Cabinet Highlights: Feb. 3, 2009

President’s Cabinet Report 
L. Jones announced spring census last night. Assessing the data but enrollment is up for the spring. L. Jones reviewed the report with input from M. Gerety, L. Heunneke, D. Bousquet, R. Mellott. L. Huenneke reported some research funds were being revoked, from state agencies.

Tuition Payment Plan Fee Increase
B. Norton explained that the current payment plan fee is $50; the other two universities charge higher rates. He proposes raising the fee. He believes that those who choose the plan should pay less than those students who are put on the payment plan automatically because of non-payment of tuition. He proposes to increase the voluntary plan from $50 to $60 and to $75 or $100 for students placed on the automatic plan. F. Hurst asked the default rate for students placed on the automatic plan. B. Norton did not have that data.

ACTION: The president approved increasing the fee. Additional analysis will be done to determine the exact amount in relation to the fees at the other two universities.

Change to Travel Policy Revisited
B. Norton reviewed the policy change which has been approved but apparently was not well communicated on campus because several infractions turned up in an audit. The policy now has been reviewed and communicated to the various employee groups. The president asked that the travel forms be simplified and processed on the web.

Legislative Affairs Update 
C. Farley reported on the governor’s actions and the impact on many state agencies. She asked that L. Huenneke keep track of the reductions in research funds and the impact. The legislature has taken action on the SPEED projects and reduced the total amount available.

ACTION: C. Farley will find out when the Joint Committee on Capital Review will begin meeting on the SPEED projects.

Potential Changes to Benefits
D. Verkest provided background on the university’s unique health care plan. Generally we have a very rich plan at a very low cost to the employee. NAU has historically picked up 96-98% of the premium. How to lower the cost? Reducing the richness is one option. For example, reduce the insurer’s co-pay for emergency room visits or hospital stays. The healthcare consultant predicts a 10 percent premium increase, so the benefits committee will start meeting earlier to see how the projected increased costs can be shared or reduced. D. Verkest will be presenting a list of proposed committee members to the president; there is one vacancy for a faculty member. M. Chopin suggested that the faculty be fully informed about the richness and low cost of the health plan. He also suggests that whatever the proportional increase in the plan be passed along to employees at the same rate. R. Lei indicated that the health benefits have been presented to prospective faculty as an offset to below average salaries.

Overview of Budget Reductions for FY09
The president distributed a plan that probably will change before the end of the day. The plan will be sent to the media at the end of the day. The goal is to reduce the budget by $21-22 million for FY09. The first legislative discussions about FY10 will begin February 12. To get to the target budget for FY10, there will be increases in tuition and fees. It appears that legislative members are more interested in looking at additional revenue sources. For FY09 will use permanent and one-time resources. The increased tuition collections will be put toward the FY09 budget problem. The consequences – this money will not be available to support the academic program.

The president indicated he still has not decided about furloughs for this year. He expects that decisions to be made by the end of this week. Absolutely in FY10; FY09 is still under discussion. Questions: (1) should there be furloughs in 09? (2) should they be graduated? (3) should there be a floor (people who are held harmless)? Significant discussion ensued and many policy questions were raised.

Ongoing Communication to Campus 
L. Nelson indicated that current focus is on FY09 with an understanding that FY10 will be another story. Messaging is difficult because of the different audiences involved. The budget website is getting enormous traffic and requiring significant resources to answer all the questions being raised.