July 8, 2021
I write to update you today on important budgetary decisions for the current year (FY 2020-21) as well as for the next year (FY2021-22).
For Current Year (FY 2020-21): Earlier today, the UHS Board of Regents approved our request to award one-time merit pay to all eligible employees. The award will be distributed centrally based on established criteria, and it will be calculated to equate to 1.5% of an eligible employee’s base annual salary as one-time merit with a minimum distribution of $1,000. The entire amount will be awarded to you in August.
The Board of Regents has approved this one-time merit payment in recognition of meritorious performance during the global pandemic. As a community, we made sure that, despite the pandemic and a budget reduction, our mission was not lost and our momentum was not slowed. To sum it up, we enrolled a record-breaking number of students, increased research grants by 40%, completed the University Strategic Plan, launched the medical school, continuously housed students on campus and competed in the Final Four. Our faculty received Guggenheim and MacArthur awards, and our students nearly topped the list for Fulbright scholarships. We distributed more than $250 million of financial assistance to students and offered all student support services – from advising to mental health counseling - online.
For Next Year (FY2021-22): Next month, we will be taking our FY2021-22 budget proposal to the Board of Regents for approval. The proposal will include the following:
- Salary Adjustment (Necessary to stay nationally competitive)
- Increase in graduate student stipend to cover the full cost of health insurance
- A 2% faculty and staff merit base pay increase
- Additional increase associated with tenure and promotion
- New Positions (Necessary to fulfill Strategic Plan)
- 25 new faculty positions strategically recruited to align with the strategic plan
- 20 new staff positions strategically allocated to support the new strategic initiatives
- Strategical Initiatives
- A fund to allow provost to offer performance incentive and investment for colleges to meet student success and other goals
- Launch of Population Health Complex
- Institutional investment in Carbon Management Hub
- Recruitment support for high achieving faculty under the Aspire initiatives
- Launch of UH Extend to enroll fully online students
- Initiative to build core facilities and classroom uplift
Please note that these items are part of our budget proposal and will require Board approval before they can be executed. You can expect to hear further details from Provost Paula Myrick Short, Vice President Amr Elnashai and Vice President Raymond Bartlett.
Vice President Jason Smith and I have already provided you an update on the legislative session. While we feel grateful to Governor Abbott, Lt. Governor Patrick, Speaker Phelan and the Legislature for providing start-up costs for the College of Medicine and additional funding for enrollment growth, it is important to reiterate that our “per student formula funding” is still less than the last biennium. Also, no funding was made available for new construction to support our increases in student enrollment. A bill to fund new buildings (via Tuition Revenue Bonds) was passed by the House but not by the Senate. It is anticipated that the legislature will hold a special session in late fall and the TRB funding may be included for further action. It is incumbent upon us to continue to make a case for our space and funding needs. As I have said before, UH has momentum, vision and strategy to become a Top 50 public university, but it will not be possible without additional resources.
Other than budget, there are two other significant matters that I would like to call to your attention.
- On July 6, the Racial Equity and Social Justice Committee I established last year released its first yearly report. It was distributed to the campus and can be accessed here. On a related note, I also call your attention to our newly launched Diversity, Equity and Inclusion website.
- We continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation carefully. Please follow all precautions and stay informed about university’s COVID guidelines because they are updated as conditions change. You can find COVID information here. COVID-19 vaccines are now widely available. Please refer to the vaccine resource finder to find an appointment near you. Consider being vaccinated if you have not already done so.
Let me conclude by saying that our strategic plan – “Together, We Rise. Together, We Soar.” – has been instrumental in developing our budget strategies. We will remain committed to reducing expenses, increasing efficiencies and investing strategically. We appreciate your partnership and leadership as we work together on this essential task. If you have any advice or feedback on the budget strategies, please do not hesitate to write to me or the provost. Thank you.
With warm regards,