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Faculty Advisory Committee on Budgets

The mission of the Faculty Advisory Committee on Budgets (FACB) is as follows: “The committee will serve in an advisory capacity to the president and provost. The committee will review University budgets and make appropriate recommendations.” During the 2009-10 academic year, the FACB met seven times. There were three main items of business: (1) monitoring the implementation of the gender equity report and the recommendations on gender equity, salary compression, and salary inversion in the FACB resolution of May 2009; (2) advising the president and provost on faculty and staff merit raises; (3) establishing a more meaningful role for the FACB in deliberations about university budget policies and priorities. In addition, the chair of the FACB served as a voting, ex officio member of the Tuition Policy Advisory Committee (TPAC).

An organizational meeting of the FACB was held on September 14, 2009, to discuss the meeting schedule for the coming year and to elect a vice chair. Barbara Immroth (School of Information) was elected vice-chair. The committee reviewed its charge and agreed to work to establish a more meaningful pattern of consultation with the president and provost on budgetary priorities. The committee also agreed to follow up on the FACB’s resolution from 2008-09 on gender equity and salary compression.

During the fall semester, the chair of the FACB participated in weekly meetings of the TPAC. A recommendation to raise tuition 3.95 percent was presented to the president in December and discussed in public forums on January 20 and 26, 2010. Subsequently, the chair of the FACB established with Provost Stephen Leslie that in the future the provost and members of his staff would consult with the FACB in a way similar to its consultation with student groups during the deliberations of the TPAC.

On March 2, 2010, the committee met with Provost Leslie and Executive Vice Provost Stephen Monti. The provost and the committee members agreed to work to enhance the advisory role of the committee, especially given ongoing reprioritization due to the flat budget. Provost Leslie reported on this year’s budget challenges. He noted that the provost’s office is working on a five-year plan and will soon be in a position to move towards a more data- and faculty-driven process in which the FACB has a clear role. He noted four specific challenges UT faces compared to peer institutions: (a) UT is highly reliant on its endowment and will have more difficulty recovering from the economic downturn. (b) UT is among those institutions facing challenges because of caps on tuition and out-of state enrollment. (c) UT is among those institutions in which recurring expenses were covered by stimulus funds. (d) The state funding formula is geared towards average programs across the state and not to research universities. Other topics for discussion raised by members of the committee were the relationship between University-level budgetary processes and those in the colleges and schools and the relationship between the setting of priorities and university budgets.

On March 5, 2010, the FACB met with Provost Leslie and Vice Provost Judith Langlois to discuss the implementation of the resolution on gender equity, salary compression, and salary inversion passed by the FACB on May 15, 2009. Dr. Langlois discussed a preliminary analysis of the outcome of the raise policy for the 2009-10 academic year and called attention to information posted on Gender Equity blog on the provost’s web site. She informed the committee that after April 15 she would be able to give a fuller report on the impact of the salary policy of 2008-09, which emphasized gender inequity, salary compression, and strategic competitiveness, and confined faculty salary raises to 35 percent of the faculty. She and the provost noted that attending to these issues is an ongoing priority.

On April 16, 2010, the committee was invited to an urgent meeting with President Powers. He asked the FACB for responses to a possible 2 percent merit raise pool for faculty and staff. The committee thanked the president for the opportunity to meet with him and asked questions about the timetable for decision-making and trade-offs between raises and other priorities. On April 19, 2010, the committee met to discuss the 2 percent merit raise pool. After extensive discussion, the committee decided that it did not have enough time or information on the impact of such a salary policy to submit a formal recommendation to the president. Instead the committee decided to offer a range of responses and concerns.

On April 20, 2010, the committee met with Provost Leslie do discuss the proposed 2 percent merit raise pool for faculty and staff. The committee told the provost that it was not in a position to make a recommendation as to whether there should be a salary raise pool, as the committee did not have access to the information that would allow it to assess the consequences of such a decision. However, should the president decide on instituting a salary raise pool, the committee felt that a merit raise for staff be the highest priority and that there should be an emphasis on improving the salaries of the staff receiving the lowest wages. With regard to faculty raises, the committee expressed the concern that the quality of instruction is being negatively impacted by decisions not to renew the contracts of lecturers, assistant instructors, and adjuncts, and by limitations on the numbers of teaching assistantships available for graduate students. The committee asked that the president and provost take this into account in deciding on a salary policy. Finally, the committee asked that in the future more time and information be provided to the committee. The provost agreed, noting that the move of Dan Slesnick from the College of Liberal Arts to the provost’s office would improve data gathering and analysis at the University level.

On May 10, 2010, President Powers called a meeting with the FACB and the Faculty Council Executive Committee. He told the committees that a new round of budget cuts would soon be announced, with cuts concentrated in the vice president’s portfolios (i.e., outside of the colleges and schools). He also noted that he would be announcing a 2 percent merit salary raise pool for faculty and staff, which the units would have to meet by reprioritization. He said that the committee’s concerns had been taken into account and that there would also be a 2 percent increase in teaching assistant compensation. Faculty Council Chair Janet Staiger mentioned the need for a formal mechanism for faculty consultation on budget issues at the college level (an issue that was also raised at the meeting on April 10). After the meeting, the provost and chair of the FACB agreed on the advisability of scheduling regular monthly meetings of the FACB and the provost, including during the summer.

Pauline Turner Strong, chair