Higher fees, larger class sizes, fewer faculty
Since Fiscal Year 2010 (“FY10”), which runs from July 1, 2009–June 30, 2010, the UC Administration has utilized Performance Based Budgeting (“PBB”). According to the PBB model, each college or administrative unit must meet a pre-determined budget deficit—referred to as a “threshold”—“through growth, cost-saving measures, or some combination of these two factors.” UC FY15-16 Current Funds Budget Plan (p. 14). Chief among PBB’s virtues, according to the Administration at the time the Board of Trustees approved the use of PBB, is that it “ensures transparency and accountability.” (“Performance Based Budgeting, 5 Years Later: The Real World Effects of Transparency,” Works, Vol. 21, No. 7, 7Nov2014, at 5).
As we have previously observed, PBB is “certainly transparent in the sense that PBB reports are readily available through the Office of Institutional Research under the Provost, and in that there is a clear formula by which indirect expenditures are calculated and assigned to each college.” Id. at 4. However, as we have also noted, the PBB model masks the value judgements inherent in the decision makers’ determinations as to the cost of running the University’s various units; it is blind to its detrimental impacts upon students and faculty; and, implicitly or otherwise, it rewards and encourages those consequences.
The Administration is aware of the pressures imposed on the colleges by PBB, and at least some of its negative impacts, because in the months before a new fiscal year begins, each college must submit a plan for how it will meet its “threshold,” and these plans detail exactly where the “cost savings” and “efficiencies” will come from. Several months ago, the UC Chapter AAUP obtained via a public records request copies of these plans from FY11 (when they first appear to have been utilized) through FY15. Undeniably, the PBB model appears to have inspired some measure of creativity and innovation among the colleges in the development of new degree programs, as well as prompting hard looks at potentially wasteful or duplicative administrative and academic expenditures. However, these plans also make clear that PBB has exacted significant “costs” on faculty and students:
- The PBB model is spectacularly unsuited for colleges which, either due to space limitations and/or their unique pedagogical needs, cannot easily “grow” their way out of a threshold. This includes colleges such as DAAP, CCM, Pharmacy and Law.
- Increased class sizes, unfilled faculty vacancies and increased TA workloads are frequently touted as “cost savings” and “efficiencies.”
- Revenue “growth” has been realized through tuition and/or fee increases at the Colleges of Law, Pharmacy, Business, CCM and CEAS.
- The PBB process implicitly encourages the quantification of intangibles, to sometimes absurd results.
- Quality of life for faculty – as well as the student experience – can vary significantly from college to college. There are “haves” and “have nots” within the same UC community.
Although the plans suggest that some colleges have received some measure of relief from the Provost’s office when significant cuts gravely threatened their core mission, the fact that these colleges have had to plead their cases—sometimes repeatedly—to the Administration raises the question as to whether having colleges engage in this sort of annual advocacy to preserve their core missions is the most “efficient” use of University resources. Moreover, although the Administration has proposed less drastic thresholds in recent years, there is always the possibility of future budget crunches, and these plans illustrate how some colleges—as well as, in some cases, the University’s reputation—could suffer as a result.
The following is a look at PBB’s impacts on the colleges through the lens of their threshold plans. Although Administration and Finance also submits a master threshold plan for its units, we are restricting our focus to those units—the colleges—which interact most directly with students and are most directly aligned with the University’s core academic mission. The one exception to this is UC Libraries; while not a revenue generator, it is integral to UC’s academic mission and a participant in the PBB process, in which it has not fared well.
We acknowledge that faculty and administrators in all colleges have expended tremendous efforts within the PBB framework toward improving their programs, creating new degrees and certificates, and other innovations. The following discussion is not intended to diminish these efforts, but to bring to light the “collateral damage” that PBB has exacted on faculty and students.
