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Faculty Affairs Committee Minutes (10-05-06)

Present: Stacey Parker Aronson, Janet Ericksen, Bart Finzel, Tom Mahoney, Argie Manolis, Alex Murphy, Timna Wyckoff,
Absent: No one

The meeting began at 4:00 p.m.

FAC Meeting with Chancellor Johnson

In response to our letter dated September 25, 2006, Chancellor Johnson, met with the Faculty Affairs Committee in order to address a series of questions we had previously sent her.

  • With respect to the UMM Strategic Plan, what is the role of faculty and staff in approving and/or carrying out the plan?

The Chancellor told the FAC that the Executive Committee has discussed the role of faculty in the Strategic Plan. There will be a meeting of the Campus Assembly to ask for a vote of confidence with regard to the Strategic Plan. What if there is no support (or a close vote)? Obviously, if there is no "buy-in" from the campus community, the Chancellor believes that we shouldn't go forward with the plan. Finzel, Ericksen and Aronson explained our attempts to provide feedback to the Task Force. Information sharing by the Task Force members does not, in our opinion, constitute proper consultation. The FAC, for example, made extensive suggestions regarding Faculty Scholarship that were simply ignored. How are faculty-staff involved? It is appropriate that committees be asked to weigh in. Initiatives will need to be prioritized. There is some sense of urgency in our connection to the state and to the TC Strategic Plan. Timing has been a problem. Manolis told the Chancellor that Pareena did respond to our suggestions and acknowledged receiving them. Mahoney asked about "carrots;" that is to say, what incentives does the campus have if we do this well? What support/resources will we have to carry out the initiatives? According to the Chancellor, the Strategic Plan is crucial for ... (1) us, so we know who we are; (2) TC, in order to get in line for resources. She also affirmed that it should be a living document.

  • How does the upper administration plan to down-size faculty and staff?

Our initial request to the Dean and then to you was this: The FAC requests clarification regarding the process or oversight of connections between budgetary decision (in particular regarding faculty lines) and curriculum (regarding majors and disciplines). To be more explicit, this question was prompted by but not exclusively related to the situation in German. The loss of a tenure-track line in German has had a direct and devastating impact on the ability of the one remaining faculty member to continue to offer the major, let alone call herself a discipline. We are concerned that there may be no procedure for eliminating majors and/or disciplines from the UMM curriculum. There certainly has been little if any input by the existing campus governance structure, namely Campus Assembly, and any and all pertinent Assembly committees. Is there a process or a procedure? If not, shouldn't there be?

The Chancellor suspects that there is a conclusion is the very essence of the question. She understands the anxieties faced by German faculty but is sorry for the budget. According to a document she shared with us from the Education Planning and Policy committee, there are procedures for adding, changing or eliminating programs and the final decision rests with the Regents. In a discussion of the budget, she added that there are many ways to balance a budget. The two most obvious are to (1) reduce expenses (some are fixed à salaries represent largest portion); or to (2) increase revenue. How will we balance the budget? There will be a possible need for realignment, reorganization. The downsizing of faculty and staff may be one of the ways. There will need to be a careful consideration of both the numbers (class size, teacher-student ratios) and program integrity. This will involve program reviews. Wyckoff asked if the current criteria would have allowed German to get in the situation in which it finds itself? The Chancellor reminded us that we will be asked to conduct program reviews. One of the questions that we will need to ask is whether or not you can support your existing program? If not, what can you do? There is also a pressing need to advertise positions. Wyckoff asked if we can still offer a German major if we don't fill the faculty line. Ericksen noted that to switch a program from a major to a minor, we need Regents' approval. We will need to look at the sustainability of the program. Can you offer a major with only one faculty member? The Chancellor responded that we are contractually obligated to do so as the major is in the catalog. If a program is to be discontinued, it needs Regents' approval. Just because a program is "limping along," we don't necessarily discontinue it.

  • What are your priorities for UMM?

The Chancellor's stated priorities for UMM are as follows:

  • Get us in a good financial situation.
  • Do what is important to us.
  • Look ahead to the budget.
  • Identify initiatives in the Strategic Plan (Ex. Internationalization).

The meeting was adjourned at 5:00 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Stacey Parker Aronson
Chair, Faculty Affairs Committee