Lefton expects budget cuts to get even deeper

Allison Smith

Faculty Senate meets to discuss budgets, college handbooks

In his remarks at the Faculty Senate meeting yesterday, President Lester Lefton spoke on the impact the state’s budget cuts will have on the university.

Lefton said the deficit was originally announced to be $3.2 billion, but they now know that it is actually $3.8 billion. He said he expects the state to cut the budget further in the next six months.

“It is what has consumed a gaggle of us over in the library over the last month,” Lefton said.

He said thankfully the policy makers saw the need for funding and granted tuition flexibility up to 3.5 percent a year during the next two years.

“One of the lesser-publicized, but harder-hitting cuts has come from state-funded need-based aid for students called OCOG, the Ohio College Opportunity Grant,” Lefton said. “The legislature has cut out about 40 percent of OCOG money, about $20 million, to direct aid to students.”

Lefton said he doesn’t know what kind of impact this will have on the university. He said about 7,000 students currently receive OCOG money. Under the new rules, he said, regional campus students will receive no OCOG money and Kent campus students will get a maximum of $1,008, compared to $2,500 before the budget cuts.

“This is going to be challenging, to say the least,” Lefton said.

Lefton’s raise will be going to a scholarship called the Last Dollar Scholarship Fund intended for students who will be losing money through OCOG.

At the Board of Trustees meeting on July 14, trustee Chairman Patrick Mullen encouraged the faculty and staff to join the cabinet in donating money to the Last Dollar Fund.

“Of course, this is a personal decision, but it would have a big impact,” Lefton said. “If anyone would like to join the cabinet in donating money to the Last Dollar Scholarship Fund, this is the year to do it.”

Other items discussed

Stanley Wearden, dean of the College of Communication and Information, talked about the doctoral program in communication studies going college-wide.

“The rationale is that this will give us an opportunity to make the doctoral program more inclusive and more interdisciplinary in nature,” Wearden said.

The motion to have the doctoral program go college-wide was passed.

The revision of tenure policy was a discussion item at the Faculty Senate meeting as well. Susan Roxburgh, associate professor of sociology, walked the faculty senate through the tenure policy document and said much of it was open for debate.

The major discussion was about the templates Provost Robert Frank sent to each college for handbooks to implement university policies.

Deborah Smith, associate professor of philosophy, was especially bothered by the handbook template for arts and humanities being very similar to the template for the sciences.

“I was also very concerned by the fact that the one that’s specifically labeled for arts and humanities is the one for the sciences except that the words ‘creative activity’ and ‘exhibits and performances’ have been added a couple of places,” Smith said. “There’s really no recognition that there are significant differences between the academic cultures.”

Frank said the handbooks are products of years of evolution. He said the office of the provost decided to strip the policies to the bare essentials and build them up again.

“The deans have been asked to take those to their faculty for conversations. We will encourage those conversations,” Frank said. “The deans have the prerogative to request the handbooks be reviewed and to ask the faculty to do that in a timely manner.”

Frank said the office of the provost is hoping to get rid of the confusing language in the current handbooks and that faculty have the right to amend the new handbooks.

“Some people have short tempers about it, but it’s a worthwhile conversation at the end,” Frank said.

Contact principal reporter Allison Smith at [email protected]