Faculty senate discusses budget concerns

Cassie Buchman, Administration Editor

President David Glassman and John Henderson, the Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs for Technology, addressed the Faculty Senate and answered questions at their meeting Tuesday.

Glassman said there were a lot of questions about the budget.

“We don’t know what the budget situation is for Eastern at this time,” Glassman said.

He said the budget they forecasted for this year and are operating on is a budget that has had a reduction over last year’s spending of about 6.5 percent, which the legislature has passed but the governor has not signed into law.

Glassman also talked about layoffs and bumping rights. He said it is not the employee who is being told they should exit the university but the position itself that is being eliminated.

“It is that position that is taken away,” Glassman said. “That individual, based on their seniority can then bump somebody in another area in a position that was considered vital and was saved. Then that person would move and could bump somebody with less seniority.”

Each individual has 30 days to decide whether to bump somebody or not.

“The difficulty and the dollar element to it is if we’re eliminating a position, we know that person has, let’s say a $40,000 salary,” Glassman said. “That person bumps somebody else, they’ve now moved from one place to another, they retain the $40,000 salary that they have, but they’ve now bumped somebody who had $36,000, who then bumps somebody else who’s lower who’s at $30,000.”

Glassman said by doing this the university is saving $30,000.

“This is what we’re going through right now,” Glassman said. “And we won’t know until the bumping finishes.”

There are other areas of revenue the university is recouping because of a stronger than predicted incoming freshman class.

The incoming freshman class has increased by 47 students from the previous year.

“We’ve cut back on the fleet of university vehicles, so we’ve had some savings there,” Glassman said. “We’re varying all the different strategies that we have in order to maximize our ability to defeat this deficit so we can position ourselves where we can balance our budget, live within our budget and our means and take all our focus and our energies and look to our future and to growth and turnaround spirits.”

Jason Waller, a senator and a professor in the philosophy department, asked about communication.

“When there is a dearth of information coming from your office, the faculty and staff are not sitting around waiting to see what happens,” Waller said. “We’re guessing, and guessing turns into rumors, and rumors spread very quickly and are almost always worse than reality.”

Waller said they started off communicating well in July, but then the communication started drifting with long periods of silence.

Waller asked if it was possible to give out more information to contain the rumors.

“I believe in communication and know it’s really important,” he said. “I do want to be keeping everyone informed quickly.”

However, he said there were times when there was not much for him to say and the communication he put out could be translated by the newspapers in a negative light in the university.

Glassman also said it had come to his attention that many people were concerned about the ASPs, and so in 24 hours he sent out communication saying how many people were going to be laid off, and when individuals would be informed.

Teshome Abebe, a senator and economics professor, said he sensed Glassman was underestimating the degree of anger and disillusionment on the campus.

“To say you cannot talk about this is closing the door,” Abebe said. “And my sense of the faculty here is that they are considerably upset, and the enthusiasm that was shown in the last two or three months did not match the enthusiasm that should have prevailed over the last six and seven years.”

He told Glassman not to second guess the faculty, as they are not short on enthusiasm.

Henderson spoke after Glassman about the changes in the CATS department because of the recent budget adjustment.

These changes include technical support for classrooms ending at 5 p.m. Monday through Friday in the Gregg Technology Center, after-hours appointments in the center for online learning and, when possible, for online faculty unable to meet during regular business hours and no ITS Help desk coverage after 8 p.m. on weekdays in the Gregg.

Henderson said they found some fee money that could bring a position back and save appropriated money.

Cassie Buchman can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]