We’ve had an interesting year and many things have happened. Last year, we had a big financial turnaround, which obviously was important to us. We eventually won [an appropriation from] the tobacco settlement – the whole idea of it going to health and health improvement in the state of Arkansas was very important to us …
We opened the [Donald W.] Reynolds Center on Aging. It seems like years ago, but it was within this past year. Everyone will agree, I think, that it’s been an incredible success for us. We opened [a jointly operated facilty with Central Arkansas Radiation Therapy Institute (CARTI)] and we are feeling our way through our relationship with CARTI. But it’s going to turn out well.
We recruited a new dean for the College of Medicine, and we started a new College [of Public Health] right from scratch. It’s amazing just to start a new College and have it ready to receive students in January and to receive Master’s degree students next fall.
I would like to tell you a little bit about these things. First of all, I want to tell you about our financial situation and what happened as I see it. A lot of different people in the room might have somewhat different ideas, but I think this is fairly close to what happened. Between July of 1998 and June of 2000, we lost over 50 million dollars on an accrual basis. So, in two years we lost over 50 million dollars. You balance your checkbook in cash, but an accrual takes the business that you have done during the year – not what you’ve been paid, but what you will be paid – then subtracts what you were paid during the previous year. So it looks at just the year’s business. That’s the way it’s preferred in accounting, but it can get you into trouble, I think, as I’ve seen. When things are changing and you are going downhill or uphill rapidly, then accrual doesn’t work nearly as well.
Then, the other problem that we had is that we lost $50 million. We started with about $60 million in cash when we went into this process. We have this habit here on campus that turns makes out a lot of purchase orders in June because everybody wants to spend their budget so they don’t have anything left behind at the end of the fiscal year. All that money goes out in July and August, and we spent a lot of money last year in July and August. By the middle of July we were actually in deficit. We had no cash. We had a $15 million line of credit and we were dipping into that on and off during the fall. Actually, in December we made a decision to slow our payments. We didn’t tell our vendors we were doing that, but we just stopped making payments for three weeks; then we started back on the regular schedule. We asked the state to give us the money they allocate to us every month two weeks early. We were in trouble.
It’s interesting now that I look back in retrospect – 1998 to 1999 was probably worse than the accounting figures made it look. In 1999-2000 we had already started to turn around although we were still losing quite a bit of money. We didn’t lose as much money that year as our accountants said we did. But, overall they are about right for the two years being over $50 million.
What had been done? It became apparent in December of 1998 that we were having problems. Dr. Ward, the Chancellor at that time, cut three percent out of everybody’s budget, but the problem is if you take three percent out of an annual budget in December at mid-point of the fiscal year, it’s really a six-percent cut during the second half of the fiscal year. Then, in July of 1999, the six percent was made ongoing by taking another three percent out of each budget. Actually, he took more out of Administration’s support services. Then in July of 2000, we took another three percent out that wasn’t ongoing, but it was something that we had to make up that year. So the total cut was nine percent for academic programs and turned out to be 13-14 percent for administration and support services. That was really a big cut. I don’t know how many of you noticed it, but you must have had some sense of it happening.
At the same time, we made a decision in the fall of 1999 to cut our inpatient hospital beds. The idea there was that our length of stay was too long. We couldn’t reduce it as much as we wanted to in any other way. What we did was to cut several of our stations with the idea that everybody would be forced to move the patients in and out faster – which would be more efficient and we would actually do better. We actually got used to that, but we didn’t get used to it right away and we had a real bottleneck. The number of physicians who referred to us became upset because they couldn’t get patients in the hospital. So, for a period of time from January of 2000 to probably the fall of 2000, we had a reduced census. That hurt because we didn’t have as much money coming in as we had in the previous years. Now, we are busy again and things are going well.
