Academic Workgroup examines data discrepancies, discusses memorandum

Kalyn Hayslett, Editor-in-Chief

Workgroup No. 7, focusing on academic programs, analyzed half of the academic departments while recognizing inconsistencies with data given to them by the administration at their meeting Tuesday.

Psychology professor Assege HaileMariam said the group should take into consideration a memorandum document sent to them by the budget transparency committee of the Faculty Senate when completing academic program recommendations.

The memorandum consists of concerns the committee has about the academic program’s profit/loss numbers, which are not included in the profit/loss data sheets.

Grant Sterling, chair of the budget transparency committee, wrote in the memorandum that the purpose of creating it was to help Workgroup No. 7 members get an accurate scope of the academic program’s Monetary Award Program grant funds, scholarships waivers and tuition money.

“Although scholarships such as Access to Education, Transfer Academic Excellence and a myriad of other needs-based and talent-based funds are deducted from department revenues, athletics-based funds are not since Grant-in-Aid funds are kept in Ledger Two,” Sterling said in the memorandum. “Since athletics scholarships and waivers are not distributed evenly across campus, this results in an extremely skewed perspective on department profits and losses.”

These data sheets can be found on the vitalization project website and were compiled by budget analyst Candace Flatt.

The profit/loss data for academic departments currently uses two totals: the tuition each program brings in and state appropriation funds, which are found in Ledger One. However, academic programs do not only rely on these two types of funds. The rest of the funds departments use are categorized in Ledger Two, for scholarships given by donors.

However, the Workgroup was only given the administration’s data to use when analyzing academic programs.

“When you look at the memorandum, that is when we have to ask questions and use that information in the way we look at things,” HaileMariam said. “Not saying we change anything; what we have is what we have, but we should take into consideration the information from (the Faculty Senate’s subcommittee).”

Out of the four possible recommendations, one includes determining a program’s cost, so the Workgroup members compared all of a department’s revenues and expenses.

Workgroup chair Cindy Rich, project director of secondary educational foundations, said each program uses different methods of calculating this information, which can cause difficulties when analyzing data.

Focusing on common factors like MAP grant funding and expenses is supposed to help members provide similarities between different departments.

HaileMariam said she cannot make an accurate recommendation about the programs if all of the departments are not treated fairly.

“I want to know if the MAP grant was deducted from that department. If that was deducted, that’s not fair that they would have more expenses,” HaileMariam said.

She said she understands using scholarships in the data when the university does not have any money to distribute among different departments, but when getting into the money specifically for that purpose, she does not understand counting them as an expense for the department.

“I don’t want programs that have a high number of MAP students to be penalized,” HaileMariam said.

Rich said MAP grant funding is just one aspect out of many others that the members need to take into consideration.

The members cut the academic departments into Task A and Task B to decrease the workload when assessing every program.

Analyses of all programs in the Task A academic programs were submitted to Rich. Now, the members will begin analyzing the departments in Task B. The notes, critiques and comments from these are due Sunday.

The members decided to use the completed notes from Task A as a frame of reference when assessing Task B academic programs.

Business instructor Scott Stevens said it would be a waste of time to start completely over, especially when using the same data.

The Workgroup members will be responsible for assessing the programs that they are a part of.

During the next meeting, the group will discuss their preliminary recommendations for the academic programs in both Task A and Task B.

Rich handed out the template for the preliminary report that will need to be completed by Tuesday, Nov. 1. The template includes the title of the academic program, what college the program belongs to and an explanation of the suggested recommendation.

In preparation for the preliminary report, the Workgroup members will use the next meeting to brainstorm their own personal recommendations.

Not every academic program will have a suggested recommendation prepared for the next meeting.

“We are getting to the nitty-gritty, and I think that recommendations need to be put on the table by next week,” Stevens said.

The next meeting will be 8 a.m. in the Shelbyville Room of the Martin Luther King Jr. University Union.

Kalyn Hayslett can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].