Minutes of the University Faculty Meeting
14 March 2006
Broun Hall Auditorium
Submitted by Kathryn Flynn
Conner Bailey called the meeting to order at 3:06 pm.
Remarks and Announcements:
Conner Bailey thanked everyone for attending and introduced Interim President Dr. Ed Richardson who delivered the traditional State of the University address.
State of the University:
Dr. Richardson thanked Conner Bailey for the introduction. He stated that he would talk about several topics of mutual interest and would be willing to respond to questions at the end of his presentation. He noted that he would have to leave at 3:45 for a flight to Birmingham.
Dr. Richardson stated that he had seen many positive indicators in regards to Auburn University especially related to a commitment to AU that transcends athletics. He stated that although most of us tend to dwell on negatives there are many positives. He hoped that we were pleased about the NCAA report showing that AU has the highest graduation rate for athletes of all public BCS institutions and is third when private institutions are included. He said that this sends a very positive message about AU to many people.
Dr Richardson thanked the faculty for academic ratings that are as high as they have ever been. Again, he stated that this sends a positive message to the public and is helping the Capital Campaign. Dr. Richardson said that another positive is that enrollment pressures are as high as they have ever been. He reported getting almost daily requests for help in getting students admitted. He said that our out-of-state demand is at 40%. He noted that the University is struggling to find a balance between the total number we can admit and the quality cut-off that we will accept. He reminded us that the Board of Trustees set 25,000 as the combined graduate/undergraduate cap a number of years ago. He stated that we have between 20,000 and 21,000 undergraduates but are short on the graduate side. He stated that this enrollment pressure is a positive sign for AU.
Dr. Richardson mentioned the Capital Campaign but said that Bob McGinnis would fill us in later in the meeting. He did say that the announced goal for the Campaign exceeded what he and many others had expected. He noted that this reflects a strong commitment to AU from outside the University. Dr. Richardson said that people who contribute indicate confidence in what we are doing. He also mentioned that AU’s financial condition is as strong as it has ever been and that Dr. Large gets lots of credit for this because of the excellent job he is doing.
Dr. Richardson thanked the University Senate for the resolution thanking the Board of Trustees for commissioning the Fisher Report. He also endorses the search for our next president. He further stated that he sees lots of other positive indicators; for example, the band is the largest ever (he recognized the Band Director, Dr. Good), and said that there are other things that perhaps indicate we are getting past our troubles. He stated that this was not a comprehensive list but that these were good examples of positive indicators.
Dr. Richardson then said that there were three topics he wanted to address. The first topic was the legislative session. He believes that the legislature is critical to the long-term success of this University and others in the state. He reported that a policy center report that he read says that all 50 states can expect budget shortfalls in the next few years due to increases in the cost of Medicaid, corrections and other programs funded from the general fund in most states. He stated that higher education in Alabama could be buffered from some of these problems because of our Education Trust Fund; other states fund education from the general fund. He said that growth in taxes (sales and income that generate 85% of the money in the Education Trust Fund) will continue to grow at a good pace and this growth should allow some increase in funding over the next few years.
Dr. Richardson said that the budget already passed in the House and Senate is the most favorable, in total dollars, that AU has ever seen. He said that the goal last year and continued this year was to establish that Legislature should fully fund fringe benefits, health care, and salary increases. Dr. Richardson stated that in the past there had never been the consideration that higher education would get an allotment for salaries when K-12 got one. This consideration has now occurred for past two years. He stated that this sets a precedent and cements the concept that K-12 and higher education get increases at the same time. This takes the pressure off of the general fund and the need for large tuition increases and establishes a fairer situation. Dr. Richardson stated that, based on the national policy report, the cuts in state government will be almost entirely in higher education. Higher education is seen as being able to add to revenues from sources other than legislatures.
Dr. Richardson noted that although the House and Senate have passed the budget this is an election year. He anticipates that since this is a different budget than the governor introduced he will most likely veto it. He believes the veto will be over-ridden and the House and Senate budget will go into effect.
