University of Delaware

General Faculty meeting

President discusses funding, budget concerns at faculty meeting


8:42 a.m., Oct. 8, 2012--University of Delaware President Patrick Harker apprised faculty members of several issues, including state funding and budget concerns, during the General Faculty meeting on Monday, Oct. 1, in Gore Hall.

The regular meeting of the University’s Faculty Senate followed the General Faculty meeting.

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“We had a pretty positive year with the state,” Harker said. “We received a 1.6 percent funding increase and $3 million appropriation for lab renovations.”

Harker said that the University’s goal for its FY 2014 state budget request is to retain the $112.5 million appropriation UD received for FY 2013.

Health care costs, inflationary pressures in library resources and capital maintenance costs also will continue to add to the University’s overall budget challenges, Harker said.

“We have a growing campus, and have made a commitment to constrict tuition growth,” Harker said. “All of this demands that we look to outside sources of revenues, such as graduate and professional programs, gifts, grants and partnerships. We are seeing a lot of progress in these areas.” 

Harker noted that another problem with an overreliance on tuition is that UD, like all institutions of higher learning, will be competing for fewer students in the coming years.

“With nearly 80 million babies born between 1982 and 1995, the demographic bubble that’s long benefited U.S. colleges is bursting,” Harker said. “The last members of the ‘echo boom’ are enrolling in college now. If we have grand plans, and we do, we’ll need a sufficient number of students to support them.” 

Harker said that financial challenges require big-picture planning, and that prospective students will need a good reason for coming to a traditional campus where students live, socialize and go to class. 

“There’s value in this institution,” Harker said. “With the higher education landscape changing so rapidly, we need to start talking about that value as we go into the next strategic planning cycle.” 

Harker also touched on a variety of Science, Research and Advanced Technology (STAR) Campus milestones reached during the past year, including a $10 million U.S. Department of Transportation grant to develop the Newark Regional Transportation Center.

“This will make our campus into a true regional destination for the best science and technical work going on right now,” Harker said. “The University also would like to thank Delaware’s congressional delegation for their support.” 

Faculty Senate meeting

Karen Stein, chair of the Faculty Senate Committee on General Education and associate professor in the School of Public Policy and Administration, updated senators on what the committee has been doing and where it would like to move in the future.

“If you look at the charge of the Senate Committee on General Education, it says to regularly evaluate our program in general education and to develop and recommend general education initiatives and to bring forward resolutions on the ways in which UD fosters general education,” Stein said. “We haven't fully done this for 10 years. It really is about time to take that charge very seriously.”  

Stein also noted that the charge of the Middle States Commission on Higher Education’s 2011 report stated that by 2015 the University should establish a coherent and integrative program of undergraduate education and University requirements. 

“I would like you to keep in mind those words, because it’s time to reexamine and reinvent the meaning of general education,” Stein said. “We are different, our students are different, the world is different, and possibilities are different.” 

Stein said that general education is most purposeful when it reinforces developmental learning across all academic years and promotes integrative learning and experiences. 

Equally important, Stein noted, is making general education meaningful to students and faculty and ensuring it exemplifies the University’s Path to Prominence strategic plan objectives. 

Stein also stressed the need for faculty ownership of the General Education program and encouraged faculty senators to engage their constituents in discussing four expansive questions. Stein said, "We need to ask what aspirations do we have for all our students, regardless of discipline? What can and should be the hallmarks of a UD education for all students? What should we ask all of our students to do in order to exhibit their mastery of the goals we’ve set for them? Finally, we need to ask how do we seriously and consistently assess our student’s progress?”

Thomas Webb, director of Disabilities Support Services, briefed senators on the unit’s efforts to partner with faculty in serving UD students with a variety of different disabilities. 

“As of July 1, we now report directly to Dr. Maggie Andersen (Edward F. and Elizabeth Goodman Rosenberg Professor of Sociology) as part of the President’s Diversity Initiative,” Webb said. “I think that is a good change in terms of showing that we’re not just an academic service, but we’re serving the whole community at the University.

Webb said that Disabilities Support Services also provide services for staff and guests who visit the University. 

“We’re here to provide reasonable accommodation to access campus life events and classes,” Webb said. “We’re serving over 800 students and 60-plus faculty at this point. That number has about doubled in the past five or six years. It’s growing and continues to grow.” 

Senate action

There were no consent agenda or regular agenda items for consideration on the agenda.

Faculty Senate President Sheldon Pollack, professor in the Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics, said that several items will be introduced for consideration by senators at the next regularly scheduled meeting which will be held 4 p.m., Monday, Nov. 5, in 104 Gore Hall. 

Minutes of the Oct. 1 meeting will be posted on the Faculty Senate website

Article by Jerry Rhodes

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