Transcript Senate Meeting
January 17, 2017
James Goldstein, chair: We are ready to start. As a reminder to everyone to sign in at the top. If you are a substitute for a Senator please print your name legibly and indicate that you are a substitute. We don’t have clickers today because we don’t have any votes that are on the agenda.
I want to welcome you to the 5th meeting of the University Senate for 2016-17, the first meeting of the new calendar year. I am glad everyone could find their way to this room despite the obstacles and I am glad you were able to brave the winter weather in order to struggle over here [a joke because it is 70 degrees today].
I hope everyone had a pleasant and restful break and that your new semester has gotten off to a brilliant start. I now call the meeting to order.
Senators only need to initial but if you are a substitute we need your name printed legibly. It’s been a while so let me reintroduce the Senate officers. Xing Ping Hu is the secretary of the Senate; Dan Svyantek is the chair-elect; Don Mulvaney, somewhere way in the back, is the secretary-elect; Larry Teeter, who is out of town today, is the immediate past chair of the Senate; and our indefatigable administrative assistant is Laura Kloberg, for whom we are very grateful as always.
For new senators and guests, here again are the Senate rules about speaking. If you’d like to speak about an issue or ask a question, please go to the microphones on the aisles, when your recognized, state you name, whether or not you are a senator and the unit you represent. The rules of the Senate require that senators or substitute senators be allowed to speak first, then after senators have had a chance to speak, guests are welcome to speak as well.
The agenda today was set by the Senate Steering Committee and posted on the Senate Web site in advance and you see it there now. First we need to establish a quorum, which I am going to do by sight since we don’t have clickers for today. So if you are a senator could you please raise your hand? I call that a quorum has been established, we don’t need the exact number.
The first order of business is to approve the minutes from the meeting of November 15. Those have been posted on the Senate Web site. Are there any additions or corrections to the minutes? Seeing none do we have a motion to accept the minutes? (moved) Do I hear a second? (second) All in favor please say aye.
James Goldstein, chair: Opposed? (no response) The minutes are approved.
Next we have remarks from President Gogue. [3:20]
Dr. Gogue, President: Thank you James. Delighted to be here with you today. Just a couple of items I want to share with you. Number one, in the November election, remember there was a constitutional amendment change that affected Auburn University, which was to add 2 additional Trustees to our pool of 14 Trustees to bring the number up to 16. That did pass. Tomorrow the Trustee Selection Committee will actually meet. They began to advertise early December. It was open for about 30 days to have people apply. They had a very large pool of individuals that applied. The purpose was to try to get greater diversity on the Board. They meet tomorrow, there is a 5 person selection Committee if you will. The governor’s representative will be the chair of the group. We have Trustee McCreary and Trustee Huntley that are on committee and we have 2 members from the Alumni Association, the current president, Beau Byrd and the previous president Jack Fite. They’ll meet, I think they are going to interview 7 or 8 people. There are 3 spots, 2 new ones and one that’s up for reconsideration, and to try to have that to the Legislature by February 7, which is the opening of the session. That’s the news on the trustees.
Second thing I would mention, we have a Trustee meeting before we will actually meet again. There are several items I think may be of interest to the faculty that are on the agenda. In Facilities, Auburn has a 3 step process in which the first is approval by the Board to initiate a project to say, yes we are interested; the second step is to do all of the architectural work and the actual design work for a facility; and third step is final approval. And we have 3 facilities that are in the final approval stage: the Performing Arts Center will be on the agenda for final approval, final approval for the Engineering Student Achievement Building (that’s to go in this area where the L Building and the Shop buildings are that are coming down as we speak); and the other final approval is on the Aviation Center out at the Airport.
The only news, in talking with Sherri Fulford, relative to the Legislative Session is that there will probably be some additional money this year. They are looking as somewhere around 90–100 million dollars in terms of the Educational Trust Funds. Not a lot, but at least a little bit of improvement. Not as bad as we’re seeing in Louisiana and Missouri and some other states.
I appreciate all of you being back, if there are any questions for me I’d be happy to respond. Thank you.
James Goldstein, chair: Next we have remarks from Provost Boosinger.
Dr. Boosinger, Provost: Thank you Dr. Goldstein for giving me the opportunity to speak to you for a few minutes. I have 4 items to bring to your attention.
