Minutes for Jan.6, 2003
Present: Mark Siders (Bus.), Diana Maltz (English; Senate Secretary), George Converse (Comp. Sci.), John Sollinger (Bio.), Barbara Scott (ECP; At-Large), Linda Wilcox Young (Econ.), Marc Levy (Psych.), Garth Pittman (Comm.; Senate Chair), Michael Naumes (Psychology), Jon Harbaugh (Bus.), Gudrun Gill (Foreign Lang.), Jonathan Bilden (Student Sen. Pro-Tem), Dale Vidmar (Library), John Fitton (Success at Southern), Connie Anderson (Library), Bill Danley (Special Ed.), Etsuko Fujimoto (Comm.), Kevin Talbert (Info. Tech. Svcs.), Lee Ayers (Criminology; Senate Vice Chair), John Whitesitt (Math.), Katy Bazylewicz (Mktg./Pub. Rel.), Charles Lane (Geol.; Interim Provost; Senate Ad Hoc), Terry Longshore (Music), Wayne Schumacher (Housing), Sib Farrell (Access Center/Career Svcs.).
Guests: Laura Jones, Marny Rivera, Kavinda Arthenayake, Mike Corcoran, Tonette Long, Mada Morgan, Dena Robert, Jerry Stein, Josie Wilson, Rebecca Reid, Kip Sisetich, Todd Carney, Steve Thorpe, Sarah Stevens, Anne Chambers, Keith Chambers, Susan Reynolds, john Mairs, Gregg Gassman, Margaret Wright, Anita Caster, Gerry McCain, Don Gordon,
Jo-ann Lan-Smith, Jody Nolte, Bonnie Rott, Teri O’Rourke, Parvaneh Scoggin, Chris Oswald, B. Cecilia Zapata, Steven Jessup, Karen Stone, Patricia Sempowich, Rene Ordonez, Katie Pittman, Susan Walsh, Sue Burkholder, Lara Mann, Bill Eliot, Angela Scarlet Galvan, Paul Rowland, Diane Brimmer, Mara Afrrem Joan Marioni, May Sagmiller, Ken Kempner, Geoff Mills, Ed Battistella, Craig Wright, Dan Rubenson, Joseph Grafm Judith Ginsburg
Garth Pittman: Welcome back this term. Today: a dialogue with the president, then curricular issues with Charles Lane. Next FS meeting will be Feb. 3rd. This (today) is our only meeting in January.
New member of FS: Laura O’Brien.
Thanks to Mark Levy for covering FS secretarial duties in Fall Quarter.
Announcements: Reminder of Preview Day, January 17-18. Expecting 300 attendees.
Opening remarks from President Zinser:
Thank you to Academic Council for informal meetings this past term. This past Friday’s meeting set the stage for discussion today.
People want to understand how SOU’s changes compare to what is happening at other institutions. All are dealing with significant budget cuts, and all but one (UO) have moved to layoffs and non-renewal notices. We will pull together information on other institutions. [Follow up information from President Zinser: OSU had many such changes a year ago, dealing with a deficit; PSU has issued over 250 non-renewal notices, but many will be canceled before the final number is known; OIT, WOU, and EOU have each had about 10 each; per discussions with each president].
SOU is severely challenged by reductions in state appropriations in these difficult economic times. We are facing them with good stewardship. We are identifying all revenue generating opportunities possible, such as tuition increases and assessments to auxiliary service budgets. Also looking at internal assessments to fee-for-service operations within the institution – ways of contributing to general fund reduction problem. Examining ways we can be more entrepreneurial in generating external resources, e.g. how to sell our services at higher prices without pricing ourselves out of business with private competition. Trying to prepare ourselves to be quasi-private: less than 1/3 –closer to 1/4 -- of our resources comes from state revenues. We are gearing up to become much more successful in raising private dollars.
Progress of the Meeting
President’s Report and Discussion:
President Zinser provided a status report on the budget reduction process and related actions prompted by $4.5 million in budget cuts during the 2001-2003 biennium. The process of targeting savings started in summer 2001 when the Executive Council determined the necessity to generate $1.3 million in savings to replenish the institution's declining fund balances (reserves needed for emergencies and unexpected, but inevitable, costs. Successive budget cuts were subsequently received through five special legislative sessions, and, in December 2002, a further cut was tied to the latest state revenue forecast.
Vice President for Administration and Finance Ron Bolstad handed out a table entitled "Impact of Budget Reductions" for 2001-2003”, which displayed the budget reduction amounts and percentages as well as the approved and planned tuition surcharges for all seven OUS institutions. This table is attached.
President Zinser then described the planning underway to develop SOU's 2003-2004 and 2004-2005 operating budgets. First, we must build in a permanent reduction of the $400,000 taken temporarily from the fund balances in the current year. The planning assumes that we will not receive any more reductions from the state, nor will we receive any new resources for the next biennium. Budget scenarios forecast increased costs for PERS and PEBB (health/dental), and no enrollment growth over the 2002-2003 budgeted level. These and other assumptions reflect a conservative posture in forecasting resources and expenses for the upcoming biennium.
