The University of Nebraska system would receive state funding to cover core needs like health insurance, utilities and general operations under a two-year budget request approved Aug. 3 by the NU Board of Regents.
The university’s biennial budget request, which is due to Gov. Pete Ricketts and the Legislature by Sept. 15, seeks increases in state funding of 3 percent in 2019-20 and 3.7 percent in 2020-21.
NU President Hank Bounds said the request is the result of careful work by university leadership to determine what level of funding would cover increases in basic operational costs over the next two years. With adequate funding for core needs, the university would be in the best position possible to meet key priorities of providing affordable, excellent education to its 53,000 students and investing in the recruitment and retention of top talent.
“The University of Nebraska has achieved remarkable successes over the past few years in spite of the budget challenges we’ve faced,” Bounds said. “While we know we have more budget work ahead, our focus is on growing this university and doing even more to serve students and build the workforce and economy of the future. That depends in large part on continued partnership with the state.
“A stable base of funding to help us meet our core obligations is critical to our ability to sustain our momentum, ensure affordable access and keep the very best talent in Nebraska.”
Per guidance from the state’s Department of Administrative Services, the university’s budget request shows annual increases in the merit-based salary pool of 2 percent. These are placeholders only and will be revised once collective bargaining at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and University of Nebraska at Kearney have concluded. Bounds noted that competitive compensation is vital to attracting and retaining the talented faculty and staff whose teaching, research and service have put the university on its current trajectory.
Bounds said university leadership will spend the months ahead discussing what additional investments would advance NU’s goals for student access and workforce development. The university already produces 11,000 graduates each year for the workforce, but given that more than 70 percent of all jobs in the state will soon require higher education, more colleges graduates are needed to grow the state further.
The Board of Regents also approved the biennial budget request for the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture. NCTA’s budget request includes funding increases of 2.5 percent and 3 percent in the next two years.