One is the work of the University Promotion and Tenure Committee. They were given their homework before Christmas and began reviewing 58 dossiers that will be evaluated by the committee when we meet on February 10. The charge is to make recommendations to the President, he will receive those the next week. So the candidates should be informed of their status relative to promotion and tenure by late February. There won’t be a public announcement of who was successful or who wasn’t until all appeals have been completed. But the candidates should know by late February.
I also wanted to remind you of the process we have for funded professional improvement leave/sabbaticals. That process begins in November. There was a call for proposals to go on professional improvement leave, we received 14 of those. There has been a preliminary review of those by a review committee made up of faculty and administrators and will review those in the next week and then we will notify the candidates and their heads and chairs of whether or not they will receive funding for those. Typically, these requests are successful at getting approved at the 80-90% level.
We are conducting an internal search, I hope you’ve seen it. We put out information about an internal search for an interim Dean of Enrollment. Dr. Wayne Alderman is returning to the faculty after serving in this role for 10 years back to the College of Business. We have solicited those applications. We will be reviewing those probably in the next week or two and hope to have an appointment made by early March. So, that’s kind of where that stands.
Then, regarding enrollment management, I just left the monthly meeting of the enrollment management council looking at projections for next year. Our target for first-time freshmen is approximately 4,400 and we’re on track toward that goal. Transfer students are also right where they were last year at about 1,000 students, so we are anticipating that we’ll be very close to our projected goals for next year.
Any questions on those items? Thank you. [9:18]
James Goldstein, chair: Thank you Dr. Boosinger for those announcements.
Now a few announcements from the chair…oh, question. For Dr. Boosinger, he has a microphone.
Michelle Worosz, Ag Econ & Rural Sociology, senator: I have been asked for an update on the status of the female faculty compensation study. And if it’s complete, what is…how will the results be used?
Dr. Boosinger, Provost: We had a consultant helping us develop those, review the data and develop a recommendation. We have not taken any further steps now. We will start on that process in the next few weeks.
James Goldstein, chair: Right. So now a few announcements from the Senate Chair.
I am pleased to report that the nominating committee for Senate officers has completed its work. We owe thanks to the committee chair, Laura Plexico, and to the other members of the committee, Gisela Buschle-Diller, Sue Barry, Patricia Duffy, Steve Brown, and Bob Locy. I don’t know if any of them are here now, but without their good services the transition of the next set of Senate officers would have been difficult and I don’t expect there will be any boycotts of this transition.
The candidates will be announced at the February meeting which is usually the Senate’s practice so we will get up candidate statements and brief bios for those.
One thing that I forgot to write down but it occurred to me a moment ago; we sent out a call before the break for volunteers to be Senate representatives on the Alumni Association Awards Committee and we received a number of volunteers for that so particularly for anyone among those who were volunteering for that happen to be present the Rules Committee will be meeting shortly to look at all of the candidates and make recommendations for 2 Senate representatives.
My next announcement has to do with a proposed change to the Faculty Handbook that is separate from those that will be presented in a moment by Ralph Kingston, chair of the Faculty Handbook Review Committee, later in the meeting. [12:00]
The Faculty Handbook has never included language requiring candidates going up for tenure promotion to associate professor or the equivalent to have external letters of evaluation, unlike the case for candidates for full professor. Over the years the Deans of each college, one by one, added this requirement for their own college or school. I know in the case of Liberal Arts it was 3 Deans ago that that first became established. For the last several years, as I have been informed, it has been standing practice in every college and school, however there was never a written policy originating from the central administration making this a requirement.
The change that the Senate leadership with the approval of the Faculty Handbook Review Committee has recommended will finally bring this long established practice into the Faculty Handbook. And this requirement of course is consistent with national norms. In short, every college and school at Auburn has already been doing it for some time, that is why we are not calling for a Senate vote. The administration has already approved it and it will go to the Board of Trustees for final approval since changes to Chapter 3 of the Handbook Generally require their approval.
I believe that adding this to the Faculty Handbook will help strengthen the university’s commitment to the tenure system at a time when lawmakers in a couple of states, many of ou will have read the news reports, are attempting to abolish tenure. I will have more to say about that topic at the next General Faculty meeting in March.
