Postings to FacultyInfo Listserv

John Nolt

 

The items below are arranged by date, the most recent first.

 

 

From: FacultyInfo [mailto:nolt@UTK.EDU]
Sent: Friday, December 12, 2008 2:51 PM
To: FACULTYINFO@LISTSERV.UTK.EDU
Subject: Update

 

UTK Faculty,

This is an update on the current budget situation and on recent Faculty Senate activities. 

 

News on the budget continues to worsen.  This week the Governor announced that the state shortfall has reached a billion dollars.  This will probably translate into a 20% cut in state appropriations for higher education.  (As I understand it, this 20% includes the 3% impoundment that we have already suffered this fall, so for us it is an additional 17%.)  At the same time we are facing increased costs for coal, electricity and natural gas.  The term “crisis” is not an overdescription of the situation.

 

Exactly how this will impact us remains to be seen.  Several factors might mitigate our losses, including:  tuition and fee increases; release of money held at the system level (such as the unspent pool money for the Governor’s Chairs); administrative cuts, consolidations and efficiencies at all levels; energy conservation; and use of the state’s rainy day fund.  Certainly some, but probably not all, of these mitigating factors will be brought into play.  Thus the budgets for our units will not be cut by the full 17%.  But they will be cut again substantially.

 

There is increasing pressure for layoffs of faculty and staff.  In the campus budget hearings this week the Provost’s office proposed to meet a hypothetical 5% reduction in its budget by cutting $4.4 million from faculty salaries.  This would be achieved by not filling open lines and by layoffs of non-tenure-track faculty—about 65 people.  The impact on course offerings would be substantial; many thousands of student seats would be lost next year.  This, however, is merely a proposal.  The actual figures, which could be better or much worse, are unknowable at this point. 

 

My position as President of the Senate is that the most important mission of this university is teaching; thus the last thing to cut is teachers.  I am making this case as vigorously as I know how, both to the administration and in the media.

 

The danger in times like this is disunity—each of us, in fear of our own losses, trying to deflect the blow so that it falls on someone else.  We will be more effective if we work in solidarity.  There are four things each of us can do:

  1. Stay informed
  2. Strategize; anticipate what is coming, prepare for it and join in strategizing with others
  3. Work to reduce unnecessary costs
  4. Work for revenue enhancement

The Senate is staying informed by tracking budgets and budget proposals at all levels.  This work is being done mainly by the Budget and Planning Committee, ably chaired by Don Bruce of the Center for Business and Economic Research.  We’ll communicate important developments to you; but anyone can ask questions, and the more questions the faculty ask, the better.

 

Budgetary strategizing is widely distributed in the Senate, but perhaps the most talked-about committee at work now is the Program Review, Reduction and Reallocation Task Force (PRRR for those who like a more soothing sound), a cooperative effort of the Senate and Interim Provost Susan Martin.  The goal of this committee is to provide an avenue for faculty recommendations on criteria and procedures in case we must cut programs.  We thus hope of avoid a repetition of the hurried and ad hoc proceedings that led to the elimination of programs last year.  There is a widespread misimpression that this committee will decide which programs will be cut if cuts are needed.  That is not true.  The task force will recommend criteria and procedures to the Senate, which will vote on (and may modify) these criteria and procedures.  It will not recommend specific program rankings or cuts.

 

The chief role in faculty oversight of specific program closures falls to the Graduate and Undergraduate Councils, which present their recommendations to the full Senate.  If program cuts are proposed, these Councils must do the detailed work of examining them.  PRRR is working with the Council Chairs, Vince Anfara and John Romeiser, to make sure we have a fair and effective process in place if it is needed. 

 

In the end, however, everything the Faculty Senate does with respect to budgets and program closures is merely advisory to the administration, which makes the ultimate decisions.  Still, we aim to make our voice strong and clear.

 

The third thing we can all do is to reduce unnecessary costs.  We need to conserve energy—and every other resource that the university uses.  The Senate has been active in these efforts.  For more information, see http://www.utk.edu/features/switch/.   Any university employee, moreover, can suggest cost-saving measures directly to the Board of Trustees at:  http://bot.tennessee.edu/committees/eef/index.html or to the Chancellor’s office at:  http://chancellor.utk.edu/.

 

Finally, all of us need to get involved in educating the trustees, legislators and the public  on how the budget cuts are affecting and will affect our work.  Senate leadership has been talking with the Board and with some legislators.  We will step up this activity after the first of the year.  Anthony Haynes, UT’s Director of State Relations, will attend the first Senate meeting of the new year (January 26, 3:30-5 in the Shiloh Room of the UC) to educate us on interacting with the legislature and state officials.  (Senate meetings are open to the public.) 

