GMU Faculty Senate Minutes - September 16, 2009


Minutes of the Faculty Senate Special Meeting on Budget Issues

September 16, 2009

Harris Theater, 4:00 – 5:10 p.m.


Senators Present:  Heibatollah Baghi, Sheryl Beach, Jim Bennett, Rei Berroa, Alok Berry, Doris Bitler, Phil Buchanan, Rick Coffinberger, Jose Cortina, Betsy DeMulder, RutledgeDennis, Penny Earley, Martin Ford, Jack Goldstone, Frances Harbour, Margret Hjalmarson, Mark Houck, David Kuebrich, Linda Monson, Jean Moore, Janette Muir, Star Muir, Frank Philpot, Peter Pober, William Reeder, Earle Reybold, Pierre Rodgers, Jim Sanford, Suzanne Slayden, Peter Stearns, Shirley Travis, Susan Trencher, Iosif Vaisman, Harry Wechsler, Phil Wiest, Stanley Zoltek.


Senators Absent:  David Anderson, Jack Censer, Vikas Chandhoke, Lloyd Cohen, Sharon DeMonsabert, Yvonne Demory, Kelly Dunne, Karl Fryxell, Lloyd Griffiths, Jorge Haddock, Kingsley Haynes, Dimitrios Ioannou, Bruce Johnsen, Howard Kurtz, Terrence Lyons, Alan Merten, James Olds, Daniel Polsby, Larry Rockwood, Joe Scimecca, Suzanne Scott, Tojo Thatchenkery, Nigel Waters, Peter Winant, Michael Wolf-Branigin, John Zenelis.


Visitors Present:  Kathy Alligood, Associate Dean, Honors College/Mathematics; Sonia Ben Ouagrham-Gormley, Assistant Professor, PIA/Biodefense Program; Mariama Bomey, Director, University Information; Lorraine Brown, Professor of English (retired); John Casey, Entrepreneur-in-Residence, SPP; Michael Chang, Assistant Professor, History & Art History; Andrew Crooks, Assistant Professor, Computational Social Science; Rick Davis, Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education  and Artistic Director, CFA/TFA; Constance DiNapoli, Assistant Professor, School of Dance; Sarah Eckman, Graduate and Professional Student Association; Esther Elstun, Professor emerita, Modern and Classical Languages; Wayne Froman, Associate Professor of Philosophy; Harold Geller, Assistant Professor/Director, Observatory, Physics & Astronomy; Patricia Granfield, Instructor, Math; Dave Harr, Senior Associate Dean, SOM; Robin Herron, Associate Director, Media & Public Relations; Susan Jones, University Registrar; W. G. Kennedy; Research Assistant Professor, Center for Social Complexity; Linda Miller, Associate Dean, CVPA; Carrie Meyer, Associate Professor, Economics; Denise Napoliello, Program Coordinator, Robinson Professors; Elavie Ndura-Ouedraogo, Associate Professor, CEHD; Rebecca Nemeth, Manager, Switchboard & Kiosk, University Information; John Paden, Robinson Professor, International Affairs; Nan Peck, Part-Time Faculty, Communication; Morrie Scherrens, Sr. Vice President; Linda Schwartzstein,Vice Provost for Academic Affairs/VP, Enrollment Services, Provost Office;  Ron Secrest, Director, Ent Servers & Messaging, ITU; Bob Smith, Professor, Psychology; Paul Smith, Professor, Cultural Studies; Bill Sutton, Associate Professor, ECE; Eva Thorp Associate Professor of Education;  Jason Warren, Professor and Assistant Director of Forensics.





I. Introduction

Provost Stearns and Senior Vice President Scherrens were asked to come to a special meeting of the Faculty Senate to discuss faculty concerns about current and up-coming reductions in the University's budget. 

In requesting the meeting, the Faculty Senate noted the following statement from the National Office of the American Association of University Professors:

 "The AAUP ... resolves that faculty should work to turn this [difficult economic] situation around.... [This] means that faculty should (a) gain access to full information about institutional finances and all other strategically relevant data, ensuring that institutions open their books to shed light on the institution's overall condition; (b) exercise a fuller voice in analyzing and making recommendations about budgets and strategic directions, opening the boardroom door to take a central role in institutional decision making; & (c) pursue measures that...protect the core academic functions of higher education, opening up educational opportunity by reinvesting in educational expenditures."


* * * * * *


II.  Call to Order:  The meeting was called to order at 4:05 p.m. Chair Peter Pober, announced that Student Media had asked to audiotape the proceedings and asked if there were any objections to this.  No objections were made.  Professor Pober then presented the following general rules for conducting the meeting:  If anyone present has a question with respect to a specific slide, raise your hand and the microphone will be brought to you.  If you have an overall question, please wait until the end of the presentation.  At that time, everyone will be allowed the opportunity for one question/comment before anyone speaks for a second time. There is a one-minute limit on questions/comments from the audience.  Explanations are not limited to one minute.


