George Mason Begins New Fiscal Year as Largest Institution in Commonwealth

Posted: June 24, 2004 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Daniel Walsch

For the second year in a row, George Mason University enters a new fiscal year, which begins July 1, with the largest student headcount of any four-year institution of higher learning in Virginia.

With a projected overall student enrollment of 28,750, Mason tops Virginia Tech, which has an enrollment of 27,755, and Virginia Commonwealth University, which has an enrollment of 26,755. The commonwealth’s smallest four-year institution is Longwood University, with an enrollment of 4,252.

Since 2001, Mason alone has taken nearly 40 percent of the headcount growth at Virginia’s four-year institutions.

Moving into the 2004-05 fiscal year under the shadow of this reality, Mason has an overall budget of $480.8 million, which is a 7.3 percent increase over the original budget for the 2003-04 fiscal year of $412.9 million. As a result of being the largest institution in the commonwealth, “George Mason receives about 10 percent of the new funding each year for enrollment growth, operating fund deficiencies, and research,” notes Thomas Hennessey, President Alan Merten’s chief of staff.

As part of this year’s budget, faculty and staff can expect salary increases effective Nov. 25. According to Maurice Scherrens, senior vice president, “The state has provided funding to support an average salary increase of 3 percent for faculty and staff. In addition, the Board of Visitors, in light of Mason’s relative drop when compared to its national faculty salary peer group, approved a FY2005 budget that includes funding equivalent to an additional—on average—1.5 percent faculty salary increase.”

Other highlights or new initiatives of the 2004-05 budget, says Scherrens, include:

  • Supporting basic teaching needs and discussion sections for large classes within the College of Arts and Sciences
  • Supporting teaching needs in the College of Nursing and Health Science
  • Supporting adjunct salaries and additional faculty in the School of Information Technology and Engineering
  • Providing support to the School of Management for additional faculty to address class size and accreditation issues
  • Fulfilling ongoing commitments for faculty within the School of Computational Sciences
  • Annualizing an endowed chair position in the Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution
  • Adding additional staff for Facilities and Physical Plant
  • Providing greater support to University Libraries so it, in turn, can better serve the growing student and faculty population
  • Improving information security throughout the entire university
  • Increasing staff within University Police and the Safety Office
  • Supporting implementation of the university’s new visual identity
  • Leasing additional space within the Truland Building at the Arlington Campus
  • Allowing for contract inflation for library reference materials, information technology contracts, housekeeping contracts, leased space contracts, mail service contracts, and increased utilities expenses
  • Supporting operations and maintenance and programming costs to operate the new Bull Run Hall at the Prince William Campus

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