 

Please call or write your legislators, send letters to the editor, talk with prominent members of the community and use any other channels available to you on behalf of our students and our university.

 

Best wishes,

John

John Nolt

Professor

President, Faculty Senate

Philosophy Department

801 McClung Tower

University of Tennessee

Knoxville, TN 37996-0480

(865)-974-7218

nolt@utk.edu

http://web.utk.edu/~nolt

P Please consider the environment before printing this e-mail.

 

—————————————————————————————————

 

October 31, 2008

 

As the budget crisis deepens, it is becoming increasingly important for faculty to help with cost-saving measures.  A few weeks ago, I sent a message regarding the Switch Your Thinking campaign:

 

http://environment.utk.edu/news/swtanouncement.html

 

With full participation, this campaign can enable UTK to save a million dollars in energy costs.

 

The present message is to suggest two other ways in which faculty can help.  First, a “Report Energy Problems” link has been added to the Switch Your Thinking website.  If your office or classroom is too hot or too cold, if your windows are leaky, if your lighting is inefficient, or if you are aware of other kinds of energy inefficiencies that can be addressed by repairing or upgrading facilities, please report these problems to UT’s Sustainability Manager, Gordie Bennett, by using this link.

 

Second, Interim Chancellor Simek has added to his website a link for suggesting ideas for new efficiencies in UTK operations generally:

 

http://chancellor.tennessee.edu/budget/feedback/index.shtml

 

If you know of a helpful way to cut costs, please let the Chancellor know.

 

The money we save will help to minimize further reductions in operating funds and in faculty and staff positions.

 

Best wishes,

John Nolt

Professor

President, Faculty Senate

Philosophy Department

801 McClung Tower

University of Tennessee

Knoxville, TN 37996-0480

(865)-974-7218

nolt@utk.edu

http://web.utk.edu/~nolt

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Sept. 24, 2008

 

UTK Faculty:

Energy coses are rising while state revenues are falling.  The short-term economic outlook for UT is undeniably bleak.  But together we can make it a bit brighter while benefiting the global environment.  The “Switch Your Thinking” campaign announced earlier this month by Chancellor Simek

(http://environment.utk.edu/news/swtanouncement.html) can both save UTK a million dollars over the coming year and substantially reduce the university’s carbon footprint.  It requires no great sacrifice on anyone’s part—just some small changes of habit.  Please adopt these four simple

measures:

 

·           Turn off your lights when you leave your office for more than an

hour (or, better, don’t turn them on if you have enough daylight).

·           Turn off your computer at the end of the day and adjust your

settings so that your computer “sleeps” when it is idle during the day.

·           Plug all electronics into a power strip and turn the power strip

off when you leave at night.  Many electronic devices continue to use power even when they are turned off if they remain plugged into the wall.

·           If you have an air conditioner in your office, turn it off at night

and when you leave for long periods during the day.

 

Many small savings can add up to big benefits.  Please do your part.

 

Best wishes,

John

 

John Nolt

President, Faculty Senate

Philosophy Department

University of Tennessee

Knoxville, TN 37996-0480

(865)-974-7218

nolt@utk.edu

http://web.utk.edu/~nolt

 

 

 

 

___________________________________________________________________

 

Sept. 17, 2008

 

UTK Faculty:

In my message of August 22, I noted that the Task Force on Faculty Senate Effectiveness was developing a survey to gauge perceptions and opinions about the Faculty Senate.  That survey is now online and ready for your input.  We are looking for an honest assessment of the good, the bad, and the ugly.  Your responses to the survey, which takes only about 10 minutes to complete, will help us redesign the senate to function more effectively in your interests.  Please help us with this effort by taking the survey now, if possible--or, in any case, by October 1.

 

To take the survey, go to: 

http://www.zoomerang.com/Survey/?p=WEB2289GFPHR5F

 

Best wishes,

John

John Nolt

Professor

President, Faculty Senate

Philosophy Department

University of Tennessee

Knoxville, TN 37996-0480

(865)-974-7218

nolt@utk.edu

http://web.utk.edu/~nolt

 

 

____________________________________________________________________________________

 

 

Date:         Fri, 22 Aug 2008 14:51:05 -0400
Reply-To:     nolt@UTK.EDU
Sender:       FacultyInfo <nolt@utk.edu>
From:         John Nolt <nolt@UTK.EDU>
Subject:      Task Force on Faculty Senate Effectiveness
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="windows-1252"

 

UTK Faculty:

In recent discussions between Interim Chancellor Simek and leaders of the

Faculty Senate, a consensus has emerged that the Senate needs to play a

more effective role in faculty life and shared governance.  As President of

the Faculty Senate, I have appointed a Task Force on Faculty Senate

Effectiveness to address this need.

