FACULTY SENATE MEETING
February 8, 2011
Present: Chair Overton, Chair-elect Kellner, Secretary Hergeth, Parliamentarian Weiner, Provost Arden: Senators Argyropoulos, Aspnes, Auerbach, Bernhard, Bourham, Croom, Edmisten, Hammerberg, Havner, Headen, Khosla, Kidd, Kiwanuka-Tondo, Levy, Miller-Cochran, Mitchell, Moore, Paur, Robinson, Rucker, Sztajn, Tonelli, Williams
Excused: Senators Funkhouser, Hatcher, Sawyers
Absent: Senators Carver, Krim, Kotek, Townsend, Tu, Washington
Guests: Matt Peterson, Director of Federal Research Affairs; Eileen Goldgeier, Vice Chancellor & General Counsel; Cheryl Branker, Assoc. Vice Provost and Director of Disability Services; Betsy Brown, Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs, Ethan Harrelson, Student Senate
1. Call to Order
Chair Overton called the ninth meeting of the fifty seventh session to order at 3 p.m.
2. Welcome and Announcement
Chair Overton welcomed Senators and Guests.
Chair Overton shared a website www.ncsu.edu/budget that contains additional information on the budget.
Chair Overton announced that the Senate is developing a feedback form for the Faculty Senate website.
3. Approval of the Minutes, Meeting No. 8, January 25, 2011
A motion passed to approve the minutes.
Provost Arden gave a brief overview on the three major processes that are in progress (the strategic planning process, budget process, and the process that the Chancellor asked the Provost and Vice Chancellor of Finance and Business to deliver), which is to look at whether or not to do administrative restructuring and realignments within the university.
Provost Arden stated that the hope was to have a draft plan for the campus to review by the end of this week or early next week. Having seen some preliminary drafts within the last few days, a lot will have to be done to make sure that we are encompassing some of the major issues that were put forward in the nine taskforce reports.
Provost Arden reported that the overarching document is a forty or fifty page document that provides the big picture and direction of the institution within the next five or eight years. The document will be very much in a draft form when it is released. The plan is to solicit input from the faculty and then send it to the Chancellor for his input. We hope to have it to the BOT by April.
Provost Arden reported that they are receiving back and forth information from downtown about whether taxes will be able to assist. He heard Senator Berger say that about 30 Republicans in the Senate and about sixty in the House got elected on a platform of not extending those taxes, so they will probably not be extended. We are still planning on a 15% reduction on all units. The academic units and the non academic units have submitted their reduction strategies or reduction plans, 9% for academic units and 11.25% for everyone else. These are reductions planned because we do not know what the final reduction will be. It will depend on what is handed down by the Legislature. It will depend on whether we get enrollment increase funding; it will depend on whether we get campus initiated tuition increase and whether or not the legislature might do what they did last year, which is to authorize an additional tuition increase to offset some of the budget reductions. I would say that it is highly unlikely that we will end up with a 15% reduction, but we do have to plan for it just in case.
Provost Arden stated that the last process is the process that the Chancellor had requested, and we are working hard on it at the moment trying to see if there are both cost saving and more importantly administrative realignments. Let’s just say we decided to eliminate a college. That does not save a huge amount of money in the current budget year. What you really want to do is to make decisions that are fiscally responsible so that we can direct more of our resources toward our core mission. We also have to make sense of a lot of other perspectives that really result in units having a greater amount of flexibility and synergy and operating more effectively over time. We are not interested in proposing things that look like it might save a little bit of money in the short term. We are interested in proposing things that more effectively align administrative units. I think we are making good progress in terms of our planning on all fronts.
Walt Robinson: People are focusing on job losses—how paranoid should faculty be at this point?
Provost—I don’t think that tenured or tenure track faculty or non tenure track faculty should be paranoid at all. I’m not interested in going down the pathway at the moment unless GA asked us to do something different. I think there are significant gains that can be made on focuses elsewhere. I did hear that there is some work being done, I think at the GA level, on retirement incentives. I think retirement incentive programs are great, but they are not going to save you a lot of money in the short term. So, the blunt answer to your question is, if there truly is a 15% reduction, and you run the numbers from everything that is put on the table, you are talking about significant job losses. You are talking about hundreds of staff positions. You are talking about faculty positions, vacant positions. You are talking about very significant losses of seats and sections across the university, mostly non tenure track faculty positions, EPA and SPA positions, vacant faculty positions, but you are talking about a very significant impact. That is before we go back and gather that data and try to protect general education, these are the kinds of things that we try to do to slant away from the undergraduate education and general education, etc., but nonetheless you are looking at a pretty sizable cut. I don’t think it will get up there, but I do believe there will be significant job losses. In terms of some of the things that were put on the table by some of the task forces about having the flexibility to eliminate tenured faculty positions, program elimination, retirement, I just don’t see that happening in the current budget year. I don’t think we as a system have all of the processes in place for program eliminations.
David Auerbach--Should staff be paranoid?
