FACULTY SENATE MEETING
September 8, 2009
Present: Chair Overton, Past Chair Martin, Secretary Hergeth; Provost Arden; Parliamentarian Weiner: Senators Anson, Auerbach, Bernhard, Carver, Croom, Fahmy, Fleisher, Franke, Genereux, Hatcher, Havner, Hemenway, Kidd, Krim, Kocurek, Kotek, Levy, Miller-Cochran, Murty, Paur, Roberts, Sawyers, Williams
Excused: Senators Akroyd, Argyropulos, Headen, Khater, Townsend
Absent: Senators Edmisten, Honeycutt, Poindexter, Poling,
Guests: Lee Fowler, Athletic Director; P. J. Teal, Secretary of the University; Betsy Brown, Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs; Marc Okner, Employee Relations
1. Call to Order
Chair Overton called the second meeting of the fifty-sixth session of the NC State Faculty Senate to order at 3 p.m.
2. Welcome and Announcement
Chair Overton welcomed Senators and Guests.
Chair Overton reported that in the Executive Committee meeting there were very good conversations with the Provost, and some of those conversations were brought to the Senate meeting for further interaction and comments today. There will be breakout sessions after today’s announcements to get some feedback.
The second item discussed in the Executive Committee meeting was a resolution from the Governance Committee as a result of President Bowles’s July 31st letter to the Board of Governors concerning BOG policies on administrative separation and/or retreat to the faculty.
Chair Overton announced that Marc Hoit, Vice Chancellor for Information Technology is putting together workgroup taskforce committees on IT, and there is a request for another Faculty Representative on these committees. She welcomed anyone from the Senate to come forward to serve or to nominate someone from outside the group since the representatives do not have to be Faculty Senate members.
Chair Overton handed out index cards and requested that each Senator write one positive and one negative NC State related item that happened today.
3. Approval of the Minutes, Meeting No. 1 August 25, 2009
A motion passed to approve the minutes as written.
4. Comments by Provost Arden
Provost Arden stated that when he and the Chancellor were doing the budget reduction they went through a process where they began discussion early on about a big picture university-wide strategy that could account for some of the reduction. There were things that could not be achieved just within a given unit. He explained that these strategies went by various names, and at one stage they were called 2% strategies, meaning that we felt that we could come up with a budget reduction of about 2%. As we went into the actual budget reduction, particularly when we thought it was going to be as much as 18%, we tended to move away from that and focused on those things we knew we could do quickly because of the compressed timeline for the 10% reduction.
Provost Arden stated that once he and the Chancellor got through the budget reduction, they will go back to university level strategies and begin looking at things that really make a difference in being more effective and efficient in the way that we as a university do business.
Provost Arden handed out a list of university-level strategies that has been shared with the Deans, Executive Officers, and the University Budget Advisory Committee. He stated that he wanted to focus on two or three areas. The list is based on a list of university level strategies that was created about six or nine months ago, and it has been embellished a little with things that were submitted to the website.
The list has been categorized into four groups by asking two questions:How quickly could we achieve this? (high, medium, low) in the first column
- What do we expect will be the outcome from this? (high, medium, low)
Provost Arden stated they have moved away from this as a purely financial instrument, being that we originally thought of this as a way to identify funds that could be relinquished during a budget cut if necessary, to viewing it as a way to increase our efficiency and effectiveness. He explained that there are things in the list that would probably never show up on a budget line, but would hopefully increase our efficiency in the way we do business. There are some things in the list that may in the short term actually cost us money. There is one on advancement and development. We discussed that when Chancellor Woodward was here. It literally allows us to grow our advancement infrastructure and grow advancement into a larger part of our resource portfolio. If there is one thing that this budget crisis has taught us it is that we really need to diversify our resources in the university and not overly rely on the same resources. He passed out a handout for feedback and input. The administration continues to work on this and is aware that a lot of things require further definition.
Provost Arden explained that in a more recent version of this report the items were re-categorized into three major categories: those things that we can implement pretty quickly, those things that are good ideas, and those things that require a lot more work before we were to go down that road.
Provost Arden stated that he wanted the Senators to have this report today and noted that it is a working document to be shared with colleagues to obtain feedback. Feedback should be directed to Provost Arden, Chair Overton, or Karen Helm.
Provost Arden stated that as he and the Chancellor said at the last meeting, it is really important that we look at our budget from several perspectives. It’s not just one perspective of what are we going to do with more money when it comes, but it’s a matter of our resource portfolio and also a matter of identifying ways that we can use the resources more effectively.
Provost Arden stated that there are two things he really wants to focus the discussion on today. Looking at item d), “streamline selected administrative processes”, he is sure that 15% of the comments written on the comment cards today fall under administrative processes, things that bog us down on a day-to-day basis, and that could be streamlined or identified.
Chancellor Woodward is very committed to this issue. As an institution we really need to look very, very seriously at the way we do business. As an institution we have tended to try to shield ourselves from any risk by adding layers and layers of regulations and procedures. So in keeping with what the Chancellor charged us to do the Provost would like to focus on that element today and have a discussion about those administrative processes, those things that we encounter on a day-to-day basis that make our working life more difficult. If we are able to streamline some of these processes some may lead to financial savings and some may not lead to financial savings. Some may make it simpler for us to get our jobs done and increase our productivity. He would like to get input on these tasks, in particular administrative tasks.
