University and Brite officials meet to negotiate payment

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    Despite financial disagreements between Brite Divinity School and the university, the institutions will not split up, officials from both parties said.

    Brite and university officials will meet today to negotiate costs the university said Brite owes TCU, said Brite President Newell Williams.

    Brite paid the university $1.04 million this year, Williams said, but he did not say how much the university charged Brite for the next contract year, which is the amount being negotiated.

    The university determined Brite’s costs to be $2.13 million for next year, more than double the previous payment, according to a Jan. 31 Fort Worth Star-Telegram article citing a confidential source familiar with the negotiations.

    Williams said Brite and the university have an agreement that allows Brite to repay the university for allowing Brite to use university facilities and services, such as the upkeep and maintenance of the Moore Building, purchases of religious books for the library and Brite students’ use of the University Recreation Center. The agreement is effective until June 1.

    Chancellor Victor Boschini wrote in an e-mail that the two institutions would never split, noting that it was “totally impossible” for them to do so.

    “As I have said many times before, Brite and Texas Christian University are inextricably tied, and in a good sense,” Boschini wrote.

    Boschini wrote that the study of how much Brite owes is determined by Brian Gutierrez, the university’s vice chancellor for finance.

    Gutierrez wrote in an e-mail that the agreement between the university and Brite is being negotiated and did not comment further.

    Boschini and Williams did not say what the specific cause of the negotiations is, citing a university policy of keeping contract negotiations confidential.

    According to the Brite Catalog, the school charged $725 per semester credit hour for the 2009-2010 school year, bringing the cost of a two-semester load of 12 hours each to $17,400. The normal load for a full-time student is nine to 12 hours per semester, according to the catalog.

    Williams said more than 36 percent of Brite’s operating revenue, which the school uses to pay the university, came from tuition and fees.

    According to the Star-Telegram article, the total yearly cost of attending Brite was $34,780, including room and board and other expenses, but the school covered enough costs to bring the total down to $20,850. The school has 242 students.

    More than 25 percent of Brite’s budget goes toward financial aid, Williams said.

    Williams said financial strain in recent years, including a cut in Brite’s budget from $8 million to $7.5 million and a 27 percent loss in endowment between December 2007 and December 2008, decreased Brite’s spendable income.

    “I do believe that the general economic situation that we’re living in – I’m sure that that heightens concern at every point,” he said.

    Williams said, however, that Brite’s endowment is rebounding and was at $49.5 million as of December 2009.

    Williams said he does not think a split between Brite and the university is likely and expects today’s meeting to be friendly.