The meeting was brought to order at 6:30 by the new chair, John Williamson. A quorum was declared.
Williamson introduced Andrew Mullins. Executive Assistant to the Chancellor.
Mullins, asked to speak about the past legislative session, began by providing an overview of the relationship of the legislature to the IHL, the structure and purpose of the IHL, and the relationship between institutions that receive funding through the IHL and those (such as community colleges and K-12 schools) that do not. He used this sketch to introduce and frame his discussion of his work with the legislature on appropriations and bonds.
Using a handout with a table indicating current levels of financing versus the previous year's, Mullins discussed the recent funding increases to the IHL, noting that the total amount increased by 14.3%. Amongst other key details, he noted the recent increase in health insurance premiums and discussed the discretionary 5% increase for salaries that is part of the this year's appropriation to IHL.
After discussing some of the highlights of the numbers, Mullins discussed the relationships between current levels of university funding and previous levels, noting that funding for higher education has decreased proportionally over the last 15 years, and that the university, lacking the ability to raise ad-valorum taxes, has had to turn to tuition increases to make up the difference. This is changing, he said.
He outlined some of the legislative strategies that the university will need to use in order to enhance legislator's understanding of our needs, and indicated that comparing the IHL's Universities to peer instititutions could be a way to make the IHL's case to the legislature.
Mullins continued his talk with a discussion of bonds, repair and renovation, and forest sales. While he indicated that the sale of forest land some years ago enabled the university to create an account that could be invested and partially used for R & R, these monies would not cover the entire cost. Bonds are used to make up the difference. He pointed out that most other states don't do this. He indicated that a new wastewater plant was top of the agenda for next year's R&R.
The talk concluded with a discussion of some of the challenges of seeking funding in a legislature with a different feel for and experience of education than previous legislatures. Mullins took questions at the end, including questions about whether the university would ask for a tuition increase (possible, but difficult to say if it will be approved in an election year) and the likely use of the pay increase (most likely to be used for increases in pay rather than something else)
Williamson and the Senate then thanked Mullins for his talk and turned to the next item on the agenda, the introduction of new committee chairs and Senate officers.
That complete, the Senate took up the "smoking ban" resolution. The resolution was proposed by Dr. Williamson and seconded by Mr. Ewing. After some discussion, Dr. Sufka proposed an amendment rewording the ban from "tobacco products" to "personal use of smoking products." Several seconded the the amendment. Mr. Ewing put the question on the amendment, and it passed through acclamation. Dr. Albrittion then put the question on the resolution. It passed on a show of hands. [see attached]
After that, Dr.Williamson turned to the next item on the agenda, the proposed resolution to enlist the help of the Provost's office with the selection of standing committee's members while having the faculty senate retain oversight of the process. The motion was seconded. After some discussion of the matter, the advantages of having the Provost's staff assist with this seemed significant, and, with the understanding that all of the committees were involved in this decision, Dr. Sufka put the question. The resolution passed on a show of hands. [see attached]
Next, Dr. Williamson created an Ad-Hoc committee charged to revise the by-laws and constitution of the Senate, bringing major issues to the full senate for discussion. He placed Professor Robert Albritton as head of the committee, and instructed him to find adequate membership. In the discussion that ensued, Albritton suggested regular reports to the full Senate to review to progress of the committee. In subsequent discussions the issues of meeting times in the Bylaws came up.
For committee reports there was little -- given the short time since the last meeting, committees had little more to report than their reconstitution and chair elections.
Lastly, Williamson turned to announcements.