Dependent Eligibility Audit Update
Today we will publicly announce the results of the dependent eligibility audit that was conducted earlier this year. I wanted to share this information with you first and also extend my sincere thanks for your participation in this process, which will help us continue to provide you with an affordable, competitive healthcare plan. Our primary objective when we began the audit was to ensure that only those who qualify for this valuable benefit are part of the plan and thus, to save you and the University money in our fastest-growing cost category, healthcare. I am very pleased to tell you that we’ve met those objectives, thanks in large part to your efforts.
The audit confirmed that the vast majority of our employees are abiding by our eligibility requirements. Of nearly 16,000 dependents audited, only 421 – or 2.7 percent – were found to be ineligible to receive insurance benefits. Many of these individuals were voluntarily removed from coverage by the employee. A significant portion were older children of employees (defined as persons 19-26 years of age), and we suspect this may have been partially due to confusion created by changes in federal healthcare law. We certainly understand that honest mistakes happen. All 421 ineligible dependents have now been removed from our medical and/or dental plans, which will result in an estimated cost avoidance of more than $1 million per year – an 883 percent initial return on our investment in this process. Most important, we are now able to assure our plan members that all those in our health care pool are in fact eligible to be there. As a self-insured employer, we felt we owed it to you to make sure we’re doing everything we can to keep your healthcare premiums competitive.
You should be especially proud of the level of participation and cooperation that you achieved in the audit. The University’s response rate of 99.5 percent is higher than that at many other universities and businesses that have conducted similar audits. I know this audit required time and effort on your part, and I commend you for your willingness to participate for the greater benefit of all those who are covered by the University’s healthcare plans.
Cost-effectiveness is one of the University’s highest priorities. Dollars not spent on healthcare are dollars available to the campuses for salaries and other priorities. Your participation in our review of dependents’ eligibility has helped us to advance this goal and become a more efficient University. Thank you for your assistance, and thank you for all that you do for the University of Nebraska.
Vice President for Business and Finance
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President Milliken's message to employees
A robust, reliable, effective and secure e-mail system is critical to the operation of the modern university. On a daily basis, our e-mail system facilitates the conduct of official business with Regents, students, faculty, staff and administrators as well as various outside agencies, research facilities and countless stakeholder groups and citizens.
The current Lotus Notes environment has been in place for 14 years, and I had been receiving an increasing number of requests in the last few years to consider whether it was the best system for a large university. I put consideration of this issue on hold during the initial implementation of a new student information system. Last year, with the encouragement of the campus chancellors and campus chief information officers, among others, I appointed a university-wide task force, chaired by Dr. John Ballard, Professor of Engineering at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, to undertake a study of our e-mail environment. The task force included faculty and staff representing all campuses. I asked the task force to fully examine whether the current e-mail system best meets the needs and requirements of our faculty and staff in a cost-effective way, and if not, to recommend any changes it thought appropriate. The task force conducted focus groups and surveys to elicit comments on faculty and staff e-mail requirements.
The task force recommended that the University consider migrating from our current Lotus Notes e-mail system for faculty, staff and administrators to a less costly and more advanced and suitable cloud-based environment. It further recommended that I institute a process to solicit competitive proposals from vendors to best meet university needs. I reviewed the task force report with the chancellors and they unanimously endorsed proceeding with the strategy recommended. Subsequently, I asked University Chief Information Officer Walter Weir to work with campus CIOs to formalize the user and system requirements and to solicit competitive proposals. A formal RFP process was followed and after careful consideration, we determined that the Microsoft proposal best met the University’s overall requirements relating to functionality and cost.
I am pleased to report that we have now entered into an agreement with Microsoft – one that campus leaders and I consider to be quite positive for the University. Many leading universities, including the majority of institutions in the Big Ten and other peer campuses, have implemented Microsoft e-mail systems. Over the next 12-18 months, all campuses of the University of Nebraska will migrate to the Microsoft system. We intend to install an Office 365 cloud-based e-mail system at UNL, UNO, UNK and UNCA and Exchange 2010 at UNMC (a premise-based version preferred because of HIPAA requirements). Student migration will depend on existing agreements. Campus technical teams will be working together to build the required back end infrastructure to support the migration and deployment. In addition, several implementation teams have been named to work on issues such as training and migration of records including e-mail, calendar entries, personal contact lists and directories.
Employees currently using Lotus Notes e-mail and all those whose e-mail addresses use @unk.edu, @unmc.edu, @unl.edu, @unomaha.edu, @nebraska.edu, will not need to change their e-mail addresses.