Are there any questions for the chair? Okay then. Today we have one pending action item. Some recommended changes to the Senate Constitution and a number of information items. So I now invite Ralph Kingston to present the recommended changes that are coming from the Faculty Handbook Review Committee.
Ralph Kingston, chair, Faculty Handbook Review Committee: Hi, may name is Ralph Kingston. I am chair of the the Faculty Handbook Review Committee. Last September we received 2 charges from James and they are both, I will stress, quite simple and technical changes and basically should be uncontroversial. So the 2 things he wanted us to look at were first of all he wanted for us to create language that solidifies what is and isn’t included under the terms schools and colleges when it comes to participation on Senate Committees. And the second one was to create consistency in terms of reference to the Libraries.
So the first one basically, again this is not to change anything that currently operates but just to make sure that our rules are clear. You will see how the committee dealt with defining schools and colleges in the preamble to Article 4, which is on the second page. We added the adjective academic to schools and colleges to “designate schools, colleges, or other academic units that has their own dean, degree programs, and dedicated tenure-line faculty. It excludes the Graduate School, the Honors College, the University College, and any other college or school that does not meet one or more of these criteria.”
So, two things, there are obviously units that this applies to for example in my own college, the College of Liberal Arts, the School of Communication and Journalism cannot now hope to have their sole representation on the Academic Program Review Committee. I am sure they never wanted it, but this just clarifies that it is not the School of Communication and Journalism; it is a school within a college rather than a school that is represented on Senate Committees. The second thing is not of course a dictionary definition of academic. We chose academic because this is the term, the adjective already used in the University Bulletin and it was consistent, and we have of course defined how we are using academic here in the preamble. Again, this makes no change to current representation, no change to representation rights, all it does is make sure that in some future date we are not departing from what is practice.
So the second change is even simpler. The Senate Constitution made reference at different times to AU Libraries, Auburn Libraries, the Library. We decided to basically be consistent throughout and refer to the Libraries. We assume that we all know that it means Auburn Libraries. We just went through the Senate Constitution and made it consistent. We did make one additional change in the composition of the Library Appeals Committee, it used to as it was written include a Librarian and we felt that archivists might want to be represented too, and we made it consistent with Library representation, again across Senate Committees and we changed it to one Library faculty member. Which again is what the Library basically does anyway. I should stress that in this I did talk to Dean McEwan and basically made sure that I wasn’t doing anything off the books.
Essentially in terms of this first document all we are doing is clarifying and basically spelling out what is already the case. The second document is also simple. This one we made changes to, again take account of what is already practice in an age of electronic record keeping. So for example the administration now maintains the Faculty Handbook, it is not maintained on paper, and it is maintained electronically on a pdf, (you have all seen it) with a running list of revisions at the end of the pdf. So that is the major change there. There are 2 other changes. There is a change to the position of the secretary on the Rules committee. The secretary of the Senate is, according to this, chair of the Rules Committee. This is before my time, I have not been at Auburn this long, but I am told this has been the case since 2004.
Finally, we are proposing to remove the requirement that each standing committee has a written statement of its operating procedure on file with the secretary of the Senate. I will tell you as chair of a standing committee, this is the first I’ve heard of this and no other standing committee actually does this. It is not something that we actually do. Quite simply we don’t require this and we should not claim to require this. So that is all the changes. Does anybody have any questions? [19:08] I did promise it would be very boring. Thank you.
James Goldstein, chair: Thank you Dr. Kingston. Nothing said in a Cork accent is boring as far as you ask me.
So these are changes to the Constitution, so in the February meeting that means we need to have the approval of two-thirds of the Senate membership for these to go through. It’s very, very important that we have good attendance in February so that we have enough people to approve these very routine changes. If you are a regular senator and you aren’t going to be able to come in February, please, please, make sure that you send a substitute who can vote in your place. Then we will have enough to approve this and the good news is changes to the Constitution no longer have to go the the Board of Trustees for approval so it will get posted sooner.
The next information item is a presentation by David Held, who is the chair of the ad hoc committee on Summer Fringe Benefits, going back to a motion that occurred last June (2016) in the Senate.
