Chairs Wisdom Collaborative

Chairs Wisdom Collaborative
March 23, 2011 3:00 – 4:00 p.m.
Coffee and Conversation with Provost Malhotra
Chairpersons present: Robert Lavenda, Dale Buske, Ken Miller, Orn Bodvarrson,
Charles Rose, Roseanna Ross, Jeanne LaCourt, Leslie Valdes, Jennifer Conner, Terri
Estrem, Vicky Williams, Chris Inkster, Mert Thompson, Tony Hansen, Tim Schuh.
Guests: Provost Malhotra, John Palmer, Lisa Foss, Dan Gregory, Tom Hergert.
Provost Malhotra’s opening remarks:
He invited chairs not because they were not getting the information. Dynamics are
different in each situation. Different perspectives are valuable, need to be discussed.
Has technical aspects such as HR, reporting functions, etc. Structure has been
created to take care of operational aspects with a university level
coordinating team.
Search for interim leaders in ensuing in the new schools-Health and Human
Services, Public Affairs. Need for overlap in leadership seen between 2011
and 2012. New leaders will therefore start on May 9, the day after the faculty
contract ends to avoid confusion.
Organizational chart will be implemented on July 1, but units won’t be fully
As before, the agenda is being moved forward quickly, but flexibility is being
maintained so as to not jeopardize the outcome.
Other issues to be resolved such as a school/college level structure for
student advising, tech support, experiential learning, human resources and
Transition cost increased because of changes and overlaps.
Urgent: Lend clarity to operational aspects. Staffing, schedule, etc.
Responses to questions from Chairs:
Q. Update on BESI for staff
A. Tuesday, March 15 was deadline to indicate interest. 32 so far have indicated
interest. Most of them are in Academic Affairs. Fewer layoffs will occur in AA, if that
is the case. March 30: HR will follow up with staff who have indicated interest to
firm up decisions. April 10: We will know who has accepted BESI.
Q. Is there enough money for BESI payments? Office Managers are nervous, if there
is not enough money will there be layoffs.
A. We will find the money. The situation is complicated by the nature of the
contract which results in “bumping” or reassignment to a different unit.
Q. Will there be department without office support?
A. Services will be shared, services will be reduced, but we will work with
departments to give them the help they need.
Q. Summer budget is in 2012. In some ways we are already in 2012; registration is
open for summer, only a month left for democratic process, classes are not staffed,
searches are not done, what is to be done?
A. Provost is working with Deans on scheduling, he has asked them to give him the
stress points. There are no searches yet. He is holding on to find out the most urgent
needs. Then a rational process will be defined to fill the needs. Options: “re-cycle”
upper division courses, open multiple section courses, increase class sizes, ensure
high demand lower division courses. New processes may be needed. What we have
followed thus far, unwritten policies, “understandings” may need to change under
the new circumstances.
Q. Problem with faculty positions complex because there may be no one after BESI
or retrenchment to teach a certain course. What then?
A. Conversation should be occurring between Dean and Chairs. Next level:
conversation between Deans and Provost. Need lag time.
Q. Budget is not known. Need for information on budget to be shared by Deans
with Chairs and departments. Decision making is being done with incomplete
A. Yes, complicates the issue. Anxiety levels are higher. We do not know at the end
how much of the budget is going to be cut.
Q. Additional complication: FA believes the Administration has contractual
obligations for instance, looking at faculty overload before hiring adjuncts.
A. Differences in interpretation of contract leads to further complexities. We will be
a smaller campus, we do not expect to have to serve as many students. Average
class size will have to become at least 26/27 from current 24/25. We have to be
very careful not to schedule classes that later end up with low enrollments.
Q. What instructions have been given to Deans about class size?
A. This is a complex area. We cannot increase class sizes across the board. We need
to know are lower class sizes a better option? How can we support the delivery of
curriculum in classes of larger size? What innovative practices are there and how
effective are they? How does this work in different disciplines? I am willing to listen
to any creative solutions. I will inform the Deans that they must listen and engage.
Other issues raised: Space limitations. Should we experiment with larger classes
while doing all the other cost-cutting? What about unsustainable “deals” that were
struck at certain points of time? No engagement has occurred with Dean in COSE on
OAS staff reduction. At what point are Chairs going to be able to give input on
critical functions of OAS and Technical staff?
Provost: Re: OAS staff: we are not wedded to any base allocation ideas. It is a
process, a timing issue. For all matters related to the transition, I have asked Deans
to engage in good faith efforts with faculty/work groups/chairs.
Meeting adjourned: 4:00 p.m.