Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Indiana State University: Start-up costs for new ISU flight academy would not affect student tuition, university officials say

Costs for new flight academy would not affect student’s tuition.  The academy is an important step for student development, university officials said.

Diann McKee, vice president of business affairs and university treasurer, said the start-up costs, which are estimated at $ 2 million, will not increase general student fees. She said the university will be making a loan from reserves to cover the funds and that will be paid back with interest over a 10-year period.

In the past, aviation students would pay course fees to a “third party provider,” said McKee. Now, students will be paying those fees up front to the flight academy and they will be calculated into the students’ financial aid packages.

“You could say at one level it’s put a bind on the students,” said Jack Maynard, provost and vice president of academic affairs. “On another level, it helps them to help them think very clearly about what it’s going to take to get through that course. When we were separating the flying from the courses, we didn’t think it was in the student’s advantage to do that.”

The birth of the flight academy is the latest in a slew of projects underway on campus, such as the construction of the North Residential and Erikson Halls renovation. But while the creation of the academy means extra expenses for ISU, Maynard said the move was crucial for student development.

“The bottom line was, as we evaluate this project, really came out to be what’s the best for our students in terms of putting quality graduates out there,” said Maynard. “There’s no doubt that you could use the reserves for other things, also—there’s a lot of needs on campus. And not to take away from those projects, but this is a needed step.”

Although Indiana State has a 47 year relationship with the Brown Flight School and has relied solely on it for the last two years, Maynard said the university was discussing a venue switch “for a while.”  

Last month, ISU’s Board of Trustees approved the collaboration between the university and the Terre Haute International Airport, allowing the two to enter into a four-year lease. In exchange for the lease, the airport will allot a facility for classrooms and offices as well as hangar space, according to President Daniel J. Bradley’s December news release.

In addition to the loaned airspace and facility, ISU will recruit adjunct or temporary instructors for the academy and purchase a used fleet of airplanes that will be kept on the airport’s premises.

 “It has nothing directly to do with Brown,” said Maynard. “When you look around the country at quality flying schools, we were in the minority of minorities. Look at North Dakota and Eastern Kentucky, for example; all of them have their own airplanes and run their own flying schools. We wanted to move to increase the quality and reputation of our program.”

The university wanted students to train on the most up to date aircrafts, Maynard said.  The airplanes available at Brown’s Flight School are dated.  For example, today’s airplanes, such as the commercial prototypes, have glass cockpits and incorporate the use of computers. 

Earlier planes have cockpits often seen in “old movies” using only knobs and dials.  Despite those differences, students should be familiar with all types, said Maynard.

“Our students need to have experience on both. They need to see the traditional cockpit and the glass cockpit. We weren’t sure if Brown was able to make the investment, to move up to that,” said Maynard.

Negotiations with the airport about the facility’s location keep renovations to that facility and overall costs, which should be finalized this month. He anticipates the academy will be ready in fall 2013.


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