Raising tuition and fees, starting in fall 2001. Tuition was stable for two years while costs rose.


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