David Held, chair of Ad Hoc Committee on Summer Fringe Benefits: Thank you. Before I get started I wanted to acknowledge the committee members that joined me in this work; Michael Baginski, Michael Stern, Julie Howe, Jason Bonds, and Scott Parsons. I want to also acknowledge input from Bryan Elmore and from Martha Taylor that helped us to come to with what you will see today.
We received our charge in July. I am not going to read this to you, but the idea that came out of our charge was basically to determine if there are inappropriate charges being applied as part of a fringe benefits rate applied to summer salary taken by 9-month employees and if yes, how might this be corrected. [21:35]
So the issue that was presented was basically 9-month faculty in my department and from our college came to me and said, “we think something is incorrect here.” If you are a senator, you may have recalled I brought this to the floor and raised this issue and there was concern that there was not sufficient notable communication about any kind of change in policy, but yet they were noting the full benefits rate being applied to summer salary taken where it hadn’t in previous years.
So the faculty who brought this were using language like, ‘we have to now earn 4 months of summer salary in order to pay the three months we are taking salary plus the additional 33 percent benefit.’ So that’s practically the way they summed it up to me before I brought it. And these are some of the other limitations that they pointed out that you are not allowed to basically write 3-4 months of salary into a proposal so these would basically be multiple proposals that the faculty member would be using in order to pay for summer. Also, many of the 9-month faculty often times we use reserve funds. Project accounts, they have a lot of strange names and departments, but are using reserve funds often times to get from successful grant budget to successful grant budget.
The procedures we used were to basically look at current policies, what was being charged, also to get feedback from budget services, I mentioned Mr. Elmore before, we had committee discussions and then to come up with a summary that you see today.
So, effective in fiscal year 2010 I was able to find a financial liaison meeting notes and minutes that outlined when the fringe benefit policy changed. I knew this practically speaking because when I joined Auburn in 2008 there was no fringe taken out on my summer salary and when this policy changed, I remembered that this occurred. There’s 2 different things that took a while for us as a committee to understand. We are assessed a summer fringe rate on our salary because, 2 things, first off, fringe rate is a pooled amount of dollars. And thanks to Bryan Elmore to help us understand this. The change was to not pay actual fringe benefits, everyone would not pay different rates, the idea was the university was going to have a pooled fringe rate that would basically work like an escrow account. If you escrow your house and your taxes and all that kind of stuff together, you understand what a pooled escrow account is. In some years you go a little bit under that and they said you need to add a little bit more each month into your escrow payment and the years when you go above they will adjust it. That’s very similar to how this pooled fringe rate works university wide. [24:46] It’s done to provide some ease on budgeting so that you don’t have wild fluctuations from year to year when you are trying to put together grant budgets and such. That change was made in fiscal year 2010 from individual fringe benefits rate to this pooled rate.
Again, I’ve already given you the escrow analogy. If we look at this calculation, Larry Teeter provided this to me right after I presented the information to the Senate and he provided this as basically a summary of what this fringe benefit rate goes to. You see the full time, which is where faculty would be, is based on the old rate of 32%, you can see it’s breaking out retirement and health insurance and a number of other things, termination pay, and stop loss and carry forwards. So, there are a number of things that make up that 32%. It’s not all things that are going directly to the employee, which is what most of the faculty did not understand. They say, “I pay my health insurance over 9 months, I don’t pay it over 12, why should I continue to pay benefits in the summer?” The idea is, once fringe rate in that pool is annualized over 12 months, someone still has to pay if you are taking salary over those 3 months.
So, do peer institutions have any kind of discount on the fringe benefit rate over summer when it’s paid? We really couldn’t find strong evidence of that. Bryan Elmore helped us to get a hold of some of those institutions and University of Florida has the RCM model and they also use a pooled fringe, so they were kind of the closest to what we do here at Auburn and they do not have any reduction in the 9-month rate that’s paid on summer salary. Then if you every want to have an intellectual exercise you just look at these weird calculations that are used at other institutions. We actually, there is a lot of logic in the pooled benefits rate that we actually have when you go looking at how other universities do this.
