October 2011
October 2011
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Board of Regents

Bob Whitehouse
District 4

Jim McClurg
Vice Chair
District 5

Tim Clare
District 1

Howard Hawks
District 2

Chuck Hassebrook
District 3

Kent Schroeder
District 6

Bob Phares
District 7

Randolph Ferlic
District 8

Lane Carr

Jordan Gonzales

Elizabeth O’Connor

Jeremy Peterson

Carmen Maurer
Interim Corporation Secretary

James B. Milliken

A report from the October 2011 meeting of the University of Nebraska Board of Regents.

Board of Regents discusses proposal to expand benefits eligibility to include employees’ partners

During its Oct. 28 meeting, the University of Nebraska Board of Regents heard a proposal from President James B. Milliken and Vice President for Business and Finance David Lechner to expand eligibility for participation in the university’s benefits program to include employees’ partners.

The “employee plus one” proposal would extend benefits to qualifying same- and opposite-gender partners of employees. Documents such as a joint loan obligation, mortgage or lease, or proof of a joint bank or credit account – plus a sworn statement attesting to the truthfulness of the documents – would be required before coverage could be extended. Individuals such as an employee’s parents, grandparents or other relatives would not be eligible for “plus-one” designation.

“I support extending equitable benefits to University of Nebraska employees,” Milliken said. “This includes providing benefits for employees’ partners. Every other Big Ten university provides such benefits, as do a majority of the peers of the NU campuses. We should provide similar benefits not only to be competitive in attracting and keeping top faculty and staff, but because treating our employees equitably is the right thing to do.”

Nationally, more than 300 higher education institutions offer partner benefits, including public universities and systems in at least 30 states and most of the highly ranked research institutions. In the private sector, more than 80 percent of Fortune 100 companies and almost 60 percent of Fortune 500 companies offer health insurance benefits to employee partners. In Nebraska, a number of major companies offer such benefits, including ConAgra Foods, Union Pacific, Mutual of Omaha, Ameritas, HDR and Kiewit.

Faculty senates on all four campuses as well as student governments in Omaha, Lincoln and Kearney have adopted resolutions urging the university to enact a “plus one” proposal. The change was endorsed recently by the University-wide Fringe Benefits Committee, and all four NU chancellors support it.

The university estimates that extending health insurance benefits to employee partners would cost about $750,000 to $1.5 million, based on an estimated increase of 1 to 2 percent, or about 100 to 200 new employee sign-ups. Total costs for the university’s health insurance plan today are more than $120 million.

The Board of Regents may vote on the proposal at its next regular meeting, scheduled for Dec. 8. If approved, the benefits would become available beginning July 1, 2012. Complete information on the plus-one proposal is available here.

A note from Board of Regents Chairman Bob Whitehouse

Bob Whitehouse
Greetings! We hope you will enjoy this new electronic format for the University of Nebraska Board of Regents reports. In the past, these reports have come to you via “snail mail” – but in the interest of time and convenience (not to mention the environment), we’ve decided to switch to electronic delivery. The reports will keep you apprised of the Board’s activities from our regular meetings so you can stay up to date on University news.

Don’t hesitate to let me know if you have questions. You can reach me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. And, as always, thank you for your support of the University of Nebraska.

International enrollment hits record high

Enrollment of international students at the University of Nebraska has reached a record high, the Board of Regents learned. This fall, 3,159 international students are enrolled at NU, an increase of 4.7 percent over last fall.

The international students come to NU from 104 different countries. China, with more than 1,100 students at NU, is the top country of origin. India, Japan and Saudi Arabia follow.

This year’s growth keeps the university on track to meet its goal of doubling international student enrollment, to more than 6,000, by 2019-20. The growth goal is one component of NU’s global engagement strategy, which also includes goals to provide every undergraduate the opportunity to study abroad, and increase the number of international collaborations among faculty.


Other enrollment-related metrics reported to the Board:

  • Overall, NU’s fall 2011 enrollment is 50,031, a 1.1 percent increase over last year and the seventh straight increase.
  • Nonresident undergraduate enrollment grew by less than 1 percent.
  • The share of Nebraska high school students who graduated in the top 25 percent of their class and enrolled at NU remained flat at about 50 percent.
  • The freshman retention rate is holding steady at about 80 percent.

News Briefs

During its October meeting, the Board of Regents:

  • Approved the naming of the Voelte-Keegan Nanoscience Research Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
  • Approved spending about $2.2 million for capital improvements at the Nebraska Unions and University Housing facilities at UNL.
  • Heard a report on the university’s ongoing commitment to energy efficiencies.
  • Received campus updates from each of the student regents.
  • Heard a report on the campus’ efforts to support students in the job market.
  • Approved the elimination of the Lentz Center for Asian Culture and the Center for Albanian Studies at UNL.
  • Heard an update on the University of Nebraska Medical Center facilities plan.
  • Approved the selection of Sinclair Hille Architects to provide design services for the East Campus Recreation Center at UNL.

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