We also instituted a policy of no raises in July of 2000. A few were given to retain key employees, but not very many. When I came to this office, I just told everybody they had to end up the year with at least as much in their reserves as when they started the year. We worked on that every month. Everybody thought they had reserves. The College of Medicine with all its departments had the aggregate of $34 million in reserves. But, there was no money in the cash drawer to pay it. So those reserves were an illusion. We couldn’t let people spend down their reserves because they didn’t have any. That actually helped a lot, I think.
Why did we get into trouble? A major reason that nobody really talks about is that Arkansas is a small state, population-wise, with about two-and-a-half million people in it. Then if you look at the per capita income, it’s in the lower percent of the country probably; so the tax base in Arkansas isn’t very great. A lot of other states have much bigger populations and a bigger tax base to support their academic health centers, but we don’t get as much from the state as many of our competitors around the country get. We are living on the edge. Because we are a poor state, we also have more people who need our help and come to us for health care, but they don’t have the ability to pay.
We also made a decision that we would – I think it’s not been collective but we’ve all made it together – subsidize education slightly more than other institutions would. Our tuition rates always tend to be in the lower half of state schools and all of our colleges. That combination of not charging as much for tuition and having a lot of indigent patients without a lot of state support — generous at $77 million – it’s not little, but it’s nowhere what other institutions are getting. We tend to live on the edge.
The final thing is Arkansas is one of the unhealthiest states in the country. It’s rural and we have always felt we needed to address the health issues of Arkansas. If you look at our institution and then you look at other institutions, we have a much broader input into the whole state. We have programs almost everywhere in the state. We have an [Area Health Education Centers] system that’s developed far beyond what other state AHEC systems are like; except in a few states like North Carolina.
So we have a broad mission, we have a lot of indigent patients, and we have subsidized education. Our tuition income this year will be just slightly over $10 million. We spend $550 million, so tuition is a very small part of our income here. If we were a typical private institution, we would probably bring in $30 million in tuition, which would make a big difference. But we wouldn’t get the state money, so there’s a trade-off for that.
The other reason we lost money, and I think nobody would argue this – even [Vice Chancellor for Clinical Programs] Dick Pierson would not argue this – the [University Hospital] billing system became dysfunctional for over a three-year period and our collection rate fell. When you look at collection rates, the denominator is your charges. If charges are raised, you expect the collection rate to fall down if you don’t expect to collect all that money. But it fell faster than it should have. The director of the Patient Billing Services and the chief financial officer of the hospital left. There was an internal university audit. It was quite critical of the situation, and it reached the press and the legislature. They really didn’t understand the problem. I think they focused on a couple of things that really were not very important, but the big problem was that we weren’t doing very well.
The turnaround really started, I think, with the hiring of a new director. Then Mr. Pierson employed an interim chief financial officer from one of the big six accounting companies. They wanted to do our business for the future, but intellectually they were very helpful to me, at least, because they familiarized me with the concept called “the revenue cycle.” It’s very complex, but the fact is collecting money in a hospital is not like collecting money from your local drug store or your local hardware store – it’s far more complicated. You have all these insurers, each insurer has multiple contracts with different companies and then we have people coming in to all sorts of doctors here, in and out of the hospital, and different charges for each. The point of the revenue cycle is, start out and make sure people can get to the hospital and make sure they are registered properly. To get a registration correct, someone has to put about 20 different items into the fields of a computerized record. If one is wrong, we probably will not get paid right away. Then, we have to make sure everyone who comes here actually gets a bill for whatever was done. All those things are being done now, but not done as well before. We worked through the patient billing services and made sure the charges were correct and made sure contracts are correct. Dick [Pierson] also hired Art T. Finley to look at our contracting to make sure we are contracting for as much as we possibly can for the business that we do.
