Budget cuts to be less than anticipated

Lyndsey Schley

President Lester Lefton announced the new Ohio higher-education budgeting formula will lead to smaller budget cuts for Kent than originally anticipated during the March 11 Faculty Senate meeting.

The university will still take a cut of about $1 million during the second year the formula is in effect, much less than the anticipated $8 million cut, Lefton said.

“It’s still a lot of money, but it’s not $8 million,” Lefton said. “One million, we may be able to make up in retention or increased enrollment.”

The new formula will place a greater emphasis on degree completion with 50 percent of the formula based on degrees produced, Lefton said.

“This has not been the case in the past,” Lefton said. “Historically, we have been funded by the number of students in seats.”

The senate raised concerns that this may lead to students being allowed to pass classes though they do not deserve it. Provost Todd Diacon pointed out that under 15 percent of dropouts were due to academic ineligibility.

Enrollment projections are on track for next year, Lefton said. The university has about 23,000 applicants for Fall 2013, which should end up as a class of over 4,000 students. These students will have higher test scores and be more diverse than previous classes.

“The most important piece, however, from my point of view, is that the quality of the freshman class continues to get better,” Lefton said. “This predicts very well for both retention and graduation, which is going play a bigger and bigger role [in state funding.] Many of our sister schools are not experiencing this same phenomenon.”

Lefton also talked to the senate about the Foundations of Excellence program and downtown renovation efforts.

Faculty senate chair Paul Farrell congratulated James Blank, interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences on his reappointment and newly appointed faculty senators on their elections. Farrell also discussed problems with the use of student surveys to determine faculty performance.

“When faculty senate initiated these, its intention was to provide feedback to the individual faculty,” Farrell said. “The university policies on reappointment, promotion and tenure permit units to develop their own criteria for such a purpose, and so units are within their rights to do so.”

The problem is that some units ask faculty to not reach a score, but instead hit the average or above the average, which is not mathematically possible for more than 50 percent of the faculty to achieve, Farrell said.

Professor Melody Tankersley presented on the pros and cons of the current scheduling system. The senate discussed which ways to combine the current timetabling-based system with a department-based schedule. There are no estimates as to when this will be implemented, though it will be later than Spring 2014, Tankersley said.

Contact Lyndsey Schley at [email protected].