Faculty Senate Minutes Summary April 6, 2009
April 22, 2009
I. Roll – The following senators were absent: Baldwin, Gross, Hartter, Kaen, Lanier and Morgan. Excused were Aber, Fraas and Graham. The provost and two student observers were guests.
II. Remarks by and questions to the provost – The provost said that a convergence of possibilities has evolved in the last few weeks, regarding the report in the most recent Faculty Senate meeting on alternative academic calendars and the current work being done in the strategic planning working groups. The administration is in the process of collecting data to answer questions about some of the alternative calendars and hopes that the senate will keep an open mind on all the alternatives at this time. The administration would especially like to consider the 4-1-4 model, with a mini-term of three to four weeks offered in January, and proposes that a three-year trial period start in January of 2010, on a voluntary basis for both faculty and students. The proposal includes that faculty equalize the fall and spring semesters with fourteen weeks each, in order to allow sufficient time for the January term. UNH-Manchester has recently tested January course possibilities; summer courses are often fit into a similar short, intensive time frame; and the College of Liberal Arts and other colleges have taken steps in this area as well. Some study abroad and field-based work is done in this way.
The administration would like to make available to the students different types of learning experiences and to utilize the university’s facilities during less active times. The proposed January term might allow some students to graduate sooner. However, the revenues would have to offset all added costs, once the trial period was completed. There are federal stimulus funds that could be made available to the university system, over and above the other stimulus funds that were recently ascribed to the university; and the governor would like to see if these new funds could be used to facilitate more year-round use of USNH facilities. Those funds might be available for start-up costs for converting software in various university offices and costs for advertising, orientation, and support of staff regarding registration, grades and financial aid, for example, as well as for the needed air-conditioning of buildings for summer use. The incoming chancellor also supports this proposal.
The provost proposed asking the colleges to identify a few courses which could be offered this January and which could be advertised in mid-October. The provost suggested that some of the courses might be available to non-matriculated persons and that a feasibility analysis be done over the next few months with the goal of a pilot program in January. A professor asked how faculty would be paid for this new January term and how this would affect the faculty contract, and the provost replied that those questions would have to be answered by the colleges and the AAUP. One option might be to distribute a faculty member’s normal course load over the fall, spring and January terms. Is there enough student interest for a January term? That is not yet known, but UNH-Manchester had thirty to forty students register for such a course recently. A three-year pilot program cycle was proposed in order to allow time for building up interest in the program.
The chair of the senate’s Student Affairs Committee said that, in order to meet such a timetable, the Faculty Senate would need to make a decision by May to equalize the fall and spring semesters by cutting the spring semester to fourteen weeks. However, there are only two or three more senate meetings; and the administration has not answered the questions posed by the committee at the last senate meeting, on many issues including housing and heating costs. The provost replied that he has forwarded the committee’s questions and asked for a quick response, perhaps in the next two weeks. He added that it might be possible to run the pilot program in January of 2010, even if the spring and fall calendar had not been changed, because the university might be able to accommodate the few students who might overlap one week. He stressed that moving quickly on this matter is important, in order to qualify for the additional funds that might not be available later.
A senator said that his own department could probably deliver about thirty students interested in a January course. Another professor suggested perhaps offering a similar program for two weeks at the beginning or end of the summer, with classes which would aid in the retention of newly-admitted students. A faculty member asked what the requirements are for getting this second type of stimulus funds. The provost said that the university system knows the requirements and is preparing a proposal which would avoid the restrictions. A senator proposed creating a study group of faculty who could propose a menu of January term courses. The provost agreed and added that it is up to the Faculty Senate to make a decision on the academic calendar. If the proposed changes were made, students would receive one less week of instruction in the spring term; and the January term would be an additional cost to students who took such a course; but the January term might make it easier for students to graduate on time. Since staff work all but one week of the current winter break, the university’s academic buildings are already heated for all except that one week. Since some professionals need courses for CEUs for accreditation in their field, a senator suggested the possibility of offering such courses in distance learning format. In order to present a motion and table it for discussion at a future senate meeting, David Richman moved and Bill Stine seconded a motion that the Faculty Senate excise a week from the spring semester’s calendar, so that the number of weeks in the spring calendar would equal those in the fall semester. The motion was tabled for future discussion.
III. Remarks by and questions to the chair – The senate chair said that the university president’s budget letter is available on the website and that measures need to be taken to resolve the deficit. The president listed a number of mitigation steps he has approved, including (1) a salary freeze for all non-bargaining-unit employees whose pay is over $40,000 per year, (2) working with the chancellor’s office to constrain the growth of system-wide administrative costs, and (3) working with the Board of Trustees to raise resident undergraduate tuition rates. A statement was already made about restricting the salaries of top administrators. A senator said that he understands that, although all academic units are being asked to cut their budgets even though academics are central to the university’s core mission, there are certain auxiliary units such as athletics which were taken off the table for cuts. Another professor said that the senators would like to hear a discussion of such auxiliaries and their deficits and what they are doing to address them. The senate chair said that he will follow up so that this will be made available.
