EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE MINUTES
Present: King, Logan-Peters, Peterson, Sawyer, Siekman, Whitt, Wolf, Wunder
Absent: Bryant, DiMagno, Fuller, Miller, Spann
Date: Wednesday, July 24, 2002
1.0 Call to Order (Miller)
Wunder called the meeting to order at 3:02 pm.
2.1 Response by Chancellor Perlman to Executive Committees Resolution to Use the Priority Funds to Offset Budget Reductions
Wunder circulated a letter from Chancellor Perlman regarding the reason why the priority funds cannot be used to offset the budget reductions. The letter stated three reasons for not using the funds: the money has already been committed; not using the funds now would not postpone, but eliminate these programs; the university must continue to position itself towards excellence.
2.2 Board of Regents Meeting
Wunder reported that President Smith presented the next biennium budget to the Board of Regents. He stated that the budget does not call for any faculty or staff raises but does include a 4% increase to help cover costs of fixed items, primarily medical insurance. He stated that the budget does ask for an additional $3 million for priority programs. Wunder stated that there is strong support from the Regents for the priority programs. Peterson pointed out that cutting programs while enhancing other programs is misguided and will in fact create mediocrity.
3.0 Chancellor Perlman
Chancellor Perlman stated that the Governor will announce his budget plan on July 25th. He stated that initially the university thought this round of budget cuts would be smaller, but with the recent forecasting boards predictions, they now believe the university will receive a larger reduction this time. He pointed out that this will not be the only reduction the university will see.
Chancellor Perlman noted that President Smiths budget request asks for funding to cover fixed increases. He stated that tuition will need to be taken into account. He noted that universities across the country are facing the same budget problems and that many of them are increasing tuition.
Chancellor Perlman stated that the administration is predicting a $20 million budget reduction for the entire system but there are concerns that it could be higher. He stated that the outcome would depend on how much of a reduction Medicaid receives. He noted that K-12 education will probably not be cut.
Chancellor Perlman pointed out that there is an advantage to going through the budget cutting process only once, but the down side to this is that many people will not understand why they are being asked to plan for a larger reduction than the legislature may actually require at this time.
Chancellor Perlman reported that President Smith requested a list of possible cuts. Chancellor Perlman has submitted a list and he stated that the list is somewhat generic and amounts to $6 million dollars. Chancellor Perlman stated that there is nothing specifically identified on the list that jeopardizes positions of tenured faculty, although a few tenure track positions may be affected.
Chancellor Perlman stated that the university will be talking to state senators during the special legislative session to try to keep the budget cut to the university as low as possible. He stated that he is still working with the deans to develop a strategy to use during the legislative session. He noted that there are a number of dates that must be considered before the procedures to be used in determining budget cuts can be initiated. He stated that he would be out of town at the end of August, he will be presenting the State of the University address on September 6th, and the deans will be on a retreat on September 19th. He stated that he has set September 20th as a tentative date for his announcement on the reductions. He noted that the Academic Planning Committee will then use the month of October to review the reductions and to hold hearings. Wolf stated that the last time the committee met with the Chancellor they were told that tenured faculty members would need to be notified by September 1st should their positions be eliminated. Chancellor Perlman stated that the date was chosen for financial reasons, not personnel reasons. He acknowledged that faculty may require 12 months notice and thus the 12 months will begin whenever he gives official notice, which would be when he makes the announcement. He noted that the administration is already trying to put things in place to help any faculty members that might have their positions eliminated.
Chancellor Perlman reported that pursuant to President Smiths request to search for cross campus collaborations, we are considering a lot of items, for example using a sole source for desktop computers and a single configuration system. He noted that this could save the university $500 per computer. Chancellor Perlman stated that the Chancellors are also exploring a system-wide telephone system. He reported that Dick Wood, General Counsel, is looking into early retirement for employees. He stated that President Smith will review this option with the Chancellors on August 13th. He stated that among the things being considered is the possibility of older faculty yielding tenure in return for medical insurance coverage and being hired on a part-time basis for three years.
Peterson noted that nearly all of the lights are on in his building when he comes to work on weekends. He suggested that the university might want to install automatic timers on light switches to conserve energy. He noted that savings could add up over time. Chancellor Perlman agreed and stated that there is a professor in Architectural Engineering who specializes in cost efficiency buildings who might be consulted.
Wunder asked if the list submitted to President Smith included any academic programs? Chancellor Perlman stated that academic programs were part of the list. Wunder asked if President Smith was going to declare a definition of academic programs for the university. Chancellor Perlman stated that an executive memo will be issued soon. He noted that it basically follows UNLs definition which was accepted by the Board of Regents in the UNL Bylaws. Wunder asked if the Coordinating Commissions definition is a factor. Chancellor Perlman stated that it would not apply since we currently have a definition that is established and approved.
3.2 Definition of Academic Programs
See 3.1 above.