So, for our charge, was are these charges appropriate? But our committee also addressed things. Should the university actually consider some fringe rate? Yes, our peer institutions may not be doing it but should we actually be doing it a little different? And what would that mean in terms of incentivizing 9-month faculty for grant writing? So, yes, the charges are appropriate. Fringe benefits have to be paid over 12 months. There is no way to escape that with an annualized pooled fringe rate. In that respect it is totally appropriate. And when you are paying those fringe rates from a grant they are already factored into the budget. [27:46]
The concerns were again that many of the faculty have (asked), what if you are paying wages from reserve funds? Again, those reserve funds are often times will come from salaries savings. So, let’s say you are very fortunate enough to maybe have 4 months of salary with benefits funded in one year, but you only need to use 3. You can salary save a month of that and it would go into this magic project account that then you could use for the next time when maybe you only have 2 months of summer salary funded for the summer.
With the help of Martha Taylor, I have asked questions like how many of our 9-month faculty are actually involved in grant writing. And those are date that came from Martha Taylor, approximately 200 9-month faculty actually take summer salary. It’s this group that is actually contributing the 33% fringe rate each year into that pool. What would happen if at some point the university decided to subsidize the fringe rate for folks taking summer salary, it would cause the pool to go up elsewhere. It’s a finite pool. When you take folks contributing out of that pool, the rate would have to go up elsewhere. Again the fringe rates are appropriate, they must be paid over 12 months with the pooled fringe annualization that we have over 12 months.
The communication relative to the fringe rate that was understood by many of the faculty, they really didn’t know when that change was being made. Often times they would notice that they didn’t pay fringe and then the following year they did pay fringe. It was often the business manager in their department or someone else that really hadn’t said anything to them but then they noticed that there was basically the equivalent of another month of salary missing out of one of their project accounts.
The pooled fringe rate does make sense for budgeting purposes, but again, one thing our committee wanted to reiterate is there may actually be some value in considering something that would be a reduction in fringe rate that might be used to incentivize research. With that, I’d like to take any questions, understanding that this is not the most exciting thing but it is relevant for those in the room that are 9-month faculty that have questions and want to have answers. Thanks.
James Goldstein, chair: Thank you Dr. Held to you and your committee for doing all that work and clarifying things that needed to be clarified. Our next item is on this year’s This is Research events. Presented by Jennifer Kerpleman, Assoc. Dean for Research, College of Human Sciences; Steven Taylor, Associate Dean for Research, College of Engineering; and Larraine Wolf, Director of Undergraduate Research.
Jennifer Kerpleman, Assoc. Dean for Research: Thank you for the opportunity to update everybody on This is Research 2017. We have been doing this for a few years now and we think we have a pretty good design, so a lot of what we will doing this year will look a lot like what we did last year. Here we want you to see the dates. We have a student symposium coming up on April 13, and then the Awards Ceremony follows on the 20th. This will be in the Student Center. We are aiming to have the faculty symposium on September 22, that is tentative.
A little bit about the student symposium; we engage both graduate and undergraduate students in presenting their research. They give oral presentations, paper presentations, and creative scholarship presentations. We had I think it was close to 350 students last year that presented. We are currently accepting abstracts, but that closes on February 17, so we need your help communicating to faculty to communicate to students and also to students directly with whom you work to make sure they submit their abstracts before the portal closes.
We are going to say more about the judging and awards. It’s really an important opportunity for professional development for our students and they do get a lot out of this experience. We also have students from middle school and high school come and see our students presenting and they can get excited about potentially coming to college, coming to Auburn. Some of them are very well prepared as they talk to our students about their research. And we are also trying to broaden the number of potential employers who come to see the work of our students. Let me turn it over to Lorraine who is going to talk to you about the judges that we need.
Lorraine Wolf, director of Undergraduate Research: I think Jennifer said it all pretty much, but we do need judges for the symposium with over 300 presentations we ask for a minimum of 3 judges per student. So you can do the math. We need a lot of judges and when students only get judged by one person or less they feel they haven’t been given a fair opportunity to compete for the awards. So we’d like your help in communicating to faculty, first to encourage their students to submit abstracts and that abstract deadline is February 17. Secondly, to encourage your faculty to attend the research event. It’s very disheartening when you are giving a presentation and nobody comes. The faculty play an important roll in underscoring the importance of research in the university. Then finally, we do need faculty to judge and I will mention that for the undergraduates we welcome post-doctoral scholars as well as advanced PhD candidates to judge the undergraduate posters and oral presentations.
