March 13, 2002
I am writing to alert you of my final recommendations regarding this round of budget reductions. As I have said before, these recommendations will not strengthen the University but I believe they will not permanently weaken it either. They are painful but necessary in light of the economic conditions.
The campus participation in the process leading to these recommendations has reflected the strength of this community, its willingness to engage a process and carry on a dialogue about these important matters. You will not all agree with my final decisions. I can only promise you that I considered carefully not only the recommendations of the Academic Planning Committee, but also the e-mails, correspondence, and press reports of the testimony. In this regard I am indebted to the members of the Academic Planning Committee (APC) who conducted their charge seriously, carefully, and on time. They, and the members of the Academic Senate have through these last few months confirmed the value of shared governance. The full text of the APC's recommendations can be found via a link on the home page of the UNL web site (www.unl.edu).
The APC found no objection to any of the structural changes we proposed and we are moving forward with those recommendations. Those that involve academic reorganizations will come back to the APC with the details for their implementation. The APC also accepted the original recommendation to use a portion of the salary increase pool to help meet the budget shortfall, which means an anticipated salary increase for faculty and staff of 4.56 percent.
The APC, acknowledging that it takes no pleasure in supporting proposals that call for budget reduction, concurred with all of my earlier recommendations for reductions with two exceptions.
The APC recommended that I find a way to continue the position of Director of the Trailside Museum in Crawford. The APC was persuaded by testimony from members of the community that we had not made a persuasive case that we could continue to keep the Trailside Museum open without a full-time director. I appreciate, as the APC did, the importance of this University program to that community and area of the State. Accordingly, I am suspending the reduction to give us more time to work through arrangements that will give reasonable assurance of Trailside's continuation.
While the APC was unwilling to preserve the Teaching and Learning Center at the expense of other programs, it has made recommendations with alternative financing methods to continue some of the Center's activities. The APC recommended that we eliminate faculty grants, the newsletter, and support for the teaching library and instead continue support for staff to consult on teaching with individual faculty members and graduate students. The APC also suggested using other diversity funding to preserve the position devoted to encouraging a multicultural curriculum.
By using these alternative-funding sources we can expand the .5 FTE position we initially sought to preserve to assist foreign teaching assistants to a full-time position assisting graduate students generally and we can preserve the multicultural position. I accept the APC's recommendation in these regards. I do not believe that the resources available permit continuation of an additional position to consult with individual faculty members on teaching or to continue the Center as a separately identifiable program. Under my final proposal, the testing service will become a function of Institutional Research and Planning, the graduate assistant training will become a function of Graduate Studies and the development of multicultural curricula will be placed in Academic Affairs. The details of my final proposal are on the website.
These efforts to preserve the Trailside Museum and additional aspects of the TLC are, of course, contingent on the extent of any additional reductions we may be asked to make this year.
Again, I appreciate the support of the campus community in working through this painful process. With the budget realities of the State at this point, we may be called upon to go through this process again. I am hopeful that, if required, we will all continue our efforts to get through this difficult time with the least possible damage to our university.