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UND medical school asks legislators to maintain funding

The governor’s budget includes a $4.3 million cut in appropriated funding compared with the needs-based budget submitted by the university system.

Joshua Wynne
Joshua Wynne

Leaders with UND’s medical school are asking legislators to maintain the school’s funding and to consider giving faculty and staff a 3% raise in each of the next two years.

The medical school’s budget is separate from UND’s overall budget. A 7.5% cut to the university’s funding formula, as proposed by Gov. Doug Burgum, could mean the loss of more than 70 jobs, UND leaders said earlier this week. Across the university system, the cuts could impact around 200 jobs.

Dave Molmen, chair of the UND medical school’s advisory council and CEO of Altru, said the medical school’s budget is based off the Health Care Workforce Initiative. It was developed during the 2011-13 biennium through a collaboration of the medical school, Legislature and the advisory council.

Molmen said the medical school has been improving year over year and he hopes the Legislature will continue supporting the medical school at the level its receiving now.

“The budget that’s being requested is not requesting for more to do less, it’s asking for the necessary funding so that it can do even more, including continuing to expand our residency programs,” he said.

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The governor’s budget includes a $4.3 million cut in appropriated funding compared with the needs-based budget submitted by the university system.

The medical school is supportive of a 3% salary increase in each year of the biennium, the governor’s budget calls for a 2% increase in each year.

Molmen said faculty are underpaid by about 10% compared to other medical school faculty in the country. A full professor is underpaid by about 22% compared to similar faculty across the United States.

“It’s very important that this salary increase be available to help keep us competitive,” he said.

Because appropriated funding does not cover all the costs associated with a merit increase (non-appropriated salary sources and associated fringe benefits), Molmen said the advisory council recommends that an additional amount be allocated to cover the remaining shortfall.

The medical school has been steadily improving its retention rate, Dean Dr. Joshua Wynne said. Compared to other medical schools, UND has gone from well below average retention rates in 2013 to well above average in 2020, Wynne said. In 2020, the school’s retention rate was better than more than two-thirds of medical schools in the U.S. About 86% of the students are either from North Dakota or have ties to North Dakota, Wynne said.

Wynne pointed to lower tuition rates than most of the country’s medical schools as a big factor in the rise in retention rate over the past seven years. In 2020, the cost to attend UND’s medical school for a student from North Dakota was lower than at nine out of 10 of the medical schools in the U.S. The school also receives support from the Legislature and has scholarship programs to help with costs. Additionally, there has been increased philanthropy and external funding.

Wynne said last year the medical school passed $30 million in external funding for the first time. Average student debt also is much lower at UND’s medical school.

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“We really try to be good managers of the people’s money,” Wynne said.

Over the past 14 years, faculty and staff at UND’s medical school have submitted more than $1.3 billion in grant requests, netting about 23% of those requests, or about $298.7 million, during that time.

“I would be happy to invest in the stock market, if I could get a 23% return,” he said.

Wynne and Molmen gave their testimony virtually.

Related Topics: EDUCATION
Sydney Mook has been the managing editor at the Herald since April 2021. In her role she edits and assigns stories and helps reporters develop their work for readers.

Mook has been with the Herald since May 2018 and was first hired as the Herald's higher education reporter where she covered UND and other happenings in state higher education. She was later promoted to community editor in 2019.


For story pitches contact her at smook@gfherald.com or call her at 701-780-1134.
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