Growth Through Tuition and Fee Hikes—Pharmacy, Law, CCM and CEAS
Facing a projected threshold share of $1.2 million for FY12, UC’s College of Law (“Law”) informed the Administration in its FY12 Plan that its “mission and key goals, as well as the rankings environment, necessitate that our enrollment target remain at 400.” Law thus proposed to meet its threshold share through only a small increase in enrollment, a 6% tuition increase, and through the use of vacant position dollars, noting that the latter would have a “potential adverse impact on [U.S. News and World Report] rankings.” The Board of Trustees subsequently approved the 6% tuition increase for the College of Law at its June 21, 2011 meeting.
The following year, in its FY13 Plan, Law implored the Administration for relief from its previous budget shortfalls and prospective budget cut for FY13, and asked for additional resources for the Library Collections budget, noting that the Law Library’s “budget has been flat for several years while vendors’ prices continue to rise.” In a memorandum dated February 24, 2012, then-Dean Louis Bilionis informed then-Provost Santa Ono that the “College’s administration and faculty have great reservations” about a scenario that would involve meeting a 7% budget cut by increasing tuition by 6% and growing enrollment from 409 to 419:
Our current students already are shaken by the depressed legal job market and rising debt loads. A further increase in tuition, to support internal redistribution objectives of the University, asks much from them if no other adverse consequences were involved. But the College’s median LSAT will drop from 160 to 158, and there would be every reason to forecast a rankings downturn. No discipline is more rankings-sensitive than law, and a drop in rankings will be received in many quarters as a decline in quality and a depreciation in the value of the degree conferred. (emphasis added) Id.
Despite Law’s concerns, the Board of Trustees approved another 6% tuition increase at its June 26, 2012. Moreover, expenditures on the Law Library actually dropped by over $60,000 from FY12 to FY13. Supplemental Schedules to the Annual Financial Report, FY2012; Annual Fund Accounting Schedules, FY2013.
While the threshold plans and presentations for FY14 and FY15 do not contain the urgent appeals made in previous years, the FY15 Plan details numerous “cost savings” and “efficiencies” which demonstrate the extremes, painful and at times even absurd, to which Law has resorted in order to meet its threshold share, including, among others:
- Eliminated a receptionist, faculty support secretary, and a Library Circulation Manager “ for a combined savings of approximately $118,000
- “Eliminated senior banquet for graduating students”—“cost savings” of $10,000
- “Eliminated several orientation lunches for new students—“cost savings” of $6,000
The imposition of PBB early on prompted repeated pleas for relief from CCM to the Administration. For example, in a December 7, 2010 memorandum to then-Provost Santa Ono and the Provostal staff, then-Interim Dean Frank Weinstock responded to a request to submit a plan for a possible 20% general funds budget cut, and indicated that growth in enrollment was not feasible because CCM is “constrained by space, as we are already at a significantly higher enrollment than our facility was built for just twelve years ago.” Further, Weinstock explained that leaving open faculty positions vacant was not an option “because of the amount of one-on-one instruction as well as the specialization of such instruction (a clarinet faculty member cannot teach a flute major, for example).” Concluding, Weinstock stated: “I hope it is clear that to make the cuts in this plan would be a suicidal move on CCM’s Part.”
The following year, in its FY13 Plan, CCM again explained that it could not “expand enrollments as simply as other colleges and cannot easily contract due to the interdependence of one sub-specialty on the other.” CCM’s FY13 Plan also stands out for the concerns it expressed for how current faculty have been impacted by lagging hiring, noting that “faculty in varying pockets of CCM are working well beyond the loads stated in CCM’s workload document,” with some faculty “absorb[ing] additional teaching responsibilities above the realm of sustainability.”