I want to thank Dr. Ballard, the members of the task force, and the chief information officers and others who have been involved in this process for their good work on behalf of the University. Attached you will find a Q&A that addresses some of the common questions surrounding this change. More specific information about the migration will be shared as plans are finalized and implemented. We will maintain the most current information at www.nebraska.edu/email, and I also encourage you to contact your campus chief information officer with your questions so that we can be responsive to all employee concerns.
James B. Milliken
E-mail migration questions and answers
What is Office 365?
Microsoft Office 365 is a set of products, including the Microsoft Office suite of desktop applications and hosted versions of Microsoft’s Server products (including Exchange Server, SharePoint Server and Lync Server), delivered and accessed over the Internet. For now, only the Exchange Server product and the Microsoft Lync program, which is used for instant messaging, will be implemented at all University of Nebraska campuses.
What is a “cloud-based environment?”
This is a shorthand general description for computer applications and services that reside on network servers accessed through the internet, instead of local servers on the campuses. The cloud-based environment avoids the need to synchronize files across multiple devices and simplifies access to current messages and files from both desktop and handheld/mobile devices.
When will the e-mail migration happen?
The specific migration schedule for each campus is yet to be developed, but it is expected to begin in fall 2011 be concluded by summer 2012.
Why isn’t UNMC moving to the cloud?
The task force recommended that UNMC be allowed to maintain a premise-based system due to unique security issues including potential liabilities derived from HIPAA compliance.
Will my e-mail address change?
E-mail addresses such as @unk.edu, @unmc.edu, @unl.edu, @unomaha.edu and @nebraska.edu will not change. For employees who are currently using any other variation of the campus e-mail address, a small number of these addresses might require modification.
How will I access my e-mail and calendar?
Office 365 is accessible through the Outlook Web Access interface through your web browser or using Microsoft Outlook clients. POP access is available to access your account through other third-party clients.
Will I be able to access my email via the web, tablet and/or smartphone?
Yes, Office 365 offers Exchange ActiveSync to provide access from a number of devices.
Is my information safe “in the cloud”?
Microsoft follows the Security Development Lifecycle (SDL) when developing software. The process entails a series of security-focused activities and deliverables during each phase of Microsoft’s software development process. Before software can be released, it must undergo a final security review by an independent development team. Software that has undergone the SDL experiences a significantly reduced rate of security vulnerabilities being discovered.
How can I move my Lotus Notes information to the new system?
Our migration planning team has flexible options to meet your needs. The move to a new system will benefit from planning ahead, and a little effort at the beginning can pay off considerably over the long run. Migrating everything you currently have on your Lotus Notes account is rarely the best option, especially if you have not regularly sorted your e-mail inbox or updated your calendar. Some may find starting in a fresh environment and moving only what is currently needed is a great way to transition. Others will want the assurance of more continuity between the old and new system. Either way or somewhere in between, the migration planning team will be able to accommodate and help with a smooth transition. The transition will allow some overlap, so you will have time where you can access your old inbox.
What kind of training will we have?
A team is working on developing the necessary training plans and help tools. We are working with Microsoft to develop the best training approach.
Will the migration save the University money?
We expect that the cloud-based system for UNCA, UNK, UNL and UNO will significantly reduce recurring costs due to a reduction in hardware, software, licensing and staffing needs. It is estimated that the annual operating costs associated with delivering an e-mail service can be reduced by more than 50 percent from the current cost, which is just under $1 million. There will also be one-time upfront costs associated with migrating current Lotus Notes accounts to a new system, rewriting some applications and providing training, but significant savings will be realized over the long term.
Who was on the task force?
Task force members include:
John Ballard – Professor Emeritus of industrial and management systems engineering, UNL (Chair)
Loren Blinde – Director of the Administrative Systems Group, UNCA
Shelton Hendricks – Professor of psychology, UNO
Roger Kirby – Professor of physics and astronomy, UNL
William Lynch – Director of university records management, UNCA
Dennis Potthoff – Professor of teacher education, UNK
Lynn Stephenson – Manager of operations analysis, UNO
Deb Thomas – Associate vice chancellor for business and finance, UNMC
John Windle, M.D. – Professor and chief of internal medicine cardiology, UNMC
Technical adviser: Walter Weir, chief information officer, UNCA
Was anyone on the campuses asked to provide input?
Task force members conducted campus focus group discussions and circulated surveys on their campuses in order to gain input from campus level constituencies. Campus CIOs as well as campus-level information systems personnel provided information to the committee.
Why doesn't Lotus Notes serve our needs anymore?
Lotus Notes has been in use across the University for 14 years, and the technology has changed significantly over that period of time. The task force and campus chief information officers found that a cloud-based system provided greater cost savings and ease of functionality and administration. Lotus Notes/Cloud was among the three systems evaluated by the task force, but the Microsoft system emerged as the preferred system.
