EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE MINUTES
Present: Bender, Bryant, Fuller, Humes, Jackson, Latta, Miller, Scheideler,
Seikman, Whitt, Zorn
Date: Wednesday, August 23, 2000
1.0 Call to Order
Scheideler called the meeting to order at 2:56 PM.
2.0 Executive Vice President & Provost Lee Jones
2.1 Budget Process and Faculty Input
Scheideler asked Provost Jones to outline the best way for faculty to provide input on the budget. Provost Jones stated that the process begins a year earlier in September and that each month thereafter the Presidents Council, which includes the Chancellors from each campus, meet to discuss the general needs of the university. The Council eventually refines the budget to reflect the needs of all four campuses. Budget discussions with the Board of Regents begin in February. Based on Board input, further refinements are made to the budget. In June, the revised budget is further discussed with the Board of Regents. This year, after presenting alternative strategies on some items (including recommending that student need-based aid be dropped from the budget and considered for state-wide funding through the Coordinating Commission on Secondary Education), the Board of Regents approved the budget request in July. Provost Jones pointed out that the Board encouraged the University to pursue outside research funding. He noted that the Presidents of the Academic Senate meet in the spring with President Smith to discuss budget concerns.
Scheideler asked if the IANR budget is still appropriated as a separate budget to the Vice Chancellor of IANR? Provost Jones stated that the legislature appropriates a lump sum to the University. Given the amount of money that is available, Central Administration then allocates a lump sum to the Chancellor of each campus based on their needs. He reported that information is provided to the Chancellors on such items as salaries. He indicated that Chancellor Moeser and Vice Chancellor Omtvedt were both mindful of the faculty priorities and made references to the faculty concerns in discussions on the budget. He pointed out that once allocations were made to the campuses, Central Administration did not oversee how the campuses distributed those funds.
2.1.A. New Initiatives
Scheideler pointed out that the costs associated with programs or initiatives designated by Central Administration come out of each campus budget. Provost Jones stated that some of these system-wide programs, for example SAP, were started based on requests from an individual campus. He noted that UNL was the campus that proposed a new financial management system. At the beginning of the SAP project, an estimated cost was determined. Some funds appropriated for technology based applications were then used to support SAP, however this was not enough. He stated that the leadership on each campus volunteered to contribute additional resources for a defined period of time to help cover the costs of SAP. Bryant pointed out that the faculty perspective is that Central Administration imposed SAP on the campus. Latta noted that faculty did not feel that they had input into the purchase of SAP until it became a system-wide project. Provost Jones indicated that he is not familiar with any other new program initiatives.
2.1.B. Status of SAP
Scheideler asked for a SAP update. Provost Jones stated that Phase I, basic system implementation, has been completed. He pointed out that we are not yet in a position to take advantage of SAPs full capabilities, although discussions will be taking place to set priorities for future enhancements. Scheideler asked if implementating additional features would entail added costs? Provost Jones stated that they probably would and that part of the discussions would be to determine how to fund the implementation of additional features. He pointed out that the current budget is derived from multiple funding sources, one of which is Central Administrations $1.2 million in general fund appropriations from several years ago (in support of IT projects). This component will, in all likelihood, remain committed to future SAP enhancements. He noted that most Phase I expenses have been incurred. He stated that there was a 5 year payment plan for the current system and that we are in the 4th year of the plan.
Scheideler noted that some of the anticipated labor savings of the SAP system have not been realized. She pointed out that the support staff are multi-tasked. Provost Jones stated that some people have been reassigned but that they do not expect to work with fewer people because of SAP. He pointed out that the SAP system did not promote business centers although the concept has been discussed. He noted that the thought is that a more efficient financial system would allow for more a centralized workplace. He pointed out that the academic mission would remain untouched. Bryant pointed out that the formation of business centers has resulted in staff, who previously interacted with students, becoming unavailable to perform that function for the department.
2.1.C. Student Information System Update
Bryant stated that there is concern that the Student Information System (SIS) Update will be costly and have a large impact on the departments. Provost Jones stated that this should not be a costly project. He noted that the Board of Regents has called for a University-Wide SIS to help facilitate registration for students who may take courses on different campuses. He noted that there are two working groups on the SIS, the functional team and the technology team. He stated that the functional team is charged with identifying intercampus student registration and advising problems, i.e., the functional team needs to define what an integrated SIS system should do. The technology team will be responsible for modifying the various campus systems so that they will communicate the vital student information identified by the functional team. He noted that the idea is to have a single portal of entry to get into the University of Nebraska site and to create a unified SIS. Scheideler pointed out that the individual identity of each campus needs to be maintained within this system. Bryant noted that the needs of the faculty must be respected.
2.1.D. Plans to Provide for Operation of all New Buildings
Bryant asked if the budget has a separate request for building maintenance? Provost Jones stated that the biennial request has a line item that relates to building operation and maintenance. He pointed out that maintenance/operation funds are usually not appropriated until they are actually needed (after the building is constructed). After appropriating construction funds, Provost Jones noted that there is no guarantee that the legislature will appropriate additional money for building maintenance. Latta asked if the legislature typically does not give funds for building maintenance since the 2% deferred maintenance initiative was passed? Provost Jones said that it has only been about two years since the initiative was passed and it is too early to know what effect it will have. Zorn pointed out that a donation given to construct buildings often does not include the extra costs that are incurred in order to maintain the building. Provost Jones stated that they lay out the costs of new buildings and try to determine the projected funding resources for them but that there is no guarantee that there will be new money to cover these additional costs.
