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The University of Nebraska system president unveiled a blueprint Thursday intended to correct its projected $58 million budget shortfall by the top of the 2024-25 fiscal 12 months.
President Ted Carter said the system will reinvigorate its recruitment strategy in an try to reverse recent enrollment declines, in addition to raise its academic profile with the goal of rejoining the Association of American Universities, or AAU, a selective organization composed of high-profile research institutions.
Along with the long-term plan, the system will pursue more immediate austerity measures. It is going to freeze hiring for nonfaculty positions and temporarily reduce all department operating and provide budgets by 2.5% quarterly, starting July 1.
The system has not been resistant to economic trends which have driven down college enrollment nationwide, including recent turbulence from the COVID-19 pandemic. It enrolled 49,560 students in fall 2022, a decline of just over 2% from the previous 12 months.
Of the system institutions, only the University of Nebraska Medical Center saw slight growth. And the University of Nebraska-Lincoln experienced greater than a 2% decline. That decrease is troubling, as flagships often enjoy greater prominence than regional publics and thus don’t face the identical enrollment troubles.
On the time, Carter called the numbers disappointing and said enrollment was top priority.
In his latest announcement, Carter said the system will attempt a “blanket the state” recruitment strategy. It is going to start a program incentivizing current college students to go to high schools to talk with prospective applicants, in addition to an in-state recruitment initiative that may send system representatives “to major events across the state.”
At the identical time, the system has raised tuition rates barely, the primary time for the reason that 2020-21 academic 12 months. The rise averages out to three.5% for all students. Undergraduates on the Lincoln campus who’re taking a full course load pays $270 more next 12 months. Tuition for in-state residents was $7,770 within the last academic 12 months.
Carter also seems especially enthusiastic about courting AAU after the group voted in 2011 to oust Nebraska’s flagship campus from its membership. Although the university was a founding member, it had continually failed to fulfill AAU’s standards, particularly around the quantity of research funding it took in.
A part of the issue was that the system’s medical center operated individually from Lincoln, so its research dollars or publications in prestigious journals wouldn’t count in AAU’s metrics. Carter said the system will take steps to report Lincoln’s and the medical center’s research funding as a singular figure.
“The combined impact of a flagship university and an educational health science center can’t be matched,” Carter said in an announcement. “Stronger alignment between our two institutions with a statewide reach and mission will profit each, and can make our entire university and state more competitive.”
And while the system evaluates its academic array on a seven-year cycle, it’s going to now “more proactively” benchmark programs to standards that the Nebraska Coordinating Commission for Postsecondary Education sets, Carter said.
It is going to also institute a process for budget planning that involves a latest committee of administrators, faculty members and students — and it’s going to proceed to look for methods to chop and decentralize operations, the president said.
The system’s governing board has endorsed the strategy.
“It’s an exciting vision that I’ve not heard articulated on the University of Nebraska. That’s exciting to me,” Tim Clare, chair of Lincoln’s board said. “It’s the sort of daring pondering we’d like if we’re going to have a robust, growing, competitive university.”