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SENATE OF THE FACULTY, October 9, 1998

The Senate met in the Anderson Hall auditorium.

 Present: D. Adler , J. Aubrey , M.L. Baggett (1), T.Bates , A. Bomba, J. Bradley , G. Buskes , J. Cassidy (P), S. Conlon (1), M. Deighton (P), A. Elsherbeni (P), D. Feller (P), P. Goggans , R. Gordon, K. Green , L. Hanshaw (P), L. Harper, R. Klein , L. Kravitz (1), F.Laurenzo, T. McCarty, K. McKee, L. McLary , M. Overby (P), J. S. Payne , K. Raber (1), J. Rimoldi , C. Taylor, M. Tew, M. Van Boening (1), M. Vinson, Jay Watson, J. Williamson, C. Williford (1).

Absent: R. Dorsey (3), R. Ethridge* (P), A. Fisher-Wirth* (P), D. Graves (1), F. Gu (1), S. Hargrove (2), R. Haws (3), J. Mizenko* (1 P), J. Murray (3), A. Paterson* (P), L. Pittman (2), T. J. Ray* (P), W. Rayburn (3), J. Reidy* (P), E. Sisson* (PP), S. Skemp* (P), M. Slattery* (P), H. Sloan (3), L. Smith* (P), W. Staton (2), K. Sufka* (P), D. Sullivan-Gonzalez (2), John Watson* (1P), R. Westmoreland* (PP).

* = prior notification of absence given for this meeting; (x) = number of absences this session, excluding summer meetings; (P)=number of prior notifications given this session, excluding summer meetings.

Chair John Williamson called the meeting to order at 2:08 p.m. and introduced Dr. Jean Shaw, who asked for support of this fall's United Way campaign, which will end on Friday November 26.

The Anderson Hall building mayor spoke briefly, asking senators not to bring food or drink into the auditorium. Chair Williamson announced that he would find another meeting site, possibly the Yerby Center or the Union, that would allow beverages.

Although it wasn't listed on the agenda, Chair Williamson brought up the issues of choosing another day and/or time for Senate meetings. He had 31 responses to his e-mail survey, and while the present time was the best for more respondents, at least 16 senators had problems meeting Friday at 2 p.m. At the November meeting, he will present a motion to change the meeting time.

The September 1998 minutes were approved. (Moved - Marvin Overby; second John R. Bradley)

Chair Williamson introduced Faye Gilbert, faculty liaison to Project Discover. The Senate Executive Committee, after meeting with a group of team leaders from the Project, had asked Dr. Gilbert to draft a survey to solicit faculty opinion. Dr. Gilbert explained that this draft, distributed to those present, is open-ended and asks very basic questions. At this point, the Discover team has uncovered over 800 processes and has detailed the "as is" of these processes through flowcharts. Faculty views of these problems, previously solicited through focus groups, are included in these "as is" processes. Now the team wants faculty input about what "can be." So the survey asks faculty to describe how they would solve problems in the categories listed. For example, if you have a problem with travel reimbursement, what is your idea of how to fix it? This is not a perfect way to get information, focus groups at this stage may be better, but her role as liaison is to represent faculty views as best she can. By December or January the Discover team will have completed this stage of deciding how to change processes, and then will need faculty to review of the suggested solutions. Thus, we have a short window of opportunity now to offer suggestions of how to fix problems, and later, in January or February, will have another opportunity to review the proposed solutions.

Sen. Adler commented on the need for everyone to read the Phase I report from KPMG to understand what problems have been identified. Her editorial is in today's paper, emphasizing the need to change core cultural ideas at the university. This is a public record and can be obtained from Johnny Williams' office.  

Sen. Taylor took an opposite point of view, saying that perhaps it would be better to contribute fresh ideas from one's own knowledge of familiar processes.