Dr. Richardson said that he believes there are two reasons for this legislative success. He said the first reason is that there was more money available and the second reason is the united front presented by AU and UA. He noted that this year both universities were able to be involved with budget construction prior to the session and this allowed development of a fair and reasonable allocation for each. He said that the two universities are now considered part of that most important phase and, since decisions are made three months before the session starts, this is good for both universities. He further stated that the relationship between AU and UA is strong enough to be sustained when the new president comes in. Dr. Richardson hopes this year has cemented funding for fringe benefits and salaries. He said that the next step, started this year, is to secure legislative funding for research. He recounted an experience he had with focus groups when he first came to Auburn. He stated that the purpose of the focus groups was to try to show the Legislature that people knew that AU made major contributions to the economy of the state. To his surprise, the focus groups showed him that most people saw almost no value in research and work force development and made no distinctions between the various colleges and universities in the state. Dr. Richardson reported that this year the governor provided $10 million in seed money for the research park. He is seeing some interest in the legislative leadership for providing some money for research at universities conducting research. However he said, there must be a change in the attitude of Alabama citizens. He also mentioned that legislatively-funded research will stimulate interest in research at universities not currently conducting research. He hopes over the next year to get some money cemented for legitimate research. He stated that accomplishing this would require continued support because there are always other pressures. He said that we must be aware that unless higher education is more visible and has a clearer vision the belief that we can raise money outside we will be vulnerable. If AU and UA stay together we should be successful and he said that a research theme will be the agenda for the next legislative session.
Dr. Richardson stated that we need to budget in slightly conservative manner. He based this statement on the analysis of three finance experts. They were asked to predict how much of budget this year is one-time money. They were also asked to make budgetary predictions for the next two years. Their analysis indicated that one-time money accounted for 30-45% of this year’s budget. He stated that we must plan with this in mind. He reported that they predicted respectable, but not outstanding, revenues for FY’08. All three experts predicted that FY ‘09 would be a financial disaster unless steps are taken to avoid problems. He said that a budget shortfall is predicted so AU will be planning for ’09 now in an effort to avoid (hopefully) pro-ration. If we have a chance to thank legislators for the budget and feel comfortable doing so we should take that opportunity. He said that this would help when we ask for special projects in future years.
The second topic that Dr. Richardson addressed was the Fisher Report. He stated that we could debate it but it would help to keep in mind the following points: The Board of Trustee committee appointed to make recommendations (McWhorter, Newton, Ginn, McCrary) planned to meet this Friday but the meeting was rescheduled for March 30. Dr. Richardson stated that he would participate in the meeting of this committee. He anticipates that this committee will extract from the report those items that will affect the presidential search. He believes that for other, far ranging, issues there is no need to be concerned at this time. There will be time after March 30 to decide if we agree with the report. He stated that we should see the recommendation from the review committee to the Board of Trustees in Auburn on April 13-14. He said that he is pleased with the narrow focus and that other items will be left to the next president.
Dr. Richardson mentioned that he will also introduce and hopefully have adopted a specific definition of the relationship between AU and AUM at the April 13-14 Board meeting. His position is that this has been a continuous issue and that he needs to resolve it to avoid issues for next the next president. He believes it should be possible to resolve this issue at the April meeting because the policy is clear. Dr. Richardson said that the AUM Chancellor answers directly to the AU President and serves at his pleasure. He stated that this relationship seems to have been lost via benign neglect over the last few years. He said that it is important that the identity and uniqueness of AUM must be maintained but that AU must have some involvement.
Dr. Richardson said that the Alabama Initiative will be referenced at the April Board meeting and that he plans to make specific recommendations during the June 30 Board meeting. He also intends to make one more push to work on the Strategic Plan. He stated that he is not talking about a conclusion but that he wants to at least do a better job of identifying external factors that we anticipate will impact on higher education. He believes that it is important and will be helpful to have this knowledge as a decision is made on who will be the next president. His plan is to stop at that point and leave the rest to the next president.
