Discussion with Vice Chancellor Rick Niswander

Let me hi-jack our topic for a moment to wish you all a Happy Valentines Day!  May your day be FILLED with kindness and love!!!


The meeting began with introductions, then Dr. Niswander gave a report about the state budget and ECUs budget.  Some bullets from his report include:

  • Budget dollars are fine
  • Income collection is greater than estimated
  • Medicaid is the big unknown right now, partially because of the new NCFAST system has had implementation problems
  • Undergraduate enrollment at ECU has increased, but Graduate enrollment has decreased, which will reduce funding – the decrease in graduate enrollment is directly linked to the public education system no longer giving incentives to teachers with masters degrees.
  • The 2014-2015 NC Budget plan includes a very small pay increase for state employees (it’s not been approved yet).  Interesting fact, a 1% pay increase at ECU equates to $5 million a year which ECU has to budget for, so even if we get a raise, we may pay for it in other ways…
  • Dr. Niswander is going to ask units this if/then question…just to be prepared in case it happens:  if the state cuts ECU’s budget, what could each unit do?
    • Research dollars fact (which generates F&A funding)
      • UNC-Chapel Hill est. $500 million
      • ECU est. $20 million

Dr. Niswander also mentioned that the GA has mandated a 30% energy reduction by 2015 – ECU is currently at 18% with the majority of our energy consumption being cooling costs.  So, be prepared for some warmer temperatures this summer, as ECU will be adjusting thermostats in attempts to save that additional 12%.  Of course, each summer we are asked to be mindful of our energy consumption – this is now more important than ever….(I’ve already started doing my part by leaving my office lights off most of the time.  I have windows, so I have plenty of lights without them.  I’ve also given up my electric stapler and am using the manual kind again.).  Small changes can add up to a large impact!

The Senators also had quite a few topics of discussion, which included:

  • A proposed change to the winter break calendar – a couple of options were discussed. Dr. Niswander asked that the Staff Senators to discuss and determine what the majority agrees on and let him know.
  • Employee Appreciation Week funding – Dr. Niswander approved the food vouchers, t-shirts, bowling and asked for other suggestions.
  • Senator Garrett Killian asked Dr. Niswander to speak at a Staff Senator meeting and he graciously agreed.
  • Continued challenges with the EPAF processes and Travel.  Dr. Niswander said that the new HR Director has been given the task to revamp the EPAF System.  The travel process is highly visible and scrutinized by the state/media/auditors and there is no quick fix but is on the ITCS list.
  • Discussion about Kronos and the benefits for employees.  It was suggested to have leave rules/guidelines clearly written so that all employees would be treated fairly campus wide.
  • Discussion regarding employee stress due to taking on additional responsibilities due to unfilled positions and lack of wage increases when the funds are available.

Overall this was an extremely insightful and productive meeting.  We will look forward to Dr. Niswander presenting at our April meeting!