RCM Committee unveils proposals at faculty forum

Jackie Valley

The Responsibility Center Management Committee unveiled its recommendations for what they call an “evolving model” of the proposed new budget model at the Faculty Senate Fall Forum yesterday.

“The model will continue to evolve and hopefully grow to achieve what the university is trying to accomplish,” said David Creamer, senior vice president for administration.

The proposed RCM budgeting model creates responsibility centers among academic colleges in addition to regional campuses and auxiliary operations. Each then funds itself via tuition and state support rather than receiving funding from a centralized administration.

Creamer said the RCM Committee spent 14 months on the project to develop the recommendations, including consultations with current RCM users Ohio State and Ohio University.

Under the proposed plan’s funding formula, 80 percent of the revenue from each undergraduate course would go toward the college offering the instruction, while the remaining 20 percent would go back to the college housing the student’s major.

Several faculty members expressed concern that the funding formula encourages competition rather than collaboration among academic colleges, including the potential unusual growth of Liberal Education Requirement courses to secure more money.

However, Creamer said colleges will not be able to create new LERs to enhance income that could pose as a detriment to other colleges.

“The reality is all the same current processes will be in place,” he said. “They will have to justify the benefits of a new LER for students.”

Even so, Richard Serpe, RCM Committee member, said the proposed budget model will improve the university’s transparency of funds and move academic colleges beyond the status quo.

“People have to have incentives to do better — to not just continue doing what they have been over time,” he said.

Susan Taft, associate professor in the School of Nursing, said she feared the budget model might dissuade faculty from collaborating with other academic units if money follows instruction.

Creamer said that is an issue the new Faculty Senate Budget Advisory Committee will need to explore.

“We wouldn’t want you to feel it was somehow penalizing your college by joining other colleges across campus,” he said. “We need to find ways to remove obstacles that exist today, not build new ones.”

The RCM Committee will seek approval for the new Faculty Senate Budget Advisory Committee, which will replace the current university budget advisory committee, at the Faculty Senate meeting Monday.

Other RCM Committee recommendations include:

-Rewarding academic units that graduate students on time with success challenge revenues.

-Distributing doctoral allocations using a five-year rolling average of the full-time enrollment in each program.

-Using a three-year enrollment average for allocating tuition for undergraduate and masters programs.

-Allocating support costs to the responsibility centers using a simple distribution method based on proportion of revenue.

Creamer said the RCM budget model will proceed if the Faculty Senate approves the final recommendations at its February meeting. President Lester Lefton must grant final approval.

If approved, Creamer said implementation activities will begin in the spring before the 2009-2010 budget development process next fall.

The RCM Committee recommends rolling the RCM budget model out during the next three years in one-third increments, meaning only one-third of a responsibility center’s funding will come from the RCM budget model during the first year.

Creamer said the gradual implementation will allow academic colleges to prepare for the new budget model.

“If there are negative repercussions, academic areas will have time to adapt,” he said.

Contact administration reporter Jackie Valley at [email protected].