The budget forecasting also anticipates an increase in tuition for both next year (FY04) and the year following. It will be important to enhance SOU's enrollment, including increases from out of state. We are particularly concerned to better understand the price elasticity in setting new levels of tuition in order to predict impacts on enrollment. How much increase can students shoulder before they drop out or transfer elsewhere? A study is being organized to better understand “elasticity”. In order to broaden the base of revenue enhancement, the institution is proposing more aggressive charge backs to users of services and assessments to auxiliary enterprises and other self-support accounts.
Based on the best assumptions we can make to date, with many uncertainties yet unresolved, we project a one-half million dollar budget shortfall for next year. As much as $200,000 has been solved with the administrative reorganization and non-renewal decisions made by line officers, leaving $300,000 yet to be resolved.
Question: What we are gaining from the organizational changes in schools/colleges?
Answer: Approximately $128,000 in expected savings is associated with the reorganization of academic units from 4 schools to 3 colleges, but this is an estimate because the matter is still in discussion. In addition, the classified layoffs are estimated to save $256,000 (annualized) and other unclassified non-renewals will save about $250,000 (annualized). We have thus solved about $635,000 on an annualized basis through the reorganization actions leading to cuts in positions (some in full; some in part).
Q: Dale Vidmar: How do cuts fit in with New Accreditation Report?
President Zinser deferred the question to Charles Lane’s report when he would address the two recommendations of the Commission: one on facing financial constraints and the other on general education curriculum improvements.
Q: Will there be more reductions in positions affecting personnel?
President Zinser: We have tried to package all that we can in one move to limit the uncertainty, but may have a few more soon.
Q: Wayne Schumaker: The AAAC is made up of full time faculty only: should there be representation by a member of the Student Affairs Division on it?
Q: Barbara Scott: Where is the $128,000 coming from that we will save from the reduction of schools?
Pres. Zinser: Can’t be specific at this time because it depends on the outcome of further deliberations with deans, chairs, and departments. The aim of moving from 4 schools to 3 colleges is not just for budget savings; it is a possible means to establish the “college” structure, an aim that has been desired and sought from time to time since 1997 when SOC became a University. This matter is a continuing discussion with units.
Michael Naumes: Are the relatively small savings, in terms of percentage of overall shortfall (approximately 2.9%), to be realized from reducing the number of schools (or in her terms, "colleges") from four to three worth the effort especially given all the work that is to be done with all the other changes going on?
Pres. Zinser: Each time we find a viable way to save money without reducing regular faculty and programs, it is worth the effort. Saving $128,000 helps. Each department knows it is difficult to find even $500 in savings from their S & S budget.
John Whitsitt: Seems that when we think just about changes that can be made on this campus we are constrained, because changes elsewhere may negatively affect SOU to advantage of other institutions. This is a time when other institutions in the state ought to be banding together? If so, we wouldn’t have that competitive problem. Are discussions going on?
Pres. Zinser: Yes, indeed. Presidents’ Council meetings with the Chancellor and some Board discussions are recognizing this, such as enrollment increases beyond targets at some institutions if funded do draw funding away from the institutions not growing as fast. If “over-target” enrollments are funded via the RAM, we get this effect. If the “over-target” enrollments are not funded, those institutions must manage service to the extra students on the tuition revenues alone.
Ron Bolstad: Idea of enrollment ceilings has been discussed, but with understanding that we have a growing market of young people coming to college age and don’t want to limit access unless we have to do so. We can only teach well to a certain level with state dollars going down. Dialogue is occurring within the state system to arrive at ground-rules to recognize limitations of state dollars in maintaining quality and the integrity of the system as a whole, but consensus has not yet been reached.
President Zinser: The playing field is not even in many respects, but there are places where SOU can have an advantage. We are trying to mine the northern California situation now, as it is facing major deficits in state revenues and tuitions are going up in large measure. Also U of O is capping enrollments and raising admissions standards; we can capture some very good students who might otherwise have headed to UofO. Partnerships OIT and U of O present some good opportunities for us.
John Fitton: On a positive note, the Success at Southern /Student Support Services program recently was able to offer $30,500 in supplemental grant aid to low-income students who are in good academic standing and active in the program. This aid comes at a particularly important time for students who may be most negatively affected by tuition increases and will be distributed in winter and spring term.
Question: It is understood by many that there are significant budget challenges, workforce cuts are necessary and the confidentiality of those directly affected must be protected. However, questions, misunderstandings and related fears about the process still remain. For instance, has the bumping process for classified staff been completed?
Pres. Zinser: No, the bumping process is not yet over, as the process is still in motion. Cynthia Beckwith [Associate VP for Human Resources] is doing tremendous job of communicating with individuals involved. I recommend sending any concerned employees to her for advice and information on progress.
John Fitton: It has been indicated that workforce reductions for unclassified staff may again be required. If this occurs, what is the process to notify effected individuals? Will the process be the same? Are the affected staff contacted prior to your general announcement, or after?
