Cabinet Highlights: Aug. 23, 2011

President John Haeger told cabinet members of the upcoming discussions before the Arizona Board of Regents and the Arizona Legislature regarding performance funding for the state university system. “It’s a fundamental shift in how universities are funded, and it will require a fundamental shift in how we respond,” he said. The main issues in performance funding will be retention and graduation rates. The president will discuss the issue further at his campuswide forum at 3:30 p.m. Sept. 14.

A transit fee has gone into effect for students who don’t purchase parking permits, explained David Bousquet, vice president for Enrollment Management and Student Affairs. The $30-per-semester fee will help offset the $1.1 million currently spent on NAU’s shuttle service, which is used by more than 80 percent of the student population. Students who buy parking permits already are helping to pay for the service.

Brian Chase, associate vice president for Capital Assets, gave an update on campus construction. Construction is finishing up on the Health and Learning Center, the transit spine, the Skydome and the Liberal Arts building. Other projects under way include the east-west pedway, the North Quad renovation, Native American Cultural Center and the new residences halls.

Changes in the university’s benefit structure were announced by Jennus Burton, vice president for Finance and Administration. The changes were adopted following a $30 million cut from state appropriations and a mandate from the Arizona Board of Regents to make permanent cuts to state-funded employee-related expenses. The goal of the changes was to keep the university’s Blue Cross Blue Shield plan competitive with the state’s health care plan.

Mason Gerety, vice president for Advancement, discussed plans for a 30,000- to 45,000-square-foot building funded by the NAU Foundation. The building would house Admissions staff, Marketing and others. Admissions and Marketing currently are located off-campus, and the Foundation would be repaid with the lease savings. Any construction would need approval from ABOR and the Legislature.

Fred Estrella, chief information technology officer, announced that NAU’s mobile app, being developed in conjunction with the Alumni Office, will be available for smartphones by mid-September. The Blackboard Learn app already is available. Estrella also announced that there will be no printed NAU phone book.

Mark your calendar: President’s Forum, 3:30 p.m. Sept. 14, High Country Conference Center; Robert Zemsky of the Learning Alliance for Higher Education will be on campus Sept. 27. Details of his visit will be announced; ABOR has scheduled a special work session on Aug. 31 at Arizona State University; ABOR also is planning an Arizona Higher Education Summit for Nov. 8 in the Phoenix area.