Board of Trustees discuss new projects, concerns about healthcare

Rebeca Piccardo/News Director

While most of the Board of Trustees committee meetings that met on June 3 discussed new projects and recent accomplishments, the Health Affairs Task Force Committee discussed looming changes in college health care.

As federal health reform begins to affect college health plans FIU still offers the cheapest University health fee in the state and does not require students to buy health insurance.

All students pay a health fee of $187.60 for two semesters, but data shows that the student health services resources are underused, which concerned chair Jose J. Armas.

“We’re in an urban environment where there are lots of other options for health care other than just right on campus,” said Provost Douglas Wartzok. “And so only about 20 percent of students are using our health care services on campus.”

For a commuter school like FIU, that percentage should be closer to 50 percent, said Wartzok.

Armas said that one of two things must have gone wrong—either students are not made aware about the services they have, or “the services are so poor, they just don’t want them.”

Wartzok said that although the University does not want to operate with such poor use of SHS, any increase in utilization might make the health fee increase.

The board also discussed how state universities, like the University of Florida, are moving towards requiring students to have an insurance plan as well as pay a health fee.

If FIU were to make health insurance mandatory for students, it would result in an immediate 20 percent increase in cost of attendance, Wartzok said.

For the time being, the University is working towards integrating SHS with the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine’s FIU Health by sharing a common electronic medical record system and laboratory resources.

FIU Health is also credentialing SHS physicians and nurse practitioners, according to Wartzok.

Armas asked to keep SHS on the agenda for future meetings.

At the Academic Policy and Student Affairs Committee, the board approved the tenure of 29 faculty members, a new PhD program in International Crime and Justice, along with three partnership ventures.

The committee approved a partnership with the National Tropical Botanical Garden, a non-profit that offered the University plots of land adjacent to the Kampong garden in Coconut Grove.

Two separate grant donations give a total of $5 million in funding for this project.

The Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science is also partnering with the University to build a joint-use facility at the Biscayne Bay Campus.

This project received a $5 million grant to build the facility.

The committee also approved a 15-year agreement with Shorelight Education in the hopes of attracting more international students, along with their out-of-state tuition.

By partnering with Shorelight, the University would establish a 12-month undergraduate program from international students to help provide specialized English-language instruction along with their academic coursework.

At the External Relations Committee meeting, Stephen Sauls, vice president of governmental relations presented the recent University victories from the legislative session.

Among these, the University secured $18 million in incremental performance funding, $10 million towards acquiring the fairgrounds and over $20 million in several other projects and programs.

Chief Financial Officer Kenneth Jessell commended the trustees’ efforts in making sure that all University projects received funding.

“We had pretty good intel that one of our very important projects was in jeopardy and many of you made calls,” said Jessell. “It really is a group effort.”

Be the first to comment on "Board of Trustees discuss new projects, concerns about healthcare"

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.