The senate chair said that the forum on the strategic plan was productive and that there will be more information on this by early May. The four candidates for provost will come to campus in April, and the candidates will meet with the Agenda Committee. The senate chair announced that an additional senate meeting will be held on Monday, April 27, in order to deal with some of the backlog of charges. After today’s senate meeting, the senators are invited to join the Student Senate for dinner at the Waysmeet Center at 15 Mill Road. The Library Committee announced that, on April 8 in the New England Center from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m., there will be an Open Access Symposium with Dean Sherry Vellucci, Elizabeth Slomba, and Eleta Exline of Dimond Library. The senate’s Library Committee will draft a motion for the senate on a UNH policy of access to faculty scholarship which would be stored in the new UNH electronic repository.
The Agenda Committee is proposing two motions which should be tabled for future discussion. Regarding the proposed motion on diversity, the rationale is that the Faculty Senate has passed at least two motions on diversity: the first was a 3/08/04 motion endorsing diversity as a compelling interest (Motion VIII-M8) and the second was a 4/18/05 motion endorsing the strategies and vision of the Diversity Strategic Task Force Five Year Plan (Motion IX-M17). The Diversity Council voted on 12/8/09 to have the vice provost and chief diversity officer write to the president on their behalf and express "...our support for keeping diversity as a core commitment of the University of New Hampshire" and attending to it during the strategic planning process. The issue was raised at the strategic planning forum on 3/31/09, 12:30-2:00, the video of which can be seen at http://www.unh.edu/strategicplanning/workinggroups.html. At the time, the panel, consisting of various co-chairs of the working groups, admitted that, while perhaps diversity had not been explicitly addressed in most of the groups, it is a value that should be addressed. The panel agreed that more attention was called for. In the preamble to the Strategic Plan Working Group charges, in the section entitled “General Charge to all Working Groups”, President Huddleston articulates the following criteria: “They should foster and advance the University’s commitment to achieving excellence in all we do through diversity and inclusion.” Today’s motion is that the Faculty Senate moves that President Huddleston re-charge each group, to address explicitly the issue of diversity in the context of their proposals and for the members collectively to spend some time conversing about ways we can implement the values endorsed in the Faculty Senate diversity motions in the overall Strategic Plan; and we further ask that the steering committee explore ways the groups can enrich diversity, in the process of pursuing the other worthwhile values involved in the specific charges.
The next proposed motion is a follow-up to senate motion XIII-M11 on Discovery Program implementation and clarifies that faculty in the Thompson School are eligible to submit Inquiry and Breadth courses for review and approval by the Discovery Committee and advises the school to work with its dean, the provost and the Discovery Committee to establish the best mechanism by which to do so.
IV. Minutes – The minutes of the last senate meeting were approved unanimously.
V. Campus Planning Committee report on the Master Plan and on housing – Doug Bencks made a report on the Master Plan at a recent senate meeting, and the CPC has no recommendations regarding the Master Plan at this time. The committee has provided a written report and makes the following other recommendations: (1) the senate should ask President Huddleston and Dick Cannon to convert the Woodside Apartments to family and graduate housing as soon as possible; (2) the senate should recommend that graduate housing be increased as part of the vision expressed by the Blue Ribbon Panel on Research at UNH, because the current level of housing is not adequate to support this vision; and (3) there should be some faculty representation on the ad-hoc group on family and graduate housing conducted by Dick Cannon et al. Doug Bencks has volunteered to contact the CPC for representation when the group meets again, and the CPC should send someone to the next meeting. Ruth Sample moved and Anita Klein seconded that the senate should pass those three recommendations and ask the senate chair to send a letter to the university president and Dick Cannon in that regard. A friendly amendment was made and accepted to add “consistent with the previous agreement” at the beginning of the first recommendation. Senators Brigitte Bailey and Anita Klein were present at that agreement on housing, and the senate chair said that the provost and the dean of the graduate school also remember it. However, the Campus Housing Office has not been directed to implement the agreement. Mimi Becker said that she has a 2003 email from former Vice President for Finance and Administration Candace Corvey discussing this agreement. Another senator said that this matter was detailed in articles in the Campus Journal and The New Hampshire at that time as well. Today a senator suggested that the motion should refer to housing for families who may be of the same sex. This was not accepted as a friendly amendment and may be discussed by the committee as a future charge. The motion passed unanimously.
