Monday, March 04, 2013

Waiting for Strategic Reductions

We were expecting to hear the first indications of where EKU's Strategic Budget Reallocation Task Force was headed this week. but alas, we will have to wait a bit longer. While this is disappointing, in fairness to the Task Force, they've been given a mammoth task which will not be served by advancing ideas that are not fully vetted.
In the meantime, those folks who prefer to give their advice to the committee anonymously now have a pipeline. Taskforce Feedback   or this:
Otherwise, the Task Force leadership sorta says:
  1. Thanks for the feedback
  2. Substantive discussions about specific programs is only just beginning
  3. Don't believe every rumor you hear
  4. Students in affected programs will be supported through completion
  5. No person or program is beyond review
  6. Impact will not be evenly distributed
  7. There will be efforts made to limit affected faculty and staff...but this is likely to come down in a hurry, when it comes

The following update is being sent by Pam Schlomann, James Street, and Janna Vice on behalf of the Strategic Budget Reallocation Task Force.

EKU Faculty and Staff:

We have received many communications via the email account established last week.  Thank you!  You may continue to use that as a vehicle to communicate your suggestions, questions, and comments to the Task Force.  Some folks have also asked for a way to submit comments anonymously. An anonymous survey has been created for this purpose. One may submit multiple entries by either method.

In addition to many suggestions on ways to increase revenue or cut costs, a few questions/concerns have been raised in multiple email communications:

1)      Concern in response to rumors about specific programs/units which will be eliminated:  The Task Force has only begun to discuss University level initiatives; there have been no substantive discussions or decisions.  Thus far, a beginning list of areas to be explored has been identified and an initial plan for obtaining appropriate data and recommendations has been developed. Concerns in response to statements such as, “I heard that…” are likely unfounded and based solely on rumor. Students have expressed concern that academic programs will be eliminated or faculty will not be available for necessary courses. Academic programs will be reviewed, but none will be abruptly discontinued. Supporting student success and progress toward graduation are priorities.

2)      Concern that some nonacademic units will be held harmless: No sector of the University will escape review. As indicated in the initial communication, “There are no “off-limit” topics of discussion. While all parts of the University will share in the reduction, the impact will not be equally distributed because the focus will be on strengthening the core mission.”

3)      Concern that individuals will not receive adequate notice or assistance in the reduction in force process: While recognizing that an involuntary reduction-in-force process will have negative impact on individuals, the University is committed to limiting the affected number of positions. The University continues to value its employees. Part of the delay in finalizing the recommendations is because the Task Force shares these concerns.

Although the Task Force had set a target of this week for the University community to be informed about proposed policies to reduce the workforce, the complexity of the process and the potential impact on both the University and individuals necessitate additional time. The Task Force has been exploring a variety of options and analyzing models to determine the best approach.  Additionally, the Board of Regents’ special meeting to approve the recommended policies will be after spring break.  Therefore, detailed communication to the campus about policies to reduce the workforce will be released after spring break when the Board meets.  While we realize that this delay prolongs anxiety about the process, the weight of the decisions necessitates careful deliberation. 

Again, the Task Force welcomes your comments, suggestions, and questions.  You can submit them by sending your email to or submit them anonymously to the survey at Taskforce Feedback   or this: .  If you should have difficulty accessing the link, please contact the Office of Institutional Research.

Then there's this from The Eastern Progress:

$23 million reallocations not beneficial for all

Layoffs, retirement incentives and cutting programs are some of the options being looked at by Eastern as ways of reallocating $23 million needed for the next administration.

Eastern President Doug Whitlock said the reallocated money is going toward improving the university’s growing programs. He said it would specifically go toward adding faculty members to the growing programs and providing raises.

“This will help my successor deal with this institution’s future in a very strategic and positive, positive way,” Whitlock said.

The only person to become more positive in this process will be the next president of Eastern, especially if people will be getting fired.
Whitlock said he doesn’t feel it’s possible to reach this goal without cutting employees because they make up 75 percent of the university’s budget.

Rather than cutting back on employees, we at The Progress would like to challenge the administration to cut back their own salaries.

Several administrators at Eastern make six-figure salaries. Whitlock makes $259,335, Janna Vice, university provost, makes $184,300 and Judy Spain, university counsel, makes $126,684.

Laying off employees and removing entire departments might seem more meaningful if the administration is willing to look at the usefulness and effectiveness of it’s own positions.

More importantly, the decision to do so would not seem so radical if administrative employees were open to taking a salary cut or shrinking their staff.

Why do these administrators not take a hit to their own paychecks for the betterment of the university? Instead, they immediately jump toward cutting programs that are beneficial in some fashion to a percentage of the student population...
This from the Chronicle of Higher Education:

3 to 1:

That's the Best Ratio of Tenure-Track Faculty 

to Administrators, a Study Concludes

In the long-running debate over how many administrators are too many, two economic researchers believe they have identified an ideal ratio. For colleges to operate most effectively, they say, each institution should employ three tenured or tenure-track faculty for every one full-time administrator.

What the ratio is now is difficult to say, though most colleges probably would have to hire significantly more faculty or pare back on administrators if they wanted to meet a three-to-one goal. The numbers are fuzzy and inconsistent because universities report their own data. Different institutions categorize jobs differently, and the ways they choose to count positions that blend teaching and administrative duties further complicate the data. When researchers talk about "administrators," they can never be sure exactly which employees they are including. Sometimes colleges count librarians, for example, as administrators, and sometimes they do not.

In their recent study, Robert E. Martin, a professor emeritus of economics at Centre College, and R. Carter Hill, a professor of economics at Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge, attempted to quantify the factors that drive costs at 137 public research institutions. They describe their findings in a working paper titled "Measuring Baumol and Bowen Effects in Public Research Universities," released in October.

In their analysis of federal data from 1987 to 2008, the researchers calculated that the nationwide ratio was tilted toward administrators, with two full-time administrators for every one tenured or tenure-track faculty member. But their analysis showed, they said, that a ratio of three faculty to one administrator would be the most cost-effective balance for universities.

While examining the cost effects on institutions of external forces, like faculty and administrative salary trends, and internal decisions, like where to spend available money, the researchers found that college officials' own decisions accounted for a $2 increase in cost for every $1 increase caused by external factors.

The researchers found that skewing the three-to-one ratio with too many administrators or too many faculty members would cause costs to climb.

"The balance between people who are actually in the trenches and those who are overseeing that work has gotten grossly out of line," Mr. Martin said. "That imbalance is one of the primary reasons for why costs grew so out of control over the last three decades." …

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sad part is this directive from Turner is creating a toxic culture of fear and anxiety among staff who have weathered the last three years of cuts and stagnation. I would rather have 10% of my salary cut than to see support staff and non-tenure track faculty be forced out. This place is suppose to be about working together to serve the students. Now we've got leaders making candid and condending remarks about other folk's programs' value and how those should be shuttered instead of their own. Is that really the culture you want to established at the university, much less for a new president to inherit? He may have been whiz bang at private industry but public education is a different animal and one which deserves a little more thought than just shooting from the hip based on past experiences in a different cow town.