Return to Faculty Senate Homepage

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.

Welcome back.

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:

 When deans and directors thought that they could get more students or generate more revenue they were requested to do so. The Dean of the College thought that some of the new programs that were being developed would attract new students. The Medical School thought it could increase enrollment by about 10% and could decrease attrition. The Dental School thought it could generate some additional money from the dental clinic and from increased indirect costs. Law, Nursing and Pharmacy also thought that they could increase revenue.
 Various reductions will need to be made in the different units. Apparently the deans were more willing to discuss their plans for raising additional revenue than to discuss budgetary reductions, so these plans were still vague.
 Administrative costs were to be reduced. In the first year the following reductions were to be made:
 Chancellor’s Office: $265,454
 Provost: $210,000
 VC Administrative Affairs: $ 1,219,400 (mostly E&E)
 VC Advancement: $30,000
 VC Student Affairs: $150,000
 The University was exploring the possibility of asking some of the independent foundations that support programs in the University (like the Friends of the Library, the UKC Trustees, etc.) to give 1% of their budget to cover the cost of services that the University provides for them. The Interim Provost thought this could generate about $400,000.
 In some areas Deans were asked to increase the student faculty ratio, by increasing enrollment or not filling positions. This was not to be an across the board cut and the Interim Provost argued that the procedure here was fairly normal and was routinely done every year.
 The University currently gives a high amount of scholarship aid and is exploring the possibility of reductions in this area.

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:

 Graduate stipends in several areas have been severely cut, and many graduate students had an increase in the number of courses they were expected to teach. This was after contracts had been signed and students had made plans. Several Senators thought that it would be almost impossible to attract and keep good students under these conditions, and many doubted whether the decisions were legal. The reductions commented on were all in the College, so it is possible that this is only an issue there.
 Some Senators thought there were a lot of perks around—like food at Senate meetings and other campus meetings. These ended up costing a lot. If cuts were made in these areas the money could go into scholarships, etc.
 Although the administration was supposed to be reduced, several new administrative positions had been created. Where were the reductions? If the administration really was making cuts they should publicize them.
 Was the enhancement money being used as it was supposed to be used, or was it being largely gobbled up by putting funds into endowed chairs at institutions like St. Luke’s and Children’s Mercy, where the recipients did little for the university?

Other Issues

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:

Whereas the current parking situation is in crisis,

Whereas many parking spaces have been converted to metered spaces,

Whereas the availability of accessible parking spaces for employees is an important condition of our employment in the university,

Resolved: that employees with current parking stickers not be ticketed when parking in metered spots or lots reserved for students.

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:

 The Strategic Plan,
 Continuing Education Policy,
 The ex post facto reduction in graduate stipends together with the increase in the number of courses that they were required to teach, and
 The apparent growth of the central administration.

We also wanted to discuss various ways of changing the budgetary prospects of the university.

Respectfully submitted,

Harris Mirkin,
Faculty Secretary

© UMKC Faculty Senate