Weber State online classes 02 (copy)

Weber State University finishes up classes on Thursday, March 12, 2020.

The Utah System of Higher Education’s Finance and Facilities Committee approved the fiscal year 2022 Board of Higher Education budget in a virtual meeting Thursday.

The $80.8 million budget is divided among administration ($19.4 million), scholarship programs ($48.8 million), pass-through funds to USHE institutions ($10.5 million) and the Utah Medical Education Council ($2.1 million).

A significant amount of the board’s revenue — specifically $64,199,800 — comes from Education & General Funds. Within the FY 2022 budget, it is outlined how the money will be spent. A majority of the administration costs come from the Commissioner’s Office ($8,950,518) and the Emerging Tech Talent Initiative ($4,846,520).

The pass-through funds will be used for four programs — the Higher Ed Technology Initiative, Academic Library Consortium, Math Competency and Hearing Impaired. For the scholarships, most of the $48.8 million will go to the Regents Scholarship ($18,074,900) and Education Re-Engagement ($15 million).

The committee also voted on the budget process guidelines that will be used to create the full 2022-23 budget that will be moved forward in September before being approved by the Utah State Legislature.

The committee members discussed at length how to receive additional compensation for higher education faculty and recommended requesting a pay raise equal to that which would be given to other state employees — ideally to be met by the state without an “obligatory tuition match,” according to budget documents. That includes cost increases to state institutions stemming from insurance premiums. The board will request that the increased cost be paid for by state funding as opposed to students’ tuition.

Members of the board discussed the rising costs of housing as another reason that faculty pay should be raised to entice out-of-state hires to come to Utah. The guidelines were approved and will be used to create the next budget request.

To close out the meeting, the board went over “Use of Funds” reports from governed institutions for the 2021-22 fiscal year detailing how their share of dollars appropriated by the Legislature will be spent.

For degree-granting institutions, the request in the 2021-22 budget for performance funding was $22 million, but the combined universities and colleges instead will receive $20,550,000.

Policy revisions

The finance and facilities committee also revised a pair of policies at the suggestion of the commissioner’s office. Board Policy R513, grants a tuition waiver to veterans at Utah universities. They will be afforded the same opportunity as senior citizens to audit classes, “subject to classroom and seat availability, an administrative fee, and no award for credit.” The rule also includes, according to the agenda, clarifications to R513 and extends the policy to technical colleges.

Changes also were made to R532, titled “Acceptance and Approval of Contracts and Grants.” The change increases the limit for contracts and grant approvals that colleges and universities have to report to the board of higher education. The limit is now $2 million for doctoral/research universities, $1 million for regional universities and $500,000 for community colleges. It also establishes a $500,000 limit for technical colleges.

The previous standards had not been updated for over 20 years.

Mike Good, dean of the University of Utah School of Medicine, encouraged board members while discussing the policy to examine and consider grants in the “aggregate” as opposed to the specific. Both policy revisions passed.

You can reach reporter Harrison Epstein at hepstein@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter at @harrisonepstein.

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