It has been largely corrected, as I said. The numerous changes have resolved and we have had the best year in the hospital, by far ever, in the amount of cash collected. Our collection rate has gone up, on an annual basis, probably about $20 million in the last year. It’s just incredible what’s happened. I really feel proud of that group and the hospital for accomplishing that. Dan Riley, who was hired as the CFO, is by far the best CFO the hospital has ever had. It’s really good to have him here. Everyone should be proud of him and what he has done. It hasn’t hurt that the hospital census has gone up in the past eight months, and that additional business has driven us forward. We are so efficient right now that many days we have patients waiting to get in. We might have 10 patients cured who are waiting to be transferred. I came in on Monday about three weeks ago and there were six people waiting for a bed on Monday morning in the hospital emergency room. That’s pretty incredible. We are going to try to open 14 to 16 beds during this next year.
There’s a second major development in the finance area. Federal government money is very important to institutions like ours, especially Medicaid. In this state, Medicaid is largely devoted to children and pregnant women. We don’t take care of children here; that service is located at Arkansas Children’s Hospital. University Hospital takes care of pregnant women and their infants born here.
Let me explain briefly how Medicaid works. If you are in a family of four and you live in Minnesota, you qualify for Medicaid with family income up to about 300 percent of the federal poverty level.That level is now about $17,000 for a family of four, so a family living in an affluent state like Minnesota gets some Medicaid support even though it makes about $50,000. That sounds like a lot to most people. This points out the difference between Arkansas and other states. Here, families qualify for Medicaid only if their income is about 27 percent of the poverty level. Considering $17,000 as 100 percent, then 27 percent of that is about $5,500. Think about being in a family four and not having health care and not qualifying for Medicaid because you earn “too much” — $6,000 a year. So there’s all these people who are working 40 hours a week – probably many families are working two or three jobs at low pay and with no benefits – yet can’t qualify for Medicaid because they are considered “too rich.”
Arkansas made a choice. Because it had limited money, it decided to focus on children. I think that’s fine, but it hurts us because UAMS Medical Center doesn’t provide health care for children. Meanwhile, almost all of the children at ACH are fully covered by Medicaid.
We wanted to do some other things. There are two programs – one is called disproportionate share. It’s a program that takes people that are either on Medicaid or have no way to pay their bill. They are supported in relation to the share of these people in the population; that’s why it’s called disproportionate share, or “DISH” as the acronym. In the late 80s and very early 90s, a lot of states decided to buy into this, but Arkansas never had the required matching funds. They closed off the program in 1991 because it was becoming too expensive for the federal government. [Louisiana State University] gets $106 million a year from DISH. We get $150,000. That doesn’t seem quite fair. LSU has more than one hospital in the system, but it still gets a lot of money from disproportionate share. Then you go around and look at other academic health centers around the country and many of them are getting $20-50 million a year from DISH. This year, the Congress reopened disproportionate share just a little bit. They said that any state could bring down one percent of its Medicaid revenue in disproportionate share. For our state, that meant we would receive $14 million more through DISH. We’re going to get $9.5 million of that. The state didn’t have matching funds available for the entire $14 million, so we offered to use our state match to pull the whole thing down. We are going to net $9.5 million that we had before we used our state line item to pull down the match. [Vice Chancellor for Administration] Tom Butler, who has done a great job, has figured out how the state could get about $80 million out of doing it this way. … [I]t’s going to help hospitals all over the state. I have learned the value of Washington lawyers. They are really good – not that ours aren’t – but, they are really very helpful.