He also plans to present to the April Board meeting a survey of assessment models showing what other universities are doing. This is in response to a resolution passed by the Board last February instructing him to have this information available in April and be prepared to implement in the fall. He is defining “implementation” as an extensive process of deciding what should be done and how. He said that it usually takes three to five years to bring this together. Starting this process is what he considers to be implementation.
Dr. Richardson will also present information on a survey of advancement models as described in the Fisher Report. He said that the Fisher Report recommended that Alumni Affairs, Development, Marketing and Communications to be under the same umbrella. Dr. Richardson stated that he is not yet sure he agrees with the need for Communications to be included. He mentioned that about five years ago Alumni Affairs and Development were together under one umbrella. The time frame is short and he said there is a chance that this may not be doable while he is here. He said that there is the chance that such a change could negatively impact the Capital Campaign. He said that a survey of what other institutions are doing will be conducted and three to four of the standard models will be identified at the April Board meeting.
Dr. Richardson said he would provide information on Academic Program Review at the April Board meeting. He stated that the criteria should be ready and that there will be a trial or pilot over the next academic year. He has not yet seen the criteria. Dr. Heilman is working on this. He is comfortable that the credibility of these criteria will be determined. He will only reference this process at the Board meeting; it is an internal process and he is not asking for approval.
Dr. Richardson said he would present information on accountability for higher education. He believes we will a legislatively or federally mandated accountability program for higher education within five years. He said that we must not over react but rather do a better job of confirming what we are already doing, modify whatever we think should be changed and get ahead of the wave of legislative action. He described what usually happens. The governors attend a meeting in July and they might be presented with the idea of accountability (which resonates with the public) including proposed legislation. They can take this home and put it in legislation and Dr. Richardson said this is hard to stop. If we have already confirmed what we are doing and we look at whatever we think is accountability (post-tenure review, academic program review, and student assessment) then we can make modifications and say yes we believe in accountability. He said we would then confirm what we have done and what our plan is. Dr. Richardson said that if this happens our method would most likely to be accepted rather than implementing something from outside. He will discuss this at the April and June Board meetings. He said that some comments could be stronger than we want to hear but that we should not react defensively. He thinks some of the comments will come from the frustration of the Board at the pace of change in higher education.
Dr. Richardson then discussed the AUM Chancellor position and the AU President position. He will recommend an interim Chancellor for AUM before the end of the semester. He said that it is anticipated that Kuhnle will attend the April Board meeting. Dr. Richardson stated that Kuhnle’s recommendation led to the hiring of Dr. Fisher and the Fisher report. Dr. Richardson believes that the Board Committee reviewing the Fisher report will make recommendations sufficient to meet Kuhnle’s needs. He further believes the presidential search committee will be formed before end of this semester. He is hopeful the schedule he asked for last June will remain intact. Dr. Richardson stated that w need to get past one issue and then the search should be very successful and the next president can have a long and successful career. This has been his primary goal and if this does not happen he said he would feel he had failed. He stated that it is important to address any issues that would keep someone from coming to AU.
The final topic that he wanted to address in his State of the University address was also the one issue of concern for the presidential search. He said that we have probably all read about it in the papers and that is the lawsuit on trustee terms of office. He said this was the wrong thing to do. First, he said, when we (he) discovered the problem for a number of trustees and their terms he asked the Attorney General to clarify laws pertaining to this. It is anticipated that the pending suit (it has not yet been filed) will be filed this week. He said if we back away from legal issues we see that we have a trustee suing other trustees and an Alumni Association President making supportive comments (along the lines of we’ve got to do this) at the same time the consultant will be here to decide if we go forward with the search. This is a recipe for disaster. The Attorney General reviewed every law pertaining to the situation. The Court will do the same thing. The Trustees have letters from the Legislature. He said that the month, day and year is quite clear and that no court will over turn a legitimate legislative act. He said that we can waste time and money on this but it has the most potential for side-tracking the search. He hopes for an expedited decision and that it can be resolved. He said that he has come to grips with stepping down, that it is best for him and for AU for him to step away. He said that he is ready for the search to go forward. He further stated that he is not a candidate for the position at AU or AUM. Dr. Richardson said he shudders to think how long this could set us back. He believes the lawsuit will create dissension and could adversely affect the search because it will garner national attention. He hopes to get calmer heads to prevail.
