The Auburn University Senate met over Zoom on Tuesday for its first meeting of the academic year to talk about a new budget, high enrollment and concerns about masks being worn inside.
In his report, Auburn University President Jay Gogue spoke on the upcoming budget, which will need to be approved on Sept. 10 by the Board of Trustees. He said that the budget is the "largest one to date, totaling around $1.5 billion."
The Sept. 10 budget will also include a 3% pool for merit-based raises. Money for the raises comes from increased government aid given to the University thanks to a record year of tax collections.
Gogue also said that Auburn had "27,000 completed applications for freshman status with an average high school GPA of 4.0." Additionally, he said that Auburn has nearly 30,000 students enrolled for the 2021-22 school year.
The University reinstated its indoor mask requirement ahead of the academic year on Aug. 3, but Provost Bill Hardgrave said faculty have expressed concerns to his office about students not wearing their masks indoors except for classroom environments.
"There have been problems with students wearing masks in the buildings but not [been problems] in the classrooms," Hardgrave said. "More mask reminders will be put around campus, as well as more security to enforce the mask protocol."
Faculty shared these concerns during the meeting as well and were notified that it is their duty to help enforce this and remind students of the protocol.
Todd Steury, associate professor in wildlife biology and statistics, is the University Senate's new chair. He said to start his term, senate leadership has relocated the AU Faculty Handbook to solely be featured on the provost's website. This eliminates the confusion that took place in previous years when multiple handbooks were found across various AU websites.
“I would like to increase the transparency with my term between the senate and faculty," Steury said.
Near the end of the meeting, Bobby Woodard, senior vice president of Student Affairs, said the University is optimistic about its new vaccine incentive program as a good indicator for the administration to have an idea of how many students have received the vaccine.
So far, there have been 5,800 Auburn students that have entered the vaccine incentive program, according to Woodard. Names are drawn weekly, with 28 winners selected this past week. Prizes for these winners range from meal plan upgrades to a $1,000 scholarship.
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