Harvey Perlman, Chancellor
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
I should first apologize for the delay in this State of the University event resulting from a personal family obligation. There were some who suggested that this year I should suspend the tradition of a State of the University address altogether, like I did for the late alma mater. The thought was that neither you nor I might want to be reminded of what we have most recently been through or what lies immediately ahead. I must confess, to paraphrase that insightful commentator Groucho Marx, "I've had a wonderful time as your Chancellor, but last year wasn't it."
As you know, your university faces some very serious financial challenges of a nature not seen since the 1930s. I will discuss those challenges shortly. But it would not be accurate to focus exclusively on the budget or to ignore the many successes we achieved during this past year and the many positive opportunities available to us in the immediate future. Indeed, we find ourselves in the Dickensian condition of the best and the worst of times. While the headlines have trumpeted budget shortfalls and program eliminations, you – the faculty, staff, administration, and students of this university – have, in more quiet ways, achieved a remarkable record of success during the past year. Across the University we have made substantial enhancements to our programs. Before I review what lies ahead, I want to celebrate some of those positive achievements.
We should all celebrate those invisible successes that we know occur daily in our classrooms and laboratories where students acquire new information and insights, where their set of opportunities are expanded, where they gain experience in critical thinking, or fashioning judgment, or appreciating difference, where they acquire the skills they will need for their professional careers or their personal lives. We can and should claim as our success whenever our students achieve a better understanding of the world around them or of themselves. That is the business we are in, and in that respect, we are doing business as usual.
We remain one of the 16 schools recognized nationally by the American Association of Colleges and Universities for innovative educational programming and one of only five research universities to be so recognized. We are rated a "best buy" by the Kaplan/Newsweek College Catalog because of our low cost and high quality. Later this fall our Residential Learning Communities advising program, directed by Don Gregory, will receive the Outstanding Institutional Advising Program Certificate of Merit from the National Academic Advising Association. And Jennifer Nelson, an academic adviser in the division of General Studies, will be recognized for Outstanding Individual Advising.
Charlyne Berens was named one of three Journalism Teachers of the Year by the Freedom Forum of Arlington, Va., and historian Peter Maslowski received the NU system's Outstanding Teaching and Instructional Creativity Award in recognition of his outstanding teaching. English Professor and Prairie Schooner Editor Hilda Raz received the Outstanding Research and Creative Activity award, the NU system's highest accolade for scholarly work. Biological Systems Engineering received the Universitywide Departmental Teaching Award, also conferred by the NU system. And, Rumiko Handa, associate professor of Architecture, received the Education Honor Award from the American Institute of Architecture Students.
Students have individually achieved national recognition in a variety of ways that reflect well on the quality of what we do. Michael Leonard, a graduate student in theater design, received a coveted internship in art direction from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. He is the second UNL student in as many years to receive this internship. Recent graduates Christopher David Brown, a biochemistry major, Lucas Adam Sabalka, a computer science and mathematics major, Ellen Veomett, a mathematics major, and Katie Wlaschin, a chemical engineering major, all received 2002 National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowships.
Renee Baack, a junior biochemistry major was one of eight winners of a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship from the American Society of Plant Biologists, and David Bradley, a graduate student in architectural engineering, received the 2002 Acoustical Society of America's Graduate Fellowship. Also from architectural engineering, Erica Bowden received the Martin Hirschorn IAC Prize from the Institute of Noise Control Engineering for her contributions to the field.
Our Army ROTC unit was judged in the top 15 percent of Cadet Commands out of 270 units nationwide, and Angela Weber, an Air Force ROTC Cadet, was one of four cadets in the nation to receive the W. Randolph Lovelace Memorial Award for outstanding senior cadets.
Our Journalism students continued to perform well in the Hearst Competition with Amanda McGill finishing fourth out of 38 entries in television news and Mathew Hansen, one of five runners up in the news editorial championship. The Law College National Moot Court won its regional competition for the sixth time in eight years.
We should also acknowledge the academic success of our student athletes. We continue to lead the nation in Academic All Americans, both in football and in all sports. And particular mention should be made of Nancy Metcalf, who led our Women's Volleyball team to the Final Four. Nancy received the NCAA Top VIII award which means of all student athletes in the country, in all divisions and all sports, she was among the top eight recognized for her achievements in academics, community service, and athletic performance. She is the 14th Nebraska student athlete to win this award.