In succeeding years, CCM faced smaller potential threshold shares, which in FY14 still necessitated a proposal to generate new revenue through a new $500 per year fee for new undergraduate and graduate students. Encouragingly, in its FY15 Plan, CCM indicated that it had not only replaced 7 faculty positions which had become vacant through retirements and non-renewals, but it had also hired 2 new faculty positions. Although the documentation is not clear as to the extent of relief that CCM may have received from its particular threshold share burden, the new hiring is a positive sign. However, the fact that this turnaround appeared to have involved years of repeated advocacy, stating and restating the obvious, is troubling.
In its FY12 Plan, Pharmacy provided some interesting historical commentary on the University’s finances, noting that “Because many buildings were constructed on campus over the last 20 years, the campus was transformed into a very attractive and student-friendly environment. However, this transformation had an adverse effect on the overall financial stability of the university.” Continuing, Pharmacy’s FY12 Plan observed:
[O]ur class size does not allow for any further increases in enrollment because of the limitations of its classrooms and teaching laboratories. In effect, our enrollment is capped and our revenue generation is severely impaired. … If no help is provided by the Provost, the college will exhaust all of its reserves by 2014 and by that date personnel lines will have to be cut.
In its FY13 Plan, CEAS proposed to meet a significant $1.67 million threshold share partially with an increase in graduate enrollment (with revenue growth of approximately $600,000), and from not replacing vacant positions, including 5 faculty positions which, CEAS noted, would “impact programs and reduce research base, and affect rankings.” The FY13 Plan also listed several “efficiencies” CEAS had achieved in FY11, including “increase[ing] the special fee for all CEAS students to 10% of undergraduate tuition (Fall 2011)” and experiencing a decrease in the number of tenure track faculty.
In its FY14 Plan, CEAS included a FY13 PBB Progress Tracking Report, which indicated that it was “giving up $1.5 million in permanent general funds to meet our threshold.” The FY14 Plan also included a faculty hiring plan, listing 8 faculty who separated or retired, and only 4 approved searches in progress, though CEAS asked the Provost to approve the 7 additional new positions in its hiring plan.
Some progress appeared to have been made in the following year with respect to increasing faculty hiring. At an April 3, 2014 Budget Hearing, CEAS noted that “Faculty Hiring is Key to Third Century Plan” and announced that it had “initiated faculty hiring—launching 50 in 5” (50 hires in 5 years). With a looming threshold share of approximately $850,000, CEAS expressed its expectation to meet or exceed it through massive growth in graduate and undergraduate enrollment and distance learning. Even so, small economies continued; the FY15 Plan reported that, in FY13, the “Office of Undergraduate Academic Affairs stopped giving gifts for graduating students.”
Beginning with its first threshold plan for FY11 through its FY15 plan, UC Libraries has consistently alerted the Administration to the impacts of the long-term decline in its investment in the library system. In its FY11 Plan, UC Libraries noted that its library staff had been “already reduced by 35% from Fy02 to FY10. Again in its FY13 Plan, UC Libraries reminded the Administration of its sharp decline in staff, and stated that a threshold share cut could not be sustained through staff reductions “if we are to continue to be a research library system.” UC Libraries further indicated that while the collections budget had remained flat from FY10 to FY12, inflationary pressures continued.
Finally, UC Libraries has continuously alerted the University of its sharply declining ranking in the annual report produced by the Association of Research Libraries (“ARL”), a “nonprofit organization of 124 research libraries at comprehensive, research institutions in the US and Canada” as one important benchmark of its investment in its library system. The ARL provides an annual ranking of participant libraries in multiple categories, including total library investment. In its FY11 Plan, UC Libraries indicated that UC’s ARL ranking had plummeted from #45 in FY2003 to #72 in FY08 (out of 113 research institutions). In its FY15 Plan, UC Libraries once again alerted the Administration to its #72 ARL ranking, a 20-point decline since FY03. Despite these warnings, UC Libraries’ expenditures actually declined from $20.6 million in FY10 to $19.8 million in FY14.
