NU Board of Regents Set Accountability Measures for Graduation Rates, Faculty Compensation
(Lincoln, NE. Dec. 5)— The University of Nebraska Board of Regents, President James B. Milliken, and the NU chancellors met on Thursday, December 1, to discuss accountability measures related to the goals outlined in the university’s 2005-08 strategic framework. Discussion centered on five areas: enrollment, deferred maintenance (LB 605), graduation rates, faculty compensation, and administrative efficiency.

Following are highlights from the meeting:

Enrollment— Regents confirmed a target 1.5 percent increase in headcount enrollment for each of the next three years. The board will also monitor trends in student credit hour production, and in full- and part-time enrollment, which are two additional ways of evaluating enrollment progress.

LB 605— Regents affirmed their support of LB 605, the deferred maintenance initiative, with the initial goal of having it signed into law in the coming legislative session. The initiative would provide for an annual $5.5 million above current deferred maintenance funding, to renovate or replace 15 key university facilities. This new state funding would be matched dollar for dollar by University funds.

Graduation Rates— Regents discussed the multitude of factors that contribute to variations in graduation rates, including need-based financial aid, full versus part-time enrollment, students’ employment and internship schedules, parental assistance with college costs, and course availability, among others. Rather than adopt a goal comparing NU campus graduation rates to those of peers, the Board directed the Academic Affairs Committee to provide several possible targets to improve graduation rates, such as increasing financial aid available. The regents reviewed a guarantee passed by the board in 2002, which assures students that they can graduate in four years, provided they exercise prudent practices in pursuing a degree. The board agreed that all students be regularly informed of this guarantee, and that students be made aware of assistance available to ensure graduation in a timely manner. The board’s Academic Affairs Committee will consider whether the guarantee should be extended to address students who intend to graduate in five or six years. Faculty Merit Compensation— The regents discussed proposed accountability measures regarding faculty compensation, and agreed that funding for faculty salaries should be at least at the mid-point of peer institutions, that salary increases should be based entirely on merit, and that the University explore the creation of a new merit fund. Administrative Efficiency—Regents concluded the work session with a discussion on improving the university’s business processes. The board adopted a plan to examine the cost-effectiveness of administrative computing, a $30 million annual expenditure. The board also discussed establishing a quantitative measurement for administrative cost savings in fiscal year 2006-2007, which will be determined at a later meeting. The board also held a brief business meeting to vote on two measures. Regents unanimously approved an agreement with the University of Nebraska Foundation providing for the management of certain university endowments and an amended construction budget for student housing at the University of Nebraska at Kearney.
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