News, University News

Faculty discuss new budget process to increase transparency, efficiency

Faculty debate base-budgeting, changes to tenure process during Tuesday's meeting

By
Senior Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 4, 2019

The University will implement a new budgeting process during the 2021 fiscal year, Provost Richard Locke P’18 said at Tuesday’s faculty meeting.

Starting in 2021, the University’s budget will be determined by a base-budgeting approach, in which academic and administrative units will “rebuild budgets from scratch based on actual departmental needs,” Locke said. Previously, departments developed budget proposals by requesting incremental funds based on existing budgets.

The new base-budgeting model is aimed at increasing transparency and efficiency in the use of resources, Locke said. The model also “promotes (not only) fiscal discipline but also operational effectiveness,” he added.

Currently, all University departments are completing questionnaires outlining their fiscal needs. The University will use data from these questionnaires to work with each department on its future budget, Locke said.

Locke hopes that the base-budgeting model will help the University “get off the cycle of having to raise tuition and fees every year.” Most recently, the Corporation approved a 5 percent increase in undergraduate student tuition for the 2020 fiscal year, The Herald previously reported. The tuition increases “are … not sustainable for middle-class families,” Locke said. “It’s not sustainable for the University we want to be, which is truly accessible.”

Dean of the Faculty Kevin McLaughlin also discussed efforts to ensure that the University’s tenure process is “rigorous, fair and clear,” he said. At the faculty meeting on Nov. 5, faculty members discussed a proposal that would require additional recommendation letters for a tenure candidate’s dossier, The Herald previously reported. Based on feedback from faculty, McLaughlin said that the University decided not to move forward with this proposal.

McLaughlin said departmental chairs and directors suggested several alternative ways to improve the tenure process. These suggestions included more rigorously assessing recommendation letters for conflict of interest and encouraging deans to review a tenure candidate’s dossier for both completion and clarity before the dossier is sent to the Tenure, Promotions and Appointments Committee, McLaughlin said.

McLaughlin hopes that these efforts will mitigate the concerns about the University’s tenure promotions process brought up during the University’s most recent re-accreditation. In Oct. 2018, an external review committee criticized the University’s high cohort tenure rate, The Herald previously reported. That same year, the University’s cohort tenure rate was 67 percent, according to Locke.

The faculty also approved three motions to amend the Faculty Rules and Regulations, including the removal of the Information-Technology Advisory Board and changes to the Academic Priorities Committee. The faculty voted to grant the APC authority to approve new centers or rename existing ones when the center “wholly resides within a single existing academic unit,” according to the motion. They also voted to require the APC to evaluate “written standards and criteria” to aid in the external review of academic departments.

Michael Guglielmo, vice president for facilities management and executive vice president of finance and administration, also provided an update on the University’s capital projects. Between the 2015 and 2025 fiscal years, the University will spend around $1 billion on projects such as renovations to existing infrastructure and the construction of new buildings, he said. More specifically, several ongoing projects include a new performing arts center, a wellness center and residence hall, a lacrosse and soccer facility and renovations to Lincoln Field Building. Of the $1 billion budget, $600 million will be spent on the renewal of existing buildings.

James Morgan, Faculty Executive Committee chair and professor of cognitive, linguistic and psychological sciences, provided an update on the transition between the Advisory Committee on Corporate Responsibility in Investment Policies and its successor committee. Following a community meeting in October to solicit feedback on revisions to the duties of ACCRIP, the FEC formed a working group to develop a committee that will replace ACCRIP. This group, which includes faculty members, staff, graduate students and undergraduate students, plans to meet once more before finalizing the new committee’s responsibilities and structure.

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