UofL’s Faculty Senate met March 1 where much of the discussion focused on the current $48 million budget shortfall that has affected every unit across campus. Senate Chair Enid Trucios-Haynes facilitated dialogue about the budget, including a goal to return to financial stability and increase endowments.
“We need to get our hands around what’s going on to fully understand how to come up with solutions,” she said.
Faculty will be involved in some budgeting decisions at the unit level. Each unit has received a budget they have been tasked with achieving relatively quickly. Trucios-Haynes deferred further budget dialogue to Interim Provost Dale Billingsley, who outlined the general timeframe to achieve budgeting goals.
“Your deans have received a number which includes the actual expenditures from last year, the forecast, merit salary increases and salary equity adjustments. That target is the ceiling under which your unit must stay,” he said.
Billingsley said these goals were put into place to ensure UofL keeps its unrestricted net position above $0. According to the Kentucky Public University Comparison, the unrestricted net position of UofL in 2011 was $96 million. In 2016, it was negative $7 million.
“If this is replicated again this year, we will raise red flags from Moody’s and SACS,” he said.
The budget prospectus is available online.
Interim President Greg Postel continued the budget conversation, expressing his concerns and how we will try to weather the storm.
‘We are going to do the very best we can considering the circumstances we are in. We are getting input from everyone including faculty, staff and students,” he said. “I’m frustrated. This is not the kind of work we want to be doing. We are going to try to make this as painless as we can but it will not be fully painless. Hopefully it will just be for one year.”
Postel also encouraged some optimism, noting that the budget should be regarded as a starting point from which to build on.
“We’ve been given a tough set of facts and we have a short period of time. But it’s just the way it is,” he said. “I want to emphasize that this is the starting point. We need to be meeting and coming up with a strategy to beat this miserable budget.”
For example, hiring frosts have been implemented, some construction projects have been slowed and “other low-hanging fruit” decisions have been made to cut costs.
Postel also discussed the SACS accreditation status, noting that we are working internally to get our documents synched and accurate in accordance to state law. UofL administrators hope to be on SACS’ agenda for its June meeting to continue rectifying the situation.
“We do not expect these issues to be resolved in June, but to provide them with an update. Then they will have a site visit in September and in December we hope to know more about our status,” Postel said.
Postel also provided an update on the recent Council on Postsecondary Education meeting, which he said was focused almost exclusively on tuition – which does not affect UofL this year, as its tuition remains stagnant.
Finally, Postel noted that the search for UofL’s new permanent president is underway with the formation of a search committee, which includes 16 members – 11 of whom are appointed board members and five members from the community.
Dean David Jenkins from the Kent School of Social Work provided an update from his school, which is available online.
Meredith Cooksey, SGA, said four SGA resolutions were passed in February, including one that would bring the Belknap campus up to ADA compliance for Braille, and another resolution that offered solidarity with the university’s international students in light of President Trump’s recently signed travel ban.
Students are joining the Attorney General on March 27 for the Voices of Justice event to raise awareness of sexual assault on campuses.
Ginger Brown provided an update from the February Staff Senate meeting, noting that CAO David Adams, COO Lee Smith and AVP of HR Jeanell Hughes presented updates from their respective areas. Staff Senate Chair Will Armstrong has expressed concerns that recent budget cuts may disproportionately affect staff. It was noted that six employees in the President’s Office were laid off as part of a reduction-in-force decision.
More information about the Staff Senate’s recent meeting is available online.
Faculty Senate Chair Enid Trucios-Haynes provided her chair report, including the recent Board of Trustees meeting that discussed the budget issues, a freeze on expenditures and immediate expense reductions in all areas. Her report is available online.
Krista Wallace-Boaz provided a report from the Executive Committee, which met twice in February, including with President Postel, Provost Billingsley and CAO David Adams. Members shared their general concerns, including bad morale from layoffs at a time when morale is already low, a continued need for shared governance and faculty input regarding the budget plan, and the need for transparency. The entire report is available online, as is a full list of general concerns from XC members.
Committee reports are available online.
The next Faculty Senate meeting is April 5 from 3-5 p.m. in Chao Auditorium.