Marcus attempts to dispel rumors, but budget is still opaque

2/2/2016: I’ve pasted the only actual budget information that was in the budget memo at the bottom. Where are the numbers showing the trends in the CAS budget, and where is the info showing where the money taken out of CAS has been going and where it will go? The $4M CAS deficit noted below is the result of changes in how Brad Shelton’s budget model allocates money, and the many side transfers that have been made outside of that model. But that data is no longer being updated – and the old data seems to have been taken down.

Someone has these numbers. Why aren’t we being shown them?

February 1, 2016

To: CAS Faculty and Staff
From: W. Andrew Marcus
Interim Tykeson Dean

Re: The college budgeting process and rumors

Dear CAS Faculty and Staff,

I am writing to update you on the college-wide budgeting process and – I hope – to dispel some rumors that I am hearing from some quarters. As I noted in my memo of January 13, 2016 (https://casweb.uoregon.edu/budget-memo), CAS needs to reduce its $4M operating budget deficit while also aligning its resources to meet the strategic priorities outlined by President Schill (https://president.uoregon.edu/content/aligning-our-resources-support-academic-excellence).

In CAS, this has meant growing our Ph.D. numbers and
tenure track faculty lines (we have 22 searches underway to fill replacement and new lines), while reducing staffing in the dean’s office and seeking ways to align teaching resources in CAS departments with instructional needs. This last measure means that we are reducing the total number of non-tenure track faculty lines, which – of course – creates uncertainty for people in those positions.

To be clear, we are continuing to follow the process I outlined in the January 13 memo. This means we are having budget conversations with every department and program in the college. None of us is happy about reducing budgets, but they are necessary conversations. The way these meetings work is that we (the dean’s office) propose possible reductions based on student numbers and other pedagogical, departmental and college-wide considerations. Department heads and managers often provide alternatives to our proposals, which leads to a conversation (sometimes heated debate) about alternatives to achieve the results. I have been adamant that alternative solutions brought forward by a department must achieve the same on-going cost reductions – unless an argument can be made for a compelling institution-wide need that trumps the need to reduce the deficit and grow TTF numbers.

Regardless of the particulars of any one program, we are adhering to the same principles I outlined in the January 13 memo. But let me dispel a few things I’ve heard circulating:

 The dean’s office is still having conversations with departments about proposed cuts; nothing is finalized at this time. In most cases, these conversations have changed some of the outcomes we initially propose. In departments with dramatic enrollment declines, however, there may be few (if any) alternatives that a department can offer to our proposal to align instructional staffing with student demand. I acknowledge those conversations can feel one-sided to the department and we remain open to alternatives, if any can be found.

 Final decisions for all departments will be made only after review of our recommendations by central administration and a meeting with United Academics to ensure that our processes are in compliance with the Collective Bargaining Agreement. I hope – but cannot guarantee – that we will have final decisions by the end of February. It is my goal to give all affected employees as much time as possible to plan their future.

 Reductions in personnel numbers will be achieved only through contract non-renewals. We are not doing mid-term contract terminations or severing of MOUs.

 Also we are not terminating tenure-track faculty. Much of the reason for pursuing these painful budget decisions is to support growth of TTF lines, as evidenced by our ongoing searches.

 We are not terminating any departments, nor have we ever contemplated this measure.

 We are not reducing overall GTF numbers in the college, although some departments will see declines (and others will see increases) as we move instructional GTF support from low-enrollment to higher-enrollment units. Moreover, with the additional Ph.D. fellowships offered by the Graduate School, we hope to achieve growth in Ph.D. numbers in the year to come.

 All colleges, schools and administrative units within the university are being asked to go through a similar budget process. CAS is not being singled out in this process, although the process differs between units. For example, administrative units at UO have been asked to develop plans for a 2% budget reduction. In CAS, however, we have a specific monetary target, which is to eliminate our $4 million deficit. We are doing this by realigning instructional resources with instructional demand, which means that some units are taking a greater than 2% cut, while others are experiencing a smaller reduction. I know that times of uncertainty can be exceptionally difficult, both emotionally and professionally. This was my reason for detailing at the January 13 CAS heads and department managers meeting the financial history that has led us to this point and the specific principles for moving through this time, principles which include transparency and consistency. As you hear of “decisions that have been made” or “cuts that are happening,” please go back to the memo after the January 13 meeting and review its content (https://casweb.uoregon.edu/budget-memo). I pledge to adhere to the processes and principles outlined in that document; whatever else you hear is speculation at this time.

