"The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams." – Eleanor Roosevelt
I don't know if you are excited as I am, but the Tennessee General Assembly's new $56.2 billion budget for FY 2023-24 includes some greatly needed investments for the UT Health Science Center! These items in the budget would not have been included without the determined hard work of Randy Boyd, our remarkably dedicated president of the UT System, Carey Whitworth, vice president of government relations and advocacy at the UT System, and David Mills, director of health sciences for government relations and advocacy. Our colleagues and friends spent countless hours advocating for us at the capitol, building key relationships in Nashville, and working hard to continuously lift up UTHSC as a priority for the UT System and the state. We are most grateful for their leadership.
Here are the items that will positively impact the UTHSC beginning July 1:
- Funding for a 5% salary pool for employees, as well as investments in employee health insurance and 401k contributions. And we thought last year's 4% salary pool was impressive!
$10.7 million recurring for UTHSC, representing the largest recurring increase to any higher education institution via legislative budget amendment this funding cycle. This funding is greatly needed and appreciated, especially as UTHSC has fallen behind on its finances and did not receive operating funds for the last several years.
$3.8 million in additional funding for FY2023-24 to expand service opportunities for the Healthy Smiles Initiative led by UTHSC. This builds on last year's ~$53 million investment for the Healthy Smiles Initiative and our recent grand opening and floss cutting for the new Delta Dental of Tennessee Building on our Memphis campus. Another sustained investment in our noble mission toward increasing the dental workforce across Tennessee.
While this is excellent news for our campus and we are beyond grateful for the generosity of the Tennessee General Assembly and our supportive leadership, we continue to keep in mind that our institution has gone several years without a funding formula to provide us with the financial security necessary to keep us operational and competitive. Our Office of Finance continues to carefully examine our budget and review all existing and potential revenue sources as we must be diligent. Indeed, we would be remiss to rely on the legislature as a sole-source revenue stream. On that note, we are thankful for the hard work of our Advancement team, as our early numbers are indicating that we have had a successful year with our generous donors. And with tomorrow being Giving Day (hint, hint), we are hopeful you all – our supportive campus family – will choose to give as we seek donations from at least 1,100 donors in 24 hours!
With continued diligence to our financial situation, we have a positive future ahead of us, and are beyond grateful to the Tennessee General Assembly for their gracious and considerate budget. Now, we excitedly get to work toward our new vision – Healthy Tennesseans. Thriving Communities.
Peter F. Buckley, MD
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