Professor Pober thanked Provost Stearns and Senior Vice President Morrie Scherrens for coming to today’s meeting.  Dr. Scherrens responded that he and Provost Stearns would attempt to be transparent about state budget reductions and plans for absorbing the cuts.  If faculty have questions that are not answered in today’s presentation, they will be responded to in the future.


III. Presentation:  VP Scherrens gave a nineteen-slide power-point presentation. Here is a brief outline:


1. Title Page: “Total Budget Overview, 2009-10”

2. Revenue Budget = $887,117,600 (pie chart)

3. Outlays = $887,117,600 (pie chart)

4. General Fund Budget Reduction History, FY08-10 (reduction of $45.3 million/35%)

5. Percent of State Support for GMU General Fund FY91-FY10 (from 61.76% to 28.9%)

6. Principles for Managing Future Budget Reductions

7. Budget Reduction Strategies for FY2010

8. E&G Budget by Program (pie chart)

9-11. Strategy to Absorb the Reduction

12. Budget Overview for FY 2010

13. Furlough:  One-Day Furlough; State Must Clarify Who is Included

14. Retirement: Proposed Reduction in Employer Contribution

15. Budget Outlook for FY 2011 & 12

16. “The Richmond Ask”

17-18. Future Administrative Steps:  Dialogue, Town Hall Meetings, Seek Input, Refine

      Strategies, Maintain Focus, Transparency

19. GMU Program Growth:  2001-10


The slides are also posted on the Budget Office website at .


IV. Selected Aspects of the Presentation and Related Questions/Comments: 

Slide 2:  Total Budget Overview: 2009-10 Revenue Budget $887,117,600: 

Comment: A Senator expressed surprise to see such a large portion of student fees.  Provost Stearns replied that most of these fees are used to pay for services rendered to the students.


Slide 5:  General Fund % of Support Trend Analysis: 

Question:  Would we see the same shape on a graph that charted state support for UVA?  Dr. Scherrens responded that the trend in state financing for the last twenty years would be generally similar for all of Virginia’s state colleges and universities.


Slide 8:  E&G Budget by Program:  FY 2010: 

Question:  Which positions are included in the slice of the budget pie titled “Executive Administration”?  What is Finance & Administration?  Does the slice titled “Other Colleges” include administrative faculty?   Dr. Scherrens responded that he did not know exactly where “Administration” begins and ends in any area.  For example, Info Technology ($29.3 million) includes personnel from CIO to clerks.  In each slice of the pie, there are some persons who can be called “Administration.”


Question:  Can you explain what costs are included under “Executive Administration” and “Finance & Administration”?  Are these the salaries for administrators and their support staff?  Dr. Scherrens replied that the nomenclature was not the best, but he explained that “Executive Administration” includes the President’s Office, Chief of Staff, Internal Auditing, and the Equity Office. He was not certain if the University’s legal staff is included as part of Executive Administration. Provost Stearns added that to his knowledge there has been no recent increase in the number of deans and directors—even with the split of the former CAS into two colleges.  


Question:  Would you please send the Senate a comprehensive list of what is included under “Executive Administration” and “Finance & Administration”?  Dr. Scherrens said this could be arranged.


Slides 9-11:  Strategy to Absorb the Reduction:  Provost Stearns stated that UVA projects a 2.5% reduction in academic spending and a 3% reduction in non-academic spending.  UVA has the same basic strategy we have, but unlike GMU, UVA does not have an enrollment surge.


The scenario for 2011-2012 does not look any better than the present situation.  At that time, GMU will draw upon its reserve fund to help reduce cuts and to address unforeseen expenses.  The Provost observed that there is no way to forecast the 2011-2012 state revenue situation.  The extra $8.6 million (ARRA funds) that was defrayed to next year will be used up by then.


Question:  Who gets the tuition revenue from additional students?  Provost Stearns responded that normally these monies would be split between the administration and the units with increased students. In the future, however, the units will continue to get some of the extra tuition monies but not as much as in the past.


Dr. Scherrens noted that the $2.92 million reduction in funds for instruction was a lesser percentage than for non-academic reductions.  Some units will take slightly larger or smaller reductions, depending upon special needs. 


Question: Given how much we are counting on enrollment numbers to help fund the University, will there be a policy of rewarding programs with better student retention?  Dr. Scherrens noted that some GMU units have experienced a decline in enrollment. He spoke of creating a “Stress-Fracture Committee” to consider urgent requests for special funding. He also emphasized that GMU cannot take care of more students without more money.  Provost Stearns added that he has not yet seen the breakdown figures on retention this year but that the overall picture is good.  In the past there has not been substantial attrition in particular units relative to others. He is certainly interested in encouraging academic units and support services to retain students.  