As a final note, I want to acknowledge the difficult work that our department and program heads are doing in this process. They have been articulate advocates for their programs, their employees, and their disciplines; it is clear they are willing to put themselves on the line for all of you. I hope you will give them the thanks and deep respect they deserve as we work through this process. I am proud to count them as colleagues.

From the budget memo:

Achieving our research and instructional goals has been complicated by the significant budget shortfall that CAS has carried for the last two years, something we have discussed many times in meetings with heads, faculty, and staff. At one point, our projected annual operating deficit exceeded $12 million. Thus far, we have been able to avoid major reductions by using carry forward funds. In addition, central administration has worked with the college to shift funds to CAS. In the past year alone, our central administration has authorized a permanent, recurring budget augmentation of $7 million per year, provided a one time transfer of $4M to our budget, altered the budget model to add SCH-based funds to all school and colleges, and helped CAS remove major costs centers (startups and high performance computing) from our budget. Even with these measures, however, we face a projected deficit of about $4 million in the 2015-16 fiscal year. We therefore need to implement cost-savings measures in order to balance the budget in future years.

Brad Shelton’s BRP website is even less informative:

Screen Shot 2016-02-02 at 9.09.20 AM

There used to be very clear data on the budget model and side payments:

 

But while CAS faculty are being laid off, Provost Coltrane is increasing the general fund subsidy for athletics – his budget for the Jock Box subsidy is up 39% since 2000, including  another 7% this year:

Screen Shot 2016-02-02 at 12.20.23 PM

(From Nathan Tublitz’s Financial Transparency Tool on Duckweb)

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26 Responses to Marcus attempts to dispel rumors, but budget is still opaque

  1. Dog says:

    On the TRP funding:

    Please someone correct me if I am wrong on this because there
    is a good chance that I am

    1. I think the actual funding for TRP use to come from a dedicated pot out of Academic Affairs for university wide distribution.

    2. I think a few years ago that was put back on the individual schools and colleges, so CAS now has to pay out of their budget for TRP

    note: 1 could be wrong; 2 could be wrong; 1 and 2 could be wrong together.

  2. Dog says:

    On the TRP plan:

    I think its complicated in terms of running the correct statistical model on net gain or loss.

    I am currently on TRP part 1 (have not gone to 600 hr yet)- I have a lab, I have funding, I have grad students and I teach – so there is some total net gain/loss associated with that. I believe I will be in the same place when I go to 600 hr.

    a) its cheaper to replace my teaching with that of an NTTF but only marginally so since I will be paid 1/2 time for that.

    b) who would absorb my grad students and that cost if I did was not allowed to go on 600hr?

    c) the point about replacing retiring faculty with young faculty that require significant start up packages is a fact of life at any Research University – some that I know have a dedicated fund for this as part of overall faculty change up planning. The UO does not seem to have one and its clearly cheaper for my department to retain my research and grad supervision duties (dismal as they area) than to hire a replacement faculty for that purpose.

  3. HumHead says:

    I understand the shortfall — it’s been explained several years in a row at the Head’s retreat. The discussion of who, what, where, and why is moot at this point. CAS and the other schools need to realign their budgets and change the balance between NTTF and TTF. It’s painful but it has to be done. In many cases it means that depts will need to change their curriculums a bit.

    With all that in mind, I agree 100% with the point that the “rumors” memo seems to be ridiculous in the extreme.

  4. inquiring mind says:

    Just wondering, is anyone looking at the cost benefits of the generous TRP plan, which (as I understand it) gives tenured faculty a 6% increase their last 3 years for promising to retire. Could be a big money saver short term and definitely in long term PERS expenses to cut this or reduce it by half.

