Utah’s 2019 legislative session opens the end of January and Utah State University will lobby for funding to increase employee compensation and build new buildings, among many other things.
Neil Abercrombie is USU’s director of government relations and says he and USU President Noelle Cockett agree the university’s top priority for this session is employee compensation. The university will follow the recommendation of Utah’s Governor Gary Herbert by asking lawmakers to allocate a 2.5 percent salary increase for employees.
“After compensation, one is affordable access,” Abercrombie said. “What are we doing to make sure that students of need have opportunity to pursue higher education? What are the resources we are doing to help students in those situations and that’s a top priority?”
The university is seeking $1.1 million to help students with affordable access. If funded, part of the money will go to hiring more teaching research assistants as well as cover the cost of operating underserved student programs. Increasing the number of academic and career advisors to help students graduate sooner will cost the state an additional $1 million, according to Abercrombie.
“Not only is this important to the system and to the regents and to the president, it’s important to the legislature,” he said. “They are helping to invest dollars to help subsidize the cost of education and they want students to finish and complete quickly.”
When meeting with USU staff on Thursday, Abercrombie spoke about focusing on career and technical education, or CTE, at the Price, Moab and Blanding campuses.
“Over the last couple of decades where there have been mergers, there was an applied technology college that served that area of the state that merged with CEU and then merged with Utah State,” he said. “So Utah State is in a unique role – we’re not only awarding bachelor degrees and advanced degrees but we are also responsible for the career and technical education in that region of the state.”
Brick-and-mortar funding by USU will focus on plans for a new building on the Logan campus to house the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. USU is also hoping to convince Utah lawmakers to fund a new building on its campus in Moab.