Triton College is currently considering ways and means of implementing an ambitious five-year master plan upgrade of the school’s campus, academic offerings, faculty and overall environment.

Preliminary cost projections for plan, which calls for bringing Triton’s enrollment to a never-before-achieved 30,000 students, would be carried out between the 2009 and 2013 academic years and cost an estimated $138 million.

Triton College District 504 serves all of Riverside and North Riverside and part of Brookfield.

Triton Vice President for Institutional Advancement Marge Stabile stressed Monday that the master plan is currently in draft form, with no binding decisions yet made.

“This is by no means the final document,” she said. “But you need to start someplace.

“What we have to do next is take a hard look at all the numbers,” she said, “[and] prioritize what is feasible for [2009] and the year after that.”

The central goal of the plan, repeated throughout the overview distributed to board members in December, is the attainment of a 30,000 student enrollment.

“This master plan’s foundation is the institutional goals and objectives to grow enrollment to 30,000 students,” the summary reads.

The figure has been a mantra of sorts, repeated by Triton board Chairman Mark Stephens the past several years. Triton has never had 30,000 students; its enrollment peaked in the mid-20,000 range some 20 years ago.

A graphic on the cover of the 14-page overview shows the attainment of the long-sought 30,000 student enrollment resting on five pillars, including academic affairs/student services, marketing, technology, human resources and facilities.

Among the goals listed are enhancing the physical campus, developing new degree and training programs, expanding a virtual campus environment, attracting and retaining a diverse student body, and developing a institutional effectiveness plan.

Stabile said planning began in April 2006. In a Dec. 12, 2007 memo to the board, Stabile said that the Triton College Council has recommended that Triton complete several key tasks by March 14.

Among those tasks are identifying specific projects related to the master plan, defining and clarifying interdependencies in the plan, more accurately calculating project costs, and assessing which projected projects might not be able to be accomplished in 2009.

In addition to grants and outside fundraising, Triton may increase tuition over the next two years. Triton currently charges $56 per semester hour, plus an additional $10 per hour in fees. Under a proposed scenario, that would increase from a total of $66 per hour to $74 in 2008. In 2009 it would increase to $82 per hour.

Stabile declined to comment on the issue, saying only that the board discussed the issue at its December meeting. Any final decision on raising tuition, she said, “is a board decision.”

Trustee Thomas Gary called the tuition hikes “important to the strategic plan.”

At the same time, Gary said the board needed flexible ways to pay for its plans. Echoing comments made by Stabile, Gary said the college needed to identify “ways not limited to old ways of paying for [improvements].”

Mirroring the preliminary nature of the plan, Gary offered few specifics on what funding mechanisms might be used.

Both also said the school needs to engage the 25 communities that comprise the Triton district, as well as the business and technology communities that they say look to the school for training resources. Like Stabile, Gary said the plan is a work in progress, with much work remaining to be done.

“We’ve only just begun to explore, in terms of reaching out and strengthening private/public partnerships,” he said. “We need to encourage partnerships and expand upon them.

“There are very specific grants for very specific instructional equipment [purchases],” said Stabile. “[And] there are matching grants.”

While faculty are mentioned only indirectly in the plan summary’s main bullet points, the summary notes that “the quality of the services offered is dependent on the ability to recruit, develop and retain highly talented faculty and staff.”