From the Dean: The ‘State of the School’
As discussed last week, this past Tuesday I gave the “State of the School” presentation at the annual Faculty Assembly sponsored by the UND School of Medicine & Health Sciences Faculty Council. I know that some of you attended the event in person or virtually, but for those who did not, a video recording of my presentation is available here and my slides are available here. There were a number of items that were discussed in the meeting that require follow-up, and we are working on each of these; more to come soon!
In Bismarck, the House Appropriations Committee – Education and Environment Division continues its discussion of the North Dakota University System (NDUS) budget (House Bill 1003) of which the UND SMHS is a component and a line item in the budget. We’ve provided some requested follow-up information to the Committee, but we’ve not been asked to provide any further testimony at this point. Unless such a request comes in, the next time I’m likely to be testifying on behalf of the SMHS is after so-called cross-over at the end of February, when bills from one chamber are handed over to the other chamber (House to Senate and vice versa). Thus, I’ll likely be testifying again in early March, this time before the Senate Appropriations Committee. After that, the bills regarding our budget (and other matters) passed by each chamber are reconciled as may be needed; this typically occurs towards the end of the session in April. Once a bill is passed by both chambers it goes to the governor, and, assuming that he signs it, the bill becomes law. The approved budget then goes to the NDUS and then through UND to the School. We usually know the final budget numbers for the coming biennium (July 2023 – June 2025) by late May or early June. As indicated before, so-far-so-good in this process, but we have a long way to go!
One of the budget issues that is getting some attention is that of salary equity, especially the issue of how salaries for government employees in North Dakota (like our faculty and staff) compare with data from elsewhere (that is, outside of the state). This issue certainly was highlighted by Governor Burgum, who proposed a $90 million equity pool in his Executive Budget. One component of this that needs to be kept in mind, however, is that comparing salaries is only part of the real comparison, which should be a comparison of compensation. Compensation includes important components like health insurance coverage and retirement contributions. For UND staff and especially faculty, the amount of health insurance premium coverage and retirement contributions by UND are noteworthy and generous compared with many other states, thus buttressing the salary that individuals collect. In many cases, a UND employee who gets the same salary as someone in another state probably is getting more total compensation than the other individual due to health premium and retirement contributions by the state. Again, salary vs. compensation is an important principle to keep in mind as the salary equity issue plays out in the legislature.
Joshua Wynne, MD, MBA, MPH
Vice President for Health Affairs, UND
Dean, UND School of Medicine & Health Sciences