By Katie Quaranta
Members of Faculty Senate passed four resolutions and elected new officers at their meeting Monday evening.
John Day, associate provost for academic budgeting, gave a presentation outlining the rationale behind the faculty compensation initiative, which calls for the university to invest $1.2 million for each of five years into increasing Group I faculty compensation. Day explained that this money is distributed to colleges based on a formula that takes into account both the total faculty head count and a rough estimate of how much above or below each college's salaries are compared to market value. The deans then have the authority to create guidelines by which this money is distributed to faculty in their specific colleges.
This presentation provided the basis of discussion on one of the three resolutions Joe McLaughlin, chair of the Finance and Facilities Committee, presented for a second reading and vote. The resolution states that the $1.2 million should be distributed uniformly across colleges based solely on merit evaluations. It also specifies that the university should initially distribute the money to each college based on faculty headcount and aggregate compensation, taking out the "imperfect" market calculation.
McLaughlin was particularly concerned about the fact that there was no accountability process in place to ensure that the money was distributed fairly throughout different colleges. He also expressed concern that the university was overestimating what this money could accomplish in increasing overall faculty compensation, rewarding productive faculty based on merit and resolving market disparities.
"We are trying to do too much with this thing," he said. "This relatively small pot of money is trying to take care of all these problems at once."
Many senators agreed with these assessments, but some felt that the market calculation should remain a part of the process. Senator Toby Stock recommended splitting the proposal into two resolutions with one addressing how the money should be divided among the colleges and the other looking at how it should be distributed once the colleges get it. However, McLaughlin determined that waiting until the next meeting to vote would render the motions worthless because the university would already have made decisions about these issues.
McLaughlin also introduced a resolution calling for the 3 percent raise pool recommended by the Budget Planning Council for FY 09 to be distributed across the board as a cost-of-living increase, rather than on the basis of merit. Senator Joseph Bernt said he supported the resolution, but felt the senate should not accept 3 percent as a total raise pool. He instead recommended that 3 percent be the base across-the-board raise, while an additional 2 percent raise be distributed on the basis of merit. After some discussion, McLaughlin accepted an amendment from Senator Norma Pecora to add language indicating that the proposed 3 percent raise pool is inadequate.
A third resolution asked that the university's estimated $3.5 million health benefits surplus be considered compensation to be used to defray and contain healthcare costs. It also stipulated that the all surplus derived from employee premium contributions be returned to employees at the end of each year in the form of a pro-rated premium holiday.
The senate voted to pass all three resolutions.
Senators also elected executive positions for next year. Running unopposed, Sergio Lopez-Permouth and David Thomas were unanimously re-elected to their positions of chair and vice chair, respectively. Senator Jeremy Webster was unanimously elected secretary.
In other meeting highlights:
- Lopez-Permouth introduced a resolution calling for a yearly Faculty Senate evaluation of the president and executive vice president and provost for a second reading and vote. Following a brief discussion, the senate passed the resolution unanimously.
- Vice President for University Advancement Howard Lipman reported that the university is well ahead of fundraising goals for FY08. He attributed much of that success to planning specific college goals with each of the deans based on historical research and projections as well as the hard work of his staff. He indicated that he is working long-term to target more middle-range donors (those who donate between $10,000 and $49,000), since this is an often-neglected group. He added that he is working to build University Advancement staffing to a level at which the university would see maximum fundraising gains.
- Interim Executive Vice Provost David Descutner presented an overview of Executive Vice President and Provost Kathy Krendl's report, during which he gave brief updates on the university's AQIP quality check-up, discussions surrounding a faculty workload policy and the centers of excellence reviews for both graduate and undergraduate programs. He also indicated that application numbers are up from last year at this time as is the quality of the incoming freshman class. Housing contracts, or final admits, are down 148 from last year, but Descutner said he is confident that the university will meet its targets for enrollment. The provost's full report is posted on her Web site.
- David Ingram, chair of the Educational Policy and Student Affairs Committee, introduced for a first reading a resolution proposing the addition of an advising section to the faculty handbook and calling for the executive vice president and provost to initiate a universitywide policy. While support for the addition to the faculty handbook was mixed, most senators strongly opposed an advising policy. Senator Phyllis Bernt was concerned about setting a bad precedent, indicating issues involving faculty should be addressed in the handbook rather than through a university policy. Ingram argued that a policy was necessary to ensure that the stated advising guidelines were followed. Senator Charles Smith opposed the resolution as well, stating that it shifts the burden of a student's education from students to faculty and that it asks for faculty to take on many additional responsibilities without specifically outlining how they would be compensated. The senate voted to table the resolution.