I will turn it back over to you, thank you. [34:28]
Jennifer Kerpleman, Assoc. Dean for Research: Just a brief preview of the faculty symposium that will be in September. Last year we had a lot of excitement around what we did and the feedback we received at the end of the symposium that suggested that we should do more of the same. So the main featured activities include the lightening sessions, which are an opportunity for faculty around broader topics to learn about potential collaborators across disciplines. So people talk very briefly about their areas of interest and start to make connections. We also feature Auburn Talks, they are like Ted Talks and we have a faculty member from each school and college give a ten-minute talk about their research in a way that a broad audience can appreciate that work.
We have an opportunity for centers and institutes and other offices that support research to do an expo so that faculty can learn more about what these resources are on campus and what they can do to support their research. And then we also have an interactive poster secession across all of our colleges and schools, and AUM also participates across the day. We are looking to broaden this to other institutions, broaden it to more external audiences that may come and see the great work of our faculty.
We will let you know about the location. It’s usually at the Hotel and Conference Center, but that’s probably not going to be available this fall, so we’re looking at other alternatives.
This is the Web site, you go to the Auburn Web site and then type in as one word ‘thisisresearch’ and you will see information across the student and the faculty symposia, and if you have any questions for us we are happy to answer them. We thank you for your time. [36:23]
James Goldstein, chair: I seem to have picked up and extra pen, maybe Dr. Kingston’s.
Our next item is an announcement from Jennifer Morse of the Office of Sustainability on the spirit of sustainability award.
Jennifer Morse, Office of Sustainability: The Office of Sustainability developed the Spirit of Sustainability Awards to recognize both individuals and groups of people around Auburn that are contributing significantly to sustainability. This can be either on campus or in the community at large.
The areas that we focus our awards on can really tough base on any or all of the points of our sustainability compass. This includes a focus on nature, the economy, society, and also individual wellbeing. So it’s a rather broad area of sustainability.
We give awards to faculty and also to staff individuals and groups and also alumni and also students. So those are the main categories that we give out our awards to. We hold an awards ceremony in April, this is over Earth Week and it is out at the Alpha Pavilion at AG Heritage Park. Then the recipients are also recognized at the Green Game, which is a game that our office in collaboration with Athletics has every fall. They get to go on the 50-yard line and it’s kind of special.
The awards themselves, the application is easy, it is an online link on the Office of Sustainability Web page. If you want to nominate somebody or self nominations are also welcome, you just need to give a general overview. Each of these sections is about 250 words so it is brief and to the point about the motivation and commitment to sustainability. Also the impact that you are having and how they are engaging people whether it’s on campus or in a community.
Then we have a judging committee that is made up of the director of academic sustainability programs, Dr. Chadwick, and in addition we have another faculty member, and alumni, a student, and a staff member make up our committee each year.
To nominate somebody, the deadline is the end of this month, January 31. So if you want to nominate a grad student, a fellow faculty member, a student, any of these particular people that you know, please see our Web page. You can also do a general search on Auburn for Sustainability Awards, it will take you right there. In the PowerPoint that you receive there is a hot link to our awards page to nominate.
Is there any questions? Alright, thank you for having me.
James Goldstein, chair: Our final presentation is by Gordon Stone, who is the Executive Director of the Alabama Higher Education Partnership. [40:06]
Gordon Stone, Exec. Dir., Alabama Higher Education Partnership: Good afternoon. It is a pleasure to be here again. I have the opportunity to say hello to my colleagues at Auburn, War Eagle. I represent all 14 universities and this is the only time I get to say War Eagle. So I am happy to say War Eagle, isn’t that right CJ? I work closely with CJ and Sherry and enjoy the opportunity to represent all of Alabama’s public universities and the battle to have good public policy for our state’s institutions. [40:44]
I want to introduce Ada Katherine van Wyhe, Katherine is our newest staff member who has joined us recently to serve as our campus liaison so she certainly will be available to work with you all if you have any particular needs.