Provost Arden stated that there are two levels of discussions going on. In the proposal that all unit heads have been asked to put forward as part of a 15% budget reduction planning strategy, some units have talked about centralizing resources, normally Business and Finance and Human Resources, more at the college level out of the department level, and that would lead to some attrition of services. The Chancellor has asked Charlie and me to look at the concept of shared or regionalized service centers, i.e. if some of those services can be provided in a regional context. The reality on those things is that there are two extremes: The completely decentralized model is less efficient at the university level in terms of utilization of resources but it probably provides the highest level of service to the local constituents. On the other side a completely centralized model is more efficient but provides a lower level of local service; so the point is to get a balance. Are there efficiencies that could be gained by regionalizing Human Resources and business functions with a department or college level or would the reduced local service outweigh the efficiency? So, that is the discussion that is going on. We are working with the university business office and try to determine what the best distribution would be. We don’t have a headcount yet as to the number of positions that would be lost or reallocated. The procedure for how we would do this is not in place at the moment.
Aspens –Is there any talk about cutting back on the students?
Provost stated that the enrollment projections are a topic of discussion and we have been cutting back slightly on our new freshmen admissions. We peeked about two years ago at 4700 new freshmen. We dropped down 150 last fall, and our current admission which has been approved by GA drops down another 150, so at the moment we are programmed to admit 4400 new freshmen in the fall of 2011 versus 4700. We are currently at roughly 34,000 students and only a couple of years ago the discussion was about hitting 40,000 students by 2017; we are backing off of that. I think that we might be targeting more like 36 or 37 thousand by 2020. I think we are likely to continue going down a little, but I don’t see it going down much under 4,000. The other thing we have to look at in terms of maintaining access is to look at our transfers and whether or not we would be willing to lower freshmen enrollment and replace that with upper level transfers coming out in the first couple of years. That is a pretty good financial model because there is a lot of cost incurred in those first couple of years with lots of the students’ lack of attention in the first couple of years. The enrollment planning is an absolute critical part of it; you have to fit that into the model. The model would be to slightly decrease freshmen undergraduate enrollment. Maybe ramp up transfers slightly to maintain access and then increase graduate enrollment which is compatible with being a Research I university. That is where we are headed at the moment, but the long term plan has not been locked down.
Mohamed – 5% - 7% promotional increases – are they going to be implemented or do they fall victim to the no increases rules?
Provost stated that as long as GA or the Legislature gives us permission to give promotional increases, then we will be giving promotional increases. Traditionally those funds come from campus initiated tuition increases. From a personal perspective, I don’t think it should be a hit and miss for faculty that are promoted. I think we should make every effort to give those individuals the 5 to 7% increase.
Chris Tonelli—I would not want to send my child to a university that couldn’t graduate in five to six years. How does the graduation schedule play into this? Have you noticed whether or not it deters people from enrolling?
Provost Arden’s response was “no” because, to be blunt, where would they go that they have not had as much or more budget cuts? Every other major public university in the country –the coming year 44 states, possibly the District of Columbia has budget deficits totaling above 400 billion. North Carolina is not sitting pretty because when you look at deficit as a proportion of the state budgets we are about 20%, but there are some states like Illinois is 45%, California is 29%, so we are not in top shape but we are not the worst.
Comments from Matt Peterson
There is a continuing resolution that ends on March 6 and there is currently action in the House to pass a continuing resolution that would fund the Federal Government for the remainder of the fiscal year. The House proposal has a 12 to 13 percent cut in discretionary spending. I think it is fair to assume that research will not escape a cut of this magnitude.
The Senate is going to have something to say about that, and the White House is going to have something to say about where that final cut will happen. I expect there to be some cuts in that discretionary funding for the rest of the fiscal year, and that is going to impact the way you spend out your current grant. It’s going to impact renewals. It’s going to impact the grant opportunities that are put forward for the rest of the fiscal year, and it’s going to impact the ABC planning for FY 2012.
There is a possibility that the Government could experience a shutdown after March 6th. It’s not clear which side will come out poorly this time but I don’t think the leadership in the House, Senate or the White House has much appetite for finding out which side will fair poorly. It is hard to say that it will not happen because I think the scenario could play out that way, but I would imagine that it wouldn’t happen for very long.
The other big issue is the impact on students. The impact on students will be the Pell Grant shortfall, the impact of the budget cuts on students’ financial aid.
Headen—If a person gets a grant, how will he know if that money can really be spent?
Peterson stated that in terms of yearly impact, once you get the grant, unless you have money for future years, they can’t pull it back.
Phil Mitchell –I think I heard the president say no earmarks—how will that affect research budgets?
Peterson stated that we typically get 8 to 12 million dollars a year in earmarks. It’s not a huge faction, but some of the projects, I think, will not get funded any other way. That will impact our campus, but for very specific programs.
5. Update on Providing Reasonable Accommodations to Qualified Students with Disabilities
Vice Chancellor Goldgeier reported that the university received a complaint from a student last year who claimed that the university did not provide her with reasonable accommodations, and in negotiating with the Office of Civil Rights, the US Department of Education branch that is authorized to enforce the ADA and Section 504, they came to a resolution on a particular practice that had been done for some time and they have made some adjustments to that.