In conclusion Dr. Richardson commended the strong faculty that serves AU. He said the faculty has done a truly outstanding job and he also commended the Deans. He said that in spite of squabbles, the strong faculty and leadership of the Deans have kept AU going in the right direction. He commended other administrative personnel and staff who have done a good job. He said that he had recently talked to two other presidents who expressed amazement at AU’s success despite all of the side issues. He said this had been possible because of a focus on what matters, not side issues. He commended us and said we will make it through this. He said that AU is going to be stronger and more focused than ever before. He said we must learn from our mistakes and not dwell on them as we have had a tendency to do. He stated that AU is very strong and poised to be stronger. Dr. Richardson said we must move on and he is confident all the ingredients for success are on the table and the next President should be top quality and able to move forward.
Dr. Richardson’s concluding remark was that he is committed to taking whatever measures are necessary to capitalize on the positives and prevent negatives from getting in the way of the search.
Questions for Dr. Richardson:
Isabelle Thompson said that she is from the Dept. of English, home of four core courses. She wanted to know more about the expected enrollment for next year—specifically how many freshmen can we anticipate.
Dr. Richardson answered that we could expect more than she would want but less than he does. He said this was a valid question and he realized the core would bear a burden. He said that he is still arm wrestling with Heilman on the final number but it will be somewhere in the range of 4,000.
Larry Gerber, Dept. of History, stated that he was interested in the Fisher report and recruitment. He specifically wanted to know why Dr. Richardson plans to go ahead with the Alabama Initiative and possible restructuring when the Fisher Report recommends that no decisions be made on this until a new President is hired. Why would his going ahead make it easier for the next president who would have to deal with a newly reorganized structure?
Dr. Richardson said there are a number of things in the report that will hopefully not be accepted by the Board or by him (the example of representation on the Board might be one of them). He said that there are enough issues associated with Agriculture and that the next person might have limited knowledge of Agriculture. He said that there have been at least three major studies on what changes need to be made but nothing happened after the last two. He has decided something needs to be done. He said that what he will recommend is not as radical a change as he once planned. A pared down reorganization and an Interim Dean of Agriculture will allow the next President to either go forward with more changes or back up. He believes it will not be as disruptive as we might have believed.
David Sutton, Department of Communication and Journalism, asked if we can increase the police presence on campus. He said there had been a burglary in his department last week. He stated that he wondered if it was due to lack of a police presence on campus. He stated that we now go days or weeks without seeing police.
Dr. Richardson said there had been similar incidents over the last year and that he had read about the incident Dr. Sutton had mentioned. He said that this type of crime is totally unacceptable. He said that AU and the city work closely with each other and that if there are problem areas, timing issues or specific buildings that are having problems he will ask Dr. Large to look into what needs to be done. If there are areas that need to be addressed that request will be made.
Herb Rotfield, College of Business, stated that he had served on the Budget Advisory Committee not long ago. He learned that the money received from the state is unrelated to the number of students and that tuition only covers part of each students cost. How are we going to pay for the large number of students we have as our goal and why would the University benefit from such a large number?
Dr. Richardson answered that we want to cap enrollment at a reasonable level not to exceed 25,000. He said there is no urgency to reach the 25,000 goal established by the Board as a goal to be reached by 1989. He also said there are issues but the tuition of the 40% out-of-state students will help. Dr. Richardson said a decision must be made on the graduate-undergrad ration; the campus is being built for 25,000. He further stated that increased tuition should help. He said there is a formula for ACHE but it hasn’t been followed for at least 10 years. He noted the search for a new ACHE director beginning this spring and that we may see a new formula possibly predicated on the cost of a research institution and the number of students. He stated that we need to move up incrementally, not precipitously and he believes we can fund this. He expects new standards in next 1.5-2 years. He doesn’t believe that bigger is better and that we will see the cap at 25,000 over the next 4-5 years.