CECH –Deliberate Disinvestment in Faculty
From the inception of PBB, the College of Education, Criminal Justice and Human Services ‘ (“CECH”) threshold share plans stand out as consummate exercises in public relations: highly polished, with a significant use of “buzzwords” and always sunny in outlook. The message is always the same: no matter what financial challenges CECH may face, “faculty and staff are up to the task.” CECH FY12 Plan. Beginning with its FY12 Plan and continuing through to FY15, CECH has repeatedly reported to the Administration that its student enrollment growth far outpaced its faculty hiring. For example, in its FY12 Plan, CECH noted:
A decade ago the student to full-time faculty ratio was 21 to 1 and now this ratio is 39 to 1. […] Without question, the faculty and staff in this college are doing more with less and doing it exceptionally well.
Far from accidental, the lagging faculty hiring in CECH was at least to some extent deliberate. In its Budget Narrative for FY12, CECH stated: “Over the last several years, faculty have retired or resigned but their open lines were not filled. Instead, their available salaries were set aside to protect the college against budget cuts or for strategic reinvestment.” CECH listed 20 faculty vacancies and a “savings” of $1.37 million. In its Strategic Plan for FY12, CECH characterized this money as having been “escrowed as a direct result of disinvestment.” Although CECH noted that there was currently 1 active faculty search, and that it requested permission for 10 more faculty searches, these searches (if successful) would have filled only little over half of the faculty vacancies.
Clearly, the CECH FY12 Plan did not cause significant alarm or prompt the Administration to direct that CECH change course, because in its FY13Plan, CECH again trumpeted the disproportionate growth in student enrollment in relation to faculty hiring:
One of the most important indicators of our cost reduction efforts is the comparison of our student growth to our faculty growth. Student enrollment has grown from 4,008 in 2006 to 5,446 in Fall 2011, an increase of 53%. Faculty has only grown 6.6%. Students have outgrown faculty by 798%, resulting in a 30% increase in our student-to-faculty ratio.
According to its FY13 Plan, CECH “survived this growth and sustained quality” because it implemented three strategies: “realigned staff positions,” “collaborative efforts” between the Recruitment Office and Student Services, and “leveraging online expertise” to “create efficiencies for recruiting and advising.” None of these vaguely-worded strategies addresses the impact of the enrollment and faculty disparity on class sizes or faculty workloads. CECH did note that it would continue its “tradition of events that bring together CECH faculty, staff and students, such as the Freshman Welcome Spaghetti Lunch, the Welcome Back BBQ, the Winter Chili Lunch, and the Spring Luncheon with Blue Ash and Clermont students,” at a cost of $15,000.
In its FY14 Plan, CECH listed numerous “cost savings” and “efficiencies” it had realized in 2012, including increased class sizes and expanded distance learning in the Schools of Human Services and Education, not filling open lines in the Schools of Human Services and Information Technology, and increasing the number of seats per section in the School of Information Technology.
Distance learning appears to have played a significant role in CECH’s PBB success story, projected to generate over $20 million in tuition revenue for CECH by F15, according to its FY15 Plan. In its F14 Plan, CECH cheerfully discussed its continued disparity in student enrollment growth and faculty hiring, in language virtually identical to that in its FY13 Plan:
One of the most important indicators of our cost reduction efforts is the comparison of our student growth to our faculty growth. Over the past five years, our enrollment has grown from 4,354 to 5,574 in Fall Semester of 2013, an increase of over 28%. Our faculty has only grown by 15%.
Using language sometimes identical to that in its FY13 Plan, CECH notes that it has “survived this growth and sustained quality” because it implemented the following strategies: “continuous reorganization,” “collaborative efforts,” “resource reallocation” and “process evaluation.” The narratives for these strategies do not address the fundamentals: impacts on class sizes, student advising, and faculty workload (both in the classroom and in service obligations).
