I am writing to update you on the University of Nebraska’s budget. The Board of Regents will consider our proposed 2016-17 operating budget next Wednesday, including important investments in salaries, academic priorities, financial aid, and cross-campus initiatives that will build on your good work in making us a leader in higher education.
The budget advances four cornerstones for excellence that I outlined during my installation last month: First, that the University of Nebraska will be the best place in the nation to be a student. Second, that we will transform lives through research and innovation. Third, that we will work hand-in-hand with our partners to achieve shared goals. And fourth, that we will win with people. We’re able to make investments in each of these areas thanks to Governor Ricketts and members of the Legislature, whose ongoing support allows us to provide excellent education for a great value to students and families.
“The proposed operating budget includes important investments in salaries, academic priorities, financial aid, and cross-campus initiatives that will build on your good work in making us a leader in higher education.”
Key elements of our proposed budget include:
- A 2.5 percent increase in tuition approved last year by the Board. The increase, one of the smallest in the last 30 years, keeps our costs well below market averages and ensures a college education will remain within reach for Nebraskans.
- A corresponding 2.5 percent increase in need-based financial aid, so that Nebraska students with the greatest need will continue to pay no tuition.
- Designated state funds provided by the Governor and Legislature for collaborative initiatives that will meet workforce and economic needs in our state. These include the UNK-UNMC Health Science Education Complex in Kearney, the UNMC-UNO biomedical institute, and UNMC’s virtual learning center.
- A 2.5 percent increase in the salary pool, to be distributed on the basis of merit, plus a $3 million pool to address targeted competitiveness issues. While we have work to do in meeting the Board’s goal of providing salaries that meet or exceed the average of our peers, this investment in compensation will help us keep pace with market increases so we can continue to recruit and retain talented faculty and staff.
- An increased state investment in the current biennium for the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture. The state’s support is positioning NCTA to better serve Nebraska agriculture by hiring needed staff and paying its faculty more competitively.
Looking ahead, I am convinced further investments will be necessary for us to reach our goals. The higher education marketplace has never been more complex or more competitive. We are called upon to do even more to expand access for students and prepare them for success, compensate our employees competitively, and develop solutions for today’s global challenges. But while there is work ahead, this budget puts us in a position to continue our momentum. That is a credit to the support of our partners in the public and private sectors, the engagement of Nebraskans across the state, and – most of all – your hard work. Because of you, I am as convinced as I was when I started this job a year ago that the University of Nebraska can become one of America’s great universities.
Thank you for all you do.
President, University of Nebraska