It may have been the faculty's dime, but President Sheldon Hackney and Provost Michael Aiken did most of the talking. The president and provost finally offered their long-awaited answer to faculty budget concerns and allegations of unrestricted administration growth at the Faculty Senate's annual plenary session yesterday afternoon. The once-a-year convergence of faculty serves mainly as a chance for faculty to catch up on the previous year's work of the Faculty Senate and its numerous committees. However, the major focus of this year's meeting were speeches by the president and provost on the financial "cloud over higher education," in Aiken's words. Debate was limited, but more outspoken faculty members used the session as an opportunity to expound on issues of academic freedom, faculty oversight of school budgets, the University's image, the length of faculty judicial complaints, and the president's latest draft of racial harassment policy. Although the Senate took no votes, a quorum of just over 100 faculty members attended this year's plenary. However, that number had dropped to less than 50 by the end of the two-and-a-half hour long meeting. The $18.6 million proposed cuts in the University's state appropriation and the recent scandal surrounding Stanford University's accounting for indirect research costs comprised some of the concerns raised by administrators and faculty at the meeting. Recent reports by Faculty Senate committees have also heightened fears over future salary and benefit increases, as well as the future of academics at the University. One of the reports targets growth in the administration's unrestricted budget over a period of twelve years while faculty size remained nearly constant. Hackney started by calling the administrative growth study a "serious attempt" with "quite laudable" analysis of several areas of the budget. But he proceeded to question the validity of the study's conclusions, citing what he considered to be several major flaws. Hackney attributed much of the rise in administrative budgets to funding increases for libraries, financial aid, computing, security and regulatory compliance in areas of toxic waste disposal and laboratory animal care -- increases either required by law or which contribute to the work of faculty members. He also criticized the study for only considering the University's unrestricted budgets -- funds not locked into particular programs -- and also for not including clinician educators, an atypical segment of the faculty which nonetheless achieved the greatest growth of any faculty group over the last twelve years. By including restricted budgets and clinician educators in his analysis, Hackney arrived at a figure representing a small percentage gain in the faculty's budget allocation. "No runaway administration lurking here, I think," Hackney said. Bioengineering Department Chairperson Soloman Pollack, chairperson of the committee that authored the report, said the study has been both praised and panned, but defended it as an accurate, relevant look at budgetary effects on the daily life of faculty. He said that prior to 1982, similar statistics place the faculty growth ahead of the administration. The resulting turnaround has altered the quality of scholarly life, he claimed. The provost's address dealt mainly with the effect of state cuts on the University. The University plans to absorb proposed cuts through the use of the provost's subvention fund, temporarily ending a program to supplement faculty salaries. As in the past, the provost stressed that the measures are designed to protect the University's academic core through use of a $6.7 million deficit and cuts to the administration.Comments powered by Disqus
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