The Plans for Business contain a remarkable shift in tone from FY12 to FY15. In its FY12 Plan, Business expressed deep concern for the well-being of its faculty in the face of a significant increase in enrollment:
There are selected departments that are in critical need of additional faculty. … We intend to hire four in accounting—one chaired professor and three assistant professors[.] We will be hiring one faculty member in information systems and three in economics. Finally, all other departments need junior faculty. We currently have just four or five junior faculty in the college. The current faculty is also very taxed. The core business faculty (excluding recent additions of hospitality management and economics) is 30% smaller than it was just five years ago with increased enrollments.
In its FY13 Plan, Business continued to discuss hiring needs, department-by-department, and included statistics showing that, from 2006 to 2011, student FTEs had grown by 29.1%, while full-time faculty numbers had dropped by 13.8%, and class sizes had grown from an average of 26.5 to 40.8.
By the time of its FY15 Plan, Business discussed its huge enrollment growth in strictly bean-counter terms:
LCB’s cost (General & Local combined before scholarships) per instructional credit hour has improved from a FY’11 base of $329.47 to FY’12 $308.74, FY’13 $292.39 and projected FY ’14 $288.80—a $40.67 reduction (12.3%). By capitalizing on this ‘economy of scale’ opportunity LCB’s FY ’14 cost has been reduced by more than $4 million ($40.67 x 107,389 credit hours instructed). Cumulatively, this amounts to (about symbol) $10,000,000 of savings over the 3 years (FY’12 –FY’14).
For FY15, Business anticipated a surplus of over $6 million. Increased fees appear to be a significant factor in realizing that surplus: for FY10, student fees were assessed at 3% of tuition and resulted in nearly $700,000 in revenue. By FY14, student fees amounted to 8% of tuition and resulted in nearly $3 million in revenue. Some small progress did appear to be made with respect to faculty hiring: Business reported a 2.4% growth in faculty from FY06 to FY13—while student FTEs grew by 47.3% over that same time period, and part-time faculty grew by 229.4%.
We understand that recently Business has hired numerous additional faculty. We hope that, once new data is available, it will show that the student-faculty ratio has dropped.
A&S – Cutting Closer to the Bone
A&S’s threshold share plans paint a picture of a college in which financial pressures are prompting changes detrimental to students and faculty alike, as well as other cutbacks that, though small, are alarmingly telling about the state of affairs at A&S.
In multiple years, A&S’s threshold share plans cite increased class sizes in its lists of cost savings and efficiencies. In its FY11Plan, A&S informed the administration that class sizes would be increased and/or enrollment caps raised in the following departments: Communications, English, Political Science, Psychology and Women’s Studies. In its FY13Plan, A&S stated “We have increased class size virtually across the board.” Again, in its FY14 Plan, A&S noted that it had “increased class size” in Chemistry, Communications, Judaic Studies, Physics and Psychology. It is difficult to conceive how increased class sizes can be beneficial to students.
A&S’s Plans also indicate multiple negative impacts on its graduate students, including higher teaching loads and potentially greater debt burdens. In its FY12 Plan, A&S proposed to meet its threshold primarily through increased enrollment, but also by reducing collegiate funding for graduate assistants by $300,000. In its FY14 Plan, A&S noted that it had “increased non-assistantship Graduate Students” in Physics. In its FY15 Plan, A&S indicated that its Biology Department “doubled TA workload in Sophomore Bio and cut in half number of TA’s needed (14 to 7),” with a “savings” of $70,000. A&S also reported that its Mathematics Department had recruited approximately 18-20 “MS/PhD students with 100% out-State tuition paid,” worth $500,000 in revenue.
With respect to faculty hiring, A&S affirmed its “commitment to replace retired and non-reappointed [tenure-track] faculty.” FY11 Plan. As of its FY13 Plan, that commitment had not been fulfilled, as A&S noted that it had 18 faculty vacancies but only 6 hires. As we reported previously, as of the 2014-2015 academic year, there were 433 bargaining unit faculty in A&S, a 4.4% decline from the 2010-2011 academic year. (“Education on the Cheap: Devaluing Students and Faculty,” Works, Vol. 22, No. 3, 30 Mar. 2015).
