From the Dean: The 2022-23 budget picture
With the fast-approaching start of the new academic (and fiscal) year (AY and FY) on July 1, 2022, we are finalizing our budget plans for what will be the second year of the biennial budget. As you undoubtedly know, the North Dakota legislature meets every other year (in the years with odd numbers) and authorizes funding for state institutions like UND and the UND SMHS for the subsequent two-year (biennial) period. As we work on finalizing the upcoming 2023 budget, we also are preparing for our budget request to the legislature for the 2023-25 biennium.
I am glad to report that the financial status of the School is solid, with about a 5% growth in tuition revenue predicted for AY2023 and a substantial growth in research funding compared with prior years. During the pandemic, expenses have been somewhat below budget for a variety of reasons, but less travel to meetings by faculty and staff is one major reason. The result has been a positive bottom line, but some of those retained assets will be deployed in the coming year as travel and programs grow as the restrictive aspects of the pandemic recede. We have had a number of strategic initiatives proposed by various departments and units at the SMHS, and we now are in a position to move affirmatively on a number of them. This is possible because of the solid financial performance of the School (as outlined above) along with revenues that will flow to the SMHS as a consequence of the Model of Incentive-based Resource Allocation (MIRA), a powerful financial tool that UND has been utilizing for the past several years to empower the UND academic units like the SMHS and enable them to make strategic investments going forward. We plan to do so in ways that further our mission and ensure that we are living up to the purpose statement that the people of North Dakota, through their legislature, have established for the School (see North Dakota Century Code 15-52-01).
But let me come back to the tuition issue. We continue to work hard to generate the necessary revenue to support and grow our programs through numerous mechanisms. The one that we have resisted is a substantial increase in the per-student tuition rate. The growth noted above in tuition dollars is in substantial measure the result of an increase in student numbers and participation, and not simply more money being extracted from the same number of students. Why is that important? Well, the news media is filled with stories of the huge amount of student debt that is out there in the U.S., and we believe that the threat of overhanging debt influences student choices about where and what they practice as clinicians (whether medical doctors or others in the health sciences). So, keeping student debt low can help in our efforts to retain doctors and other practitioners for practice in North Dakota. Over the past decade, for example, our medical student debt has decreased and our retention of graduates who settle and practice in-state has increased.
The bottom line is that our bottom line continues to be positive, but not simply on the backs of our students. I think that all of us at the SMHS are looking forward to the new academic year in July and eagerly await the arrival (and return to campus) of the next generation of health care providers. I’m really looking forward to my upcoming lectures in August on the diagnosis and treatment of heart disease with the medical students. While I enjoy immensely my administrative duties as dean as well as the deep satisfaction I get as a clinician who takes care of patients, there is something really special about teaching and trying to share one’s knowledge and experience with trainees. As you can tell, I’m very much looking forward to the coming academic year – as are my faculty, staff, and student colleagues at your UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences.
Joshua Wynne, MD, MBA, MPH
Vice President for Health Affairs, UND
Dean, UND School of Medicine & Health Sciences