This has also been a remarkably successful year in research and public service. This University has committed itself to the 2020 Vision Report, which calls for enhanced attention to competitive research. I am pleased to say that this commitment is paying dividends. Total federal research awards increased by more than 18 percent this year and has increased by 66 percent in two years. Total sponsored programs increased by more than 25 percent. The 2020 Vision Report recognized the importance of elevating our ambitions and increasing the interaction of faculty from multiple disciplines and multiple institutions. The success we are experiencing in research demonstrates the importance of breaking down departmental and disciplinary barriers and seeking collaborations across the University. You already know about the $10 million center grant in virology, which drew upon expertise from Biological Sciences, Veterinary Medicine, and the University of Nebraska Medical Center. In addition I am pleased to report that two major federally funded research centers, with awards totaling more than $11 million, have been recommended for funding and we are anticipating official award announcements in the next few weeks. These successful center proposals are a direct result of our initiatives to increase external research funding to UNL.
As part of the Nebraska Research Initiative, we developed a team dedicated to materials research with important collaborations between the Engineering College and the departments of Physics and Chemistry. This collaboration has resulted in the invention of a small, portable neutron detector for the detection of radiation, which we expect will play a very important role in our homeland security as well as for peaceful uses. The materials group also developed, for the first time, a plastic magnet that has significant potential for the semiconductor industry.
Mike Meagher's work with fermentation processes will also play a significant role in homeland security and human health. His Biological Process Development Facility, soon to be reconstructed in Othmer Hall, is one of the few laboratories at a University that is GMP certified, meaning it follows the highest standards of quality that permits its vaccines and other products to be utilized for human testing. As an additional benefit, the undergraduate and graduate students who work in this facility have the competitive advantage of being trained in a GMP-certified facility.
In the sciences or engineering, some of our other recent successes include:
- The development, by a team led by Dean Sicking at the Midwest Roadside Safety Facility, of SAFER walls, an impact-absorbing wall first used at this year's Indianapolis 500, that increases the chances a race car driver will survive a high-speed crash.
- Steve Taylor and Susan Hefle have developed allergen detection technologies that help the food industry identify "hidden" ingredients such as eggs, milk and peanuts in foods. These ingredients could cause life-threatening allergic reactions in susceptible people.
- Terry Riordan and his team continue to develop patented buffalo grass cultivars with improved turf traits and drought-pest resistance. These grasses are gaining popularity for golf courses and in some homeowner applications and may produce a new money crop for Nebraska.
- Sheila Scheideler invented the process that produces Omega Eggs containing high levels of beneficial Omega 3 fatty acids, which protect against heart disease and stroke.
While cause and effect are difficult to prove, my cholesterol has decreased 20 points since I began eating Omega Eggs regularly for breakfast. I'm hoping they balance out the stress associated with the budget reductions.
We are also beginning to reap the benefits of our commitment to the Plant Science Initiative, again, a project that has collaboration across disciplinary boundaries and across 27th Street. The scientists, led by Sally Mackenzie, in addition to developing new plant characteristics, are also creatively seeking ways to assure that Nebraska farmers benefit from these advances. The group has developed a new fresh market bean that is more easily digestible and offers higher yields. Tom Clemente has developed a new soybean that has elevated levels of oleic acid and very low levels of saturated fat. Martin Dickman is working to find ways to enhance the resistance of crops to disease and stress, an advance made more urgent by the recent drought.
And other centers of excellence are beginning to emerge. Through a $4.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education, Mike Epstein and Ron Nelson in Teachers College are providing services for children that are high-risk for school failure. Their success could have significant implications for our society and for this University. And Les Whitbeck and Dan Hoyt, in the Bureau of Sociological Research, have recently published the first installment of a long term, one of a kind study on runaway teenagers. This University has very real potential to be a leader in research relating to children and families, a topic to which I will return shortly.
We should be equally proud of the contributions that our faculty in the arts and humanities make to the quality of lives of all Nebraskans. Thanks to the work of Susan Rosowski and John Wunder, this University is the lead institution in a regional collaboration to expand humanities programming. They received what we hope is the first installment of funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities. And, certainly, no faculty member has a better sense of timing than Gary Moulton, whose massive project in bringing to the public, through the University of Nebraska Press, the Lewis and Clark Journals coincides with the 200th anniversary of their historic mission. He has already made a White House appearance among other very significant national recognitions.