Provost Arden stated that there are a number of these things that we just do to ourselves. One that came before the Executive Officers a week or so ago was a recommendation on export control, but the Chancellor put a stop to it. He charged those responsible to come back with a simplified version making sure that we meet the federal requirements but not overly regulating ourselves and not overly exposing ourselves to excessive processes.
The Chancellor’s objective is to identify two or three high profile things with which we can demonstrate as a university, that we can really make an impact; things that will help us every day of performing your responsibilities as a faculty member. What he is looking for today are suggestions of things that the faculty feel are administrative processes that are overly burdensome in the way responsibilities are performed. We are going to try to integrate these across campus to try and produce our refined list.
This directly bears on the subsequent item on the handout (e) which is “Review administrative structure”. Now if anyone has been reading the paper recently you will see that not only NC State, but really the whole UNC system has been slammed for disproportionate of growth, middle management or administration. The Provost’s and Chancellor’s take on this is that there has been disproportionate administrative growth, both at this university and across the country. We know that administering a major research extensive university is way more complex than it was twenty years ago, but it probably means disproportionate growth versus applying those resources to our core missions and core activities. The Provost believes that just looking at growth and positions without looking at the growth in administrative responsibilities is only looking at one half of the coin.
As the Chancellor said, when he walks around campus he does not see anyone twiddling their thumbs—everyone is doing something, but once again it comes back to the fact that have we overly regulated ourselves. So reviewing the administrative structure is something that is very important to the Chancellor and the Provost, and seeing if there are ways we can decrease the administrative component of our expenditures and reallocate those to core faculty missions. However we have to do this while looking at administrative processes; and that is part of the reason why streamlining administrative processes is a really important part of the process.
Senator Levy asked if there are plans to keep us informed about the cuts?
Provost Arden stated that with respect to the dialog about 900 administrative positions being cut across the UNC system, there is an ongoing dialog trying to determine what proportion of the 10% that we have already done is going to be accounted for by administrative reduction and middle management reduction, so it is an ongoing dialog. Some folks were concerned that 900 middle management positions were on top of the 10% reductions that had already taken place. As far as we can determine at the moment is mostly within that 10% reduction. We can give you feedback in terms of overall reductions
Question: When you say middle management, what is middle management?
Provost Arden responded that he has no idea. He explained that in some of the numbers used by the N&O story talking about growth and administration, using his own office as an example, there definitely has been growth. Some of this was title growth where people who were already doing something were re-titled as time went by, so separating out what has been title inflation and what has been real growth is one issue. Defining what is really middle management, what is upper administration, is also a difficult issue.
Question: Did salary inflation go along with title inflation?
Provost Arden responded that it frequently did.
Senator Fleisher stated that if those administrative cuts were made it seems that some money might come back to the colleges. He was told from someone in the college to not assume that.
Provost Arden stated that he thinks President Bowles’ fundamental working premise is that by reducing middle management you would redirect resources to the core of the university, which certainly are faculty activities. How exactly this would translate into money has not been worked out.
Senator Hatcher stated that it seems that we are robbing Peter to pay Paul and he is concerned that we are giving up talented people.
Provost Arden stated that he thinks this is an important factor, but he does not think it is enough of a factor to sway them from doing a critical analysis. What is truly important to the Chancellor and he is that we do not just look at positions in isolation. We have to look at the position and we have to look at the responsibility.
Chair Overton requested that the senators break out into groups of four or five to discuss the Provost’s comments.
Provost Arden suggested that they focus on letter (D) administrative processes on the handout. He noted that the Chancellor would really like to know what the top few things are that drive our faculty nuts and inhibit their productivity, and that they do not understand why it had to be done that way.
After the discussions in the break out session, Provost Arden stated that he thinks the character of the discussions is exactly what the Chancellor is looking for. He is looking forward to receiving the comments.
The comments will be compiled and shared with both the Provost and the Senators.
5. Proposed Resolution from the Governance Committee
The Governance Committee proposed a resolution in response to President Bowles’ letter (July 31, 2009) to the Board of Governors on recommendations concerning BOG policies on administrative separation and/or retreat to the faculty.
Senator Genereux presented the resolution for its first reading.
A motion passed to suspend the rules and to vote on the resolution.
After much discussion the resolution passed with one abstention.
6. Issues of Concern
Chair Overton received an issue of concern about parking in the new parking deck on Centennial Campus. The issue will be discussed in the Executive Committee Meeting and from there it may be assigned to the Resources and Environment Committee.
Senator Croom stated that there is a two tier system in DELTA that causes some departments to not receive their fair share of funding. He thinks one of the committees needs to look at DELTA’s two tier system to determine if it is equitable and fair.
Chair Overton stated that the issue would be discussed in the Executive Committee and then perhaps sent to one of the standing committees.
A motion passed to adjourn the meeting at 4:45 p.m.