University of Nebraska’s outgoing President Hank Bounds believes that residents of the state may be suffering from sticker shock over the cost of qualified teachers and staff members.

Bounds said UNK and UNO faculty salaries are nearly equal to those at their peer institutions, but ratings show UNL and UNMC salaries are below their peer institutions. He said the state needs to decide whether it wants to keep UNMC a top level institution.

“The students across this state deserve to have the most talented faculty members,” said Bounds, “and in order to do that, you have to pay people because they have choices.”

Bounds said today’s market for qualified people is much like an arms race: “When UNMC is looking to hire a cancer researcher, there are 30 other institutions that are trying to hire that same researcher. If we’re not careful, they’re going to outrun us.”

Commenting on the school’s new two-year budget, Bounds says the State needs to provide more support for higher education. He believes that the University may be relying too much on the legislature alone when it comes to the funding to hire the best professionals in the field and keep top students in the state.

“This is not an issue for one entity in the state to solve,” said Bounds. “This is a state-wide workforce issue that will require every sector.”

Bounds said right now the legislature provides no funding to the university for merit-based aid, saying other schools are “buying” our best students with offers of free tuition and room and board. “We aren’t able to compete in that space,” said Bounds. The business and philanthropic communities may have to help fill that gap if the state is going to keep qualified staff members and students who score high on the ACT and SAT exams.

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