President Zinser: We make every effort to protect the privacy and special needs of individuals affected in the process of making reductions in positions and reorganizing to reduce expenditures. The integrity of communications with individual is paramount. Decisions and communications are made within the organizational structure of the institution, relying on line officers facing budget reduction targets to reconcile the reductions. Individuals affected are contacted personally before any announcement of the change is made. The changes made to date have been managed to avoid surprising individuals affected by public announcements, but also to have announcements occur soon thereafter so that rumors are limited and accurate information is available. Cynthia Beckwith has provided superb guidance and support to individuals affected, and to the process of communications, such as with Union leaders. She is the source of professional guidance to those affected as well, thus complementing the support offered by the officers in charge of each change.
Bill Danley: Re: Your December message mentioned financial exigency and that has created a lot of fear.
Pres. Zinser: My intent was the opposite – that is, I intended to put financial exigency in perspective with other phases that would precede it and state clearly that we were not contemplating exigency. I outlined the actions to date as administrative judgments in the course of managing budget reductions, and then gave first notice that we might have to go into program reduction and/or consolidation if reductions became worse and our forecasts suggested as much. I indicated that yet a third stage would be exigency, and that we did not anticipate the need to declare exigency. I suppose simply using the term alarmed some people, but it stated that this last and most severe stage was not contemplated.
Garth Pittman: At the AC meeting, I thought we heard you say that there are no more cuts planned at this point in time. I am confused about that. Do you anticipate further workforce cuts?
Pres. Zinser: I can understand the confusion. I recall the AC question: “Is there anything in the drawer?” and interpreted that to mean, “Is information being withheld? And will we see more big changes?” I responded that we are sharing all information that we know and is not personnel related, requiring confidentiality. I emphasized our intent to make as many changes at one time as deemed necessary rather than making changes perpetually over time and having everyone on edge continuously. We do expect two or three more non-renewal notices, ones not discussed because affected parties have not been available for personal discussions. We do not see anything after that for the time being, but we still have an anticipated further problem in the coming year at about $300,000. We don’t know for sure, based on many uncertainties beyond this point. Moreover, we believe we’ve done about all we can on the administrative side, and next may need to turn to program reductions and reconfigurations, unless our revenues can be substantially enhanced through means that are feasible and not counterproductive. I am being a bit vague sometimes because I need to be until we know more and until affected parties have the opportunity to know the intentions of their supervisors before learning about them from inappropriate sources. I cannot take fear out of the times we are in. We can provide as much as information as possible, and will continue to try to do so. But, I don’t manufacture money and I don’t manufacture certainty. We are doing the best we can to navigate the continuous cuts and changing forecasts. We will continue to be open, candid and honest and I ask you to always let me know when there is a need for this kind of discussion. I ask this Senate to put our circumstances and experiences with uncertainty, even fear, into perspective. We are pulled to improve our chances for the long-term while addressing short-term changes and deadlines. We need to work together to establish reasonable expectations and get used to living with a good deal of uncertainly.
Sib Farrell: Is exigency a synonym for bankruptcy?
Pres. Zinser: It is a financial emergency. The definition is in AP:SOU agreement.
Garth Pittman: I encourage enhancement of communication from all of you (visitors).
Charles Lane: We provided and had a conversation with the Advisory Council about the interim report from the Commission on Colleges and Universities, based on the regular site visit this October. I made the report available to the deans, but have not distributed such a large report campus-wide. It is available to anyone who wants to read it. Today I have short 1 page summary with excerpts on the recommendations. The report contains a lot of very positive accolades. This summary focuses on the challenges we must face, so that we are clear on them and incorporate them in our work. Focus on 2nd part on general education program and its effectiveness. Discussions with the two accreditation visitors centered around the general education program – that we need to address some problems identified by faculty and students and align it more effectively with the resources we now have. What does a high quality general education program look like that is adequately funded and supported by faculty, in context of all the other things we have to do? In my conversations with Advisory Council, the Associate Provost and I are talking about meeting with curriculum committee and the core curriculum committee to try to put some structure around this task immediately. Judith and I are visiting curriculum committee on Thursday, and continue to have conversations with Faculty Senate leadership.
Garth Pittman: How can we produce an accurate catalogue for next year?
Pres. Zinser: We have time. Moreover, it is now online so we can change it more easily.
Charles Lane: We invite your comments, and have had start up conversations. This is a big one, and it will require leadership on curricular affairs that is appropriate to Faculty Senate.
Pres. Zinser: We should understand that the accrediting visitors noted the positive elements of the core curriculum, as do we. This faculty created a thoughtful and progressive design some time ago. The issues have to do with taking it to the next level, having regular faculty assume more leadership in the program, addressing problems identified by many faculty and students in the Colloquium, and considering cost effective ways to more fully implement its intent and design (e.g. synthesis courses). The overall structure of curriculum is laudable. We have seen really good models of institutions doing similar things and SOU is progressive. To remain so, we need to review the core curriculum and take it to the next level, while also being willing to make changes based on experience in the early years of its application. There is good reason to have pride along with concern to make it better.
Updated Friday, October 1, 2004, 21:10:11