The trustees' unanimous decision came during the board's winter meeting, Feb. 6-8, in Lexington.
In addition, the trustees approved a 2.5 percent increase in tuition for undergraduates, the lowest percentage increase in 50 years, and a 2 percent increase in tuition for the School of Law, while also approving construction of the Center for Global Learning.
New Housing Policy
The new policy will not go into effect until at least the 2016–17 academic year. With the policy determined, the University will now establish a timetable for implementation, including plans for additional housing.
A board-appointed task force comprising trustees, faculty and administrators made an initial set of recommendations on housing in 2012 after studying current housing patterns and gathering input from members of the University community. That report led to the renovation of Gaines and Graham-Lees residence halls, which will be completed this year.
The task force's report also led the trustees over the past two years to study various aspects of the upper-class housing recommendation. Those studies, undertaken by national architectural and planning firms, provided evidence that there are attractive and financially viable options for a new campus residential community that is based on independent living.
The new policy is intended to preserve and enhance the close-knit, residential character of Washington and Lee while also ensuring that students have access to quality housing.
With the completion of the new facilities, University housing will include the first-year residence halls, fraternity and sorority houses, theme houses and Woods Creek apartments.
W&L will finance the new housing through the sale of bonds, using room fees to defray the cost. The University will not use tuition to underwrite the construction.
Rate of Tuition Increase Lowest in 50 Years
In adopting the 2.5 percent increase for undergraduate tuition, the trustees were following a model that increases tuition by the inflation rate plus 1 percent. The increase is from $43,570 to $44,660.
"Strong philanthropic support from alumni and friends, coupled with prudent financial management, have allowed us to moderate increases in recent years," said Steve McAllister, vice president for finance and treasurer.
McAllister noted that keeping the percentage increase to the historic low is also significant because W&L has slightly lowered the target for the entering class to 470 students. He added that this was possible only because W&L's endowment per student has grown more rapidly during the past five years than all but one other of the top 25 national liberal arts colleges.
In addition, the budget that the trustees approved also moderated the increases in room and board, with the board rate moving to $5,895 and the average room rate to $5,721.
Even as W&L has kept these increases to their lowest levels in many years, the trustees also approved an undergraduate financial aid budget of $38.8 million, allocating $8.8 million of the total to awards to first-year students. That represents a 3.9 percent increase over the current year's awards.
The School of Law tuition will increase 2 percent, while the University's financial aid budget will increase by 4.5 percent.
Construction for the Center for Global Learning Approved
The board approved the construction of the Center for Global Learning to begin this summer, pending completion of fundraising. It will comprise 8,600 square feet in the renovated duPont Hall and an estimated 17,700 square feet in a new wing.
The center will be the cornerstone of a comprehensive program and an important physical focal point for W&L's international education initiative.
The plan features demolition of the former one-story studio space at the rear of the existing duPont Hall and the comprehensive renovation of the remaining front portion of the building. Along with the new addition, the building will accommodate the Office of International Education, the Global Media Center, the East Asian Languages and Literatures Department, and the German and Russian Department.
The building will feature nine classrooms with the latest academic technologies, numerous small group and study areas, the Media Center and a two-story entry/atrium to accommodate multiple activities.
If the construction can begin in the summer of 2014, the building would be completed for occupancy in January 2016. The trustees set the budget for the building at $13.5 million, $11.5 million of which will come from fundraising, and selected Branch Associates of Roanoke to provide pre-construction services.