Our faculty are also responding to the economic needs of our citizens. We do not yet have the capacity to make it rain, but I know of no University that is making a greater effort to assist during this dry period. Our National Drought Mitigation Center monitors and gives advance notice of drought. Cooperative Extension has been particularly active with a website that provides the latest information and resources on how to respond to dry conditions, and in association with Kansas State and Iowa State universities, we are delivering in-service training via satellite for extension educators to assist rural families with the emotional and financial stresses of drought.
The prospect of a real success story is the development of chicory as a new crop for the panhandle. Scientists and Extension specialists have worked with area farmers to grow a crop that has strong market potential, but is currently available only from Europe. In partnership with a private entrepreneur in Scottsbluff, a new chicory processing plant is up and running, nearly 1,000 acres of chicory are under production, and long-term contracts have been forged for the finished product.
These successes are attributable to the commitment and quality of the faculty. But faculty do not work in a vacuum. Without the assistance of a dedicated staff, whether in the offices, the libraries, the studios, or the laboratories, many of these achievements would not materialize. They clearly should share in the applause.
In addition to these individual successes, we should remember that students in Art, Teachers College, Journalism, Chemical Engineering, Film and New Media, Law, Computer Science, and Mathematics are, or will soon, benefit from new, modern physical facilities to enhance their educational experience. The care of our nationally significant collection of modern American art will be secured by the improvements in the Sheldon Gallery and Love Library has now been modernized to better serve all of us. I am convinced that our physical environment plays an important role in our efforts to recruit faculty and staff and to enhance our programs. Particularly those of us who can remember what this campus looked like in the 1960s should applaud the efforts of those who make this an attractive place to work and study.
Notwithstanding the uncertainties and ups and downs of our salary increase for this year, it appears that we will be very close to the average of our peers goal that we have worked toward for almost a decade.
Two years ago we set a course to pursue a vision of this University for the year 2020 that would improve our reputation and would enhance our contributions to students and to the citizens of Nebraska. You affirmed that report and urged me to lead in that direction. I recently reread the 2020 Vision report, and I can honestly say that, notwithstanding the financial concerns, we are making substantial progress. As I have said before, progress is not a straight-line process. We have come too far so quickly that we cannot and should not falter regardless of the present budget circumstances.
THE BUDGET REDUCTION
It is of course easy to have lofty visions when resources are plentiful. But circumstances have suddenly changed, and we will be tested as to whether our vision for the future can be sustained. Let me address the budget challenge we face. In April 2001, just over a year ago, the University received the best budget from the legislature since the Kay Orr administration. The Governor and the Legislature had joined us in a partnership to fulfill our highest priority – raising faculty salaries to the average of our peers and enhancing the excellence of our programs. In return, we adopted a sizeable increase in tuition and engaged in a prioritization process with the academic units and the Academic Planning Committee to focus our efforts on a few programs with significant potential for greatness. We also pledged to work better and harder to keep Nebraska students in Nebraska and to contribute to the economic development of the State.
Shortly after we made the financial commitments necessary to fulfill our side of the bargain, the State began to experience significant shortfalls in revenue. The rest of the story is too well known to all of us. The Legislature has addressed on three separate occasions the University's budget. For the current fiscal year of 2002-2003, we have reduced our expenditures by approximately $10 million and we have, in the last month, been asked to undertake another $7.5 million reduction.
These reductions have been neither easy nor helpful. A review of how we responded to the past reductions is important context for what we must now do moving forward. The first round of reductions was generally spread across the board. We protected a number of priorities including our undergraduate program and the health and safety of the campus community. Admissions and recruiting were spared from reductions so that we could continue to successfully compete for students. We collapsed a number of faculty vacant lines, reduced our embarrassingly low operating budgets, and moved some employees from state to revolving accounts. We were forced to lay off 18 individuals, none of whom were tenure-track faculty, but happily many of these individuals were placed elsewhere within the University. The administrative divisions, including my office, took a disproportional share of the reduction. The two more focused reductions were, of course, the most controversial. We decided to eliminate the Teaching and Learning Center, one of the first such centers in the country, thus depriving our faculty of a focal point for enhancing our teaching. We also reduced the expected salary increase for this year to 4.56 percent.
