CAPRA MEETING, FEBRUARY 27, 2009
Attending: Paul Bingham, Kevin Brady, Alan Calder, Bill Godfrey, Norman Goodman, Luigi Longobardi, Daria Semegen, Alan Tucker, Larry Wittie, Jane Yahil
Guest: Provost Eric Kaler
The meeting started at 2:35 P.M.
Presentation by Provost Kaler on the budget situation
Provost Kaler provided a confidential handout to the committee that described his budget allocation to the major academic units under his aegis. He emphasized that the current budget situation is a serious one since the campus currently faces a 10% cut in state appropriations, with the possibility of additional cuts on the horizon. At the president’s request, the other vice-presidents agreed to absorb a larger percentage cut than he was asked to do in order to protect the academic sector as much as possible. In his allocation, the only across-the-board cut he made was a 20% reduction in TA lines, approximately 54 lines that netted savings of about $1.3m. His other cuts varied according to circumstances and are detailed on the handout he provided to the committee. He absorbed cuts in administrative staff in his office in order to pass on as little of the cuts as possible to the various colleges. He also noted that utility costs have been reduced through a number of measures taken on campus, the drop in the cost of fuel, and the increase in utility costs provided by SUNY last year, and that these savings have been used to meet some of the budget cuts.
In the discussion that ensued, several issues were raised:
College of Arts and Sciences: Provost Kaler noted that though Dean Staros managed a $66.6m budget successfully, but it is inconceivable that the $9.5m cut required of the provost could be accomplished without having to reduce the budget of the College of Arts and Sciences. In fact, the College of Arts and Sciences is being asked to absorb a 5% cut in its budget.
Library: Data from the Association of Research Libraries’ website and from the other SUNY University Centers reveal severe deficiencies Stony Brook’s library budget allocations for books. Provost Kaler indicated that he had previously protected the library budget but, given the current budget situation, it would now be subjected to a reasonable cut. There was also a brief discussion of Stony Brook’s collaboration with the other University Centers in sharing subscriptions for books published by key University Presses. Finally, there was concern expressed that the excessive cost of Elsevier’s Science Direct contract, which provides electronic journals that are mainly in the sciences and engineering, substantially reduces funds available for the purchase of adequate books and journals for the Arts, Humanities, and Social and Behavioral Sciences.
Faculty teaching loads: Provost Kaler discussed the balance among teaching, research and service. He believes that about 90% of departments are research active and, within those departments, about 90% of the faculty is research active. Consequently, approximately 19% of faculty across the campus are not research active and could possibly be asked to teach additional courses. The effect of this would be to cover courses that result from the loss of adjunct faculty due to the budget cuts. The issue of where “service” fits into this equation was raised without any conclusion. In the context of this discussion, Provost Kaler mentioned the possibility of giving departments the responsibility for providing appropriate levels of instruction; but he pointed out that approach will run into difficulty because some departments have weak chairs who will need backing to accomplish take on this responsibility. In the context of this discussion, Provost Kaler mentioned that Stony Brook has, on average, larger classes than comparable AAU institutions, but fewer of them than in the AAU institutions.
Research activity and funding: Provost Kaler mentioned there is too little funded research activity for a campus the size and quality of Stony Brook. He noted that there are about 80 NIH investigators on campus and there should be approximately twice that number. He indicated that he would put most of the money generated by an increased level research activity (e.g., salary offset funds) into T.A. lines, which are in too short supply.
Some questions were raised about the formula for allocating IDC funds. Provost Kaler was in favor of reviewing the current formula so as to return more of these funds to the units that generated them, thus providing an important incentive to increase research activity.
Tuition split: Provost Kaler was guardedly optimistic that there would be a change in the 80/20 tuition split between NYS and SUNY. In his conversations with government leaders, he noted that nobody wanted to defend the current proposed split of the tuition increase. There have been some discussions in the Legislature about a 50/50 split, though there is not as yet any clarity on this issue.
Units not subject to the budget cuts: In response to a question, Provost Kaler reported that several units on the campus are not subject to the budget cuts. These include FSA and Honors College Scholarships.
School of Professional Development: In the provost’s handout, SPD was given a substantial cut. The question was raised as to whether that meant that they would be first in line for additional funds when the budget improves. Provost Kaler indicated that the substantial cut in the SPD budget is not as bad as it looks since much of it involves revenue SPD brings in. He believes that SPD should play a more significant role in the revenue enhancement efforts on the part of the campus.
Table of organization and cashflow subcommittee: Larry Wittie shared his preliminary data with the committee. There was a brief discussion concerning this report, and the importance of focusing on the budget for Southampton with its 150 different accounts. Given the extensive data that Larry has collected so far, it was suggested that members of the committee might forwarded to him questions about budget issues that he might be able to explore in his data base.
In the context of the information about the deficiencies in the book budget for Stony Brook when compared with those of the other SUNY University Centers and members of the Association of Research Libraries, Norm indicated that he will ask Chris Filstrup, Dean and Director of Libraries, to attend the next meeting of CAPRA.
The meeting ended at 4:05 P.M.