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CEU Employees Hear They May Face Benefit and Compensation Changes

Ryan Thomas

Employees who work at the College of Eastern Utah have enjoyed relatively no-cost health insurance for years, but that could be changing with the next fiscal year they were told by the president of the college, Ryan Thomas, at a meeting last week.

"The Board of Regents will be putting on pressure to look at the package we have prior to the legislative session," he told the group. "Right now we have the richest package of all the colleges in the state. This fact has raised the eyebrows of some and we will need to look at our options."

The president went on to explain what some of those options might be.

•There could be a program of shared premiums. However, Thomas said that may not be as viable as it appears because experience shows that when shared premiums are instituted they often cause higher usage by those covered because they then "want to get their moneys worth."

•A higher deductible could also be considered.

•The college could also consider a base plan that would cost the employee nothing directly, but if they wanted higher coverage they would need to pay extra.

•There could also be a higher co-insurance amount paid by employees. Right now if an employee goes to the emergency room it costs $50 out of pocket. A visit to a doctors office is $20. Dental insurance premiums presently costs employees extra money and it pays basically 50 percent of the cost of work done.

The president also emphasized that any insurance coverage would have to be extended to those working on the San Juan campus as well.

He also urged he employees to utilize a wellness program that has been put together for their benefit because that can lower insurance costs as well.

The president also addressed compensation increases for the coming year.

"The Board of Regents will submit a four percent salary increase to the legislature in the next session," he said. "However there may not be enough money in the state coffers to fund at that level."

Often compensation funding is based on tuition increases. The president said that the college is already in the high range for tuition costs and that has been one of the problems in recruiting out-of-state students.

In another money matter he also discussed the campus master plan and the capital improvements.

He pointed out that the old main building and science building will be razed soon. Another building with about 15,000 square feet of space will be built in place of the science building, but what that building will house is still undecided. He also discussed the need for a new library and health sciences on the San Juan campus, believes some money will be appropriated for that.

The president also answered a question about the deficit the college found itself in a few years ago. When Thomas took over that deficit was $2.5 million, but it is now paid down below $1 million.

"Operationally we are now in the black," he said.

In a surprise announcement at the meeting Cliff Coppersmith, academic vice president for the college, announced that Donna Cartwright will be stepping down as dean of professional and applied technology. Replacing her will be a professor who has been very popular with students over the years, Michelle Fleck. That change will be taking place during winter semester in January.

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