    • anonymous says:

      I would guess that TRP is a net cost saver. The 6% is not that much and it’s not a “promise” to retire, it’s a contractual agreement. You might argue that the (up to) 1/3 salary that faculty get in retirement for teaching 2 courses is more expensive than hiring adjuncts. But it’s a lot cheaper (if the retired faculty do the teaching) than if they continue on as full-time TTF until they drop. The “graduated retirement” program is a way to induce faculty to transition rather than stay around forever. It seems to be pretty successful: from what I’ve observed, the typical UO faculty member is retiring pretty close to age 65, not hanging on another 10 years like many do at other places. And, from what I can tell, most of them tire of the post-retirement “600 hours” teaching long before the 5 year contractual limit is reached.

      I don’t see TRP as anything but a great benefit for most everyone concerned: the retiring faculty, and UO.

      • Daffy duck says:

        Indeed, to a first approximation, the trp program is entirely self financing as long as on average retiring full professors make at least six percent more than the new assistant professors who replace them, pay is bad for fulls here, but not bad enough on average to make that false.

        • Duckduckgo says:

          TRP may not be a good deal in the sciences where a new faculty member gets $500k to $1M+ in set-up research funds. That is a lot of years of (full – assistant) pay differential.

  5. The Breakdown says:

    All of the budget data you see is very highly finessed to tell a particular story. Here’s another story. The business school, having some foresight on how the budget works, started grabbing as many students as possible from “undeclared” to “pre-business”. Revenue rushes from CAS to Business. J-School sees that it works, and does the same.

    In addition, we now have a ton of students from California and China who want to study Business almost exclusively. Oregonians were the ones generally interested in other subjects, and we educate less Oregonians every year.

    • Cat says:

      I’d never heard this before, but it seems wholly plausible. Also, the boutique schools (like B- and J-school) rely a lot on CAS some of their students’ prereqs, but under the budget model get to pocket extra cash from majors as well as SCH.

      But I don’t know why this story isn’t compatible with the “particular story” that’s supposedly being “finessed.” There are a lot of moving parts here–none of them transparent, of course.

  6. thedude says:

    My best guess….strategic crisis. If you’re broke you can beg for donors to save you. Otherwise, they’d rather give money to stanford even if money there has no marginal influence on the quality of the institution.

  7. Observer says:

    People supposedly in the know have told me that declining CAS enrollments, especially in the Humanities, account for a huge part of the defiicit.

    • uomatters says:

      What? All those new students we’re recruiting at bowl games don’t take humanities classes?

      • Dog says:

        Since IR now uses Tableau (a great web language) one can produce real data easily to asses this. Now, I can’t due to this blogs limitations post any graphs so will just produce a table of numbers. This one is for Humanities majors

        2008 -09 750
        09-10 779
        10-11 826
        11-12 904
        12-13 917
        13-14 787
        14-15 754
        15-16 648

        • Dog says:

          Here is the data for CAS humanities SCH for Fall Term each year

          2008 60000
          2009 63000
          2010 65000
          2011 68000
          2012 66000
          2013 63500
          2014 60000
          2015 57000

          yes there is a decrease but its small, why should this cause panic?

          • anonymous says:

            holy cow, that is a precipitous drop in humanities sch! About 1/6 since 2011. Still sinking in the latest year 2015. True, it’s only 5% since 2008, but the CAS deficit is from a more recent, post-recession “baseline.” The entire CAS deficit was around 10% of total budget. Not all of it is due to humanities, but that is a good chunk. I wonder how the social sciences have been doing in sch. The sciences went way up during the recession (as did humanities from 2008-2011!) Now the sciences are receding too. Maybe the CAS deficit is mostly internal? Impossible to know without more data than I have.

        • Dog says:

          and the most significant drop in the Humanities seems to come
          from Romance Languages – English has been flat since 2012

          • Dog says:

            a drop from the local peak maximum is not a good statistic and generally means nothing (stock market is a good example)

            what matters is if the most recent data point is significantly below
            the long term average

          • Observer says:

            Rumor has it that English is way down this year, like drastically down.

