Dear Campus Community:
As many of you know, it has been a very busy legislative session this year. Although we will provide more details and depth over the next few months, I wanted to share the following summary with you as soon as possible. Overall, the session was a good one for higher education and a good one for the University of Memphis (U of M). Following is a quick summary of issues relevant for our campus:
- The Governor fully funded the formula. The net gain for the U of M is $3.7M, certainly a good outcome. The Governor has made a firm commitment to higher education. Given our performance gains, we are well positioned for the coming years.
- Funding for a 1.5% salary pool was included in the Governor’s budget. At this time we do not have specifics on how this salary pool will be utilized. More details will follow. As a reminder, the State of Tennessee only funds 55% of the overall costs, we absorb the remainder.
- The U of M was successful with the passing of legislation that exempts us from the penalty for allowing out-of-state tuition to students in border counties in Arkansas and Mississippi. The estimated net gain for us is $4.3M beginning with the 2016-17 fiscal year. This is an annual savings to the university, and a very important step for our growth trajectory. The Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC) has established a committee, of which I am a member, to review of the formula. The result of this evaluation may well be the removal of the out-of-state penalty for all universities in the coming year(s). Given our unique geographic location, removing the penalty from the formula would still be a significant net gain to the University of Memphis, estimated at approximately $3M+ per year. We are well positioned for out-of-state growth, with or without changes to the THEC formula. This is very good news for our campus.
- We received a special allocation of $2.6M for the Memphis Research Consortium (MRC). These funds are designated for shared faculty positions with Bioworks and Trimetis. The MRC will be positioning for a significant funding request in next year’s budget cycle, estimated at $20M.
- We have requested a tuition increase of 4%, approximately half of our average increase of 8% over the past 15 years. This increase would fund our portion of the State mandated salary pool, along with providing funds for critically needed, but unfunded, infrastructure.
- We received funding for a $3M capital maintenance project for electrical and gas utility upgrades.
I hope you find this summary helpful. In short, we had a very successful session. We will provide updates in the coming months. I hope the semester is wrapping up well and look forward to seeing you at Commencement.
M. David Rudd