Board of Regents Meeting Preview Sig 2020

In year two of it’s three-year response to $43 million in permanent spending shortfalls brought on by COVID-19, the University of Nebraska Board of Regents is set to approve NU’s 2021-22 operating budget at its meeting on Friday.

NU President Ted Carter announced needed cuts last year that required budget scrutiny, though enrollment growth has led to more flexibility.

“With this budget, the University of Nebraska is in a position of strength,” Carter said in a NU news release. “We have done a remarkable job of managing the challenges in front of us while not losing sight of our priorities.”

The budget calls for a 1.5% increase in the merit pool for non-unionized employees across the university system; their salaries were frozen in the previous year. The plan is to then offer a 3% increase to these individuals for the 2022-23 budget next year — a total 4.5% increase.

NU will also invest $6 million in salaries at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln — where employees are not unionized — and the University of Nebraska Medical Center to close a gap in salaries between the campuses and peer institutions.

This is in line with Carter’s University of Nebraska Five-Year Strategy he unveiled in August.

The budget would also allow NU to follow through with its planned two-year tuition freeze through the 2022-23 academic year.

The regents will consider University Program and Facilities Fee Fund B values for each campus, including UNL. These fees pay for facilities on campus, including the Nebraska Union and Campus Recreation where many salaried employees are paid by student fees.

As a result of the planned salary increases and other factors, UNL students will pay $13.19 more in UPFF Fund B services each semester, according to the meeting agenda

A university-wide Consensual Relationships Policy that would prohibit relationships between faculty and undergraduate students as well as prohibit supervisors working with anyone they have had a romantic relationship with will be considered. Faculty and staff members would also be forbidden from entering into a romantic relationship with graduate or professional students in their academic unit. 

If properly reported, the policy would allow some flexibility for a conflict management plan to eliminate supervisory or evaluative authority, the agenda states.

Regents will also review amendments to NU’s four-year graduation guarantee, the elimination of various majors at UNL and the creation of a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in acting for the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film.

Carter and Gov. Pete Ricketts will each give a report at the meeting.

“When COVID[-19] hit, we knew we couldn’t simply hunker down and wait for this period to end. The needs of our workforce and our state are too important,” Carter said in the release. “We made a plan, we are sticking to it, and as higher education emerges from the pandemic, the University of Nebraska is in a position to lead the way forward.”

Individuals wishing to speak to the board publicly about any item not on the agenda must give 24 hours’ notice to the corporation secretary of the board. Individuals wishing to speak on an agenda may speak on the day of without notice. Any individual would be given up to five minutes during a public comment section limited to 30 minutes.

The Board of Regents will meet in the boardroom of Varner Hall, 3835 Holdrege St., Friday at 9 a.m.