Baker University plans 5.5 percent hike in tuition for 2010-2011

June 28, 2010

Fresh off an academic year during which it scoured operations for efficiencies, trimmed 33 jobs and cut $4.5 million in spending, Baker University is heading into 2010-2011 with plans to hold the line on expenses.

All while increasing tuition by 5.5 percent, less than a certain public university atop Mount Oread.

“We tried to keep it as low as possible, because of the economy,” said Pat Long, Baker’s president. “We had to do some layoffs, and we had to do some major cutbacks on programs, but we’re going to end the year strong. We thought it was really important to keep (tuition) as low as possible for our students.”

Long met with about 100 members of the Lawrence Rotary Club for lunch Monday at the Lawrence Holidome, sharing her vision for the private college based in Baldwin City that operates with regional campuses in Topeka, Overland Park and Wichita, plus Missouri sites in North Kansas City and Lee’s Summit.

Despite a weakened economy, she said, Baker is positioned to help meet the needs of both education-minded students and a budget-challenged state.

Baker is among 18 private colleges and universities in Kansas that together educate 22,000 students each year, Long said.

“If you stop to think about that, just for a minute, (that’s) 22,000 students,” she said. “If we didn’t have private schools, as taxpayers we would have to build probably one more regional public university. … That’s a lot of students that somebody is going to have to educate.”

Baker, Long said, continues to educate nurses to meet demand in health care, and remains a leader in awarding MBAs in the Kansas City area.

While tuition now reaches $22,200 a year, Long said, students typically receive their degrees within four years and leave campus with about $1,000 less debt than their counterparts at state universities, such as Kansas University in Lawrence.

Scholarships, financial aid and other assistance — combined with Baker’s relatively small class sizes, international opportunities and educational partnerships — make the United Methodist school an attractive option in the Lawrence area, she said.

Even if no Rotarians raised a hand when Long asked if anyone had earned a Baker degree.

“Now that’s unusual,” Long said. “I was at a chamber meeting in Lee’s Summit the other day and we had five, so we have to work here. Harder. I can tell you that.”

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