Finally, as detailed in its FY15 Plan, A&S has been implementing small economies that give the impression it is being run on a shoestring:
- History Department: “No longer give faculty $975 in Xeroxing credit. Encouraged faculty to use Blackboard to post syllabus and class notes instead of Xeroxing.”
- Communications Department: “Discontinued stipend for the Forensic Debate Team,” for a savings of $1,500.
In contrast with CECH’s Plans, the College of Nursing (“CON”) at least acknowledged the impacts of its declining faculty numbers on its current faculty, as in this example from its FY13 Plan:
We have maintained program integrity and all course offerings with a loss of faculty positions. In FY11 and FY12, 9 faculty that were teaching or eligible to teach in the PhD program retired or left for other employment. These positions remained unfilled and the program faculty covered for the shortage by teaching additional classes, taking on advisement of additional students and serving as dissertation chairpersons for more students.
In its FY14 Plan, the CON noted that it was “aggressively searching for qualified faculty but can realize cost savings [of $111,617] through delayed hires.” For FY15, the CON anticipated that “unfilled, yet budgeted and approved” faculty vacancies similarly would provide “significant savings” in for FY15. Meanwhile, in its FY15 Plan, the CON noted that it would be able to meet its threshold share through increased revenue from a projected enrollment growth of 75 students in its undergraduate and graduate programs combined.
One of the more curious features of the CON’s recent Plans has been its efforts to quantify certain “cost saving” activities. For example, in its FY14 Plan, the CON noted:
During 12FS, we implemented a new governance structure that more clearly defines the role of many of the College’s Committees and Councils, and gained efficiency by reducing the number of standing committees from 9 to 6.
According to the CON, this effort resulted in a “cost savings” of $25,000. Similarly, in its FY15 Plan, the CON stated that its Institute for Nursing Research and Scholarship had realized a “cost savings” of $12,000 after it:
streamlined and documented the entire grant process from examining the initial call to final grant close out. This provided clear direction and responsibilities of each party and eliminated additional work.
In its FY11 Plan, the College of Allied Health Sciences (“CAHS”) highlighted the fact that while it experienced significant enrollment growth over the previous six years, “the number of faculty and staff remained relatively unchanged during this growth period.” Advocating against the imposition of a potential 15% budget cut, CAHS stated: “While faculty, staff and administration have become accustomed to ‘doing more with less,’ we would now be forced to do less with less.”
CAHS continued to raise alarms about the disparity in its enrollment growth and faculty hiring in the PBB process for FY13. In a memorandum from then-Dean Elizabeth King to then-Provost Santa Ono, dated December 1, 2011 with the subject line “Rationale for Suggesting a More modest Budget Target for 2012-13,” Dean King noted that:
There has been an increase of 7 full-time faculty in 9 years. During these 9 years, student FTE grew from 453 in 2002 to 2,245, an increase of 441%. However, during this time, pat-time faculty grew from 7 to 36 or from 18% to over 40% [of total faculty]. […] While part-time faculty provide the teaching support for the enrollment growth, they have not contributed to providing additional support for students and/or college service needs.
Summarizing, Dean King stated: “the impact of the budget cuts over the past several years have resulted in a significant increase in the use of part-time faculty, an increase in class size, especially at the graduate level, increase in faculty-student ratio and a decrease in the amount of resources available to spend per student.”
In its FY14 Plan, however, CAHS indicated that it would meet its projected threshold share partly through 35 additional enrollees in its distance learning programs, though CAHS continued to advise the Administration that its Instructional FTE/Faculty ratio was growing and that its average graduate class size had increased by 50% since 2008.