What is the Higher Education Partnership? A quick reminder, we were formed 20 years ago to help create a place where all 14 of Alabama’s 4-year public institutions could come together and advocate on behalf of Higher Education in this state. Alabama has a history in education funding and education policy making that is rather unique. For 20 years from the mid-70s to the mid-90s we received 33% of the Education Trust Funds straight up across the board no debate at the Legislature. Then it was between institutions to determine how those funds would be used. After that portion of…at the end of that period of time there was a decision made by the Legislature to try to create a program for better funding for K-12 and as a result of that they decided that instead of creating new revenue they would take some of those funds from Higher Education. That led to the diminished percentage of the Education Trust Fund coming to our universities, which then led to the formation of our organization as a place where you and your peers on the other campuses as well as our students and their peers on the other campuses and alums etc. could come together and speak as one for the cause of public universities.
We have our annual event, this year February 23, which many of you are aware of or have seen which is Higher Education Day. It’s the day that we remind our elected officials that you are not numbers on a spreadsheet, you are real people doing real jobs that impact every life in Alabama. Higher Education Day is a day that we encourage you to attend and if possible not to give a test on that day because some of your students might like to try to attend. So if you can work with us we work through our committees within the Student Government Association to encourage student participation, we certainly will work with the Faculty Senate in anyway we can. Actually the last presentation was interesting to me because we have this year for the first time an undergraduate research presentation that will be going on in collaboration with Higher Education Day where we’ll have all the universities in the state bringing students to the Capital area to talk about what occurs in undergraduate research. That’s important because our most important message is: That is the message of the value of our universities to this state. So many times what you do is overlooked and underappreciated because people just don’t think about it. We have 20 billion dollar annual economic impact on Alabama when you look at our universities. Over 1.5 million Alabamians out of 4.5 Alabamians total are employed in the 12 counties where our universities are located. Over 50% of the voting population comes from the counties where our universities are located. We can and should have a huge voice in the process, but we have to be connected and we have to be energized and we have to be motivated and we have to believe that our voice is important.
So that’s one of the reasons I am traveling around the state right now is to encourage you to get involved, be a involved as you can. Membership in the partnership is $12 per year, so it’s not like we are taxing you dramatically to participate. We just like for you to be a part of what we do. You can go to HigherEdPartners.org, Ada Katherine also has some flyers and brochures that we will leave down here in case you are going out this door, which is a quicker way out than the way I came in.
As an Auburn graduate this does remind me, I hope these renovations are not the recreation of Haley Center’s path to get from A to B. We will leave these down here and we will be glad to send you anything you want. You can find our e-mail there to contact us and we will be glad to respond.
I’ll leave with this simple analysis, Alabama has 23.9, right at 24% of our working population with 4-year degrees. Alabama ranks 48th in the nation in per capita income. 85% of the revenue that goes into our Education Trust Fund comes from sales and income taxes. The average citizen can increase their earning potential over their working lifetime by over 1 million dollars, depending on discipline is 1.5 million and depending on the level of advanced degree, that goes dramatically higher. But the average is over 1 million dollars by completing the 4-year degree.
We are 4, 5, 6, right at 7% behind the national average for states in percentage of working population with 4-year degrees. 30% to 23.924%, that is a dramatic difference in what we do in public education across this state. We are not about higher ed only, we are about pre-K through PhD and if you look at our counties where we have the highest percentage of 4-year degree holders, you also have the highest per capita incomes, you have the highest level of education across the board in all those counties. We need to do everything we can do as a native of Wilcox County, from one of Alabama’s poorest counties, from one of the Nation’s poorest counties, I understand the plight of our state and I am privileged to represent you because I know that our universities represent the answer.
Thank you for what you do. Thank you for being here for our future leaders of this state. Please let us know how we can help you. Get involved anyway you can to be a voice. Work with Sherry and CJ. I want to thank Dr. Gogue and the administration here for being so supportive of the partnership for all of our year and we look forward to continuing to work with you. I be glad to answer any questions you have. You’ve heard a basic simple overview, there will be a little bit of money but not a lot this year, but we are excited to be there to continue to keep you in the forefront of the minds of those that make decisions.
CJ, anything else you want me to add? Thank you War Eagle.
James Goldstein, chair: That concludes the agenda items for today.
Is there any unfinished business? Is there any new business? In that case this meeting is adjourned. [47:38]