Budget recommendations ready for general staff

Hannah Helwig, General Reporter

A general faculty meeting will be held on Nov. 11 to make the general faculty aware of budget recommendations that Faculty Senate will be sending to Chancellor Dennis Shields.

The decision to call the meeting was made at the Oct. 27 Faculty Senate meeting, during which the senate voted to recommend against awarding raises during a time of austerity as well as to focus on a $4.5 million cut rather than a larger cut of $6 million.

The University Academic Budget Commission and the University Undergraduate Curriculum Commission reported at the meeting on the recommendations of their respective commissions, which was followed by reports on the concerns of the Higher Learning Steering Committee as well as representatives of the Instructional Academic Staff.

The UABC, represented by Chanaka Mendis, reported that the UABC held multiple forums and discussion sessions in order to produce their recommendations for the senate.

UUCC representative Amanda Tucker reported recommendations including a focus on the $4.5 million cut, the suspension of the First Year Experience requirement, a suspension of the writing emphasis and an endorsement of proposed changes to the remedial math and English programs. The recommendations were amended by the senate to a reduction of the writing emphasis, from six credits to three, rather than a suspension. The senate also recommended that First Year Experience remain a requirement for students scoring below a 22 on their ACT.

Faculty Senate Vice Chair James Swenson said changes in the curriculum should not be used to balance the budget.

“If we sacrifice the things that people pay us for, the demon will not be appeased, it will be angered,” Swenson said.

Despite the results of a survey which indicated the majority of respondents were in favor of raises in some form, the senate voted against recommending raises.

The question of whether to award raises during budget cuts was one of the major policy questions posed in the Chancellor’s budget communication, distributed via email on Sept. 24, which initiated phase three of the cuts.

The survey results also indicated the majority of respondents thought the university should focus on a lesser cut of $4.5 million. There were 377 survey respondents: 161 academic staff; 104 faculty; 11 LTE; and 101 university staff.

Looming over the discussions are questions of what Chancellor Dennis Shields will ultimately decide as well how these budget decisions will influence the Higher Learning Commission reaccreditation of the university in Oct. 2016.

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