WPI President Addresses State
of the University, Challenges and Needs

Contact: WPI Media Relations, 508-831-5616

Worcester, Mass. -- WPI President Edward A. Parrish, in a State of the University meeting to the WPI community today, addressed WPI's present position, opportunities and challenges in both a local and national context and how costs impact the University's strategic position. At the luncheon meeting held at Alden Memorial Hall, Parrish addressed the big question of how can institutions cut costs while improving quality, maintaining competitiveness, and meeting the demands of students and their parents for the amenities they expect.

Parrish also cited the recent National Commission on the Cost of Higher Education, Straight Talk About College Costs and Prices, and how it made convincing arguments that higher education is a good investment and that expenses are not out of control. "Controlling costs is a national issue," he said "and WPI is facing it squarely with academic programs reviewed against performance criteria and by addressing our financial aid strategies. We are also experimenting with Program-Based Budgeting and a major reengineering effort. Last fall, for example, we implemented a Web-based registration system that not only saves money, but also makes the course registration process faster and more convenient for students."

In a separate letter to parents of WPI students Parrish highlighted these above items and noted a five-year plan for tuition and fees that addresses investments in specific initiatives that will immediately benefit current students. This five-year plan will increase tuition and fees for the 1998-99 academic year to $20,648, and to $22,108 the following year and then closely tie them to the rate of inflation the final three years. Room and board will increase 5.5 percent for the coming year. The increase will bring WPI's price closer to its peers and more in line with current program quality. Noting that the cost to educate a single student exceeds $24,300 this year, he indicated that every student is thus supported by a general subsidy in excess of $5,500 exclusive of any financial aid that may be available.

"WPI intends to maintain our long-standing commitment to making a WPI education accessible for all qualified students, regardless of their ability to pay," said Parrish. "WPI will continue to offer need-based financial aid, and we will continue to work with students and their families to assure that our aid packages remain competitive."

Among the specific investments for the upcoming academic year are: adding new faculty members to high demand areas to assure that all students enjoy the high level of contact, collaboration, and interaction that are the hallmarks of WPI's project-based education; transforming several traditional classrooms to state-of-the-art multimedia classrooms that use computers, video technology and satellite links to bring the world into the classrooms; increasing the library budget so that faculty and students have access to materials and technology needed for their work and to allow for continued participation in an important national digital library project; investing nearly $600,000 to increase the speed of residence hall connections tenfold, from 10 megahertz to 100 megahertz; and expanding WPI's Global Perspective Program, the most ambitious and successful international program at any American technological university, to assure that any student who wishes to take part can do so.

In the next two years WPI intends to build a 71,000-square-foot campus center and a 33,000- square-foot academic building featuring modern multimedia classrooms and will begin a major capital campaign to raise funds needed for these and other long-range objectives. Among these are new scholarships to supplement existing financial aid.

In concluding his remarks Parrish noted that the strategic tuition increases together with the capital campaign will allow immediate investments that can improve WPI's position among the top 50 national universities, propel WPI to even higher levels of academic excellence, and provide considerable new resources over several years for the needed investments.