December 5, 2008
President Philip A. Glotzbach called the meeting to order at 3:36 p.m.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
President Glotzbach asked if there were any corrections or comments to the November 7, 2008 Faculty Meeting minutes. Hearing none, he announced the minutes were approved.
President Glotzbach gave an update on the current financial crisis and reminded everyone of the four goals of the Strategic Plan: Student Engagement and Academic Achievement; Intercultural and Global Understanding; Informed, Responsible Citizenship; and Independence and Resources. He noted that every dollar of financial resources and every second of time represents a strategic investment. As members of an institution with finite and constrained resources, we always need to ask with each of these investments, time or money, “What is the return we expect to receive?” The current economic situation has not fundamentally changed this reality, though it has intensified it.
Responsible stewardship of the College requires that we have balanced budgets; and the Board of Trustees would not allow us to submit an unbalanced budget. In responding to the current economic situation, we must maintain the integrity of the core educational experience both inside and outside the classroom. Secondly, we need to be responsive to the economic circumstances of the families of our students by constraining the increase in the comprehensive fee and being more attentive to financial aid. Additionally, we need to minimize the negative financial consequences of budget reductions to regular, full-time employees (e.g. by not changing the formula for cost sharing for health insurance). Further, we need to increase efficiency in our operating expenses. By concentrating and prioritizing, we will make every effort to preserve Skidmore’s forward momentum in advancing the objectives of the Strategic Plan.
Michael D. West, Vice President for Finance and Administration and Treasurer, gave a report on the updated budget for FY09 and two budget scenarios for FY10. He stressed that these figures are preliminary based on certain assumptions. His presentation included the following:
- an overview of how Skidmore’s income is derived (tuition, room and board; investments; gifts and grants);
- an overview of expenses (compensation/benefits, operating expenses, services and supplies, debt service);
- comparison of tuition and fees at our peer institutions (we rank 4th highest although the spreads are narrow);
- valuation of endowment (our returns are -20.7% for the calendar year);
- budget challenges for Skidmore (significant loss of value in the endowment, lower short-term investment income, fewer gifts to the annual fund, projected increase in student financial need);
- factors impacting budget (net tuition, compensation, investment performance and spending rates, plant-related expenses, capital construction);
- strategic issues (compensation, adjunct use, financial aid, tuition).
VPFA West concluded by noting that given the fact that the admissions picture is challenging, we have an increasing need for financial aid for our families. The financial markets remain volatile, and our ability to raise money is hindered. The targeted reductions must be achieved in order to balance our budget. Even with these reductions, we will still most likely experience additional reductions in FY11.
Mary Lou Bates, Dean of Admissions, noted that applications are coming in more slowly this year. The first early-decision deadline was November 15, and applications increased toward the end. At this point, we are even with where we were two years ago and are 60 fewer than last year. There are fewer applications from the lower end of the applicant pool, and a higher percentage of applicants are looking for financial aid. She noted that early-decision applicants in Round 1 usually have a lower need for financial aid than those in Round 2. Additionally, regular- decision applications are coming in more slowly than usual. The deadline for regular admissions is January 15, as it is for Round 2, early-decision. While the number of applications received so far is below that of last year, we are running consistent with recent years. Dean Bates noted that she has been talking with college counselors and believes that families are waiting to hear on early-decision admissions before sending out regular applications. Dean Bates concluded by noting that there is a strong interest in Skidmore and believes we can accept and enroll a solid entering class again this year.
President Glotzbach addressed the strategic hiring freeze and noted that we are looking seriously at every position that is open. We have 12 open searches for tenure-track positions this year and anticipate that we can hire some really great new faculty colleagues to strengthen our academic program.
The following questions were raised in response to President Glotzbach’s report:
- One faculty member asked if the hiring freeze pertained to non-tenure-track faculty. President Glotzbach noted that this is a conversation between departments and the Dean of the Faculty’s office but that we are looking at every single hire.
- One faculty member asked what the mechanism is for requesting authorization to hire non-tenure-track hires. Dean Poston indicated that she sent a memorandum to department chairs and program directors asking that they justify every request to hire.
- One faculty member discussed electricity consumption. President Glotzbach advised that there will be a way for people to make cost-reducing suggestions online. A member of the Campus Environment Committee also noted that energy-saving issues are on the committee’s agenda.
- One faculty member asked whether the budget figures were assuming over- enrollment for the incoming class. President Glotzbach noted that we are not seeking to increase the incoming class to balance the budget.
