Worcester Polytechnic Institute

A Planning Program for Worcester Polytechnic Institute: The Future of Two Towers - Part Four: A Plan


A. Introduction

Between the time of publication of The Future of Two Towers, Part III and the writing of the present report there has been a considerable amount of effort devoted to determining the cost of the proposed program. The Subcommittee on Financing and Cost Estimation has submitted its report. In developing the present report, estimates of faculty required have been revised. It is, therefore, possible to make somewhat better estimates than those previously published. All estimates are based on an undergraduate student population of 2000 (See, however, Chapter X, General Principle No. 15) and are for the undergraduate program only.

B. Expenses

Examination of the Audit Reports of the College shows that the area affected by the proposed Plan is the Education and General Expense. Every other area is, in principle, a matching of specific income against cost. Thus, in estimating the costs of the proposed model, the following areas were considered.

1. General Administration

2. Student Services

3. Public Service and Information

4. General Institutional

5. Instruction and Departmental Research

6. Staff Benefits

7. Operation of the Physical Plant

The Subcommittee recommended that items 1, 3, 4, and 7 be increased by 10% and that item 2 be increased by 33% in extrapolating 1969 costs to the 2000 student base. This recommendation is followed in the computations below. For the two remaining items, 5 and 6, a more specific estimate is necessary.

C. Expenses in Detail

1. Estimation of Faculty Required

In order to estimate the costs of Instruction and Departmental Research, an estimate of the number of faculty required to carry out the proposed program is necessary. This might be done with the following assumptions:

a. The estimate of faculty time allotment given in Chapter XIII are valid.

b. The student time distribution shown in Table VII-2 would be averaged over the four Terms of the year so that there would be an "average" number of students on IS/P in each Term.

c. one Unit of IS/P would be developed in work off-campus for most students.

d. The content of the approximately 167 courses presently given each 15-week semester could be handled in a total of 94 Studies and Study-Conferences in each 7-week Term under the proposed Plan. (This would be equal student effort for the two cases.)

e. The material of the 94 areas each Term would be split equally between Studies and Study-Conferences.

f. The Conferences might be handled by graduate students and some seniors.

g. The advising function would permit a maximum student:staff ratio of 15.

h. Full-time equivalent students in S and S-C would be taking an average of 3 S and S-C per Term.

The foregoing assumptions lead to the following estimates of faculty required (FTE).

IS/P (on-campus) 56.5
IS/P (off-campus) 8.38
S (47 per Term) 20.8
S-C (47 per Term) 15.7
C (376 per Term) 28.46
Advising 14.0
Total 143.84

Estimates for physical education and military science faculty would have to be added to this total.

The table shows a total faculty required of 143.84. The number of faculty computed on the basis of a student:staff ratio of 15 is 133. The difference of 10.84 could be graduate assistants instructing in Conferences.

2. Estimation of Graduate Assistants

This estimate may be divided into two main parts. First, it is estimated that one FTE graduate assistant would be required for every 15 students on off-campus IS/P or 8.38. Second, 10.84 FTE graduate assistants would be required to handle some of the Conferences as explained above. These two considerations would give a total of 38.44 half-time graduate assistants. In addition, each FTE faculty member conducting a Study should have a half-time graduate assistant. This would make the total number of half-time graduate assistants 59.24 which for purposes of calculation is rounded to 60. This figure is lower than expected and probably should be raised.

3. Ancillary Staff

In addition to the teaching staff certain support personnel would be required. It is estimated that one secretary would be required for every four FTE faculty, or 33 secretaries. Technician support would be essential for the project work, and our estimate is that there should be one technician for one or two FTE faculty on IS/P work, or about 38. About eight adminstrative assistants would be required to free faculty group chairmen to carry out their responsibilities as leaders in scholarship and teaching.

4. Equipment and Supplies

The method used to estimate this cost is the most conservative of several considered and is based on research proposals submitted by WPI faculty. A survey of proposals shows that equipment and supplies costs would be about 17 percent of the total of salaries, wages, and overhead at 72% of salaries and wages. The engineering division of the National Science Foundation confirms that estimates made in this way will be somewhat higher than the average of proposals it receives. For purposes of estimating the equipment and supplies cost for the Plan, the figure obtained in this way is halved on the assumption that:

a. Project work for first and second-year students would to a large extent be supported by projects generated for third and fourth year students.

b. The estimate would use the total of all salaries and wages whether or not the people were actually involved in project work, and our estimates in (1) above show that only about half the faculty would be so involved. (FTE basis).

It is important to note that these figures would replace entirely the budgeted departmental expenses except for the library. The library figure is considered separately and is taken from the subcommittee report. Based on the foregoing items, and using the figures of the Subcommittee on Financing and Cost Estimation as a base, the following costs for instruction are obtained:

Salaries and Wages

133 Faculty$1,769,000
Phys. Ed. and ROTC116,500
60 Graduate Assistants216,000
33 Secretaries161,000
38 Technicians327,000
8 Administrative Assistants100,000
Equipment and Supplies393,000
Staff Benefits346,300
Library405 000

With this total, the projected Education and General Expenses would be:

General Administration$ 298,000
Student Services 304,000
Public Service and Information 150,000
General Institutional 227,000
Instruction and Staff Benefits 3,833,500
Operation of Physical Plant 810,000
Total EGE expenses $5,622,500

D. Revenues

In projecting revenues to a 2000 student base, the method of the Subcommittee on Financing and Cost Estimation was used to arrive at an Education and General Income figure of $5,531,000 which was tempered by an incremental increase in student aid of $150,000. This gave a net income of $5,381,000 in the Education and General category. This is based on a tuition charge of $2100 per year.

E. Unbalance in the Education and General Budget

The results of B and C above show an annual deficit of $241,500 for the proposed Plan. This figure compares very favorably with the current operations of the College. If the number of graduate assistants were increased from 60 to 100, there would result a positive increment in salaries and wages of $144,000 and a positive increment in equipment and supplies of $21,000. This realistic change, coupled with an increased student aid of $189,000 as indicated in The Future of Two Towers, Part III would give an annual deficit of $445,000. All of these figures are based on 1969 dollars.

The ability of WPI to present a unique and exciting educational program should put the College in a favorable position in seeking new support. The above figures do not reflect this advantage.

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Last modified: Fri Mar 5 15:28:11 EST 1999