Rick Blumenthal, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, asked Dr. Richardson if we can count on him to make comments similar to those he made here on accountability or will he fall in with views of the Board.
Dr. Richardson said that he would take the high road on this question. He said that 90% of the work is done behind the scenes (i.e. outside of Board meetings). He said the fact that the Board is letting us do these things is good and this conveys their confidence in us. Dr. Richardson stated that he had no reservations commending faculty as a whole but he cannot speak when individual faculty are criticized.
Holly Stadler asked Dr. Richardson for an update on the Ombudsman position. Dr. Richardson deferred to Dr. Heilman who stated that Dr. Richardson will receive recommendations from him this week.
This completed Dr. Richardson’s comments and the question and answer session. Dr. Richardson left for Birmingham.
Conner Bailey deferred his comments until later in the agenda because of the late hour and the fact that there were several important items on the agenda.
Bob McGinnis, VP for Development:
Conner Bailey introduced Dr. McGinnis and mentioned that Dr. Kunhle, recently hired by the Board for the Presidential search, brought us Dr McGinnis.
Dr. McGinnis’s provided a power point presentation related to the goals and progress to date for the Capital Campaign. He said that we are in the public phase of a comprehensive fund raising effort. He said that 86% of the Campaign is for academics, 14% for athletics and that both are working together to reach the goal. The purpose of the Campaign is to raise money and gain positioning for the University and to increase the volunteer base and leadership. Dr. McGinnis stated that the Campaign has reached more than 60% of the overall goal. He said contributions towards current operations have blown the top out of the goal. There is a lag on endowments and renovation money. He said that of SEC schools only Mississippi State has a smaller endowment than AU. He also said that the effort to generate funds for professorships and endowed chairs are not doing well. Even so, he said that the Campaign has reached $341 million of the $500 million goal.
Dr. McGinnis said that there had been 100% participation by the Board of Trustees, the Foundation, the Administration and the Development staff. He said we are now in the Auburn Family stage of the Campaign and the goal is to have 40% participation by the faculty and staff, up from the current 9%. He stated that it would be very helpful in the overall Campaign to be able to say that the faculty and staff are participating at a high level. He said it was important to note that the goal for faculty and staff is a participation goal, not a monetary goal and that this phase of the Campaign will run from March 2-May 2. There will be a celebration on May 17 at Family Fun Day. He said that the Campaign has been successful thus far on the shoulders of Deans and Directors, Development Officers, and faculty and asked that if you know of anyone who might be willing to give let them know and they will follow up. He said faculty know the alumni better than anyone. He said that the Campaign Steering Committee consists of 32 members including Trustees, Faculty, Alumni Board members, and Foundation Board members.
Presentation of Alumni Association Awards by Dr. Debbie Shaw:
Dr. Shaw stated that it was an honor to be here today to make faculty awards. The first award, the Minority Achievement Award, recognizes a faculty member who has made a significant contribution to the successful recruitment, retention, and graduation rate of minority students and who has further contributed to improved race relations and fostered a sense of community at Auburn University. This year the award goes to Dr. Curtis Jolly, Professor and Chair of the Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology. Dr. Jolly was presented with a plaque and a monetary award.
The next award Dr. Shaw presented was for Teaching Excellence. This award recognizes the influence undergraduate teachers have on the lives of their students. Dr. Shaw presented three faculty members with the Undergraduate Teaching Excellence Awards. They are:
Dr. Sherrie Brock, Department of Health and Human Performance,
Dr. Brian Gibson, Department of Aviation and Management and Logistics, and
Dr. Paula Peak, Department of Consumer Affairs.
Dr. Shaw presented each faculty member with a plaque and a monetary award.