Only last Spring, we faced an additional reduction. The Deans and Directors provided us with another version of an across-the-board cut. Additional vacant positions would be eliminated, operating budgets again reduced or eliminated altogether, staff support for faculty and program activity reduced. The result would have been a serious, widespread reduction in our ability to give students a quality education, to be competitive in research, or to fulfill our land-grant mission of bringing our research and teaching skills to the people of Nebraska. We rejected this strategy in favor of more focused cuts. For the most part, our academic programs, the core mission of the University, were spared from further reductions. The most visible casualties of this round were the veterinary diagnostic laboratory in Scottsbluff, the Division of Continuing Studies, and the Athletic Department.
We now face the daunting prospect of yet a third round of budget reductions. At my installation as your Chancellor, in much happier times I should remind you, I promised you that after appropriate consultation with this community I would make my decisions ultimately on what I believe to be in the best interests of this University. I confess that the "best decision" does not always emerge clearly or easily. Indeed I have never faced a set of decisions that have made me less confident in their wise resolution than the ones that face us in this next round of reductions. But let me describe the context that we face and my current thinking in how to move forward.
First, the most realistic picture for the future is that the state will not quickly recover from this slow down in revenue. Current projections suggest that we will face very restricted budgets for the next four years, with unavoidable fixed costs such as health insurance and utilities continuing to increase. Thus we must plan on the basis of the probability that over the next biennium we will need to reallocate our own resources to some of these fixed costs and to any salary increase we may want to achieve. There will be no quick fix to our current budget challenges.
Second, we are not alone. A review of the budget circumstance of higher educational institutions across the country, and particularly in this region, is not a pretty picture. Most of the public institutions in our peer group received small or no salary increases this year. Many report that while they have had to make significant reductions for this year, they are most fearful of what lies ahead of them for next year. Private institutions are similarly being hit with lower returns on their endowments and tuition levels that are already beyond the reach of many students.
How then should we approach the future? I believe this University faces a critical decision in the weeks and months ahead - whether we will continue to pursue our 2020 vision of promoting excellence or whether we will spread the pain of the budget stress and thereby diminish the quality of the University across the board.
The path to excellence is not an easy one. Some may believe it is fruitless, or too painful, or too disruptive, or too inequitable. We must approach this issue with a strong commitment to the long-term future success of the University. We have staked our future on the vision in the 2020 Vision Report and we cannot be diverted by forces we do not control. It means we must make hard choices. We must preserve what is central to the future success of the University and we must focus our resources on our strengths. It means that change will be inevitable and, for some, painful. Excellence requires not only the acquisition and retention of quality faculty, but also the preservation of the managerial/professional and office/service staff, the operating and equipment budgets, and the physical facilities, without which faculty cannot achieve success. Regrettably, it most likely means that the range of choice of our academic offerings will be reduced and that services we currently offer the people of Nebraska will no longer be available.
I know there are some within our community who would prefer the easier path, who would preserve one class of employee over all other classes regardless of the consequences, who would cut operating budgets, impose hiring freezes, forbid travel, diminish the library collections and the laboratory resources, and otherwise spread the pain across the board. In my view, this is a recipe for mediocrity.
I suspect there will be considerable discussion within this community of this central issue as well as the decisions I will be forced to announce shortly. These will be important discussions the outcome of which will affect us all for years to come. They should not be discussions in which only a few voices are heard. I encourage all of you to express your views and to offer your ideas. I am mindful of the observation of Tom Dooley. "A man can be right and he can be Chancellor but not at the same time." These decisions will be better decisions if you all participate.
So what should our attitude be in these circumstances? Is it possible for us to continue the course in the face of these serious budget restraints? Can our University, in these hard times, continue to pursue excellence? To the pessimists who think it is impossible, I offer the words of Henry Ford. He said, "Whether you think that you can or you think that you can't, you are usually right." If we think we can and we have the courage to do so, we can continue to enhance the programs of this University.
I appreciate that Henry Ford's views may be too idealistic for a community of scholars, committed to scientific inquiry and rational skepticism, which often rejects the power of human will in the face of cold reality. So I offer another perspective, one I also share, which nicely captures, for me, our only rational alternative. It is from Winston Churchill who said: "If you find yourself going through Hell, keep going." We must keep going.
THE ONGOING AGENDA
With Churchill's words in mind, let me set out briefly some of the items on our agenda. I believe we continue to have very good opportunities to enhance this University.
