A message from President Milliken on the 2011-13 budget
Yesterday the Nebraska Legislature approved a budget for the next biennium that represents a timely investment in Nebraska's future. Governor Heineman and members of the Legislature faced difficult decisions in developing this budget, and I appreciate their commitment to education and to the university in particular.
The budget provides no reduction in state support to the University for 2011-12 and a small increase in 2012-13. In past years, we would almost certainly have opposed flat funding, but in today's challenging economic times we recognize that this budget puts us in a strong position relative to many other states and public universities. A national news story just yesterday reported that officials in at least 28 states are considering reduced funding for higher education in the next fiscal year. Stable state support will allow the University of Nebraska to continue to provide affordable access to high-quality education -- our highest priority; to maintain our momentum in enrollment growth and research; and to invest in our talented faculty and staff.
The one-time $25 million investment in Nebraska Innovation Campus that is included in the budget package is especially rewarding as it will help advance an important initiative that will leverage university research activities, create new partnerships with the private sector and strengthen the state's economic competitiveness.
Notwithstanding our strong relative position, this budget represents the fourth and fifth years of essentially flat state funding. Each campus and University administration will need to continue making budget reallocations over the next two years to meet our basic obligations, maintain a reasonable rate of tuition and invest in our priorities. One of those priorities is salary increases. We cannot remain competitive in todayâ€™s higher education market if our salaries continue to lag behind those of our peer institutions. We have had this discussion in recent meetings with the Board of Regents and they have been quite supportive.
In mid-June the Board will consider the operating budget for 2011-12, which will include a 2.5 percent salary increase pool for faculty and staff who are outside of collective bargaining units. I have instructed the Chancellors that salary increases are to be granted on the basis of performance and competitiveness and that the funds may not be used to reduce budget deficiencies.
As I have told the Board of Regents, our faculty, staff and administrators have done exemplary work over the past two years, despite our inability to provide general salary increases, and you have contributed significantly to the momentum at the university. Thank you for all you do for the University of Nebraska.
James B. Milliken
President, University of Nebraska