The final presentation by Dr. Shaw recognized five new Alumni Professors. The Alumni Professorship recognizes tenured faculty members having direct responsibilities in two or more areas. She stated that Alumni Professors exhibit exceptional performance, distinctive competence and potential for continued performance. She said that Alumni Professors are selected through a process occurring in the Provost’s office. She said that Auburn University has 25 current Alumni Professors each serving for a period of 5 years each. She recognized current alumni professors (one) in attendance. She stated that new members would each receive a plaque, a salary supplement and recognition in alumni programs. She then announced the new Alumni Professors:
Dr. Patricia Duffy, Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology,
Dr. Mona ELSHE, Department of Human Development and Family Studies,
Dr. George Flowers, Department of Mechanical Engineering,
Dr. Rufud New, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and
Dr. Isabelle Thompson, Department of English.
Dr. Shaw congratulated all of the new Alumni Professors and asked that they remain until the end of the meeting for photos. She thanked us for the chance to be part of the meeting and stated that the Alumni Association will continue this type of recognition for faculty and scholarship programs for students.
Conner thanked Dr. Shaw and stated that it was a pleasure to work with the Alumni Association office and stated the importance of the Alumni Association. He then introduced Dr. Marsha Boosinger, Chair of the Reference and Institutional Services of the Library.
Dr. Boosinger described a new recognition program being started by the Library this year. She said that this program, brought here from Penn State by Dr. McQuin, would be an announced annual recognition of faculty promotion and tenure accomplishments. She said there would be a reception and each person recognized would select a book that is important to them. Dr. Boosinger said the book, either already in the collection or a new book, would be plated with the faculty member’s name. The faculty member selecting the book will provide a summation of why that book is important to him or her and this will be kept in archive form, on a web site and distributed. Dr. Boosinger asked that we let people who have been tenured this year about the program. Forms and the book selection process will be forthcoming once the Provost’s office provides a complete list of those people tenured and/or promoted. On September 28, in the evening, there will be a recognition ceremony at the library. Everyone will be invited and the invitation will include the P&T honorees and their families. She asked that we give out information about this to our various departments.
Conner Bailey then introduced Dr. David Wilson, Vice-President and Associate Provost for Outreach, who is moving to the University of Wisconsin. Conner stated that he believes that Alabama has not seen the last of David Wilson. Dr. Wilson talked from a power point presentation.
Dr. Wilson said he was honored to address the University Faculty meeting. His address was on the topic of outreach scholarship. He discussed the problems he found related to Extension faculty and P&T when he first came to Auburn. This led to a dialogue about outreach both on campus and around the state. Today, roughly 85% of Auburn University faculty engage in some form of Outreach. He has seen an increase in grants and contracts related to Outreach. He also discussed diversity at AU, where we are and where we need to go.
David Bransby, who is presenting the award for Dr. Virginia O’Leary who is ill, provided some background information on the AAUP Academic Freedom Award presented annually to a person demonstrating high ethical standards and high professionalism in his or her field of specialization. This person will have made significant contributions to protecting and extending academic freedom. David Bransby defined academic freedom, which is not well understood off campus, as the privilege of being able to truthfully pursue academic issues free from the fear of victimization on non-academic grounds. He said that lots of responsibility goes with academic freedom. This year’s recipient is Dr. Renee Middleton. Dr. Bransby stated that Dr. Middleton had been nominated by Dr. Christa Slayton. Dr. Bransby read part of the letter of nomination. Dr. Middleton was not present.
Conner Bailey expressed his thanks and acknowledgement each member of the Executive Committee. His farewell comments are available on the Senate website.
Rich Penaskovic announced that he would not deliver his comments due to the lateness of the hour. His prepared comments are available on the Senate website. Conner Bailey presented Dr. Penaskovic with a new gavel. Rich Penaskovic thanked Dr. Willie Larkin for his help and his comments to the Board on Post Tenure Review. He announced that Dr. Bill Sauser will be parliamentarian and he thanked Dr. Conner Bailey and Dr. Patricia Duffy.
Rich Penaskovic announced that Dr. David Cicci is the new chair-elect and Dr. Ann Beth Presley (who is at a conference this week) is the new secretary-elect. Rich also expressed thanks to Dr. Cindy Brunner and Dr. David Sutton for their willingness to run.
There was no old business. There was no new business.
The meeting was adjourned at 5:09pm.