VI. Report on effects of RCM and on the miscellaneous food budget – The chair of the senate’s Finance and Administration Committee said that the committee considered several aspects of RCM and that the committee’s report states that, when RCM was instituted at UNH, the following benefits were expected:
- Budgeting would be transparent. All parties would be aware of how funds are allocated, and there would be less lobbying for special treatment.
- Budgets could be carried forward. This would end the “use it or lose it” mentality that created year-end spending to use up the budget and avoid budget cuts in the next year. This should provide incentives to plan for future expenses and “wiser” use of budgets.
- Budgets are based on rolling average of enrollments with a two-year delay. This would also help with planning.
- RCM should provide RC units with incentives to be more efficient and increase revenues.
The faculty perceptions of how RCM has worked are as follows:
- Although RCM is to be applied only to large RC units, it appears that it is sometimes used at the department level to show programs as being “unprofitable.”
- It appears that every year at least one academic RC unit (schools, colleges, library) has been in deficit. Yet the university as a whole has always been in the black.
- Formulae for budget allocation are very sensitive to small perturbations.
- The only revenue generation incentive that has worked has been competition for general education seats between the academic RC units. Examples are American Sign Language and Making Babies. With regard to the American Sign Language case, RCM was identified as an important issue but was worked out satisfactorily in a process involving a special task force appointed by the provost, the Academic Affairs Committee, the Faculty Senate and the affected departments. UCAPC was not involved.
The committee reported that the following concerns were raised:
- There is some anecdotal evidence that some class sizes are increasing. For example, one course with 90 students used to be taught in two sections with two instructors and is now being taught in one section by one instructor. Graduate and upper level courses with small enrollments are being questioned more regularly.
- There is a frustration about the hold-harmless idea. Hold harmless was a way to get started on the RCM methodology. It was the last curve-fitting constant to make sure all RC units started RCM with no “harm” at the beginning of RCM. The “hold harmless” amount does not grow with time as budgets increase, and therefore the hope was that the hold harmless would be eliminated from the budgeting formulae. This year the name “hold harmless” has been removed from the discussion of RCM budgeting in favor of the term “subvention”. Because of the idea of hold harmless, the perception has been that, if the RC units regain enrollments of AY 2000, then any budget problems should be resolved.
- There is no procedure, for programs or departments with sagging enrollments or capacity, to work with the admissions office to increase enrollments. Mark Rubinstein suggested that Bridget Finnegan is a possible resource for departments that want to make their web site more attractive to prospective students.
The committee chair said that President Huddleston recently announced to the Faculty Senate that the relationship between the Alumni Association and the UNH Foundation has been adjusted, with both groups reporting to Mark Rubinstein. The change in policy should help fundraising efforts. Over the past ten years, average growth was 15.3% in the endowment. The high mark was 2007 when growth was 17%. As of 11/1/08, the endowment was down 16% for the year. An important fact about fundraising is that 11.3% of alumni participate in the Annual Fund, and this may be an area where faculty involvement may help fundraising activity. The Finance and Administration Committee’s report also contains a discussion on possible new or enhanced revenue streams. UNH is required to send a large amount of funds each year to the system office. A professor asked why the university library always seems to get inadequate funding whereas the facilities budget has increased substantially. The money the library is supposed to get from the bookstore is almost negated by the square footage charge for the space.
A professor said that, if a department is a very successful part of a unit that is not successful, the success of the department does not result in the normal benefits; and that is very distressing. In the five-year review of the RCM system, there were some adjustments in credits/weighting. A senator said that this issue has driven the deficit in COLSA. A professor from COLSA said that, although early in the decade COLSA’s enrollments were low, they are now high; but there does not seem to be any way for COLSA to grow its way out of the red, with the current RCM formulas. The senate chair suggested that the senate could have an RCM discussion with Vice President Cannon next fall and bring up concerns from the Finance and Administration Committee report and the senate discussion. Asynchronous delivery of courses through distance learning might reach a new clientele and result in increased income. The committee chair said that, although most sponsored research funds are spent on salaries, material, equipment, etc. and thus flow through the university, indirect administrative charges to sponsored research funds do impact university revenues and that graduate tuition paid by research grants also adds to university revenues.
The Finance and Administration Committee chair said that the miscellaneous food budget is money spent on food by the entire university including the academic departments and that the committee recommends no action on the miscellaneous food budget. Another senator replied that this budget should be looked into, as it is a very large amount. Departments have obligations to provide food for speakers, conferences, and faculty job candidates. A senator said that, even when a conference is paid for by outside funds, the food costs are still shown on that budget. A senator said that, with the hiring freeze and budget reductions for academic units, there is competition for dollars between the auxiliaries and the academic units and that the matter of auxiliary unit budget deficits needs to be figured out. A professor asked how much the university would save if intercollegiate athletics were cancelled.
VII. Adjournment – The meeting was adjourned.