Saturday, March 20, 2010

Whistle Blowing on Financial Stringency Issue

at the University of Minnesota

From a resolution that will, hopefully, be considered at the Faculty Senate meeting on March 25:

WHEREAS: The president of the University proposes to declare a state of financial stringency, and accordingly asks the Faculty Senate to vote its assent to a temporary reduction of faculty compensation (while also proposing to reduce the compensation of all other salaried employees of the University), in accord with Section 4.5 of the Regents' Policy on Faculty Tenure;

WHEREAS: The administration has failed to provide to its employees, the Faculty Senate, and the public at large sufficiently detailed information to enable the Faculty Senate to confirm that all reasonable economies short of reducing compensation of employees at all salary levels have been, or are in the process of being, implemented;

BE IT RESOLVED: That, prior to asking the Faculty Senate to vote on its proposal to reduce faculty compensation, the administration provide to the faculty and the public a detailed account of all current and projected University expenditures and savings, justifying each item and amount in terms of its relationship to the University's primary missions of education and research

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED: That the Faculty Senate requests an independent audit of the finances of the University, including specifically an independent itemized analysis of the expenses of administrative overhead, with a view to identifying areas where additional economies might be realized with minimal impact on the University's primary missions of education and research.

COMMENT: The president proposes a reduction in faculty compensation, and requests that the Faculty Senate vote its assent to his proposal, under Section 4.5 of the Regents' Policy on Faculty Tenure.

Informed assent requires full disclosure of the University's budget, including a detailed account of all expenditures, as well as reductions already made or considered, explaining how each expenditure relates to the University's primary missions of education and research.

It requires further that the faculty have the opportunity not only to scrutinize expenditures but to propose reductions other than those contemplated by the administration, and that the administration consider such proposals, justifying their adoption or rejection in terms of sustaining the University's mission.

To date, the administration has provided the Faculty Senate and the University community at large with information on decreases in revenue and figures for savings projected to be achieved through its proposed reductions to employee compensation, without explaining how resources are expended or attempting to demonstrate that all reasonable reductions consistent with the University's primary missions have already been made.

The faculty are willing to accept temporary cuts in compensation as part of a long-term strategy to rectify the University's financial situation, if and only if the administration first implements cuts that do not impair the University's primary missions of education and research, and provides access to all budgetary information, detailing both expenditures and revenues, in order that the faculty may scrutinize the budget, participate in determining what expenditures to cut, and, should it become necessary, provide informed consent to a reduction in faculty compensation.

Faculty alone are empowered to grant such consent by vote. However, the allocation or withdrawal of financial resources affects all members of the University community. It is therefore incumbent on the faculty to require financial transparency of the administration, and to demand that measures be taken to address the present budgetary shortfall that involve neither inequitable reductions to compensation, nor potential termination, of the lowest-paid employees of the University.

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