Our Washington lawyer, Barbara Iman – by the way, if you see a statue [of] her in the state, it would be appropriate – has helped us in another way. Dick Pierson actually got us onto this, but she took it from there. Medicare is able to pay whatever it can pay by law. Medicaid can only pay what Medicare pays, and it cannot pay more than Medicare. So Medicaid pays the same or less. If it pays, there’s often a gap between what Medicaid pays and what Medicare pays. One can take advantage of that to get more money into the state if the matching money is available. Medicaid in Arkansas probably pays about 75 percent of what our Medicare pays. Working with the [Arkansas] Department of Human Services, we put in a proposal to Medicaid. Harry Ward, Dick Pierson, Tom Butler, Rick Smith, Joe Thompson, Cherry Duckett, Ray Scott, [University of Arkansas President] Alan Sugg, and Joyce Wroten were all involved in this with me; I got in towards the end of it. The proposal to the federal government was to use this upper payment limit, so called, to bring us more money. When [President] Bill Clinton talked to the legislature in December and said, “I saved UAMS,” which is what he said, he said basically that “I helped … get this upper payment limit for UAMS Medical Center.” It’s going to be for approximately two years, but for 1-1/8th year we’ve gotten $33.5 million out of it. That really has helped our cash and we will get some during the next year. It’s one-time funding, so we have to be very careful not to fall into the trap of starting to spend it as though it’s ongoing money. The one-time money has allowed us to put our reserves back up so the College of Medicine, which thinks they’ve got $34 million, actually does now. But, they can’t spend it – we’re not going to let them do that. Anyway, that was really wonderful. On an accrual basis – if you take that money out, we still will have a margin that’s positive this year, but with that money, we had a really nice margin. It’s been very helpful to us and gotten us back on track.
We spend $550 million a year. Anybody in their right mind would say we’re big business as well as being an educational and health care institution. We have lots of customers. What can you do to help our enterprise? You can do two things.
One is treat all of our customers – whether they be students, patients, legislators or people in the state of Arkansas who support us – really well like you treat everyone. We want everybody treated well.
The second thing is we really have to dedicate ourselves to this institution – it’s a great institution. We all have to do our job as well as we possibly can. That’s what is going to make us better in the future. We need your help.
Concerning Act I – Act I started out as an idea developed by [Arkansas Health Director] Fay Boozman and Harry Ward to get all of the tobacco settlement money allocated for health care in the state of Arkansas. When it started out, they were predominantly thinking of UAMS and the Department of Health, but it was broadened with time. I think it turned out to be a good proposal. We had a lot of help from [Psychiatry Chair G. Richard Smith, M.D.,] Joe Thompson, M.D., Joyce Wroten and Tom Butler and Governor [Mike] Huckabee. For those of you who don’t remember what happened, I’ll just refresh you. It started out as the so-called CHART Plan. CHART was the Coalition for a Healthier Arkansas Today, and they championed the plan around the state. The plan went to the legislature during a special session, and it passed unanimously in the Senate. But it never reached the floor in the House, so it was defeated. Then the Governor, who supported the plan all along, said he’d take it to the public for a vote of the people. He didn’t take more than 10 seconds to make that decision. He really led the way. As you remember, the vote tally was 64 percent for, 36 percent against the plan. But then we had to get an appropriations bill through the Senate and the same House that didn’t approve it previously. It was pretty interesting, but it finally happened.
UAMS doesn’t get a lot of money from this source that can be moved around – it’s not flexible. It is like a restricted grant, in a sense. We get a new AHEC in Helena with branches in West Memphis and Lake Village, and they are already well along the way. We get seven satellite Centers on Aging around the state; each connected with an AHEC facility in the district. We provide the education and the local hospitals provide clinical support and the facilities. I think that is going to be absolutely magnificent.
We will start a College of Public Health and I will comment on that in just a few seconds. It’s the first college we have started here in about three decades, and may be the first one other than the College of Medicine that was really started from scratch here without any predecessor.
We will have a research part of the tobacco settlement funds. Next year we will receive about $5.5 million, and it will go on roughly at that level in perpetuity; that is, if people keep on smoking – which we hope they don’t. Anyway, two-thirds of that amount will stay on this campus and one-third will go to our faculty at Arkansas Children’s Hospital.</SPAN>
We’ll get two new buildings. The College of Public Health will be set on top of the [Education Building III]. It will be four floors, and if we can figure out how to fund an additional floor for nursing, we will put a floor for them on top of that. The Biomedical Research Center, a research building was estimated to cost $25 million, but we built it for $22 million ten years ago. For $25 million now, we can only get three floors without as big a footpad. It’s really kind of interesting. We decided that for $6 million we are going to use some of the reserve and put three more shell floors on it. That will cap it off; we won’t stress it for anything more. We will try to fill out those floors in the future as we can use them. The one thing that will be fundable for us, in a sense, is the Medicaid expense – there will be a Medicaid benefit associated with this.