3.3 Role of Academic Planning Committee
Wunder asked the Chancellor what role he sees the APC playing in the decision to eliminate academic programs. Chancellor Perlman stated that he reread the documentation regarding the APC. He noted that while the APC plays a strong role in reviewing the decision to eliminate academic programs, ultimately the power rests with him. He stated that the role of the APC is to make comments on his recommendations to eliminate programs.
Wunder pointed out that this is not the way that it has been done in the past. He stated that the one area over which the APC has traditionally exercised responsibility is academic programs. Chancellor Perlman noted that the language in the documentation regarding the APC contradicts what Wunder stated. Wunder asked if precedent didnt count for how things are handled. Chancellor Perlman stated that it does not count when there is a clear definition. He stated that the previous attempt to eliminate programs did not set much of a precedent because in the end Chancellor Spanier was able to find funding for the programs.
Wunder stated that traditionally the APC has sent back proposals when they have disagreed with administration. Chancellor Perlman noted that the administration has tried to be open to faculty discussion. He pointed out that arguing over the role of APC is not a practical solution. He stated that if he and the APC cannot come to an agreement on what programs to eliminate, the Board of Regents will make the decision. He pointed out that he did not see anything in writing that states that the APC must approve elimination of programs.
Wunder stated that the best thing for everyone is for the faculty and administration to be working together. He could not, however, agree with the Chancellors interpretation on precedent and APCs role. He noted that while most everyone would like to be supportive, it is the responsibility of the faculty through APC to play a decisive role in the creation and elimination of academic programs, and it is the responsibility of the Senate to closely monitor any attempts to fire tenured and tenure track faculty for budgetary reasons.
Wolf stated that the way in which state government is financed needs changing. He noted that the legislature needs to look more at the revenue side of the budget issue. Chancellor Perlman stated that there are some discussions about changing the structure of the state government financing system.
Griffin noted that east and city campus are considered as one campus yet there are two payroll, budget, and personnel departments. She asked if there has been any consideration of merging these offices. Chancellor Perlman stated that the administration is seriously looking into this. He noted that VC Jackson and the business offices have been working hard to consolidate their services as much as possible. He pointed out that there are some limits to collapsing offices but that there are also some advantages. He stated that the business and finance office is looking into the possibility of moving all employees to a biweekly payroll system. He pointed out that currently there are two different payroll systems in place: biweekly and monthly. He reported that VC Jackson has stated that money could be saved if only one system is used.
Griffin asked if there has been any further discussion on using the salary increases to offset the budget reductions. Chancellor Perlman stated that he does not know whether central administration is discussing this further. He noted that they are reviewing the issue of furloughs. He reported that Dick Wood, General Counsel, believes that employees can be placed on furlough without having any impact on their benefits. Griffin pointed out that if the faculty and staff are to be placed on furlough, they should be given enough advance warning so that they can budget accordingly. Chancellor Perlman agreed and stated that if furloughs are instituted, he would like to see them done over a long period of time. For instance, he would like to see the work week shortened by one or two hours for a period of time rather than just shutting down the university for a week. He noted that he would recommend that people paid below a certain wage not be furloughed at all. He pointed out that either decision, using pay increases or furloughs, will rest with central administration.
King asked if the decision has been made to charge a monthly fee for bus passes. Chancellor Perlman stated that no decision has been made yet. He noted that there will be discussions with faculty and student groups on the issue this fall.
King reported reading an article which states that student cell phones are seriously cutting into the revenue of the telecommunications departments at universities. Chancellor Perlman stated that there has been a definite impact on the telecommunications revenue. He stated that the university is investigating the possibility of going to a single system-wide phone service.
Wunder reported that he and Griffin have been working on putting data together on administrative costs. He noted that they are reviewing the costs for administrative units in 1990-1991 and 2001-2002. He stated that some areas have stayed lean and have kept costs down considerably while other areas have grown tremendously. Chancellor Perlman stated that he would like to see the report when it is completed. He stated that his office recently did a similar review from 1995-1996. He noted that system-wide the largest increase has been in the number of research faculty and that there were only 10 new administrative positions. Wunder stated that the Senate Executive Committee would soon consider a draft of the report.
3.4 University-wide Restructuring
See 2.1 above.
3.5 Climate Survey
Wunder asked for an update on the climate survey. Chancellor Perlman stated that it is moving forward although he wondered whether it was the best time to announce the results. He stated that Gallup indicated that it would be a good time because of the issues regarding money that may surface. He reported that Gallup will provide scores for each unit. He noted that facilitators will be on campus to help with the interpretation of the scores. He stated that a presentation will be made at the deans retreat. He noted that each unit will receive three scores: the score for their unit, the overall score of their college, and the overall university score. He pointed out that the scores will not be used in the evaluation process. He stated that the idea is to develop discussion within each unit as to how they can develop a strategy to improve their score. He stated that only the departments will see their scores. He pointed out that units with good scores will be used as examples. He stated that the scores will not be compared outside of the university.