Dr. Gilbert remarked that the Arthur Andersen managers are very concerned that faculty realize they are not getting into academic issues such as promotion/tenure, increasing compensation, or administrative accountability and review. While some of these issues were raised in Phase I, the scope of Phase II is limited to these administrative processes detailed in the 800 flowcharts. The response rate to this survey may be very low, which might mean that less weight would be given to any further input from faculty. She agrees we have a problem making our voice heard, and that's the only reason she's willing to do this survey. She also understands AA's limitations in their charge to deal with staff issues only. The Senate should continue to work on the broader academic issues.

Chair Williamson would like to get a list of the 800 processes, which are supposed to include all problems revealed in Phase I, so we could prioritize them. The Discover team regrets sending staff survey to faculty, and is willing to pay for this faculty survey.

In response to questions about the secrecy of the 800 flowcharts, Dr. Gilbert said that faculty volunteers would be welcome to come to LaBauve and work with the Discover team in detailing these processes.

A straw vote indicated that those present were unanimously in favor of having the survey distributed. Sen. Williamson emphasized the importance of faculty taking the time to respond to the survey. Several senators suggested changes to simplify the terminology of portions of the survey.

Chair Williamson announced that a working draft of the SACS self-study is on the web at:

https://www.olemiss.edu/projects/sacs. Please look at it and send your comments to Dr. Jim Nichols.

The Chair also announced that the Commission on the Status of Women is looking for more faculty representatives.

He also announced that the Provost Search is underway, chaired by Sen. Scotty Hargrove. Announcements have been placed in the Chronicle and on the web, and some applications have already been received. Any comments or suggestions should be given to Dr. Hargrove or to Chair Williamson, who represents the Senate on the search committee. Their goal is to have a new Provost on board by July 1, 1999.

Sen. Tew, chair of the Committee on Committees, announced that he is soliciting volunteers to serve in Senate slots on university standing committee.

Dr. Andy Mullins introduced the guest speaker, Lt. Gov. Ronnie Musgrove, whom he characterized as a strong supporter of higher education. Musgrove is from Batesville and has both a bachelor's degree and a law degree from Ole Miss.

Lt. Gov. Musgrove spoke about the current stage of the budgeting process and the state's economic growth and projected revenues. Mississippi's actual growth in the last few years has been higher than what was projected. Overall, Mississippi's economy is strong, and projections are for a 5.3% increase in revenues next year. The task of the Legislature's Budget Committee is to prioritize spending above the $130 million committed to built-in expenses. New income is projected to be $250-$300 million. Before 1995, agencies were generally funded at the previous year's level, with the whole Legislature deciding which special projects to fund with new income. Because priorities were never set, no progress in any one area could be achieved. Now they focus on those areas where the most good can be accomplished. Education, from kindergarten through graduate school, is his top funding priority, followed by increasing economic opportunities for our citizens, and by improving public safety. By focusing most of the "new money" on these areas, only $8-$14 million was left to be spent at the discretion of the Legislature in the last two years. Funding for higher education over the past five years has remained static in every state except Mississippi, where it has increased 17%. This is significant, but because we're so far behind, we have to continue to make education our top priority. He is trying to invest in human capital, in faculty salaries, to keep top faculty from leaving for economic reasons.

Also, we have to change the image of Mississippi or we will continue to go uphill to improve the quality of life. Our universities are one of the best ways to project a good image of the state to outsiders. We want to make good universities great universities. We need to realize that we have great people here, and are ahead of other states in some areas. For example, students from a Columbus middle school won an international competition against 708 teams from 20 foreign countries and 50 states. Another example is the Magnolia Project, which provides all libraries in Mississippi's schools, communities, junior colleges and universities Internet access to information databases. Now we have people from other states asking for advice about this project and other achievements, such as the Adequate Education Act.

Q. Sen. Klein: How much revenue does gaming provide the universities and is any directly tied to education? And is there still a chance of having a referendum pro and con on gaming?