We must continue to implement the 2020 Vision Report. That report sets forth an ambitious program to build excellence through collaboration across disciplines and across 27th Street and to prioritize our efforts in order to advance programs into national prominence. We have made good strides in that regard. Under the leadership of Senior Vice Chancellor Edwards, Vice Chancellor Owens, and Vice Chancellor Paul and, with the enthusiastic cooperation of faculty from across the University, we see a more energized, a more sophisticated, a more ambitious, and a more collaborative research enterprise. The reception we have recently experienced with several of our center grant proposals should encourage other faculty to continue to build collaborations and the critical mass necessary to conduct modern, competitive research.
Over the course of last year we invited those programs initially selected for prioritization to submit proposals for how they could achieve enhanced prominence with increased investments. We have selected 15 for additional funding and they now constitute our priority programs. With the excellence funds provided by the Board of Regents for this purpose, we have made commitments for additional investments in these programs. Some of the proposals were mature and demonstrated a real internal commitment by the program itself. One example is the proposal for Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics, where clear objectives were identified, and where the Physics Department agreed to reallocate some of its own resources toward this program if we would match that investment from the campus level. Other proposals, while demonstrating significant promise, were not sufficiently ambitious. We are working with the proponents of these programs and have engaged outside consultants to help them develop a plan that has a greater chance of bringing national recognition. I think we will see some very significant developments from many of these priorities. It is clear that even in the face of the budget reductions, the Board of Regents expects us to continue to invest in our priorities.
The 2020 Vision Report was focused primarily on graduate education and research although it recognized the importance of our teaching and service missions. Unfortunately, as a result of recent budget reductions, I chose to eliminate the Teaching and Learning Center, which had been the focus of some, but not all, of our activities to enhance teaching. I believed then that we could remain a leader in teaching improvement because of the skill and talent that remained within our permanent faculty. I am pleased to report that the Academy of Distinguished Teachers has taken up the challenge and has presented me with a very exciting preliminary draft report for ongoing support of the teaching enterprise. My hope is that through further discussions with the Academy, to be conducted this Fall, we might refine the report and its recommendations into a revised draft that could be circulated to the wider university community. With broader discussion, I hope we can arrive at a consensus for an expanded vision for 2020 that will more fully embrace our undergraduate teaching mission.
The improvement of undergraduate education is one of our 15 priority programs. We are building on the important faculty led Freshman Experience Task Force as well as the recommendations from our national consultant, Noel-Levitz, whom we engaged over the past year not only on recruitment of students, but also on their retention. There are a range of very interesting ideas that, if implemented, will not only better retain students but also elevate the quality of education for all students.
We need a better administrative structure to assure that undergraduate education has a clearly identified champion so that our approach to improvement can be coordinated and sustained. This Fall we intend to initiate the search for a new Dean of Undergraduate Studies, an office created solely by funds reallocated from the Office of Academic Affairs. Second, we have created a Recruitment and Retention Committee, composed of representatives of the academic colleges, to develop a coordinated plan for improving our retention. Among the initiatives are enhancing and expanding the learning communities in our residence halls and the UCARE program. I will also ask the new Dean to carefully review the physical facilities that are most utilized in our undergraduate program. I was, frankly, appalled at the condition of the classrooms in the Andrews Hall basement, which are for almost every freshman, their introduction to the University. Happily, my office and Rick Edwards's office were able to partner with the College of Arts and Sciences, the English Department, and Information Services to develop sufficient funds to restore them over this summer. Thanks to the superhuman efforts of Barry Shull of Facilities Management, they were ready for use this Fall and are now, I am told, among the best classrooms on campus.
You will recall that the faculty task force on the Life Sciences urged us two years ago to develop a more coordinated life science curriculum. Although progress toward this objective has been slow, it has been steady. A new coordinating committee has issued a report calling for a set of core courses for every life science student and a number of other changes that will enhance the student experience. I will continue to support this effort and I hope those departments who can affect this process will do so enthusiastically.
You have all read the exciting announcement of discussions currently underway between two colleges, the Teachers College and the College of Human Resources and Family Sciences, about the possibility of creating a new College focused on schools, families, and communities. For some time it has been apparent that this University has real but scattered strength in the field of children and families. There is every reason to believe that if we could focus these strengths in a coordinated way we could achieve national prominence in this field. Not only would we be better positioned for research, but also we could provide a distinctive program of teacher training both at the graduate and undergraduate level. The area of children and families is a priority of this University. However, it became clear when we read competing proposals, that we could not achieve excellence unless we found a way to create a critical mass of interdisciplinary scholars and a structure that could focus our efforts.
