ETSU Trustees approve tuition increase, discuss campus vaccines and in-person instruction

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JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — During ETSU’s quarterly Board of Trustees meeting Friday, President Brian Noland announced the bulk of courses will return to in-person instruction this fall. The board also unanimously approved a tuition increase for ETSU students.

That would amount to a nearly 2% increase for undergraduate students and a 1.67% increase for graduate students. The board referenced that the cost of attendance did not increase in fiscal year 2021 as all fees were held flat.

This increase helps make up for the gap and will result in around $1.98 million in revenue to help fund the university’s salary pool. Board members said Friday the pandemic has taught a good lesson in budgeting.

“In fact, COVID has been unique in that it has lead us to more efficiencies on campus, more electronic processing, less paper, things that will continue to go forward and provide cost savings in the future,” said ETSU’s Chief Financial Officer Dr. B.J. King in the meeting.

Regarding vaccines, one thing the board made clear was that they will not be requiring a COVID-19 vaccine for students this school year, but the board did adopt a rule change today regarding vaccines.

The board unanimously approved a rule that allows the university to require a vaccine for students based on CDC recommendations, in relation to any future pandemic or COVID-19.

Dr. Noland addressed this in a media briefing after the meeting.

“At the point in time in which the emergency classification that defines the COVID vaccine is lifted and it moves into a medically standard protocol, that might be something we would explore for students in the residence halls. If the question is will students, faculty and staff be required to have the vaccine to enroll this fall, the answer is no,” said Noland.

Noland also said he hopes to get ETSU Health’s vaccine clinic reopened once the Johnson and Johnson vaccine is re-approved for distribution.

Another topic Dr. Noland emphasized in his remarks in front of ETSU’s top leaders Friday was a commitment to diversity and inclusion.

Noland addressed that in light of the controversy that came about on campus and in the community earlier this year when the men’s basketball team was seen kneeling at an away game during the national anthem. This sparked much conversation, even protesting, both in support and against this action by the team.

Dr. Noland said Friday he appreciates the passion of every student working to make their voice heard, and he felt the need to issue an apology to ETSU’s students of color and the entire community.

“To the extent that I have caused you pain, or lead you to no longer believe that ETSU honors its values, or supports those who sacrifice their lives in service to our nation so that we can hold those values true, I apologize fully and without qualification or reservation. I look forward to moving forward. There is a lot of great work underway across this campus,” said Noland.

Noland also announced domestic travel within the university will be allowed starting in the middle of May, and international travel in June, with the plan to welcome the return of study abroad programs. He said they will bring back large university events and large sporting event attendance as appropriate.

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