April 4, 2016
This past week, the president and the provost met with the deans to present their budget-remediation plan. The key element of the plan seems to be that, as an “exercise,” each college will be asked to identify mechanisms for cutting its budget by up to 8%. I say “seems to be” because the plan has not yet been communicated to the faculty leadership but instead to faculty in several colleges by their deans.
The president and the provost are not scheduled to meet with the faculty leadership until this coming Wednesday, April 6. Since the colleges’ plans, we understand, are due by April 11, this short timeline means at least one of three things will occur: (1) faculty will be participating in reviews of the college budgets before the faculty leadership has the opportunity to take any position on the proposed budget-remediation plan, thereby preempting any meaningfully organized shared governance; (2) if faculty manage to object in any organized way to elements of the proposed plan, meaningful shared governance will still be preempted by the short timeline because we may have time to articulate our objections but not time to provide any further input; or (3) if there is no organized opposition to this plan, faculty acquiescence to it will be implied.
Since these budget issues cannot have come as a sudden surprise to anyone charged with managing the university, we must assume that the short timeline is intended to preempt meaningful input from faculty–to preempt meaningful shared governance.
Moreover, we do not believe that the instructional side of the university ledger is primarily or even largely responsible for the deficits that the university is facing. And we do not accept that the instructional side of the ledger is the only place in which meaningful savings can be realized. We believe, instead, that there are areas other than instruction in which substantial cuts can be made that are large enough to mitigate significantly, if not eliminate, any reductions on the instructional side.
If the university is facing a substantial shortfall, especially one that is likely to persist for any extended period, it is critical that the core mission and the main revenue source of the institution be preserved, even if it is done at the expense of non-instructional initiatives and special interests.
I will be prepared to make some specific recommendations to the administration this Wednesday and then to share them with all of you immediately afterwards. But those initial recommendations will certainly be followed by others as we review the university’s audited financial statements and will therefore be just the beginning of our efforts to ensure that our institutional priorities are not misplaced in the process of addressing the budget issues.
Therefore, we strongly suggest not only that faculty refuse to participate in budget-review “exercises” until the faculty leadership has actually been presented with the plan and has had sufficient time to formulate a response but also that you voice very strenuous opposition to what is a very arbitrarily short timeline for the colleges to submit the results of their budget-review “exercises.” To facilitate your making your voices heard, please visit forums on our chapter’s Facebook and Twitter pages.
[Marty Kich, President, AAUP-WSU]