The failure of PBB as a means of ensuring long-term re-investment in faculty at CAHS is underscored in its FY15 Plan, in which CAHS continues to inform the Administration that its full-time faculty (tenured or tenure track and qualified title) remained relatively static (52 in 2009, 56 in 2013). Although CAHS was positioned to meet its threshold share through an increase in distance learning enrollment (again), the FY15 Plan leaves no indication that a long-term hiring plan will be put in place to increase faculty hiring. To the contrary, its list of “Cost Savings and Efficiencies” for FY13 (included in its FY15 Plan) lists an Associate Professor position in the Communications Sciences and Disorders Department as “unfilled” for a savings of $106,000 (including benefits).
DAAP’s Budget Reduction Plan for FY12, dated December 10, 2010, included a review of the previous decade, in which its 31% enrollment increase from 2000 to 2010 “did not result in additional funding for our college, “ but it did “however add significant revenue to the university.” Further, “[a]t the end of FY08 DAAP had to back-pay over $1.3M of permanent general funds to retroactively fulfill several years of missed budget cut obligations by the previous college administration.” Continuing, DAAP painted a bleak picture of its present situation:
Currently DAAP does not have sufficient qualified faculty and staff in the schools, the Business Office, the technical service areas, and Student Affairs. The School of Design, with four programs and over 1000 students, operates with one secretary. […] Further cuts will have a devastating impact on our already ‘stressed’ operation and begin to dismantle the integrity of our ‘DAAP brand.’
By the time it had submitted its FY14 Plan, DAAP was facing unique enrollment challenges related to the implementation of a semester co-op cycle, the difficulty of “plac[ing] co-op in large design classes,” “less demand in Art and Planning,” and “space and safety issues.” DAAP accompanied its FY14 Plan with a presentation with slides showing 120 students crowded into one Architecture and Interior Design Studio, as well as overflowing trash bins with the caption “scrap pours into the halls.” Although neither the FY14 nor the FY15 Plans address the issue of DAAP’s faculty and staff complement and its physical plant, the budget plans do not appear to indicate that there would be a significant increase in resources directed toward improving these issues. The University’s financial schedules confirm a lack of reinvestment in DAAP’s faculty: while expenditures for FY14 show a $650,000 increase in expenditures on salaries over FY10, over $570,000 of that amount was directed to the DAAP college office.
The Branch Campuses – UC Clermont and UC Blue Ash
UC Clermont has been challenged by declining enrollment, with its student FTEs dropping from 2701.2 in FY10 to 2,267.4 in FY14. In its FY15 Plan, UC Clermont noted that its enrollment decline tracked the decline in the Clermont County unemployment rate. UC Clermont’s Plans to that point had not indicated disparities in student enrollment and faculty hiring, so it has realized “cost savings” by not replacing some retiring faculty members. With a $640,000 threshold looming and an anticipated $1 million drop in tuition revenue for FY15, UC Clermont proposed a fee increase that would generate $240,000 in revenue, as well as moving nearly $950,000 from its reserves into its operating budget.
For FY11 and FY12, UC Blue Ash anticipated significant enrollment growth. For FY14, UC Blue Ash noted the departure of 12 faculty members and 17 staff members, to be replaced by 23 faculty members and 26 staff members. While UC Blue Ash’s faculty hiring has not kept pace with student enrollments (see “Education on the Cheap: Devaluing Students and Faculty (Part 2),” Works, Vol. 22, No. 4, 27 May 2015), its efforts in this respect stand in stark contrast to CECH and Business, for example, whose Plans appear to regard student enrollment and faculty hiring disparities as sources of pride in the context of PBB.
The College of Medicine
The College of Medicine (“Medicine”) occupies a unique place among the colleges, given that its revenues are primarily driven by research funding as opposed to tuition. Even so, Medicine is a participant in the PBB process, answerable for threshold shares from its revenues generated by tuition and SSI. In its Plans to address its threshold shares, Medicine has proposed leaving vacant positions unfilled (FY12), reducing the Dean’s salary by $60,000 (FY12), raising revenue through increased graduate and professional enrollment (FY14) and by increasing tuition (FY14), and by other administrative cuts (FY15).
