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Budget Task Force: The Next Steps

June 8, 2011

To:         The Campus Community
From:     John Aber, Provost
Re:         Next Steps on Schools and the Budget Task Force Report
Date:     7 June 2011


It may seem clichéd to say that we are in the midst of great challenges and also great opportunities, but there is a great deal of truth in that statement just now. 

Several initiatives have come together over the last year, and especially in the last three weeks, that move us to consider some major changes in the way we work together.  The Strategic Plan calls for the formation of interdisciplinary schools in Marine Science and Ocean Engineering, Earth System Science and Public, Community and International Service.  The recently completed Budget Task Force report recommends three major initiatives: 1) Analysis of a possible merger of COLSA, CEPS and EOS, 2) a thorough review of graduate programs and the graduate school, and 3) the development of metrics for assessing all programs and departments.  These initiatives overlap in significant ways.

Summer is not the time to hold serious campus-wide conversations on the opportunities and challenges these initiatives represent, but it can be a time for reflection, and for the gathering of information that should inform those conversations.  Please be assured that no decisions on these very important topics will be made over the summer.  Instead, study groups composed of faculty, staff and administrators will be established to focus on information gathering and data analysis.  The Agenda Committee of the Faculty Senate, which meets regularly over the summer, will be advised and consulted at every step of each activity described here, and I will be in touch frequently with all of you as we establish the study groups for each of the initiatives described below.

The purpose of this letter, then, is to provide links for you to the documents that frame the initiatives listed above, and to describe briefly what will happen between now and the end of August. 


Initiatives and Study Groups:

First, proposals for the Earth and Marine schools have been received, and the charge to those groups for the summer is to define more clearly what the financial and reporting structures should be, and discuss those models with the Senate Agenda committee.  Formation of the schools, as called for in the strategic plan, need not depend on completion of the discussion about merging CEPS,EOS and COLSA, and you will see that the three “schools” documents provide different recommendations on structure and budget.  Adding detail to those recommendations over the summer will allow a complete and substantive decision process in the fall.  A proposal for the third school will be completed this summer.

Second, for the merger discussion, I am soliciting input from COLSA, CEPS and EOS (Deans, Director and Executive Committees) on the makeup of a study group to analyze the current structure of the three units and discuss the academic and financial advantages and disadvantages of alternative alignments.   This analysis will overlap with the discussion of the two schools, as the schools may be located within one of the three units, or a combined unit. 

Third, the review of the Graduate School will be able to draw on extensive data on national rankings, admissions selectivity, yield, and degree completion data, as well as surveys on the success of recent graduates in all programs.  The group formed to examine this information and prepare for the fall discussion will also look at the current structure and functions of the Graduate School.

Fourth, the Budget Task Force report calls for a full review of all programs and offices on campus.  Different processes will be used in different areas.  This is the least well-formed undertaking at this point, and only very preliminary discussions will occur among the Provost's Office, the Senate Agenda Committee and the Colleges over the summer.

Information on all of these efforts will be posted to the web as it becomes available, and I will notify you as those postings occur.

I hope that you will have a restorative and productive summer.  Thank you for the year just completed, and your efforts to keep UNH a responsive and engaged institution dedicated to providing a quality experience for our students and partners.

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