The process and procedures set forth draw upon the wisdom gained from a review of relevant budget reallocation and reduction documents and the lessons learned from previous budget reallocation/reduction episodes. Therefore, the process that follows was developed to maximize the likelihood of achieving an appropriate result by emphasizing the following: the need for open communication; the need for ongoing consultation among unit administrators, faculty, students and staff; the desirability for confidentiality during exploratory considerations; the need for common understandable data and information about programs; the need for time for discussion and negotiation among the various participants in the process; and the need to protect the safeguards contained in the Bylaws and Policies of the Board of Regents and the Bylaws of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with respect to faculty tenure and due process considerations.
Consultation And Decision-Making
Essential to a quality university is recognition of the importance of the faculty voice in matters of academic decision making and long-range planning. These procedures are designed to reflect that recognition; they represent sound academic practice consistent with standards set by the AAUP and other professional organizations. Rumors and misinformation can be a deterrent to productivity. A well-conceived and generally accepted budget planning procedure involves faculty, staff and student consultation and keeps rumors and misinformation to a minimum.
The University of Nebraska-Lincoln's budget planning process involves judgments about the quality of programs. Both administrators and faculty must weigh subjective as well as objective factors in setting priorities and selecting programs that will be affected. Resulting decisions must be made within the budget reallocation and reduction process described herein.
These procedures shall be invoked by the chancellor when the chancellor, in consultation with the Chancellor’s senior leadership team and the Faculty Senate Executive Committee has determined that a) significant internally or externally driven budget shortfalls have occurred or are imminent, or b) significant budget reallocations are contemplated. A budget shortfall or reallocation severe enough to propose the elimination of a program (as defined in this document) triggers these procedures.
Nothing in this document is intended to supersede policies and by-laws approved by the Board of Regents relating to the declaration of financial exigency.
- The process will ensure that faculty tenure rights are protected in accordance with the governing laws of the university and state. Participants in the process must be sensitive to the relevant guidelines of the American Association of University Professors.
- It is recognized that extension educators and state foresters within the Institute of Agriculture & Natural Resources are not protected by tenure. These employees are faculty. Their value and programs will be protected in accordance with the governing laws and personnel policies of the university and state.
- The process shall ensure that the rights of non-tenured faculty and non-academic staff are protected in accordance with the governing laws and personnel policies of the university and state.
Information used in the reallocation and reduction process must be made available to the budget planning participants and affected programs in a timely manner so that corrections and explanations can be made before it is released to the public.
The process shall ensure that administrators, faculty, students, and staff are consulted. A shared definition of the word “consultation” is essential to ensure there is ample opportunity for advice prior to recommendations being developed. Consultation is more than just giving and receiving information; it allows all parties the opportunity and the time necessary to explore and offer alternatives before administrative decisions are made. Deans, directors,2 chairs and heads shall follow procedures as stipulated in their college and unit bylaws and allow advice, input, and discussion by faculty, staff, and, to the extent appropriate, students prior to proposals being submitted by unit administrators. Such consultation is intended to give administrators, students, staff, and faculty an opportunity for substantive interactions that go beyond simply sharing information.
One of the keys to the success of this process will be the manner with which the information considered at various stages is handled. In the early stages, it will be critical that those individuals responsible for developing budget reduction/reallocation proposals have an opportunity for candid discussions regarding the wide range of options open to them. Such candor is likely to occur only if participants are assured that the discussions will remain confidential. As the process moves forward and proposals are developed, it is essential that the scope of these working discussions expand to include units potentially affected by the proposals prior to public release.
- Inter-Program and Inter-College Relationships
Inter-program and inter-college relationships must be considered during proposed budget reallocation, reduction and planning.
- Implementation timetable for budget reallocations and reductions
The implementation timetable for each reallocation or reduction proposal shall be indicated. The impact of budget reallocations or reductions on students and/or clientele must be carefully considered.
The first and second phases of the process should allow deans, directors, and the Academic Planning Committee the opportunity to propose alternatives while considering reallocation and reduction strategies.
- Reduction and reallocation procedures:
- When the process is invoked, the Chancellor3 will provide a framework document that describes the issue(s), including a rationale for the proposed reduction(s), the scope of the reduction/reallocation, and a desired timeline for completing the review process and implementing the changes. The document will be made available to the Chancellor’s Executive Leadership Team and the following shared governance partners: the Academic Planning Committee (APC), the deans, the Executive Committee of the UNL Faculty Senate, appropriate representatives of the Staff Senate, and appropriate representatives of the Association of Students of the University of Nebraska (ASUN)4.
- The APC will evaluate the Chancellor’s framework document. The evaluation shall include consultation with all partners in the shared governance of the University as described above. The APC may request further information from the Chancellor or other offices of the university, which they will provide to APC to the best of their abilities and in a timely manner. Some discussion with the Chancellor may be required regarding the nature and size of the budget reduction/reallocation, and the framework document will be updated accordingly. This discussion shall be confidential. After this evaluation process is completed, the Chancellor will make the revised framework document public.
Following the timeline that has been established, the Chancellor will provide a specific plan and justification for the budget reductions/reallocations to the APC and other stakeholders, who then will provide prompt feedback before the list of proposed reductions/reallocations is released to the public. The proposed reductions and reallocations shall be consistent with the public framework document, the priorities of the university’s strategic plan, and the governance rules of the university and its organizational units. The Chancellor’s senior leadership team and the shared governance partners also will be briefed on the budget proposals. All relevant data and supporting rationale will be provided to the APC so the APC can provide informed feedback to the Chancellor. This feedback may be necessarily confidential.
After making any needed adjustments to the proposals after feedback from the APC, the Chancellor will release the proposals to the public. At that time the APC will announce its procedures for the following step.
- The APC will conduct public hearings to obtain information from the university community about the proposed reductions and reallocations. The Chancellor or a designee will present the justification for the proposals. Key external stakeholders that may be impacted by said reductions and reallocations may also be involved in the public hearings. Units and persons affected by budget reallocation and reduction proposals may elect to prepare written responses to those proposals and submit them to the APC. The format of these responses will be determined by the APC and announced at the time the budget proposals are released to the public. The APC shall invite all persons employed in affected units and/or their representatives to appear and/or speak at the hearings to clarify issues raised by the proposals. The APC chair, at his or her discretion, may recognize other affected parties to speak at such hearings.
- The APC will deliberate and advise the Chancellor on the implications of each academic program budget proposal (such as inter-unit and inter-college relationships and the impact on institutional goals and priorities) and make a recommendation on the acceptance of each proposal. The APC also will consider the impact of budget reallocation and reduction proposals from the support and service units on the academic programs. Should the APC make a negative recommendation on any of the proposals, the Chancellor will work with the shared governance partners to identify alternative options if possible.
- The Chancellor will announce publicly specific budget reallocation and reduction decisions and will forward those requiring Regents’ approval to the Board of Regents through the Office of the President or the president's designated representatives. The Chancellor will also forward proposals requiring Graduate Council consideration to the UNL Graduate Council and, as required, to the Executive Graduate Council of the University of Nebraska. Recommendations made by the APC will be included in the public announcement.