A. Gaming provides no money directly to higher education, but gaming revenues total $160 million per year. 25% of this ($40 million) goes back to counties where the casinos are located for highway improvements. The rest remains in the general budget, of which higher education receives 60%. Indirectly, gaming adds several hundred million dollars in revenues from taxes paid by gaming industry employees. A referendum would require 100,000 signatures on petitions and the present effort has stalled.

Q. Sen. Green: Is the idea of creating a Gulf Coast University wise? How will it be funded?

A. We have worked extremely hard to fund the universities we have now. There is strong support for this on the coast, but not in the Legislature. Certainly two-thirds of the population is concentrated in south Mississippi and on the coast. We are trying to work with USM and the community colleges and to enhance the branch of USM on the coast. We need to be more flexible in course offerings to meet the needs of older students, who are increasing in number. There is a distinct possibility we will see a major expansion of the USM branch and a cooperative effort among the comprehensive universities to enhance the offerings we have there.

Q. Will the education structure in the state be significantly affected by the tobacco settlement?

A. Not directly at this point. We have received a letter from the federal government demanding 50% of tobacco money for reimbursement to Dept. of Health and Human Services. It's been estimated we would receive $4 billion in the settlement. The plaintiffs in the suit said 75% of that was attributable to Medicaid reimbursements. Mississippi has the highest match of federal dollars vs. state funds. For every $1 the state spends on Medicaid, we spend $4 of federal funds. So actually 80% of the $4 billion came from Washington, and they're not off base to demand part of it back. Some have suggested it be put in a trust fund, which sounds good, but the language and intent of the bill would have prevented breaking the trust in the future if the demand from the feds had to be met. Musgrove's theory is to put the money in the state treasury, let it earn interest, and when the agreement with the feds is worked out, spend the remainder on health care or other things.

Q. Can you comment on the funding formula that penalizes UM because we are Doctoral II rather than Doctoral I institution?

A. You're out of luck if you want me to determine what is a Doctoral I vs. Doctoral II institution. But comparisons with peer institutions in region show our comprehensives are relatively under-funded in relation to regional universities. So have appropriated equity increases totaling $5 million last year and are trying to put $10 million in this next year's budget. At same time have to fund $4.7 million for Ayers.

Q. Any interest in asking higher education to support the gaming industry by offering undergraduate degrees in gaming?

A. The house is in favor, the Senate not.

Q. Sen. Taylor: As an extension of that, what about courses such as management or auditing, say at Southhaven? How would that be received?

A. In the Senate, like a lead balloon. Such courses are already available or can be offered by junior colleges and universities without intervention by the Legislature. But if what the casinos really want are courses in blackjack dealing, then they should provide that training themselves.

Q. Sen. Bradley: Any possibility of a superhighway connecting Jackson to the coast?

A. The 1987 State Highway plan creates a grid of four-laned existing highways that would cover the state: north/south (highways 61, 14, 45) and east/west (highways 10, 84, 82, 6).

Q. Sen. Williamson: What does this legislature think of our Chancellor's goal of making UM a great public university?

A. The legislature has a high degree of confidence in Khayat. We never can escape the political reality of dealing with all the universities, and try not to get into partisan fights. I feel as confident as I can with the leadership at all eight IHL institutions.

Q. Sen. Williamson: You made the point that the tobacco money should go to health care. I hope the legislature realizes that education is where health care begins.

A. This has not escaped my attention.

Q. Sen. Williamson: Are you still comfortable with blocking IHL appointments?

A. Wouldn't do it differently. Didn't block anything, but let the system work as it should. Appointments to the IHL Board need to be made with the big picture in mind, and you should appoint the best members you can find.

Q. Sen. Klein: How do you stand on replacing the 1890 Constitution?

A. Not fired up about it. Those who say the Governor is not powerful haven't read the Constitution.

 

The Lt. Gov. concluded by expressing his appreciation for being invited to speak to the Senate.  The meeting was adjourned at 3:57 PM. The next meeting of the Senate is Friday, November 13 at 2 p.m.

 

 

Approved: November 13, 1998