I want to applaud Deans O'Hanlon and Kostelnik for surfacing this idea. I also want to applaud those faculty in the two colleges who give every indication that they will consider this proposal in an open and constructive way. Change is always difficult and it takes courage and much hard work to bring it about. There are always details that cause concern. But if the concept and vision are the right ones, the smaller decisions will fall in place. I am very supportive of this effort and I pledge to do what I can to permit this proposal to succeed.
Let me speak briefly about the recruitment of undergraduate students. For many years UNL has been attacked by anecdotes relative to our recruitment efforts. I had begun to wonder how a state with only 1.7 million people could have so many high school seniors who were number 1 in their class, had a perfect ACT score, and had never heard from us. I am pleased to report that the number of these anecdotes is diminishing and indeed we are receiving feedback from some areas that we are clearly out-recruiting our competitors. We are indebted to Pat McBride, who served as Interim Director of Admissions, Cindy Cammack, assistant director, and the entire admissions staff, who not only maintained the Office of Admissions but at the same time openly embraced and implemented many of the recommendations of the Noel-Levitz consultants. And we are delighted that Alan Cerveny has returned home as permanent Dean of Admissions to bring even more energy to this important activity. Combining Alan's experience with the new Visitors' Center for greeting prospective students, a new software package that should bring order and personalization to our recruiting efforts, and an important commitment from the Academic Colleges to work in a collaborative recruiting strategy, I think we will continue to see progress here. I have invited Alan and Rita Kean, who is currently in charge of our retention efforts, to provide the Academic Senate and the campus community a full report on the recommendations of Noel-Levitz sometime this Fall. Most significantly, it appears that our first year, first-time enrollment for freshmen increased by 4.1 percent. There is also an important increase in out-of-state students. These increases not only speak to our recruiting efforts and the quality of our programs but also represent about an $825,000 increase in tuition revenue.
We have another long-term project just underway that should also make this campus more attractive to students. University Housing will begin shortly construction on the first residence hall other than the Kauffman Center, that has been built since the 1960s. It will be our first suite-style hall for upper-division students. The bonds that financed the 1960 buildings have been paid off so we are now positioned to initiate a major effort over the next several years to renovate our existing dorms to modern standards. This will be a critical element in our recruiting efforts.
Last Spring, about 73 percent of us responded to the Gallup Climate Survey. That survey is the beginning of a process designed to improve the workplace environment at the University and to make each of us more engaged, more included, and, most importantly, more productive. I remain convinced that the 2020 Vision will be beyond our grasp unless we fully engage all of the talent within the University community. We understand intuitively that the classroom environment affects how well students learn. It should be similarly intuitive to understand that the work place environment affects how well each individual performs his or her important role at the University. We are not, and we will not soon become, a University with extravagant resources. Thus we must not waste the ideas, the energy, or the skills of even a single individual. The Gallup survey is our opportunity to deal with matters that are both difficult but important for our success and within our control.
There are some who are skeptical about the survey instrument, the methodology, or perhaps even the goals and objectives. I chose Gallup for this project because their instrument and methods have been validated by research. They provide us with focused, manageable data and a process that has proven in other organizations to result in significant improvement. I will candidly admit to you that we are breaking new ground. This process has not been used in a University before so we have no perfect comparator group. So when our results are displayed we can say nothing about whether we are better or worse than any other University. What we can say is that there is wide variation among departments or units. Thus there are neighborhoods at this University who score very well on this survey and others that do not. And there is no neighborhood that does not have room for improvement.
I am prepared today to talk in general terms only about the survey results for the University as a whole. In a subsequent roll out this Fall, individual units and departments will receive their separate scores. Only the individual neighborhoods will know their own scores. Thus, for example, the English Department will learn its score and be able to compare its score to the College of Arts and Sciences as a whole and the University as a whole. It is hoped that each unit or department will engage in a conversation, will look honestly at its scores and select one or two areas in which it wants to improve. We have selected facilitators from across the campus who have been trained by Gallup to help with these conversations, and I will support those units that pursue this process in a meaningful way. I intend to repeat the survey in subsequent years to measure our progress.