 

The charge of the task force is to examine the strengths and challenges of

the Faculty Senate, to explore how the senate can work more effectively

with administrators at critical policy intersections, and to recommend

strategies for greater efficiency and effectiveness.

 

Candace White will chair the task force.  Other members are myself, Toby

Boulet, Beauvais Lyons, Sarah Gardial, Susan Martin, Denise Barlow, Mary

Papke, and Interim Chancellor Jan Simek.

 

In the next few weeks you will receive a survey designed to gauge

perceptions and opinions about the Faculty Senate.  We are looking for an

honest assessment of the good, the bad, and the ugly.  I urge you to take

time to complete the survey. 

 

Best wishes for a productive semester!

 

John Nolt

Professor

President, Faculty Senate

Philosophy Department

University of Tennessee

Knoxville, TN 37996-0480

(865)-974-7218

nolt@utk.edu

http://web.utk.edu/~nolt

 

____________________________________________________________________________________

 

 

From: John Nolt [mailto:nolt@UTK.EDU]
Sent: Fri 7/25/2008 11:58 AM
To: FACULTYINFO@LISTSERV.UTK.EDU
Subject: Faculty Senate’s Response to the Proposed Program Terminations

Colleagues:
I’m writing to update you on the Faculty Senate’s role in addressing the
proposed termination of three academic programs at UTK.

The budget that President Petersen submitted to the Board of Trustees in
early June included the phased termination of the Department of Audiology
and Speech Pathology, the Dance Program, and the graduate program in
Industrial and Organizational Psychology in the College of Business
Administration.  The Senate Executive Council objected on the ground that
the administration had not sought Senate approval for these proposed
terminations, as required by Section 1.8 of the Faculty Handbook.  The
proposed cuts were subsequently taken off the agenda for the June Board
meeting, but the issue will be revisited when the Board meets again in
October.

In the meantime, the Senate Executive Council has been meeting with the
campus administration to ensure that the proposed cuts are scrutinized,
that reasonable alternatives are considered, and that the process used to
reach a recommendation to the Board complies with the Faculty Handbook and
other relevant regulations.

In particular, we expect two processes to unfold over the next two or three
months.  First, the Executive Council and Executive Committee will continue
to examine the administration’s justifications for the proposed
terminations.  In late August we will make recommendations to the Graduate
and Undergraduate Councils and ask these councils to bring the issue to the
full Senate for a vote no later than October 20, which would allow the
Senate’s position to be taken into account by the Board of Trustees at
their October 23-24 meeting.

The second process is the creation of a task force to develop proactive
planning and decision-making procedures regarding possible termination of
programs.  Such a task force is needed given that budget prospects remain
grim well into next year.  I have sent Chancellor Simek a list of people
recommended by the Senate Executive Council to serve on this task force. 

The Senate has by no means endorsed the idea that budget cuts require
program terminations.  There is, however, within both the administration
and the Senate’s Executive Council a consensus that one way not to balance
the budget is simply to take lines from units that happen to have lines
open.  We agree that cuts need to be made strategically with an eye to the
goals of the university.  Sometimes program termination may serve those
goals.  But there are limits.  The Senate Executive Council is, in
particular, committed to the principle that any program cuts made without
the dire step of a declaration of financial exigency (see the Faculty
Handbook, Appendix 6) must have a valid academic and not merely budgetary
justification.  

We will therefore continue to insist that other ways of saving money be
exhaustively considered.  There is still some potential for cost savings in
campus administration.  There certainly is such potential in the UT system
administration.  We can save a good bit of money on campus, too, by
conserving energy.  The Senate’s Committee on the Campus Environment is
working with Chancellor Simek and with Facilities Services to develop
effective energy conservation initiatives.  Many other ideas have already
been considered, and we welcome new ones.

Finally, we will continue to support efforts to increase revenues.  At the
June Board meeting, Senate President David Patterson proposed that the
Board grant UTK a tuition increase higher than six percent.  I will
publicly advocate this idea of differential tuition at every opportunity.

These are hard times, but we faculty can make them less hard by working
together creatively.  Please get to know your Faculty Senators and share
with them your ideas or concerns.

Best wishes,

John Nolt
President
Faculty Senate

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