Cabinet Highlights: April 12, 2011

State budget includes changes for new employees

President John Haeger said the university “has the ability to work our way through” the university reductions as outlined in the state budget that was signed by Gov. Jan Brewer last week. The reduction, about $30 million for NAU, will be addressed by divisional cuts, tuition and enrollment growth, efficiencies and reserves. The president hopes to have a proposal in place before his May 4 campus-wide forum.

The budget also includes provisions to have a 90-day waiting period for health benefits for any university employee hired after July 1. The same employees would have a six-month waiting period before they would be admitted into the Arizona State Retirement System. University administrators are working with the Arizona Department of Administration to determine how best to implement and mitigate the changes.

The president was able to keep NAU’s Pledge program during a contentious ABOR meeting in Tucson last week. An early-morning motion to disallow any NAU tuition increase would have forced NAU to discontinue the Pledge. However, after six hours of debate, NAU’s tuition proposal was accepted.

Sarah Ells, program coordinator for the Office of Regulatory Compliance, said the university is putting plans into place to help reduce loss to NAU through injury and ailments, including repetitive stress disorder. NAU has the highest rate of loss of the three state universities even if injuries due to ice and snow are discounted. Ells said all NAU employees will go through some type of training, depending on their position and risk factors.

Human Resources and the Comptroller’s Office are working with representatives from across campus to devise an Ethics Statement for NAU employees as well as a Conflict of Interest program. Diane Verkest, HR associate vice president, and Bob Norton, associate vice president on the Comptroller’s Office, plan to have the statement and program for campus by the end of the semester.

Ramona Mellott, dean of the Graduate College, said NAU is unveiling its role in the Western Regional Graduate Program, which allows graduate students from certain states to enroll in a limited number of graduate programs at a reduced tuition rate. The program is similar to the Western Undergraduate Exchange. Mellott said currently 60 students are eligible for 10 programs.

Fred Estrella, chief information technology officer, and Paul Wagner, academic computing team lead, presented the results from a fall 2010 survey of students regarding campus technology. The survey results can be found here.

Laura Jones, a director in Planning and Institutional Research, presented the President’s Cabinet Report with a statistical breakdown of advancement data, grants and contracts and student data. Read the latest report here.