LINCOLN — The state agency charged with overseeing higher education policy in Nebraska needs to hire a new executive director, but the search will have to wait several months until it has the money.
The Coordinating Commission for Postsecondary Education has asked the Legislature for about $72,000, because there's no money in the budget for a search firm and salary bump for a new hire, said interim Executive Director Carna Pfeil.
Pfeil, the commission's associate director of finance and administration, took over in August after the resignation of Marshall Hill, who led the agency since 2005.
Hill left for a position with a Colorado-based organization that aims to make distance education courses more accessible to students across state lines.
The agency had to make a similar funding request of the Legislature eight years ago when it hired Hill because the search and hiring process is an unplanned cost, Pfeil said.
Board Chairman Ron Hunter said the search can't begin until the agency gets the money.
“We don't have any funding at all that would carry us through something like this,” Hunter said.
The Nebraska Legislature does not go into session until January, and it will be at least March before lawmakers decide on the commission's request.
Because of the two-year budgeting cycle, the commission needs to make a special “deficit” funding request. Otherwise, it would have to wait until 2015 for the money.
Hunter said waiting is not a big deal because Pfeil is so experienced — although it does means she's postponing plans to retire.
Pfeil said she will stay on until a new director is in place, which the commission hopes will occur by July 2014 if all goes according to plan.
The requested money would go to pay for a search firm, related expenses such as candidate travel, and to bump the salary range to about $190,000 annually from the $169,500 Hill made and Pfeil is making. It also will cover a payout the commission estimates will be about $48,000 of unused vacation and sick time for Pfeil when she retires.