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Faculty Senate governance group covers strategic reinvestment process

ATHENS, Ohio (Nov. 14, 2006) -- Ohio University's strategic reinvestment process is under way, Associate Provost for Academic Budget and Planning John Day said at last night's November Faculty Senate meeting. Each year, the university will follow a four-step process to determine how it will reinvest the $6.3 million in funds set aside to support the goals stated in its academic plan, he said.

Commitee reports

Faculty Senate committees presented the issues on which they've been working. An overview:

Educational Policy and Student Affairs
David Ingram presented for a first reading a resolution that affirms Ohio University's commitment to academic integrity. 

Professional Relations
Norma Pecora announced that Provost Kathy Krendl has opted not to sign the resolution regarding the Family Medical Leave Act, which the senate passed last month. Pecora and Faculty Senate Chair Phyllis Bernt will meet about the resolution with Krendl, who has expressed concern that the resolution does not use language from the Policy and Procedures Handbook. The resolution introduces language into the Faculty Handbook that explains the act.

Finance and Facilities
Joe McLaughlin reported on the university's transition to Anthem as a third-party insurance provider. He said that concerns are surfacing from community health care providers, some of which have said Anthem does not reimburse as fully as other insurance providers. McLaughlin will relay those concerns to the director of benefits and compensation, he said.

Promotion and Tenure
Annette Graham led a discussion on the principles that drive workload policies for tenure-track faculty.

The process will begin with the university determining its strategic priorities, which it has already done for this year by naming undergraduate education, graduate education and research, and faculty compensation as areas for funding.

"Normally this will happen at the end of spring quarter so academic units can think about it over the summer," Day said. "The timing will be different this year because we're already so far along in the year." 

Work on the three priority areas has already begun. Provost Kathy Krendl has appointed the Faculty Compensation Task Force, a group that is developing a multi-year plan for faculty compensation; the Graduate Education and Research Board is considering initiatives for funding that will support graduate priorities; and proposals for funding related to undergraduate priorities are due Jan. 1. 

Step two, the current phase, calls for colleges and other academic areas to prepare proposals that further the goals of their strategic plans related to undergraduate education. Deans and senior administrators will rank and comment on the strategic importance of the proposals received from planning units before passing them on to the Budget Planning Council by mid-February. The BPC will rank the proposals in terms of the budgetary impact and potential qualitative and quantitative return on investment before forwarding its recommendations to the president for final decisions. Awardees will be announced in March. 

The strategic reinvestment process is expected to help make the transition to the university's new budget model, which will connect the university's fiscal resources with the priorities of the academic plan by allocating funds in more direct line with the activities of academic units. Implementation of the new budget is slated for fiscal year 2008, Day said, though during the first year, budgets will not actually change as the university evaluates and monitors the approach while determining what shifts in resources should occur and over what period of time.

Absent from the meeting were Krendl and President Roderick McDavis, who had previous plans to attend the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges annual meeting in Houston. 

In other agenda items, senators passed a resolution establishing a timeline for the provost to sign resolutions passed by the senate. It stipulates that the provost must respond to resolutions within 60 days of its passage in one of three ways: by signing it, by stating in writing that the resolution will not be signed and explaining why, or by stating in writing the need for an extension of time to consider the resolution.

Faculty Senate Chair Phyllis Bernt led a discussion about whether or not the university should switch from a quarter to semester system, a change the university is considering. Senators spoke out both in support and against semesters.

"A change to semesters would absolutely demolish faculty for three or four years," said John Bender, a faculty member from the philosophy department, "think about all the sequence courses ... they'd have to be redone."

Others said that the university should consider the financial and academic costs of the change as well as studies previously conducted by the university on the topic.

"In the long term, it would help with research, knowing we're only advising two times a year," Jennifer Hinton, a faculty member from the recreation and sport sciences department, said.

A variety of additional issues covered in the Bernt's report included:

  • The senate approved an Interdisciplinary Council as a standing committee. The committee, which will have 17 voting members from throughout the university, will serve as a centralized voice to promote interdisciplinary activities at Ohio University.
  • The new Baker University Center will be open on Jan. 2, 2007, and a grand opening celebration will be held on Feb. 10, 2007. A communication studies class has made the dedication of the facility their project, and Bernt introduced some of those students, who explained that the celebration will include a ribbon-cutting ceremony and open houses, and asked senators for ideas for getting faculty involved.
  • McDavis expects to announce an interim vice president for research in the next week. The search for a chief information officer is ongoing, with the search narrowed to two finalists.
  • Faculty Senate's next meeting will be Jan. 8, 2007.

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Written by Elizabeth Boyle

Media Contact: Director of Media Relations Jack Jeffery, (740) 597-1793 or jefferyj@ohio.edu

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