Comment:  Units should not be rewarded on the basis of retention but on the quality of the education they are providing.


Question:  What are examples of activities included in academic support? Dr. Scherrens responded that academic support and enrollment services are totalled together.


Question:  If academic units are being cut back, and there are extra monies from additional enrollment, shouldn’t these funds go to the units?  Dr. Scherrens responded that if we turn out to be 1,000 FTE over, this would result in about $7 million in additional funding. Of this, $2.5 million will not be immediately allocated, the rest will go to academic and support areas.  Provost Stearns added that units which have exceeded their anticipated enrollments have already been promised additional funding. Also, some monies are used to fund student services – e.g., the need to increase student counseling to handle additional students.  Provost Stearns stated that some questions about department class sizes and funding need to be directed to the deans, and he urges deans to openly explain their allocations.  The Provost noted that GMU’s average class size has increased from 26-28.


Comment:   The average class size in Sociology/Anthropology is 50.  The Provost recommended raising this issue with the CHSS Dean. He noted that historically SOM has had the largest classes.  Nursing has class-size limits to meet accreditation standards.  GMU is now experiencing a forced experiment re class size.  Example:  7 more students in one class may be OK, in another class it may be awful.


Question:  When will next year’s enrollment targets be determined?  The Provost suggested faculty check with IRR or their dean's office.  The deans are now planning next year’s enrollment. Dr. Scherrens added that GMU should not take in more students unless the State promises to give more money.


Question:  Did someone speak to the governor, raising the point that GMU had enrolled 1,000 additional students, so we should not have our funds reduced so much.  The Provost responded that this argument was made, but it did not work.


Question:  What percentage of our revenue is from funded research?  Provost Stearns responded about $100 million per year. Question: When I buy out a course and spend time mentoring graduate students, doesn’t this earn money for the University?  The Provost emphasized that the University pays various research expenses. At GMU and elsewhere, research funding never quite covers research costs.  Research money isn’t used to fund other areas. Dr. Scherrens said that a more detailed explanation of the uses/costs of research funding could be provided. 


Question:  What about the GMU Foundation putting money into the pot?  Not one building is named for a donor.  What is the Foundation doing to help us through this time?  The Provost: We are keenly aware of the need to identify several sources for addressing the current crisis. There has been a slight improvement in philanthropic giving but not as much as we would like. Many private donations are designated for specific purposes. Such assistance can not be directed to budget categories we think most important or needy. 


Slide 13:  GMU Furlough:  Dr. Scherrens noted that full-time faculty should expect a day of unpaid leave.  Hopefully, the state will give schools flexibility in implementation, e.g., allowing the deduction to be spread over more than one pay period. More clarification from Richmond is needed.  


Question:  There is strong feeling among some faculty that the furlough should occur on an instructional day – to be visible to students, not during a break or holiday time. Faculty should explain the reason for the furlough to their classes. Students should understand the consequences of low tax policies.  Dr. Scherrens responded that he could appreciate this faculty response.  At this point, GMU needs to learn more from Richmond, but no options should be taken off the table.


V. Additional Discussion

Provost Stearns asked to make an additional statement regarding an email sent to the general faculty earlier in the day concerning alleged growth in the Provost’s staff, based on a comparison of the number of people listed in the 2000-01 and 2008-09 GMU telephone books. The Provost noted that he did not receive advance notification of this email, and he wished to dispel the misinformation it contained. He explained that much of the apparent growth in positions simply reflected the fact that groups of administrative personnel that used to exist as independent units (for instance, Institutional Research and Reporting and Institutional Assessment) have subsequently been brought under the purview of his office.  Terming the email “inaccurate and offensive,” the Provost requested its message be retracted and a statement of this retraction distributed to everyone who had received the earlier email.


Response (Senator James Bennett): The numbers were presented as “anecdotal.” They were not intended to be conclusive but to open the issue about growth in administrative staff for further discussion. Also, his original intent was not to send the material by email but to raise it at today’s meeting. However, the Chair ruled that the purpose of the meeting was to hear from the Provost and VP Scherrens about budget reductions and that additional issues should not be added at the last minute.


Comment of a Senator:  It will be helpful to receive the promised breakdown for direct/indirect funding related to research.  Dr. Scherrens said he needed more information about the parameters of the request. He also encouraged everyone to send suggestions to him on the budget website:


Chairman Pober ended the discussion by pointing to three issues that needed further clarification and discussion

--Faculty Matters and Budget and Resources should meet to address issues relevant to the furlough;

--VP Scherrens should provide more information about the uses of research funding and the support monies provided by the University;

--VP Scherrens should provide a more detailed explanation of what is included under the categories of “Executive Administration” and “Finance and Administration” in the budget pie (slide #8).


VI. Adjournment:  The meeting adjourned at 5:10 p.m.


Respectfully submitted,

David Kuebrich