Troy University recognized as a national model for affordability
Published 6:16 pm Thursday, May 5, 2022
Troy University has been recognized as a national model for providing quality, affordable education in a new report from the Partners for College Affordability and Public Trust.
The case study, published in December 2021, is part of a project focusing on affordability strategies employed by the governing boards of five public universities. For Troy, the study examined the leadership of Chancellor Dr. Jack Hawkins, Jr. and the Board of Trustees and the decisions that have made Troy an adaptive and affordable institution focused on meeting the needs of students and the community.
“Ongoing efforts to ‘rightsize’ the university have resulted in significant cost savings, enabling university leadership to provide students with an affordable, flexible and quality education,” the report states.
“We picked Troy University because it delivers a tremendous amount of value for the public,” said Dr. James Toscano, President of Partners for College Affordability and Public Trust. “Troy stands out nationally as a highly adaptive university willing to wrestle with some of the most difficult business and operational issues facing higher education today. Thanks to grounded university leadership, this adaptiveness is in its DNA. Troy leaves a roadmap that other institutions would be wise to follow if they want to stay current and successfully navigate these turbulent times.”
Troy’s focus on affordability started in the earliest days of the Hawkins administration. One of Dr. Hawkins’ first acts as Chancellor was to commission an institutional audit aimed at identifying the University’s most significant challenges.
“I would advise every new university president or chancellor to do an audit immediately,” Hawkins said. “A vision can be a great thing, but it also can be a nightmare for those who have to implement it. And that’s why I believe that for a vision to have meaning, to be relevant, it needs to be a collective vision. But how do have a vision unless you can frame the problem?”
In the end, the audit identified several problems, including duplication related to the independent accreditation of Troy’s campuses in Montgomery and Dothan.
“We had three faculty handbooks. We had three financial systems. We had three brands,” Hawkins said. “And one of the charges in that issue study was to address duplication and lack of cohesion in this system.”
This finding led to one of the most significant changes in the history of the University—the merger of Troy’s separately accredited campuses into “One Great University.” The consolidation of all Troy locations into a single, accredited institution resulted in significant cost savings—estimated at more than $20 million in the first decade.
“It was the thing that really has contributed to affordability at this institution,” Hawkins said. “Making one of three [separate institutions] really was a key element. It was a difficult process, but today we’re so grateful that we bit that bullet 20 years ago and are where we are today.”
Troy’s focus on affordability did not end with the One Great University initiative. Troy’s senior leaders and Trustees maintain a strong focus on optimization, including faculty and staff utilization, program productivity, and space utilization. The goal is to ensure that savings realized through stewardship are passed on to students.
“We have a mindset that we don’t want to pass costs onto the students,” said Dr. James Bookout, Senior Vice Chancellor for Financial Affairs and Troy Online. “So, we manage our personnel, which represents around 55 percent of our total budget very closely.”
This commitment to stewardship extends to the Board of Trustees’ approach to tuition. Troy recently announced a tuition freeze, the third straight year in which Troy has kept prices level for students.
Gibson Vance, president pro-tempore of the Board of Trustees, said the board’s position is to keep tuition rates as low as possible.
“As a board, our philosophy is to not raise tuition unless it is absolutely essential,” Vance said. “We want to keep tuition costs and room and board as low as possible where [students] don’t run out their credit card or student loan debt is weighing them down for years and years.”
Partners for College Affordability and Public Trust is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to making high-quality, affordable college education a reality for all Americans. Their full report on Troy can be found online at https://www.pcapt.org/empowertrustees.