Dear Colleagues,

I have heard from many of you regarding the hardship that changes to the graduate student health insurance subsidy places on our students and their families. I am also aware that you were given only a one day notice of these changes, and that graduate student leadership was consulted only a few hours before the announcement was sent out by the Office of Graduate Studies. For this lack of appropriate notice and prior consultation, I apologize to you both personally and on behalf of the university’s administration.

In Fiscal Year 2015, the university spent $3,938,793.28 in subsidizing the health insurance costs of over 3,000 graduate students. I have directed that this same amount be provided to eligible students based on a formula developed by the Office of Graduate Studies and that the entire amount be made available as soon as possible. This, I understand, is only a short-term “fix”.

Like many institutions, we are navigating new regulations. Graduate students across the country are facing similar challenges and many of our professional associations are asking that graduate students be exempted from the regulations that forced this change. However, there may be other options available to us than the one announced last week that will serve you over the long term.

To explore those options I have appointed Dean Kristofer Hagglund of the School of Health Professions to chair a task force to research and propose solutions for providing affordable insurance to our graduate students. Dr. Hagglund’s academic expertise is in the area of Health Policy.

He will be joined by four graduate students appointed by the Graduate and Professional Council, representatives of system and campus human resources, an insurance network expert from MU Health care, and representatives of finance, communications and the Faculty Council. I will announce the final membership as soon as all representatives have been appointed.

I am asking that this task force bring options to me no later than October 31st. Immediately after that report is received, I will convene appropriate administrators and graduate student leadership to decide the way forward.

Thank you to those who have reached out to me. I encourage you to continue bringing your thoughts and ideas to this committee or to your GPC representatives. I do remind you, however, that 140 characters is just not sufficient to answer most questions. Thus, I will continue to refer you to the Office of Graduate Studies website for regular updates on our progress.

R. Bowen Loftin