I would like to comment a bit about the College of Public Health. I am really excited about what’s happened here. We decided in January that even if we couldn’t get the appropriations bill through, we ought to act like it’s going through. So we went ahead and started planning. We put together a broadly based committee chaired by [College of Nursing Dean] Linda Hodges and then Joe Bates, who was previously on our faculty but is now the associate director at the [Arkansas] Department of Health. They prepared a vision, a mission, and put together most of a curriculum. They started a search for a new dean. They started thinking about the departments we would need and about in June, they came to me and said, “We need a dean right now – we can’t wait until we get a fulltime dean.” Tom Bruce, [M.D.,] was sitting there smiling. I asked Tom to do it. For those of you just recently here – recent being 16 years or less – Tom was the dean of the College of Medicine for a decade during the 70s and 80s. He came back to Little Rock and was finding all sorts of things to do with his life in retirement. He has earnestly taken over this responsibility and has been just incredible with it. A proposal for a master’s degree and a certificate degree is pending with both the Department of Higher Education and the [University of Arkansas] Board of Trustees for their next meeting. He’s got six interim department heads lined up, collaborations with a number of colleges to work with us, including [the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, the University of Central Arkansas, the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, maybe Arkansas State University]. What was divisive, in part, about creating this college was everybody thought UAMS was getting all of it, but they wanted a piece of it. Tom has gone a long way to solve this. They now have 30 students taking courses in our Graduate School in anticipation they will qualify for admission to this college and can transfer credits. They have had over 160 calls and letters asking for information without any advertising about the M.P.H. degrees. I think this is going to be really successful. I’m extraordinarily pleased with the way it has started.
As I said, we started the Reynolds Center on Aging. I’m not going to say too much about that except that as you remember that was a marvelous gift from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation. They gave us originally, in total, about $28.8 million. About $18.8 million was for the building and another $10 million was to help get the Donald W. Reynolds Department of Geriatrics [in the College of Medicine] off the ground. We had a number of things we had to do in five years. Every one of those points has been completed just 3-½ years after the grant, and we now have a course in geriatrics in the College of Medicine. The research program is going incredibly well. We now have several huge grants over there, so it’s working well from that point of view. They had the fastest growing clinic in the hospital. The whole idea is to keep senior patients well and healthy, but they do end up in the hospital given their age. So it’s been very helpful in a lot of ways. I’m very proud of that …
Finally, about the dean of the College of Medicine. The [search] process was a good one. Aubrey Hough, [M.D.,] chaired a committee and it had a lot of people – Don McMillan, [Ph.D.,] served as his vice chair. They had nine finalists out of a large group of candidates. Looking at the demographics of the group, it had four white males, two white females, an Asian American, and two black Americans. It’s pretty remarkable that we got such a diverse group. We invited four back – one woman, two white males and a black male. We chose the black male because in our opinion he was the best qualified in the group. His name is Albert Reece. He’s got a M.D., a Ph.D. in biochemistry, and an M.B.A. He’s the chair of obstetrics/gynecology at Temple University; he’s been in that position for 10 years. He’s in the Institute of Medicine – he’s our only faculty member who is in the Institute of Medicine, which is part of the National Academy of Sciences. He is full of energy and ideas and loves to work, so those of you who work for him, I have a certain amount of pity for you. He’s coming for about four or five days a month, and then he will be here full time in January.