          • Dog says:

            Once again, while I understand that this place runs on rumor and lack of any kind of due diligence which then creates illusion, the following is the actual SCH data for English from IR for the last three falls –
            yes, English is down, but not by very much.

            Fall 2015 15768
            Fall 2014 16488
            Fall 2013 17283

            The overall budget does not tie directly to SCH for any department (it never has, but Faculty refuse to believe this) – if the down town of 700 SCH out of 16000 really causes serious budget problems for English, then everything is totally out of whack. I don’t believe at all that this is the case, I certainly believe the faculty perceive otherwise.

            Yes, there are budget problems everywhere, but this is not locally driven SCH problems. If so, those departments with significant increase in SCH (there are some) would see the dividend and they do not (but again, feel free not to believe this).

  8. Hippo says:

    This memo is BS. The dispelling of straw-man non-rumors (getting rid of TTF?) is a smoke screen for the all-too-real cuts, which are yet to be explicit. As UOM points out, where is the transparency?

  9. pleased to be a former dh says:

    how quickly things have changed!
    CASWEB used to have a wide variety of metrics relating to one’s own department and to the CAS. What has happened? Gordon Taylor’s predecessor, M Nicols, provided plenty of data in her annual updates at the September meeting of DHs.
    Has the whole system of recording and posting been dismantled? And if so to what end? Does the dean have access to the real numbers? So many questions.

    • Dog says:

      In the absence of transparency and articulation, rumors abound and memos like this appear

    • anonymous says:

      There used to be a link at UO institutional research called “Performance Indicators” that gave a college by college and department by department breakdown of enrollments, sch, faculty fte, personnel expenditures, total dept budgets, etc etc. If it’s there now, I can’t find it.

  10. honest Uncle Bernie says:

    It’s still not at all clear to me from this memo where the original CAS deficit of >$10M came from. Was it due to CAS enrollment losses, transfers to other units, or what?

    Allso: I don’t much like this: “Much of the reason for pursuing these painful budget decisions is to support growth of TTF lines, as evidenced by our ongoing searches.”

    Now I am for growing TTF lines, but not at the expense of firing NTTF who have been doing good work and in many cases have been carrying an outsize share of the load of teaching the high SCH intro courses. I agree that in many cases this is somewhat of a scandal (for the departments and the tenure track faculty who disdain teaching the “low-level” stuff). But it strikes me as shameful to just throw out the NTTF stalwarts now that UO has finally awakened to its dire status in the AAU.

    If the admin and the trustees are really concerned about this, as they should be, why don’t they come up with the wherewithal to grow the TTF without screwing over loyal, relatively lowly paid NTTF types? After all, we’re only talking about a few million per year.

    Finally, I would like to note that some departments seem to be making a gradual transition to TTF by REPLACING retiring or leaving NTTF with TTF, while committing to picking up the increased teaching responsibilities with TTF faculty. This seems like a good and decent way to shift UO priorities, if that is what the school wants to do. (I am far from convinced that UO really has in its guts what it would take to make us a real AAU player.)

    • Cat says:

      Look: this all varies department by department. In mine, one of the targets of cuts, we hired a bunch of NTTF when enrollments surged a few years ago, but since then enrollments have been steadily and dramatically declining. Enrollments are now below 2008 levels, although TTF and NTTF together mean we have more staff than then. Students simply do not want to take our classes–at least not at previous rates. The obvious thing to do, especially if money is needed for TTF hiring in departments trending upwards, is to cut staff to match enrollments. TTF cannot be fired; that’s what it means to be tenured. Tenure also means that TTF have no incentive to to “pick up the increased teaching responsibilities” so long as they can be pawned off to NTTF (often with the confidence that some of these NTTF are superlative teachers). And while NTTF salaries remain low compared to TTF, post-unionization they are higher than before and thus no longer a negligible expense. This isn’t about the AAU; it’s about the bottom line. Something like 95% of the CAS budget is devoted to personnel expenses. Per se tenure produces incredible inflexibility in labor costs. If the costs of, say, benefits, outstrips the rise in tuition income, it’ll get worse.

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