The U.M.K.C. Faculty Senate
The Voice of the U.M.K.C. Faculty
August 24, 1999
Note: This is a report on two meetings. The first took place on August 5th, after the end of summer session. We met with Interim Provost Marjorie Smelstor and primarily discussed budget problems. The second was a regular Senate meeting called on August 24th in order to set an agenda for the year.
The August 5th meeting was hastily called and took place after most Senators had left the campus. Changes in the upper administration during the summer, combined with a refusal by the Interim Chancellor to meet with the Senate to discuss these changes, did not bode well. When this was combined with rumored large budget cuts that were going to be decided upon during the summer when the faculty was not present, it was a breeding ground for paranoia.
Despite these negative factors it turned out to be a good meeting. The Interim Provost was willing to discuss the issues and share information, seemed to be very competent, was personally engaging, and downplayed the crisis atmosphere. She said that she was eager to meet with the Senate Budget Committee to share information with them, and appeared willing to discuss problem areas without obfuscation.
By the August 24th meeting many of the decisions made by the Interim Provost and/or Interim Chancellor were known, and Senators had questions about the wisdom of some of these decisions. We agreed to raise these issues at our regular meeting with the Interim Chancellor and Provost on August 31st.
The Budget Exercise, Part I (August 5th)
The budget exercise was started in response to a letter President Pacheco sent to all four campuses. The letter set a short timeline, with a preliminary report to be submitted to the President by August 9th. These reports were to be reviewed at the August 19th meeting of the Strategic Planning Steering Committee and presented to the Board of Curators on Sept. 2nd and 3rd. [Note: The letter and other budget documents will be posted on the Faculty Senate Web Page.]
Though other minor factors are involved, the basic dilemma driving the budget exercise is the perceived need to increase salaries 4% to 6% each year over the next five years, and to cover expected increases in benefit costs, when state appropriations are only expected to increase from 2% to 3.5% a year. Projected out to year 2005 these assumptions lead to a $20 million deficit. Since the campus cannot operate at a deficit, changes are called for. A reserve fund also needed to be developed. Many of the changes are normal and expected, and Smelstor emphasized that this is an exercise in planning, not in crisis management.
In response to the President’s request the Interim Provost called a meeting of Deans, Directors, Vice Chancellors, & the Senate Chair. She asked for ideas on where to cut and for revenue enhancement measures. Since effects of budget changes are cumulative, the Interim Provost asked everyone to concentrate on the first year. Some of the suggestions and ideas were:
Senators questioned the need for such a quick turn around time. Smelstor said that was a decision of the President and she needed to comply…. Some asked about outsourcing things like the phones and custodial care. This was being looked into…. Did the basketball team take all the money? The Interim Provost said that the budget in athletics had not been exceeded, and that sports were not a black hole. On the other hand it was not making a profit, and the new athletic director was going to be charged with identifying new opportunities…. Asked how scholarships could be decreased at the same time that new, good students were to be attracted to the campus, Smelstor agreed that there was a problem…. Some Senators said that most of the administrative cuts would not be real cuts, and thought that expenses would just be transferred elsewhere. The Interim Provost said she had just come to the campus and this budget was a first try She was willing to work with the Senate and others to come up with a good plan.
The Budget Revisited (August 24th)
The first meeting was largely devoted to organizational issues, but there were some budget questions:
Parking is a perennial problem that is sure to get even worse this year. The Senate unanimously passed the following resolution directed to the Provost:
The Chancellor Search process is going smoothly and Chair Loncar said that there are some outstanding candidates…. A first draft of a Faculty Handbook has been written by Nancy Stancel and will be distributed after all the necessary reviews…. Jack Ward (Economics) agreed to be chair of the Ad Hoc Senate Budget Committee. Though he is not a Senator we agreed to ask him to sit in on Senate meetings so he would be aware of the issues that arose…. We discussed (again) the need to revise the Faculty Bylaws and will try and distribute the revised copy at the faculty convocation in the fall…. The Senate has three standing committees (Faculty Welfare, Academic Issues and Administrative Issues) and we briefly discussed their charges. There will be an election of Senate officers this year and several dean evaluations. Also, for the first time, the Library Director will be evaluated. These evaluations involve a great deal of work and are carefully conducted. We decided to discuss the process and its importance with the new Interim Provost…. The new Interim Provost would like to see an active faculty development program and hoped to get the proposed Undergraduate Council started…. There is a committee to review the UMKC Strategic Plan. Some Senators thought the Senate should be involved in the process of appointing faculty to important committees and the issue was discussed briefly…. There was some discussion of the need to educate legislators and editors about the needs of the university…. A new Institutional Researcher has been hired, and a Chief Information Technology Officer (to coordinate computer and information technologies on campus) is soon to be appointed. A new Athletic Director has been hired and a Chief Financial Officer will be appointed. Some Senators were concerned that the administration seemed to be growing rather than shrinking…. We wanted to discuss the Continuing Education issue with the Provost at our next meeting…. Some Senators thought that there had been an unusual number of problems with room scheduling and with the bookstore and urged that the problems be looked into.
We agreed to discuss the following issues with the administration at our next meeting:
We also wanted to discuss various ways of changing the budgetary prospects of the university.
Harris Mirkin, Faculty Secretary