President Glotzbach commented on recent incidents on campus. Rochelle Calhoun, Dean of Student Affairs gave a brief summary of the hate messages found in various locations across the campus and said that the Bias Response Team has been talking to the individuals and groups targeted by these incidents. The first strategy of the Bias Response Team was to encourage the student newspaper to do an article to raise awareness in the community about what is happening on campus. To continue an open dialogue on these issues, the Bias Response Team is sponsoring an open dialogue on December 9. She encouraged everyone to attend. President Glotzbach noted that one of the goals in the strategic plan was intercultural and global understanding, and he encouraged those faculty members who have opportunities to engage in these issues in their classes to do so.
President Glotzbach concluded by thanking everyone for all their hard work this semester.
VICE PRESIDENT FOR ACADEMIC AFFAIRS’ REPORT
Vice President for Academic Affairs Susan Kress reported that her staff met with the Dean of the Faculty’s staff earlier in the week to discuss priorities in academic areas in light of the economic situation. Discussions will continue with CEPP and at the academic staff retreat scheduled for Friday, December 12.
VPAA Kress noted that she has accepted the recommendation of the Faculty Executive Committee to print the Faculty Handbook for all faculty members and that everyone should receive a Handbook shortly.
VPAA Kress advised that she has received the final report from the UWW Working Group and thanked the members of the group for all their hard work. Susan noted that the group worked extremely hard over the summer and into the fall semester and has produced a report which is now in discussion within the governance system. The report has gone to IPPC, will be going to CEPP, and will be on the agenda for the next academic staff meeting.
VPAA Kress acknowledged the fellows from Union College who taught at Skidmore this fall: Chris Duncan, Bradley Lewis, and Mark Walker – as well as Meika Loe from Colgate. These fellows have brought new perspectives to us and we are hoping for further collaborations with the members of our consortium. VPAA Kress also acknowledged the Stint fellow, Annika Jacobbson, who was here this Fall from Sweden and noted that we hope to continue our Stint program.
VPAA Kress announced that Gordon Thompson’s new book, Please Please Me: Sixties British Pop, Inside Out,has been receiving a lot of attention and that Steven Millhauser’s book of short stories, Dangerous Laughter, has been chosen by the New York Times as the “best book” of 2008.
VPAA Kress acknowledged the retirements of Margo Mensing, David Miller and Rajagopal Parthasarathy, three extraordinary faculty members, and spoke briefly about their accomplishments and contributions to the community. We will formally celebrate their retirements at the May faculty meeting.
Dan Nathan, on behalf of the Committee on Educational Policies and Planning (CEPP), read the following resolution which was introduced at last month’s faculty meeting (see attached):
MOTION: CEPP moves that the faculty terminate Skidmore’s current affiliation with the New York State Independent College Consortium for Study in India.
The motion was voted on and passed with all in favor. Professor Gordon Thompson commented that this is a program that we have clearly outgrown and that we are looking forward to our new program in Mysore, India.
There was no new business.
Dan Nathan and Sarah Goodwin, Faculty Assessment Coordinator, gave an update on the work of the Assessment Steering Committee. This committee was formerly known as the Assessment Task Force and is now a subcommittee of CEPP. CEPP has charged the Assessment Steering Committee with drafting a document that identifies goals for student learning. Professor Goodwin noted that the Assessment Steering Committee is very close to sending a document to CEPP; she said that, in the spring, she will be contacting department chairs to offer support and will be conducting all-college assessments as well. Professor Goodwin concluded by noting that the search for a part-time assessment coordinator is almost complete.
Kate Leavitt, on behalf of the Faculty Development Committee (FDC), congratulated the recipients of faculty development grants for 2009 (see attached).
A. Erica Fuller, Campus Sustainability Coordinator, announced the “Focus Skidmore” campaign’s upcoming events. For more information, please see http://www.skidmore.edu/sustainability/
B. David Vella, Director of Honors Forum, noted that, in January, Honors Forum accepts applications for new memberships and reminded everyone that faculty recommendations are taken seriously. Professor Vella also announced that Martha Wiseman from the English Department will be this year’s speaker for the Ramsey lecture scheduled for February 24, 2009.
C. President Glotzbach announced that the Skidmore Cares project is underway and is connected to the holiday open house. He encouraged everyone to contribute to this project. President Glotzbach also announced that the annual holiday party in January will be going forward and that announcements will be forthcoming.
D. VPFA Michael West invited everyone to Murray Aikins for the faculty reception.
The meeting was adjourned at 4:50 p.m.
Debra L. Peterson
Executive Administrative Assistant