Budgets, benefits focus of June’s all-campus forum

UNMC Chancellor Jeffrey P. Gold, MD, and Anne Barnes, vice chancellor for business, finance and business development

UNMC Chancellor Jeffrey P. Gold, MD, and Anne Barnes, vice chancellor for business, finance and business development

UNMC Chancellor Jeffrey P. Gold, MD, echoed – on the heels of an NU Board of Regents meeting outlining the fiscal realities of rising costs and muted revenue growth – his commitment to maintaining UNMC’s academic and clinical quality.

During a special meeting on May 31, NU President Ted Carter outlined various financial headwinds – inflation that is driving up payroll and operating costs, declines in enrollment and tuition revenue, limited growth in state funding and changing public narratives around the cost and value of a college degree.

Still, during an all-campus forum Thursday, Dr. Gold said he remains strongly optimistic.

“The single best way to deal with all of this is through continued growth,” Dr. Gold said, which includes growth in enrollment (UNMC enrollment has grown 22 consecutive years), retention of students, programs yet to be implemented, research awards and contracts and robust clinical care.

“As President Carter has said, and I agree with him: ‘We’re not going to balance the budgets on the backs of our students,’” Dr. Gold said. “As a system, we must maintain a highly competitive and highly affordable system, particularly in the health professions.”

Anne Barnes, vice chancellor for business, finance and business development, agreed. “We are as prepared as we can be to face those headwinds,” noting that UNMC deans and directors earlier this year went through planning exercises for a 2.5% budget reduction.

On May 31, NU leadership said the university system faces, in the absence of any tuition increase, an estimated $80 million deficit by the end of the 2024-25 fiscal year, driven by inflation, rising health insurance costs, a projected 3% increase in the merit salary pool and anticipated flat enrollment that follows two consecutive years of declines. State funding will increase by 2.5% each of the next two years, with an increase in Nebraska Career Scholars and the funding for the UNMC-University of Nebraska at Kearney Health Science Education Complex operating budget expansion.

Read a recap of the May 31 special Board of Regents meeting.

“Access and affordability in our health professions programs is our undying commitment,” Dr. Gold said. “We are not going to dilute the quality of the educational programs. … We’ll make sure every single individual that we hand a diploma to has had the very best education and experiences.”

President Carter has said budget plans should include vertical, not horizontal, “peanut butter” cuts. Over the next few weeks, Barnes said, departments and units will focus on how to balance the budget in the least disruptive way.

During its June 22 meeting, regents will vote – as part of the 2023-24 operating budget – on a proposed tuition increase for 2023-24, as well as new health benefits providers beginning in 2024.

Work policy

Barnes said the NU System has contracted with Kelly Services Education – beginning Jan. 1, 2024 – to serve as an educational third-party employer of remote NU staff who work in states where tax and employment laws are not comparable with Nebraska. Within the next several weeks, details will be shared directly with impacted individuals, which, Dr. Gold noted, make up a tiny fraction of the total workforce at UNMC.

Work continues, Barnes said, on developing policies related to out-of-state faculty work.

Members of the medical center community can view the forum.

Hyrbrid work requests also continue to be reviewed based on NU System guidelines and those developed by deans and directors, Barnes said, “keeping in mind the policy that the majority of time be spent on campus in an office environment.” Among the considerations, too, she said, is examining whether the remote work arrangement places an undue burden on those in the office.


Pending approval June 22 by the Board of Regents, NU will move to new health benefits providers beginning Jan. 1, 2024. Minimal disruption is anticipated with the transitions, Dr. Gold said, and detailed information will be shared after the Board of Regents’ final review in anticipation of open enrollment this fall.

Dr. Gold closed by thanking faculty and staff for remaining “laser focused on the quality of our academic and clinical programs,” adding that “I’ve never been more optimistic about the future of UNMC and our partners.”

Read NU’s announcement on new health benefits providers.

In other business, Dr. Gold:

  • Noted the anniversary of the Truhlsen Eye Institute (10 years) and generosity of its namesake, the late Stanley Truhlsen, MD; and the Cattlemen’s Ball (25 years), which over that time has raised more than $17 million to fund cancer research.
  • Encouraged faculty, staff and students to plan “some email-free, text-free and social media-free time” this summer to refresh.
  • Said leadership searches continue for the College of Dentistry (a new dean could be named within a month); the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center (interviews are ongoing) and the McGoogan Health Sciences Library (a permanent dean may be finalized soon). In addition, he said, the UNMC College of Nursing will welcome Lepaine Sharp-McHenry, DNP, as its new dean on July 3, and he thanked outgoing nursing Dean Juliann Sebastian, PhD, for her tremendous work and leadership over the past decade.
  • Mentioned the May 30 robbery that occurred in the parking lot outside Clarkson Doctors Building South and noted that efforts are underway to enhance campus safety with such improvements as additional lighting and cameras within garages, as well as increased vigilance and patrols, particularly during shift changes.
  • Announced a town hall meeting on June 19 at 3 p.m. to share a “roadmap” of the recommendations and priorities from two working groups that tackled IT governance, policy and support regarding UNMC’s education and research missions.

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