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The Daily Tar Heel

Professional Schools' Tuition Increases Might Yield Benefits

Faculty and students in five of UNC's professional schools are optimistic about the potential benefits that could arise from tuition increases.

They say they are eager to see the funds put to use for increasing financial assistance, hiring new professors and raising faculty salaries.

At its Wednesday meeting, the Board of Trustees approved tuition increases for the Kenan-Flagler Business School, the School of Dentistry, the School of Law, the School of Medicine and the School of Pharmacy. The proposals will now go before the Board of Governors when it meets in January.

Law school Dean Gene Nichol said he regrets the increases but that he thinks it is impossible to remain competitive with other top universities without them.

"The increases are very necessary or we wouldn't do it," said Jeffrey Houpt, dean of the School of Medicine, where 50 percent of the funds from tuition increases would go toward financial aid packages.

Houpt said increasing financial assistance will help the school remain nationally competitive because it will allow the school to attract better students.

Nichol said one problem for the law school has been its student-to-teacher ratio."A large part of (the tuition increase) is to expand the size of the faculty," he said. He said one way to achieve this is to raise faculty salaries, which tuition increases would accomplish.

Professor Doug Shackelford of the business school said the school's reputation has kept him on the faculty despite relatively low salaries. "In what I do, we are the best school in the country," he said.

Law Professor Elizabeth Gibson, who has been on faculty since 1983, said proximity to her family has played a large role in keeping her at UNC. "I've gotten inquiries (from other institutions) but never pursued them," she said.

But she noted that other faculty members who might be battling low salaries might not have this option.

Nichol said tuition increases were not the only viable option for the law school's future prosperity. A capital campaign for private funds is under way to supplement state-allocated funds.

Because money will go to increased financial aid as well as recruiting faculty, Nichol said he doesn't see any negative effects arising from the increases.

"To increase tuition, it's not desirable," he said. "(But) I don't think it will hurt the law school's accessibility."

Hunter Pierce, a senior biology major from Wilmington who intends to apply to the dental school, said tuition increases will not affect his goals.

He also believes the increases are a necessary option. "I really can't see it as being a detriment in any way," he said.

Nate Macek, a graduate student from Michigan in the Department of City and Regional Planning, said he respects the tuition increase's necessity.

He said that if out-of-state tuition were to increase, it might affect his decision when he decides to apply for law school, where he will face out-of-state tuition bills. But Macek said the quality of the schools' programs would bear more weight in his future decision. "I think there's room for tuition to increase to stay competitive," he said.

It is this aspect that Houpt believes is most essential. "It's really going to improve the quality of life for the student."

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