The survey measures two aspects of our climate: the degree to which faculty and staff were engaged with the University and the extent to which our climate was inclusive of difference. Both are important measures. If each of you are not fully engaged in our efforts to build a great university, if you are not excited about the work you do, if you do not know what is expected of you or how we will measure your success, if you do not have someone who is encouraging your development or talking to you about your progress, if you do not have someone who is consistently recognizing the good things you do, if you do not think your opinion counts, then we are collectively diminished.
If the Universitywide results are any guide, we have reason to embrace this process. There are too many employees at this University who tell us that they cannot answer yes when asked about the elements I just mentioned.
The I10 set of questions measures the degree to which we embrace differences in the ideas, the perspectives, or the inherent characteristics of others in our community. Even as there remains much to do, in many ways we have made significant progress in diversifying the campus along gender and racial lines. We should move beyond merely thinking about our compliance with legal minimums. We must find a way to actively include and learn from those different than ourselves.
Our I10 combined score for the campus as a whole was below the average for private sector companies. What is somewhat surprising is that the responses to the inclusiveness measures do not vary widely by gender, race, or sexual orientation. In some ways, because of the rigor of intellectual discourse and the traditionally independent nature of academic work, we are probably not different from many other Universities. But it poses for us a challenge because we have here an opportunity to distinguish ourselves by meeting this head on. Again, I urge the University community to participate in the Gallup process and to employ the humanity and wisdom that I know resides in this community to improve the climate for everyone. Again I stand ready to help those units who make a good faith effort to engage this process.
Climate for faculty and staff is a local matter and if progress is to be made it must be made at the department and unit level. If this University is to progress on all fronts, the initiative must ultimately reside at the departmental level. We must, then, give additional attention to those administrators who can best influence the course of events: the department chair or unit head. Like most Universities, these individuals fulfill the most important level of leadership but are provided the least level of support or training. We are committed to find ways to provide more resources and support to chairs and heads, particularly in the academic units. The Gallup survey illuminates what we all know, that there is little consistency of administration across the various units of the campus. Indeed the Gallup instrument and process is a mechanism that should be seen as supporting chairs and heads in encouraging greater achievements within their departments. We have initiated a series of workshops that will try to provide assistance to departmental chairs and unit heads in their administrative functions. We will also need to enhance the incentives available to encourage qualified individuals to serve in this capacity. As we elevate these positions we will also have higher expectations for their performance and will hold them more accountable for the progress of their units.
Given our resources, we cannot do these things if we continue to maintain an organization where departments are small and chairs are numerous. I fully understand the desire of established disciplines to retain some independence in organization, but from a collective perspective, if we are to increase the support we give chairs, we must decrease their numbers. This is an issue that this University will need to soon address. I believe we are creative enough to find ways to both reduce and enhance the academic administration of the University and still recognizes the legitimate interests of faculty.
Last but not least on our agenda for this year are the continued efforts to improve our communications with external audiences. I want to applaud not only Meg Lauerman but all of the campus communicators who over the past year have worked collaboratively with Meg in moving toward a system of communications best positioned to reach the right audience at the right time. We are speaking with a louder, more unified voice but we still have room to improve. The good things that are communicated from this campus must be recognizable as coming from this campus. This can be done while still promoting the achievements of individual units. We will continue to work toward that end.
Thus, we have a very full agenda before us, one that cannot be put on hold for happier times. These initiatives are necessary for us to succeed. I do not minimize the difficulty of moving forward while reducing budgets. But we must. As Winston Churchill might recognize, it is the shortest route through Hell.
In conclusion, I want to thank each and every one of you for what you contribute to this University and for the support you have given me during this last year. I will continue to need your support in the year ahead. I do not equate support with agreement. I need your counsel, your criticism, your patience, and your wisdom.
To end, however, with a bow to realism, it seems appropriate that I share a dream that I had a few weeks ago. In this dream, I was answering some heated questions about my proposed budget reductions at an Academic Senate meeting when a genie appeared and before the assembly he announced that I had been chosen to be rewarded with my choice of great wealth, infinite wisdom, or stunning beauty. Knowing what lies ahead for this University, I selected infinite wisdom. "Done!" the genie proclaimed and disappeared in a cloud of smoke. Tice Miller shouted "Say something!" and all eyes turned to me. Now blessed with infinite wisdom, I sighed and said: "I should have taken the money."