University of Delaware

Faculty Senate

Faculty Senate holds final fall meeting


Editor's note: For more detailed information, including meeting minutes, visit the Faculty Senate website

9:39 a.m., Dec. 6, 2012--Budget issues, changing student enrollment pool demographics and concern over the federal budget standoff were among the items discussed during the regular meeting of the University of Delaware Faculty Senate, held Monday, Dec. 3, in Gore Hall. 

Interim Provost Nancy Brickhouse presented an overview of UD finances to senators, including year-end figures and anticipation of revenue and expenses for FY 2014.

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Key concerns, Brickhouse said, include a decreasing pool of potential students in the region.

“Our students come from all 50 states but they are heavily concentrated in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast,” Brickhouse said. “One of the challenges we face is that the 18-year-old population of students is actually dropping in those states where we most heavily recruit.”

Brickhouse said the University may need to develop an admissions strategy more national in scope that takes advantage of demographic changes, which indicate that the greatest growth in the number of potential college students is in the South and the West.

The University also faces challenges as evidenced by a changing revenue stream that shows increases in tuition and fees now composing a growing part of the overall budget, she said.

“When we ask students from out of state why they come here, it is usually cost,” Brickhouse said. “So, we are up against a ceiling in terms of tuition, and we are not going to be able to increase tuition and fees like we have in the past.”

In FY 2013, the University experienced revenue increases of 5 percent in a budget of $987.5 million, with a comparable 5  percent increase in spending, she said. 

“We managed that budget by reducing administrative costs,” Brickhouse said. “All non-college units took a 3 percent cut. We also did some renegotiating in terms of our health care expenses and things of that nature to close the gap in the central budget.” 

While describing the University’s overall budget situation as stable, she said concerns exist in light of the current “fiscal cliff” battle in Washington, D.C.

“In particular, the federal grants that we receive are likely to see a reduction of 8 to 9 percent, including those of you who get Department of Energy funding,” Brickhouse said. “Those will be cut and we will have to figure out ways of managing those grants with less resources. It is our hope that they [lawmakers] will find a solution.”

Senate actions

During the regular agenda portion of the meeting, senators approved a resolution stating that any motion to amend the Faculty Senate bylaws calls for a two-thirds affirmative vote by senators present at a duly called meeting of the senate.

In the second regular agenda item, a motion was approved stating that any amendments to the senate rules and regulations under the senate’s bylaws will now require a majority vote for approval. The change reflects the feelings by some members that the requirement of a two-thirds majority of senators present was too stringent. 

Faculty Senate President Sheldon Pollack, professor of legal studies, cited a new link to a PDF for rules and regulations of the Faculty Senate. 

Consent agenda

During the consent agenda portion of the meeting, the Faculty Senate approved requests for revising the bachelor of arts degree in chemistry, chemistry education and philosophy. 

Motions to revise the curriculum for the master of science degree in accounting and the bachelor of science degrees in chemistry and biochemistry were approved.

Pollack also discussed work of the so-called 3-3-3 committee, which consisted of three members each of the administration, the Faculty Senate and the America Association of University Professors (AAUP). 

“The original purpose was to amend the Faculty Handbook to state that promotion and tenure decisions also take into account a candidate’s workload,” Pollack said. That was seen by some members of the committee as intruding into the domain of the senate. “We were charged to set the standards for promotion and tenure. Any consideration based on workload should not be in the collective bargaining agreement." Pollack explained that the committee thereafter made revisions and corrections to the Faculty Handbook, which soon will be presented to the senate as a package. "We will try to do this in a single consent agenda item on the Feb. 4 agenda.”

Pollack also noted that members of the Ad Hoc Responsibility Based Budget (RBB) Committee are continuing their work in an effort to understand the effects of RBB on different colleges and departments. 

In other ongoing committee action, Pollack said members of the Promotion and Tenure Committee are addressing the issue of the senate’s responsibility to set the standards for promotion and tenure that are fair for all faculty members. 

“Looking at the Faculty Handbook, and its description of promotion and tenure, it’s clear that it is an archaic document. It was drafted when we were a very different University,” Pollack said. “I’m sympathetic with the idea that some faculty were poorly treated under the promotion and tenure document, so we do want to clarify things and make it fair to all faculty.”

The next regular meeting of the Faculty Senate will be held at 4 p.m., Monday, Feb. 4, in 104 Gore Hall.  

Article by Jerry Rhodes


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