How many companies bid on the RFP?
The task force considered proposals for systems using Google, Lotus Notes and Microsoft.
Why was Microsoft chosen?
In its analysis, the campus CIO review team found that both Google and Microsoft offered a superior web-based interface and enhanced capabilities, and that their business models put more emphasis on the needs of higher education than Lotus Notes. Ultimately, Microsoft was able to provide a more competitive pricing structure than Google.
What’s an example of an enhancement that Office 365 will provide?
Office 365 supports 25GB (twenty-five gigabytes) of mail space per user. This is significantly greater capacity than is available now.
What is included in the agreement with Microsoft?
Microsoft is providing $250,000 in Business Incentive Funds to help us migrate from Lotus Notes to Office 365. That funding will pay for some consulting and licenses to convert a large percentage of our users from Lotus Notes to Office 365. We will also use that funding to pay for a Microsoft Premier Support agreement covering email and Microsoft Office applications for the entire University.
University of Nebraska announces e-mail migration agreement with Microsoft
University of Nebraska announces e-mail migration agreement with Microsoft
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Community College Students – Stay On Course to a Bachelor's Degree!
"I'd like to get my bachelor's degree, but I didn't take the right classes in high school to get into the university."
"Can I go beyond community college if I dropped out of high school?"
"I know my job prospects would be better with a bachelor's degree. I'm just not sure what to do next."
"Will I qualify for financial aid if I go to the university?"
Your education doesn't have to end with community college. Join the University of Nebraska's On Course program and you will be assured of admission to any NU undergraduate campus—UNL, UNO or UNK—when you complete the program requirements at your community college. Your advisor will help you choose the right classes and work with you to ensure your credits transfer toward a bachelor's degree at the University of Nebraska.
On Course guarantees admission to these University of Nebraska campuses if you prepare by completing required coursework at your community college which, combined with your high school courses, will provide a foundation for success at the university. Your community college is well equipped to prepare you for university-level studies. You can take full advantage of this capability by following the On Course pathway.
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QualificationsTo qualify for assured admission to the University of Nebraska, you must have:
Academic RequirementsBoth high school and community college courses can count toward your admission requirements. On Course students must complete the academic "units" listed below. A unit is one year of college-preparatory high school education or one community college course.
English: Four units. All courses must include intensive reading and writing.
Mathematics: Three units (four if you plan to attend UNL, including geometry and either pre-calculus or calculus). The three units must include Algebra I and II, and geometry or an equivalent math course. Natural Sciences: Three units, including biology, chemistry, physics or earth sciences, with at least one course being laboratory-based.
Social Studies: Three units, including at least one unit of American or world history and one additional unit of history, American government or geography.
Foreign Language: Two units of the same foreign language at elementary or higher levels.
Students who begin their studies at the University of Nebraska take certain general education courses in their first two years. On Course students are also expected to take courses that develop intellectual and practical skills, including communication, inquiry, critical thinking and creativity. Courses that provide this type of general education include:
Speech: Courses that include demonstration of the ability to speak formally to an audience.
Literature: Courses that include literary classics, English literature, American literature, western civilization or world civilizations.
Aesthetics: Courses in art, art appreciation, music, dance, theater or other forms of artistic expression.
Citizenship: Courses in ethical principles, civics or stewardship that help build understanding of the importance of civic responsibility. These are examples of general education courses. Your advisor can help ensure that you are taking the right courses to meet admission requirements for the campus of your choice.
Financial AidFinancial assistance is available to qualifying On Course students through Collegebound Nebraska, the University of Nebraska's tuition assistance program, as well as other need-based and merit-based scholarships. Collegebound Nebraska can help make sure your educational costs do not increase substantially when you move from community college to the university.
If you are Pell Grant-eligible, Collegebound Nebraska guarantees that you will pay no tuition at UNL, UNO or UNK. Even if you are not Pell Grant-eligible, you may receive Collegebound Nebraska support based on information you provide by filling out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). As a general rule, students from a family of four with one student in college and a family income of $50,000 or less will qualify for free tuition.
Collegebound Nebraska provides full tuition assistance for up to five years to full-time undergraduate students who are Nebraska residents. See your community college advisor for assistance in filling out the FAFSA form. You must apply by April 1 of the year in which you plan to attend the university.
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Before you head off to high school, consider college. It's never too early to start preparing. Eighth grade is the perfect time to begin thinking about the high school classes you'll need to take for admission to the University of Nebraska. Whenever possible, take college prep, advanced placement and honors classes. Concentrate on courses that improve your reading, writing, math and science skills. Participating in clubs and school activities can also increase your chances for college admission and scholarships.
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