We’ve had some other changes. John Shock, [M.D.,] is now the executive vice chancellor of the campus. He’s going to help me with a lot of things, but his main interest is in clinical issues and he will work hard on that. Tom Bruce, as I said, is the Dean Pro Tem of the College of Public Health, and he has been one of my better choices ever. James Suen, [M.D.,] is now the director of the [Arkansas Cancer Research Center] and Bart Barlogie, M.D., Ph.D, has moved to run his own Multiple Myeloma Institute. Stephen Warren is the Vice Chancellor for Finance. Tom Butler is Vice Chancellor for Administration and Legislative Affairs. Larry Milne, [Ph.D.,] is the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs in addition to being dean of the College of Pharmacy. We are trying to find out what to do about the vice chancellor for research and the dean of the Graduate School – whether to put them together or not. I do want to have a vice chancellor for research; we are getting big enough now so we should. Because Gwin Morris, [Ph.D.,] left, we are looking for a vice chancellor for development and trying to figure out what we ought to do with communications and media on the campus to make it more logical. If you look at all the letterheads that go out of here, it’s amazing. Some don’t even have UAMS printed on them – we’re lucky if somebody can figure out who we are. We need to brand ourselves better and look more carefully at that.
We’ve had a few new chairs. Barry Brenner, [M.D.,] in emergency medicine; Vaneerat Ratanatharathorn, [M.D.,] is our new head of radiation oncology; in the College of Health Related Professions, Thomas Guyette is the head of audiology and speech pathology; and Annie Burcher is the new director of Emergency Medical Services. I can’t go into the College of Medicine because it’s too long a list.
AHEC is doing great and will start a new AHEC working with the Center on Aging on seven different aging centers. It’s going to be very exciting for AHEC during the next two or three years. As you know, they won the award a couple of years ago for being the best AHEC – they’re the second ones to win it.
The College of Nursing had a second class of graduating Ph.D.s. It’s 18th in NIH Research out of over 350 nursing colleges and schools in the country. It would be much higher if not for the fact that a couple of their best researchers are getting their grants through the College of Medicine. They really did a nice job, and I’m very proud of them for that. They’re in a kind of dilemma – they’re very good, but the country has an incredible need for practicing nurses now. Although we can keep salaries up, a lot of places can’t. Faculty members are leaving for other jobs and we need to figure out how to solve that and get more nurses into the pipeline. It’s really a problem.
The College of Pharmacy is having another problem – it’s got the largest and best applicant pool it’s had for quite a while. It’s a nice problem to have. It went from 75 to 90 students in the first-year class this year. It’s a little misleading because they previously didn’t count the repeaters in the 75; now they count them in the 90, so the difference really becomes how many repeaters there were. It’s still an improvement, and we want to increase that even more. If you want to make pretty good money, go into pharmacy right now. A year ago in May, the seniors averaged $65,000 a year for their salaries – this year they averaged $73,000 and it’s getting to the point where our faculty, like in some of the specialties in medicine, are making less than people who are leaving their training program to go to work in a pharmacy. It’s the same in gastroenterology and other specialties in medicine. This creates a real problem for keeping the faculty on board.
The College of Health Related Professions has fourteen departments – it’s doing very well. Its enrollment is up about 15 percent this year from last year. I told you about the College of Public Health.
This last year and the year before, we hunkered down, and the year before that too. And now we don’t have to do that anymore. It’s time to get on track and think again about what we want to be. Every dean, director and vice chancellor has given me their one-year goals and the next thing is to work on a four- to six-year plan of things we want to accomplish at UAMS. We haven’t even started to talk about that, but there are a number of things I think we need to do. I think we need to become more of a learning institution in the sense of having enabling tools to do that. If you are taking care of a patient, you need to know what evidence-based medicinewould say about this case. You need to be able to get to the Internet. You need to be able to see that the drug you’re giving doesn’t really fit with the other drugs people are receiving. But, we need to think about how that might become part of our vision.
