For The Daily Utah Chronicle

Entice a kid with some candy, and he may do his homework. Entice a university with funding, and every student will.

Regents from The Utah System of Higher Education (USHE) gathered on Friday to discuss a panel of stories, including a new funding model project. The performance-based funding model provides an incentive for universities to meet goals and receive further funding, said Melanie Heath, director of communications for the USHE.

“They are funded based on the percentage of the goal that they complete each year. If they only make 50 percent of their goal, they will only be funded 50 percent of their allocation,” she said.

The new proposal, on its way to Capitol Hill to pass legislation, would provide $5 million to be distributed as universities meet benchmark goals similar to universities from across the nation.

“Rather than giving them money up front, we are rewarding them for progress,” Heath said.

President David Pershing, along with President Chuck Wight of Weber State University and President Scott Wyatt of Southern Utah University, helped develop the proposition, and they are excited to see it put into action.

“The idea is to give us funding to be able to help departments in their strategic growth,” Pershing said. “In some cases it would be adding faculty, in other cases it might be helping with new student programs.”

Pershing hopes the initiatives will drive the university as a whole to do better.

“I think it will encourage the administration and the faculty to try to move toward best practices,” Pershing said.

Utah institutions have been running on a small scale version of the plan since 2013, when the performance metrics were set. Metrics are partly decided by the board and partly chosen by the president of each institution.

David Buhler, commissioner of Higher Education, presented the model to the board and the public on Friday, explaining how performance would be measured.

Completion, affordability and access are the set metrics, while retention of different student groups and other measurable statistics are optional metrics, Buhler said.

This model is seen nation-wide, and Utah will be using national statistics to measure their success.

“The objective in the model is to have institutions become the best-in-class,” Buhler said. “We are defining this by being in the top third of their peers.”

Heath clarified that the goals are set and revised every three years. As peer institutions get better, they expect USHE schools to get better, Heath said.

The performance-based funding would provide only a part of each institution’s budget. If an institution meets 100 percent of their goals, their funds become on-going to support them at that level each year, Heath said.

Other issues such as retention, completion and new initiatives for Utah institutions, including construction projects, were also addressed at the meeting.

c.webber@chronicle.utah.edu

@carolyn_webber

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