VC Goldgeier stated that the university is required to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified students with disabilities. Each semester faculty members receive a letter that is co-signed by the Provost, Vice Provost Woodard, and Associate Vice Provost Branker reminding them of the responsibilities and obligations for providing students with reasonable accommodations. It’s also a reminder that DSO is the authorized unit on campus for determining whether or not the student is eligible to receive the accommodation. It is an interactive process, and DSO has been doing a great job.
There is no requirement regardless of what the student’s disability is, to lower course standards, waive course requirements, or fundamentally alter a course. We have to remind faculty that they should not be determining what the disability is, that should be left up to DSO. We also ask faculty to not come up with their own reasonable accommodations for students. We want you to refer any student back to DSO to get proper documentation and approval for particular accommodations.
One of the parts or interactive processes between the student and the university involves the faculty member, and the faculty member is part of the process, and what OCR has declared is that a faculty member cannot solely come up with a reasonable accommodation or to even determine whether a reasonable accommodation will fundamentally alter a course. What we have been doing in the past is that if a student requested additional time to complete homework DSO would refer that student to the faculty member to determine whether that would be appropriate for that particular course and that particular discipline by that particular faculty member and what OCR told us is that the faculty member cannot solely make that decision. Our new practice that we instituted in the fall is: First, if a student requests extended time for homework, DSO will determine whether or not the student is eligible to receive that accommodation based on the medical documentation. If the medical documentation supports extended time for test then DSO would facilitate the interactive process between student and faculty member. Now this may also include interactive process with the department head and dean.
The purpose of the interactive process when DSO comes to the faculty member with a particular student with a disability is whether the extended time for homework would fundamentally lower the academic standards, and DSO would involve the student, faculty member, dean, and department head, and likely the Provost. This deliberative process requires us to determine the essential elements of the course in the program, what’s feasible and whether a central requirement of the course can be modified for a student without lowering the standard.
DSO will come to the faculty member and ask a series of questions. We have spent a lot of time going over this and deliberating and negotiating with the Office of Civil Rights about how we would implement something like this.
Extended time for homework may not be a reasonable accommodation because it may alter the course, but in other disciplines it may not be required to get the homework done for the next particular class and that a one or two day exception may be okay depending on the course. We will ask these types of questions, in particular if learning in each class dependent on preparation in the timely conclusion of homework assignments.
What does this mean for the faculty? Presuming academic integrity is our number one priority, we will not lower our standards, we will not fundamentally alter a course, but where extra time is determined to be reasonable there are several things that we can do like either extending the time, merging some homework into smaller projects or larger projects. Talking about this with the Office of Civil Rights, what is a reasonable extension of time, it wouldn’t come up with a number, but based on our research for these types of cases an extra one to two days is our baseline for daily assignments. This is not about extending time by weeks and months.
Please contact the Office of Legal Affairs or the Office of Disability Services if you have any questions.
The PowerPoint presentation is available on the Faculty Senate website at:
Does the office provide services to the person who’s working with the student?
Dr. Branker responded “yes”, and technology is also provided so the students can manage their own homework.
How do you handle students who have a disability but do not have the finances? Are there financial resources?
Dr. Branker responded that there are resources here on campus; they are part of the cost to be a student; they have to have the documentation.
VC Goldgeier stated that we have a system wide health insurance for students now; all students have to have health insurance, and depending on the nature of the disability they may use their insurance.
Is equipment available for students?
Dr. Branker responded, yes, technology is available for students to use in the classroom.
Senator Moore thanked Disability Services for the technology and other provisions that are made available to students.
How are the students doing in term of graduation?
Dr. Branker responded that they don’t review that information but do receive feedback from the students. “A lot of students choose not to register even though they need to,” said Branker.
6. Update on Proposed Ombudsman Position
Vice Provost Betsy Brown presented a PowerPoint to update the faculty on the proposed Ombuds position.
Vice Provost Brown stated that a group was convened by Provost Nielsen in 2008 to discuss the appropriateness of an Ombuds Office at NC State. The person in the position would be an active member of the tenured faculty, faculty member on phased retirement, or a retired member of the tenured faculty with current knowledge and understanding of university policies, processes, and procedures and the complexity and diversity of the institution.
Vice Provost Brown stated that the position would provide faculty a confidential and independent source and also a source of information for the campus on potential methods of resolutions including information on university policies and procedures.
Vice Provost Brown noted that the position is on hold due to budget restrictions. The group will continue to meet periodically and receive feedback from campus on the need and nature of the position.
The PowerPoint is available on the Faculty Senate website at:
Auerbach –what are the actions of the ombuds person?
Vice Provost Brown stated that she thinks the confidentiality would extend to the person who came to the office.
Walt Robinson – Will having an ombuds person avoid a law suit every couple of years—does it keep institutions out of high legal costs?
Vice Provost Brown responded that she could not answer that nor does she think that this is the purpose because the legal steps are handled by someone else. I think they are usually requested by the employees and not imposed by the institution.
Secretary Hergeth stated that he thinks the economic benefits of an ombud are not limited to avoided legal fees, but that an Ombuds Office may have a positive influence on faculty moral and indirectly on faculty efficiency.
A motion passed to adjourn the meeting at 4:30 p.m.