Phase 1 Reduction Proposals - FY 2003-04 & 2004-05 Budget Reduction Process

APC Recommendations re. Phase One Budget Reduction Proposals
JUNE 4, 2003

Craig J. Eckhardt, Professor of Chemistry, Chair, Academic Planning Committee
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

In a series of five public hearings and discussion sessions and fourteen meetings, the Academic Planning Committee considered the budget reduction proposals you released on March 10, 2003 and the evidence and testimony presented by those affected. You were apprised of these results in a draft letter dated May 15, 2003. This letter reports the final recommendations of the Committee.

The Academic Planning Committee’s deliberations on budget reductions have been guided, as in previous budget reduction considerations, by the General Issues Section of the Procedures to be Invoked for Significant Budget Reallocations and Reductions adopted February 10, 1993-- hereinafter referred to as the Procedures. To clarify its policy before addressing any additional budget reductions, the APC, on March 26, 2003, adopted the following resolution regarding the role of tenure in budget reductions:

Whereas the body of the Academic Senate, in its resolution passed March 4, 2003, states that “the principles of tenure help create a ‘climate which engenders creative thought and unbridled expression’ [Procedures to be Invoked for Significant Budget Reallocations and Reductions General Issues FEBRUARY 10, 1993];” and

Whereas the Academic Planning Committee is strongly committed to supporting academic freedom and tenure which together form the foundation of a strong university system;

Therefore Be it Resolved that the Academic Planning Committee adopts the protection of tenure as one of the priorities governing budget reductions.

The APC believes that it is important to assure that revenue enhancements be considered before budget reductions. In particular, the APC believes that the many citizens that do not matriculate but who, nevertheless, avail themselves of the university facilities, resources, events and attractions will respond positively to efforts of the university to deal with the current budget crisis. It is also the conviction of the APC that all associated with the university, both formally or otherwise, should share the burden of the current budget reductions. The APC considered a variety of such revenue enhancement measures and, after surveying many interested parties, particularly UNOPA and UAAD, it adopted the following motion:

The APC recommends that an appropriate surcharge be levied on tickets to all entertainment events sponsored directly by the university or by any entity formally associated with the university. The revenue generated would be used to mitigate the negative impact on academic programs caused by budget reductions. The surcharge should be sufficient to yield approximately two million dollars in revenue. Because of the substantial increase in tuition and fees and because it is the mission of the university to expand its students’ educational horizons, formally and informally, these fees should not be assessed for UNL students.

As examples, assuming an average of 1,500 non-student patrons per performance, a $3.00 surcharge would produce approximately $4,500 for an event at the Lied Center and, for approximately 20 events held there, would yield somewhere around $90,000. For football games it would produce somewhat under $200,000 per game (allowing for students) for a total of approximately $1.6 million for eight games. The surcharge would not be appropriate for those attending workshops, conferences and similar events nor would it be applied to entities renting university facilities although increased fees for the latter should be considered. Funds produced by this means may assist in reducing the impact on academic programs by ameliorating cash-flow problems confronting the university. As the economy recovers and the various sources of revenue and income for the university increase, it should be a high priority to remove the surcharge either by gradual reduction or complete elimination as circumstances warrant.

The APC concurs with the following budget reduction proposals:

Chancellor's Office

•Reduction of Marching Band Support [$184,000]

Academic Affairs

•Elimination of the Dual Career Program [$119,100]

•Elimination of the Classroom Equipment Fund [$540,000]

•Elimination of the Honors Book Scholarship Program [$450,000]

College of Business Administration

The APC regards the role of the Bureau of Business Research to be vital to the economic development of Nebraska. Given its long history and visibility in Nebraska, its total elimination would be detrimental to the long-term interests of the state and the university's land grant mission. While the APC refrains from endorsing destruction of important programs within the university that may be irreplaceable, it recognizes that private support for such efforts may be forthcoming and appropriate. The APC suggests that the Bureau be restructured as described in the plan formulated by the College of Business Administration. Therefore, the APC adopted the following motion:

The APC accepts an annual reduction of $295,000 to the state-aided budget of the Bureau of Business Research, and assumes that after three years the Bureau will become self-supporting. The APC suggests that the Bureau be restructured as described in the plan formulated by the College of Business Administration.

