Simon: health care policy important
MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon stressed the importance of not increasing the cost of higher education while also protecting the health of students during her remarks at Tuesday’s Steering Committee meeting.
During the meeting, Simon said the policy implemented this academic year that requires new students to carry health care insurance or be enrolled in a university health care plan affects a relatively small number of students at MSU, with 86 percent of students entering the university with their own health care.
Unlike many other Big Ten universities, MSU does not have a hospital affiliation to provide some charity care support for students without health care, Simon said.
“That means that whatever occurs for our students in a catastrophic way, they’re responsible,” she said.
The health care issue has become a heated debate in the U.S., Simon said, and MSU’s state aid has come into question for its implementation of the policy. MSU’s challenge has been to get students the necessary care without imposing a heavy financial burden on top of tuition costs, she said.
“The general public sentiment is that tuition is simply too high,” Simon said.
Also during the meeting, Provost Kim Wilcox said there are many ongoing changes within the university to decrease the time for students to earn degrees, and the issue will be a primary theme among administrators and academic governance committees. Starting about three years ago, MSU actively has been trying to create curricula that is more modern and efficient for both students and instructors, he said.
“The path from point A to point B through the university is straight for some students,” Wilcox said. “Most of our students don’t do that, and the multiple paths have not been considered.”
Faculty salary also became a big topic during the meeting, after University Committee on Academic Governance, or UCAG, chairperson Harold Hughes said MSU lost ground in the Big Ten last year in terms of the faculty salary merit pool, falling from seventh to 10th in the conference.
UCAG recommended a 3 percent increase in the pool for the next academic year to help bring the university back to the middle of the pack, Hughes said. The recommendation was placed on the agenda for the next Faculty Senate meeting.
A recommendation that the university change its policy to allow electronic Student Instructional Rating System, or SIRS, to be available for all instructors in courses that are taught by multiple faculty members also was sent to be discussed by the University Committee on Undergraduate Studies.
Currently, the SIRS forms rate the course as a whole, and the recommendation aims to have students rate the performance of each instructor individually.