Staff Senate Minutes - November 5, 2001
Directors: Livingston, Roggasch, Roth
Office: Ellingson, Jones, Mitchell
Ex Officio: Lakey
Managerial/Professional: Kucera, McMullen
Service: Hines, Lange, Wilson
Guest: Vice Chancellor Randy Haack
Livingston stated there is only one agenda item – which is to share information about the Legislature’s special session and how it could impact UNK. She noted we have a guest, VC Haack, who will visit with us in detail about this. Livingston passed around a two-page sheet on Principles Governing Budget Reductions which she had received at a recent meeting she attended(along with presidents of the Faculty Senate and Student Senate, and the collective bargaining unit) with the Chancellor. These are the guidelines which have been developed for UNK. Once the budget reductions for UNK have been decided, the group will meet again with the Chancellor. So Staff Senate is being represented in the process.
Livingston turned the meeting over to Dr. Haack. He noted that on the hand-out it states four strategic objectives which are
- preserve the quality of undergraduate, residential education
- strengthen our academic program priorities
- maintain our capability to recruit and retain excellent faculty
- maintain our capability to recruit and retain students.
What obviously should also have been included was staff. Whatever budget decisions are decided, those need to be maintained.
Haack noted that what the governor recommended was the most severe budget reduction that he has seen. The governor asked for a four and five percent reduction in the dollars that we were to receive this year and a year from now. In terms of dollars, that would mean 16 million this year and 22 million next year. When the principles were developed, it was with that in mind. No unit or activity would be exempted from consideration. The Chancellor has asked the Vice Chancellors to have discussions with their respective units and gather thoughts and ideas by the 7th. By the 14th, the Vice Chancellors have to submit to the Chancellor their recommendations. Luckily there is some good news to report. The Appropriation Committee has met and made their own recommendation to the Legislature. Their recommendation is for a two and two and a half percent reduction as compared to the governor’s four and five percent reduction. If in reality that is what happens, the percent a year ago was six percent higher and if they cut two percent we would still have four percent more money than we had a year ago. But because of salary increases and utility obligations, it would still mean a reduction in our planned spending. The university would need to reduce the planned spending by $8,358,567. In the second year of the biennium, there would be an additional half percent added to that for a total of a $11,263,797 reduction. President Smith has already said he would make a proportionate reduction across all campuses. He looks at all the state-aided budgets, not just the general fund appropriations. However there may be some things done differently this first year. We are midway through the first year of the biennium so there may be some things done temporarily to allow people to phase into a permanent reduction in the second year. The University received approximately three million dollars for program enhancements. Those funds have not yet been distributed. The President could decide to take that three million off the top.
Haack said he can’t tell members what the figure will be for UNK, but the high side figure would be between six and seven hundred thousand dollars. He noted that is still a lot for UNK to deal with. We will not know for sure what the Legislature has done until the end of this week and then the governor may or may not sign it. However we think he will sign it. So President Smith should know soon. There is a President’s Council meeting on the 15th and Smith may hold off any announcement until after that meeting.
A question and answer session was held with VC Haack.
Among the questions was how this will impact personnel. Haack noted that even if the reduction for the university is the eight plus million, he felt it would impact personnel. For us, if we are in the seven hundred thousand dollar range for reduction, he wasn’t sure there are enough temporary things we can do without reducing force. Livingston noted when they met with the Chancellor she did not rule out hiring freezes, and she didn’t know what that might do to current personnel. Haack noted there are no protected areas. He stated worse case scenario, if you had to let someone go, there are still notices to be given, and vacation days, floating holidays, and unemployment insurance to be paid by the University. It would not save as much as you think; you have to look at the whole analysis.
Haack noted that one thing that has not been announced is that in a biennium (which is two years) there is budget policy whereby if you overspend in the first year, the deficit reduces your second year budget. Or if you under spend, you can carry your balance forward. Because of the serious nature of the budget this year, you will not be allowed to overspend in this year. That will impact some units that have a hard time staying within the resources they have. A question was asked about the funding for minority/diversity hires. Haack stated his understanding is that the pool of money has already been allocated from Varner Hall, but it is on the table for discussion. It was asked that since staff are not union and faculty are, how protected are they. Will staff be the only ones subject to cuts? Haack noted the Union does not provide as much protection as the University does in this situation for tenured faculty, but he noted there are a lot of temporary, non-tenured faculty. Livingston stated she was told there would be every effort made to keep all faculty. Haack noted our people are our most important resource.
The question was asked if there should have to be any cuts in staff, how will it be determined who gets cut; are there guidelines? Haack stated the principles included on the handout sheet would be used. The vice chancellors, who are gathering information right now, will set down and decide what would least impact the university. They would then fashion a recommendation. There will actually be two levels. First we may need to do a variety of things just to get through this year and then we may have to do different things to make a permanent budget we can live with. He noted staff would probably like a to have definite guidelines (such as years of service, etc.) but those making the decisions would want to make the decisions after looking at all the alternatives for the situation. Lakey noted there are some guidelines in the Office/Service/Managerial/Professional Handbook concerning part-time temporary and full time-temporary, and probationary, but not a pecking order for regular employees.
One big-ticket item is the university’s utilities. There really isn’t any way to cut those, other than being conservative; you can’t just shut off the lights or not heat the buildings. Haack noted he personally feels our operating budgets are too small right now and elaborated on that. Members asked about other alternatives for budget cuts and had other questions about budget cuts.
In closing, Haack stated he doesn’t want to be an alarmist, but stated there will be a reduction in our spending level. If we do have to come to the point of reducing personnel, we do have some vacancies (staff and faculty) which we could chose to not fill. We need to find ways to keep good people- such as ways in which duties and responsibilities would be shifted without losing personnel.
At 2:35 p.m., Jones (Mitchell) moved to adjourn. Motion carried.