Business and Finance

•Elimination of Associate Vice-Chancellor Position [$106,929]

•Elimination of State funding for Alumni Association Custodial Services [$17,000]

•Elimination of State funding for Alumni Association Utilities [$25,000]

•Elimination of State funding for Lied Center Custodial Service [$46,000]

•Elimination of Landscape Services Positions [$120,000]

•Implementation of 2.25% credit card convenience fee [$200,000]

•Elimination of position in Cashier’s Office [$25,000]

•Reduction of student staffing in three units [$23,566]

•Combination of two campus events into one event [$10,000]

•Elimination of Benefits position [$44,000]

•Elimination of State funding for BioSafety Officer [$75,000]

The APC believes a major mission of any university is to serve as an example to both its students and its community. If anything, a university exists because of its commitment to the future and to future generations. To that end it must make an effort to assure that the world of the future is habitable and environmentally healthy. Thus, the APC cannot endorse the $30,000 reduction related to curtailing recycling efforts of the university.

The physical appeal of the university campus is largely due to its landscaping. Even though it is necessary to decrease support for landscaping, some reserve capability should be retained. The Manager of Educational Programs (Landscape Services) does significantly more than make presentations for K12 students. A vital role is the maintenance of plant records as well as other 'curatorial' functions pertinent to the campus landscaping without which both continuation and future increase of the aesthetic landscaping of our campus will be ineffectual. In accord with these needs, the APC does not endorse elimination of this position [$41,283].

Two other proposed reductions are not recommended in their present form. Both reductions involve cost shifting to other units and provide no real saving to the university as a whole. This is particularly evident with the proposed reductions in building maintenance. Thus, the APC does not endorse the following proposals:

•Elimination of two OSHA Specialists Positions [$110,000]

•Deference of Building Maintenance and elimination of four FTE [$200,000]

The APC does expect the Office of Business and Finance to find other ways to reduce its budget by $310,000 that will not shift the reductions to other internal units.

Student Affairs

The APC concurs with all proposed reductions in the Student Affairs state-aided budget [$750,000]. However, it urges that the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid not eliminate live telephone service from the hours of 8AM to 10AM on weekdays. This might be accomplished by call forwarding to an appropriate individual.

Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources

The reductions proposed for the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources are large and affect many aspects of the state’s economy and wellbeing. All are of great concern but the straitened budgetary situation requires reductions regardless of such considerations.

The State Forest Service is obviously of importance to the state and the APC recommendation is strongly influenced by anticipated actions of the State Legislature. Specifically, the APC has adopted the following motion:

Assuming that the State Legislature provides approximately $200,000 new money to the State Forest Service budget, APC accepts the proposed $837,333 reduction to the State Forest Services’ state-aided budget.

The need of the state for veterinarians to serve its large animal industry is clear. However, the APC recognizes the expense of the Veterinary Student Contract program and that budgetary needs force funding sufficient to maintain the economic health of its large animal industry.

The APC recognizes the long-term reliance on the UNL-KSU Cooperative Agreement for Veterinary Medical Education as the sole avenue providing opportunity for gaining a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree at tuition rates for Nebraska residents. The APC also recognizes the demand for new DVM’s to serve the important needs of the Nebraska livestock industries. With students currently in the program, some with up to three years of study remaining, and a newly identified class facing four years of tuition, discussion and subsequent decision related to this budget reduction were difficult.

Several issues emerged as the APC conducted its discussions on this topic. We understand that the long-term average “return rate to Nebraska” of Nebraska-resident, KSU DVM graduates that are large animal practitioners is only about 42%. If the main goal of the UNL-KSU contract is to provide reasonable access to a DVM degree program for Nebraska residents, regardless of their future employment, then maintaining a contract that guarantees a set number of positions (currently ~25 entering students per year) is warranted; state support of the non-resident portion of the tuition is a further cost and consideration. However, if returning to Nebraska to serve the livestock industries is the major goal of the UNL-KSU agreement, and in the light of future limited budgets, then a smaller program should be developed with remuneration of the non-resident portion of tuition tied to the stipulation of future service to Nebraskans.

APC endorses the proposed $213,959 cut to the Statewide Arboretum’s state-aided budget, but recommends that IANR provide bridge funding for two years until the Arboretum reaches self-funded status based on a plan supported by Vice Chancellor Owens.

