Minutes of the University Faculty Meeting
25 October 2011
3:00 pm
Broun Hall Auditorium
Submitted by
Larry Crowley, Secretary of University Faculty

A complete transcription of this meeting is available.

Call to Order:
Bill Sauser, Chair-Elect of University Faculty substituting for Ann Beth Presley Chair, called the meeting to order at 3:00 pm.  He reminded everyone of the procedural rule for the meeting.

-- The first order of business is approval of the minutes of the 8 March 2011 meeting of University Faculty.
The minutes were approved as posted without change.

Remarks and Announcements:
Bill invited President Gogue to present his remarks.

President’s Remarks

Dr. Gogue opened with his statement of appreciate for faculty involvement in shared governance mentioning that by rough numbers about 80% of the faculty serve in some form of shared governance.

-- During the past year, all 29 academic resolutions that came through Auburn’s central administration were approved as were the academic issues requiring Board of Trustee’s approval.

-- During the past year, 17 new graduate certificate programs were created with many focused on employment and job related skills.

-- Freshman class this fall was the strongest yet with average ACT scores over 27.  Auburn admitted 4,200 students which exceeded the target of 4000.  This difference will be made up through limiting the number of transfer students to maintain overall enrollment at close to 25,000.

-- Private giving was at an all-time high of slightly over 290 million (not all in dollars) with one charitable gift being accounted for as the dollar-value equivalent of a contribution of a major software package.

-- Awarded second round of endowed professorships last month.  There are 96 that are either funded or pledged and 65 of them have been awarded to date.  Pledged endowments must be paid within five years.

-- Facilities had a big year: groundbreakings for the Small Animal Teaching Hospital and Kinesiology Building; opening for the Aquatic Research Building on North College and the MRI Facility; funding for the third building in the Research Park with a groundbreaking in November at the Board of Trustee Meeting.  We completed the new IT building and parking deck next to it.  Received the Cary Pick home as a gift to benefit the College of Human Sciences where they will use it for studies involving non-profit and philanthropy.  Shelby II is near completion and will be open for classes in January.  We received resources for a number of building upgrades and a new feed mill in Agriculture.  The Board gave its approval for a new central classroom facility.

-- Faculty Lounge at Foy will open on November 1.

-- Tax revenues are up in the State of Alabama.  Personal income tax was up about 5 to 6% while corporate tax was down.  The taxes feeding the education trust fund had a net increase of about 3%.  It’s good news, but a bill passed last session creates an additional rainy day fund that will balance funding in education taking the peaks and valleys out.  

-- Provost search is underway with the search committee providing two individuals who will make a return visit to campus, one tomorrow and the other in about 10 days.

-- Healthy Tigers program will provide a $25 reduction per month in your health care cost if you go through screening.  We had 74% of our people take advantage of it last year.

-- One area of concern for the university which impacts our perception and reality of quality more than any other is the 6-year graduation rate which is in the range of 60%.  A couple of years ago it was 62%, last year it was 67% and this year it was 66%. Schools of similar quality are experiencing graduate rates in the high 70’s or low 80’s.  This is an area where we need to figure out how to improve.

-- Commented that it was a pleasure to work with the executive committee of the University Senate

-- Open to respond to any questions.

Questions following Dr. Gogue’s Remarks
Rebecca Pindzola, Communication Disorders, asked about certain funds.

Dr. Gogue’s answered that we received 14.1 million from the National Bureau of Standards and we received 14 million from the state to be used for multidisciplinary lab facility.  Then he asked for amplification from Dan King, Facilities.  Dan King responded that in total we received 29-30 million dollars for an interdisciplinary research facility to be out at the Research Park.  College of Ag received the first grant of federal funds and then state funds on top. 

Bob Locy, Biological Sciences, stated in relation to graduation rates that it is difficult to have advisees in his discipline to elect to take more than 12 credit hours during a semester over a concern for making good grades.  He then asked how are we doing in relation to a 8-year graduation rate than a 6-year rate.