PBB is a blunt instrument, focused on short-term, year-to-year gains and losses, and often oblivious to long-term needs brought about by conditions which pre-existed it. The means by which colleges often have addressed the financial challenges imposed upon them—increasing tuition, fees, and class sizes, while keeping faculty hiring at a slow pace—are not beneficial for either students or faculty. Although the Administration appears at times to have provided relief to colleges when proposed cuts posed threats to their core academic missions, this only underscores that the clean, neat mathematical model of PBB is still fundamentally political. And those politics are embedded in the calculation of the “indirects”—the costs to run the rest of the university—which have skyrocketed. PBB thus emerges as an effective model for redistribution of resources away from the colleges, and away from the University’s core academic mission.
By: Stephanie Spanja, Director of Research, UC Chapter AAUP
With input from the UC Chapter AAUP Budget and Compensation Advisory Committee and approval of the UC Chapter AAUP Executive Council
There’s a very expensive elephant in the room. Actually, the 86 million dollar renovation to Nippert Stadium could hold more than a few elephants. Throw in the just-approved 85 million dollar renovation to Fifth Third Arena, and we’ve got a growing herd of elephants. UC still has at least $1 billion in debt from past elephants. Very expensive elephants.
President Ono continues to say publicly that the university is in good financial shape, and that UC still wants to “invest in people.” When we get to the bargaining table in early 2016, I will be curious to hear what the story will be, and which people are deemed worthy of investment.
On the plus side, the university has hired over 200 new faculty, though at this point it is unclear what our net gain in faculty will be after counting retirements and those who left for other universities. Though the net gain is important, it merely staunches the bleeding in full time faculty lines we have experienced in the face of record enrollments.
On the negative side, athletics’ bottom line currently stays level by receiving $20 million a year from the academic side of the house. Many of our colleges wish they received this kind of grace under Performance Based Budgeting. The “investments” in Nippert and Fifth Third are positioned as ways for Athletics to become revenue neutral, if one adheres to Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon economic logic, and I certainly hope that is true eventually. Athletics are an important part of university culture, but at some point a reckoning must come if the rhetoric of self sufficiency means anything at all.
The athletic subsidy is more important when we consider opportunity cost. Whatever value the subsidy brings, it could also fund more robust student services such as counseling, racial and gender awareness, tutoring, lower tuition, and the list could go on. The subsidy could immediately bring adjunct professors to the level of equal pay for equal work. I would prefer it not pay for yet another Vice President.
The athletic subsidy could also fund competitive market raises across the board for full time faculty, who are woefully behind their peers. UC can’t afford to slip any farther behind its peers in salary and still claim to pursue excellence. Fortunately, the Joint Faculty Senate/Provost Committee has decided to examine faculty hiring and retention issues this academic year, and is on their way to making concrete recommendations.
Anecdotal though it is, the hiring committee I was most recently on lost one of our top candidates because of salary requirements, but hired the other top candidate largely because of UC’s benefits package. And yet what has the administration been doing over the last several contracts? Refusing to invest enough in faculty salaries to raise us even to the level of peer mediocrity, and at the same time doing everything it can to cut benefits.
UC actually does do very well competing with other universities in upper administrator salaries. UC Faculty salaries compared to the 62 AAU Schools? Dead last. President Ono’s salary compared to the 62 AAU Schools? #40. Faculty would need a 25% raise to reach a similar position.
Administrators tell us that it’s much easier to get money for buildings than it is people. I don’t deny that is true. There’s nothing wrong with buildings. People need buildings. But the very definition of excellence involves not settling for easy things. When buildings come at the expense of the people who use them, there’s a problem. And if your mantra is “invest in people,” then in this case the easy thing gets in the way. Life is hard enough without having to look out for elephants.