We are now trying to get our patients into a computerized patient record system, and we made the first step by signing a contract to get all of our patient records from probably a year from now onto computers. They will be scanned in. That leaves a gap of what’s happening right at the moment because you have to wait until it gets scanned in. The hospital bought about 75 licenses for Logician – an ambulatory patient medical record – that will fit on top of the archiving system. We are looking very hard, and we will probably buy Infomed; it’s in use at the cancer center. Probably three or four years from now we won’t be trying to get to the paper-based records, not having them available, having channel charts … and things like that. I think that’s going to be something that we will do during this period of time.
We’re in a period of time where we are facing very large shortages in personnel in a number of our areas where we educate. I think it’s only going to get worse. Now with the baby boomers coming and all the things that we can now do with advanced technologies, we’re probably going to have much more to accomplish in terms of education and educating people for the public. Then, Arkansas has very poor health status and we need to work with the Department of Health to improve that.
Finally, in research, Act I presents tremendous opportunities. Two of us are flying down to Houston tomorrow to talk to somebody about the possibility of heading our genomic, proteonic and bioinformatic efforts here on campus. That’s where science is going. When I was in the lab, I might work for four to six months and then spend a half-hour or a day analyzing my data. Now people go into the lab for a day, and for some experiments they have to spend weeks – maybe beyond that – on the analysis because they just don’t have the ability to do it. Biofomatics is becoming extraordinarily important for that. It’s a very exciting time for us. It’s a chance for all of us to make a difference.
What happened on September 11th – it was an incredible tragedy – two things come to mind for me. One is that we can’t solve the world’s problems here, but we can solve our own problems and we can work to make this a better place. That’s what we all have to do is make the impact locally as best we can through the way we lead our lives and what we do. So, let’s make UAMS better from that point of view.
The other thing that was remarkable to me was we have over five million Muslims in America and some of them have been discriminated against and there’s been racial stereotyping, ethnic stereotyping or religious stereotyping, whatever you want to call it, but it hasn’t been as much as I might have thought. In fact, I’m very proud of what happened here. We’ve had a couple of problems, one was at the VA, and one was probably due to outsiders getting into our computer system
UAMS had a retirement party for Shirley Gilmore last Friday and on Saturday, we held a dinner for her. She told me her story about looking for a job in 1962 as a young white female scientist. Several places told her, “We don’t take women.” One place wasn’t quite that up front. They said, “We didn’t have a bathroom for you here.” Imagine how far we have come in the last 39 years since that happened.
I’ve never seen diversity as a goal in itself; I see UAMS as a talent-based organization. We all have talents. A lot of people, most of them not on the faculty, implemented the SAP system with very few problems compared to what happened to the state with the same system. Then you know how much talent we have on the campus. With people of different races, religions, different ages, sexual preferences – it really doesn’t matter – then add the other half of the world, which is women, you have a huge base of talent to choose from. To me, that’s what this is all about – it’s about talent. In recruiting talent, we have hired people from all over the world. UAMS is the most diverse place in Arkansas. It’s not the goal; our goal is to make sure it works. We want to treat everyone on the basis of what they do, not on the basis of stereotypes. You have to judge them on their performance. You have to be fair. It’s something to celebrate. We won’t tolerate discrimination. I really feel very proud of this place, and I’m happy that I got the chance to be Chancellor. It’s a wonderful feeling.
Question: I’m glad to hear that the cash flow is positive and things have turned around. I think classified employees bore the burden of trying to make it without an increase in pay. I wonder what the amount of the reserves is; has any of that been dedicated to fund the CLIP program?
Answer: We are going to implement the CLIP program this year – we have to figure out how to do it, but that is something that we are going to do. The CLIP program is a state program for classified personnel; it gives merit-based salary increases.
As you probably know, “one-time money” can’t be spent as though it’s ongoing. One of the reasons UAMS gave raises to everybody in April was that classified personnel could get a raise only once a year. So that raise actually counted for last year. If we have a good year now, we will try to give another raise to classified personnel during this year. That will allow them to “catch up” in a sense. But I can’t promise that. It will depend on how we’re doing financially.
Transcript: State of the Campus Address exportuser 2018-01-05T08:58:58+00:00