Dr. Gogue asked Drew Clark, Director of Institutional Research, to address the question on 8-year graduation rates.  Drew Clark answered that looking at an 8-year graduation would be a 2002 student cohort group.   He said there are 1 to 2% additional graduates in 8 years over that graduating in 6.  He mentioned the big difference for Auburn is between the fourth and fifth year rates.  The fifth year graduation rate is essentially equivalent to the 6-year rate.   Auburn considers 6 year graduation rates because they are reported federally and we can benchmark against the reports of other universities.

Connor Bailey, Ag Econ and Rural Sociology, asked if the demographics of student population and their ability to pay tuition contribute to a lower graduation rate.

Dr. Gogue remarked Auburn has the lowest Pell Grant rate for any public university in the nation with only 11-12% eligible for federal aid.  Schools like ours typically have somewhere between 25 to 28% of students on federal aid.  Cornell has about 11 to 12%.  A couple of years ago our in-state students had a family income of 140 thousand dollars.  For out-of-state students the estimate of family income is 340 thousand.  And, out-of-state students graduate quicker, but pay a higher tuition rate.

Connor Bailey followed with the statement that aggregate statistics often tell only part of the story and there may be a substantial fraction of students facing financial challenges.

Dr. Gogue agreed.

Connor Bailey, Ag Econ and Rural Sociology, asked about the process in selecting the provost from among the two individuals and whether or not there would be public opportunities to meet these candidates further and who else is involved in the process. 

Dr. Gogue replied no one else is involved in the process.  All the open forums and campus involvement has been done.  What remains is a 4-hour interview with primarily him for the two top candidates put forward by the search and screen committee.

With no further questions from the floor for Dr. Gogue, Bill Sauser, Chair-Elect, provided the Chair’s Remarks substituting for Ann Beth Presley, Chair.

Chair’s Remarks

Recognized the other members of the Executive Committee by name and thanked them for their support and assistance.  Thanked the Committee’s staff and Parliamentarian.  Thanked the Provost and Associate Provost for meeting with the Executive Committee every week to discuss any topic on our mind and acknowledged a great relationship between the Senate Leadership and the Provost’s Office.  Thanked Dr. Gogue and Dr. Don Large for allowing a free and open exchange during monthly meetings.  He relayed that the University Senate and Faculty are experiencing shared governance at its best.    

Information Items

Bill Sauser called on Marcie Smith, associate vice president for business and finance, to provide a budget update with her presentation available at the following link: http://www.auburn.edu/administration/governance/senate/website/agendas/2011-2012/Oct11/GenFac/BudgetFY12_Presentation_faculty.pptx

At the close of the Marcie Smith’s presentation there was a period for questions but none were asked.

Bill Sauser then called on Karla McCormick, executive director of employee benefits, for an update on employee benefits for 2012.  Her presentation can be found at the following link: http://www.auburn.edu/administration/governance/senate/website/agendas/2011-2012/Oct11/GenFac/2012BenefitsChanges.pptx

Following this presentation, Bill Sauser opened the floor for any questions.

Roy Knight, Mechanical Engineering, asked why participants in the Tax Deferred Annuities (TDA) plans are restricted to whole integer percentage contributions.

Karla McCormick responded that Auburn is going to a master record keeper to assure compliance with the increased regulatory requirements under the pension protection act.  To facilitate that process we require participants to have deductions on a whole percentage basis.

Roy Knight followed with a request that more flexibility be provided than just whole percentage increments.

Karla McCormick responded by saying that this money continues to belong to the participant.

Roy Knight reiterated that choices are being made for simplicity of administration at the detriment of the participants.

Marcie Smith, Vice President for business and finance, answered that she is a member of the retirement plans committee which does have employee group representation and that this impact was considered in making these decisions.  Compliance confirmation under the regulations will be outsourced and our plan needs to be aligned with other plans in order to limit our expense for this effort.  Investment performance quarterly reviews will need to be performed in meeting our fiduciary responsibilities thus the limitation on the number of funds.  These changes were made to limit these costs to the University.  

No other questions were asked.

Bill Sauser called Dan King, assistant vice president for Facilities Management, to the podium for a update presentation on Auburn Facilities which may be found at the following link:

There were no questions following the facilities update presentation.

Bill Sauser then called for any unfinished business.  There was none. He then called for new business.  There was none. He then adjourned the meeting at 4:20 pm.