Chancellor Perlman noted that there has been concern regarding the definition of neighborhood. He stated that the second year evaluation scores will be used in the evaluation of chairs and higher. He reported that the administration is submitting a major grant application to the Kellogg Foundation to fund the rest of the project.
Peterson stated that there are some serious problems with the survey. He noted that many people assumed that organization referred to the university as a whole rather than the unit or department. He stated that the percentage responding in this way cannot be determined and this renders the results statistically meaningless. He pointed out that the memo clarifying that the survey was to be answered on the unit level did not come out until after many people had submitted it. He stated that even if everyone had answered the questions in terms of their departments, it would still be impossible to infer much from the survey because the implicit assumptionthat climate problems are found only at the unit levelis almost certainly wrong. Chancellor Perlman stated that he is aware that there are some problems with the survey but he pointed out that the purpose is to try to eventually fix the responsibility for the climate of a unit at a place where it can be changed. Peterson pointed out that there is a methodology problem and that a statistical error is being made. He asked how Gallup can determine who is a chair and who is a member of the department. Chancellor Perlman stated that Gallup was given a code number for each person and that they have a database linking each person to his or her code.
Chancellor Perlman pointed out that no chair will be fired over the information that is gathered over one year. He stated that the plan is to conduct the survey for a period of years to see if there has been improvement in departments receiving low numbers.
Peterson stated that he has spoken with a number of social scientists who work with surveys and he stated that no one felt it was a good survey. Whitt agreed. Wolf pointed out that it is an embarrassment to the university when experts on campus see such flaws. He pointed out that in many cases the results of the survey will not change until some of the policies of the university change. Chancellor Perlman stated that he recognizes that there are problems with the survey but the attempt is to have discussions at the department level. He stated that it might be concluded that the department is fine but that there are problems at other levels. Wolf stated that he has heard that deans and chairs will be judged on the results of the survey. Chancellor Perlman reiterated that no one will be fired because of the survey. He stated that he is hoping that the units will at least have discussions on ways to improve the climate in their department should it be needed.
Wunder asked how admissions were looking for the fall. Chancellor Perlman stated that the trends are looking good at this time. He reported that applications to the honors program are up. He stated that the admissions office is still working on trying to get or keep those students who fall just below the honors program requirements. He reported that there has been a 40% increase in the number of applications for the learning communities. He noted that a lot of good things are happening on campus. He pointed out that there has been improvement in research grants. He stated that two or three major research grants have been awarded and that he will announce these soon.
King noted that some athletic departments around the country are closing programs due to lack of funding. He asked if it was possible that this could happen here. Chancellor Perlman stated that he has looked at the projected budget of athletics and that it is possible that it could happen here. He noted that we are the only university in the Big 12 that receives dollar for dollar for athletic scholarships. Wunder asked if tuition increases would cause an increase in the dollar amount of athletic scholarships. Chancellor Perlman stated that it would. He reported that the NCAA will be instituting a new rule that requires schools playing in Division 1 to hold 5 home games. He stated that this could mean that we would be hosting less home games in the future. Logan-Peters asked where the $1 ½ million that athletics gives to the university goes. Chancellor Perlman stated that it comes to his office as hard dollars. He stated that some of the money goes to the College of Fine Arts to help support the band. Some of the other money is used for scholarships. He pointed out that the Athletics Department will now be responsible for maintaining all of their buildings.
4.0 Approval of 7/10/02 Minutes
Sawyer moved and Wolf seconded approval of the minutes as amended. Motion approved.
5.0 Unfinished Business
No unfinished business was discussed.
6.0 New Business
6.1 Further Discussions on the Meeting
The committee discussed the climate survey issue further. Peterson pointed out that a diagnostic survey should have been conducted first. Siekman noted that it will take 3 5 years before accurate information can be obtained.
King suggested that the committee draft a rebuttal to Chancellor Perlman in regards to his letter concerning the funds for the priority programs. Wunder pointed out that the $3 million being requested in the next biennial budget is in addition to the existing $3 million. Peterson pointed out that it does not appear that a rebuttal would have much impact since the Board of Regents strongly support the priority programs. He stated that it is discouraging that the idea of using the priority funds during these difficult economic times cannot even be put on the table for consideration.
Wolf stated that he hopes that the responses made by Wunder on the role of the APC in eliminating academic programs will alert the members of the APC that there will be conflict over this issue. He pointed out that the 1993 Procedures have never been used and that they do not lessen APCs mandate to make decisions on academic program creation or elimination. Wunder stated that APC, as well as Chancellor Perlman and SVCAA Edwards, are aware that they can change their procedures for the APC. He pointed out that the faculty members need to have control over academic programs. Wunder reported that the faculty members of the APC would like to meet regularly with the Executive Committee.
The meeting was adjourned at 5:00 pm. The next meeting of the Executive Committee will be held on Wednesday, August 7th, at 2:30 pm, 201 Canfield Administration Building. The minutes are respectfully submitted by Karen Griffin, Coordinator and James King, Secretary.