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NU system plans to change way it distributes state money, and UNO will benefit

November 21, 2017 GMT

The University of Nebraska at Omaha stands to benefit from a redistribution of state money within the NU system, NU representatives confirmed Monday.

The NU system shared the rationale for changing the way state money will be allocated and called the change “modest.”

Documents indicate that the University of Nebraska-Lincoln will get a 0.5 percent lower share of state appropriations and tuition money, UNO will get 0.5 percent more, the NU Medical Center 0.3 percent less and the University of Nebraska at Kearney 0.2 percent more.

Between 2016-17 and 2018-19, the changes in state appropriations are estimated to be the following:

» UNO, $6 million more.

» UNL, $12.5 million less.

» UNK, $2.8 million more.

» UNMC, $1.6 million less.

A July 2017 letter from NU President Hank Bounds to campus chancellors says the budget allocation strategy since the early 1990s has relied heavily on salary costs.

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That will change, the letter says, to reliance on student credit hours, with weighting to account for more expensive classes to deliver. Expensive classes include engineering, various doctoral programs, nursing and others.

Bounds’ letter says he will not fully implement the new strategy until 2018-19 “in order to give all campuses a year to prepare.”

UNL and UNK spokeswomen referred questions to NU central administration at Varner Hall in Lincoln.

The issue came up when Dr. Jeffrey Gold spoke Monday to about 100 UNO faculty members and staffers.

The NU system has been wrestling with a decline in state appropriations. Bounds has set up “budget response teams” that so far have identified $6.6 million in efficiencies, in part by not filling 61 vacant jobs.

Other strategies include realigning marketing and advertising functions; developing new guidelines for printing and promotional items; reorganizing information technology services; and using NU-wide contract negotiation for procurement of various items.

NU hopes to find a total of up to $30 million in efficiencies over the long term.

Gold, interim chancellor of UNO and chancellor of UNMC, was asked by UNO professors about why campuswide budget-cutting committees haven’t been put to work.

UNL currently is in the midst of cutting up to $8.5 million beyond that of the budget response teams. UNL is using its faculty-involvement system to make recommendations for those cuts.

Gold answered that the budget response teams’ cuts so far have been adequate for both UNO’s and UNMC’s purposes.

Another professor, Doug Paterson, then asked about rumors that a new distribution process has been deployed because UNO has been “under-resourced” for years.

Gold said the distribution of funding hasn’t kept up with changes in student distribution and other factors in the NU system.

He said in an interview later that he couldn’t speak to “what UNL is going through.”

Further, he said, if state revenues continue to slump, all of NU’s campuses will struggle with more significant cuts.

rick.ruggles@owh.com, 402-444-1123, twitter.com/rickruggles