2.2 Distance Education Plan
Provost Jones stated that a committee has recently been formed on distance education. He noted that committee is in the preliminary discussion stage.
2.2.A. How do distance education dollars go back to the academic units?
Bryant stated that he would like to have clarification on how departments receive the money generated by their distance education courses? Provost Jones stated that tuition from any source is handled the same way. Tuition revenue is estimated based upon enrollment projections. Allocations are then made to the campuses based upon these projections. These funds go to the Chancellor who then distributes the money. Latta asked whether inaccuracies in projected enrollments are then adjusted for in the next budget cycle? Provost Jones stated that they try not to cut budgets, but attempt to make adjustments in other areas. He noted that they adjust budgets as needed.
Miller asked for some clarification on distance education plan and if it will be a system wide plan or a campus by campus plan? Provost Jones stated that it has to be campus by campus although they want to avoid duplication of efforts. Zorn pointed out that units will need to see incentives in order for them to develop and offer these courses. He noted that the current way of distributing the distance ed revenue funds lacks connection with the people who are doing the work. Provost Jones stated that there are different approaches to how the funding could be distributed; currently they favor the lump sum approach, but Central Administration could distribute it directly to departments. He noted that a lack of incentives needs to be addressed. He stated that if revenue exceeds their projections then the campus generating these funds will likely receive them back.
Miller asked if there is a sense of what the activity level is on campus in regards to distance education. Provost Jones stated that the university appears to be doing better than many other institutions because we not only offer individual courses but a number of degree programs as well. Bryant stated that faculty feel torn between serving on campus students versus distance ed students. Provost Jones reported that there is pressure to serve out state Nebraskans as well. He noted that the priority is to meet the needs of place-bound Nebraskans first; not to necessarily enter the global distance education business. He pointed out that many aspects of distance education and on campus teaching will eventually be merged. He noted that the vast majority of students prefer on campus teaching and that the social aspect of campus life is very important. Seikman pointed out that there are substantial technology costs associated with distance ed and that keeping up with this technology is a problem. Bryant pointed out that technocrats need to be hired in order to assist in delivering distance ed courses. Zorn noted that there is a need to target courses to specific areas of demand.
2.3 Health Care Benefits Crisis
2.3.A. Will UNL plan be comparable to state employee plan?
2.3.C. 81% interest?
Provost Jones reported that health care costs have increased considerably, particularly pharmaceutical costs. He pointed out that if we are going to receive any cooperation from the legislature in regards to the health trust fund, that we are expected to pay the same percentage as other state employees. He noted that there will be a premium increase in January. Increases will possibly be near 80% on the net amount each employee pays. He stated that the faculty and staff will be notified soon. Scheideler pointed out that it is not fair to compare the states health insurance plan to the universitys since other state employees are not self insured. Latta noted that it appears that the health care trust fund started to become depleted when the Caremark plan was instituted. She asked if the trust covers the difference in costs for prescriptions . She asked if there has been any discussions concerning the Caremark plan and whether any other alternatives have been looked at. Provost Jones stated that pharmaceutical costs are paid from the trust and there have been some discussions concerning alternatives and that they have even worked with outside consultants on this issue. Latta pointed out that a great deal of control of faculty and staff health care has been turned over to Caremark. She noted that Caremark intervenes in numerous ways and that this may have many hidden costs. Scheideler suggested that, as a possible alternative, the health center pharmacy should be utilized. Miller asked Provost Jones to clarify how information on the increase will be disseminated? Provost Jones stated that a letter will be sent out to each employee and that there will probably be several meetings that people can attend. Jackson pointed out that a clear, detailed plan on how the health insurance issue is being addressed/studied needs to be provided to employees. Bryant pointed out that the Senate has passed several resolutions supporting domestic partner benefits and yet the University wide fringe benefits committee has tabled the issue. Provost Jones stated that this issue will be on the fringe benefits committee agenda very soon.
3.1 The Chronicle of Higher Education
Scheideler reported that the Senators have been notified that a copy of the Chronicle for Higher Education is now available in the Academic Senate office.
Miller reported that undergraduate enrollments are the same this year but that graduate enrollment is down from last year.
4.0 Approval of 8/16/00 Minutes
Bender moved and Whitt seconded approval of the minutes as amended.
5.0 Unfinished Business
5.1 Revised Strategic Agenda
Scheideler asked the committee to review the revised strategic agenda and provide input at the next Executive Committee Meeting.
6.0 New Business
No new business was discussed.
The meeting was adjourned at 5:02 PM. The next meeting of the Executive Committee will be at 3:00 PM on Wednesday, August 30, 2000 at 3:00 in 201 Canfield Administration Building. Respectfully submitted, David S. Jackson, Secretary.