Office of Research

The most problematic proposed reduction involves programs in the Office of Research. The State Museum is a major resource to the university and the state. Testimony and independent evidence support that it is one of the major American university natural history museums both as a research and public institution. Several of the collections are of national or international stature and the curators also have equivalent reputations. The APC has had a plethora of representations from museum professionals and those associated with natural history museums, many of great distinction, from all over the globe that attest to these conclusions. Moreover, the APC believes the university must be committed to preserving specimens and related literature documenting the natural history and cultural heritage of Nebraska and the Great Plains and is, therefore, concerned about the loss of collections and programs that are irreplaceable.

With this in mind the APC adopted the following policy framework:

The APC is committed to protecting the State Museum as a research institution, and to protecting the tenure of State Museum faculty.

However, the APC is not opposed to reductions in the State Museum. Rather the APC believes that proper procedures must be employed when making such reductions. Further, the APC concurs with recommendations for budget reductions consistent with the following motion:

The APC endorses the elimination of $140,983 in state funding from the State Museum budget for the Education Facilitator, Planetarium Supervisor, Clerical Assistant II, UNSM student workers, Ashfall Superintendent, Ashfall student workers, Ashfall operating budget, and Public Programs Coordinator.

With regard to the recommendation for termination of the Museum Studies Masters Degree Program, the APC adopted the following motion:

The APC does not view the proposal for the elimination of the masters program in Museum Studies as a bona fide budgetary issue, but rather as an academic issue to be considered separately from the budget reduction process.

It appears that the proposal to eliminate the Museum Studies program was not based on proper academic review. Should such a review recommend elimination, the APC would then, in all likelihood, offer no objection to such action. However, even from a purely budgetary view, the impact of the program on the university balance sheet as a whole seems at worst negligible and at best a gain. The apparent high rating of the program and its unique role in the university argue that it is a program well worth retaining unless independent and authoritative review results in a different conclusion.

As for the reduction proposal that affects the research faculty and collections of the State Museum, the APC believes that the proposed structure of sending curators to departments is unworkable and will jeopardize the long-term viability of the collections. Even were the proposed cuts imposed, the faculty lines should be retained by the Museum and not transferred to the departments. Expert testimony suggests that lines transferred to departments will eventually lead to decline if not destruction of collections. Budget-savings from departments may still be realized by assigning teaching responsibilities to curators through joint appointments.

The APC strongly recommends that the Museum should be moved to an academic college. Expert testimony supports this and it will further ameliorate any tensions Museum faculty members have regarding their distribution of responsibilities among teaching, curatorship, research and service. This will also address leadership problems the Museum has experienced. The APC expects this change to be revenue neutral.

The APC understands sound reasons may exist for removing support from collections of lesser importance or reputation. However, it does not accept the reasons that have been given for elimination of current collections and it certainly does not agree with the procedure used in making those recommendations. Reduction in collections should only be made through a review process involving faculty and recognized external scholars of high reputation and appropriate expertise. Given the irrevocable nature of the loss of collections and curators, it is incumbent on the university to have an open, impartial, independent, timely and contemporary assessment of the museum. It is particularly important that the assessments be contemporary. Should elimination of collections affect tenured curators, they should be given tenured positions in appropriate units.

A particular point of concern is the retention of a collection but failure to retain that collection’s curator. This is a violation of both the University's own procedures and AAUP Guidelines. Personnel decisions must be consistent with programmatic decisions. If this is not done, the university will be using budget reductions as a means of dismissing tenured faculty for other than programmatic reasons.

In addition, the APC is concerned by the effect of the reductions on the general reputation of the university with major funding agencies. All these considerations have led the APC to adopt the following resolution:

Whereas, the proposed decentralized structure for organizing the museum would be detrimental to the long-term viability of the research collections; and

Whereas, the present residence of the museum outside of an academic college has not served the best interests of the University;

Therefore, the APC recommends:

That Museum research faculty members be given joint appointments in departments that reflect their field of specialty, but the faculty lines remain in the Museum; and
That the Museum be under the academic administration of either IANR or the College of Arts and Sciences.

The APC demurs from further recommendations regarding the disposition of faculty and personnel in the Research Division of the State Museum until the next phase of reductions is presented. Even without further action related to the Museum, an estimated $8,000,000 in revenues and reductions has been recommended and endorsed by the APC. The Committee looks forward to discussing these recommendations, should you so desire.