Glassman addresses Faculty Senate on profit/loss

Eastern President David Glassman discussed the progress of vitalization project workgroups, while answering questions about the transparency of the profit/loss sheets for academics and intercollegiate athletics Tuesday at the Faculty Senate meeting.

After receiving multiple emails, Glassman said it was clear that he should talk about concerns the senate and its budget transparency committee had in dealing with the financial analyses for academic programs and athletics.

Senate member Amy Rosenstein said since the university has had many transitions, there is a lot of uncertainty about what is going to happen.

This creates anticipation for many faculty who are productive in their departments, Rosenstein said.

“So the profit and loss sheets were one of the first pieces of real-time data that came out, so that was a signal to a lot of people that this is going to be all about profits,” Rosenstein said. “If the profits weren’t clearly there, then those programs would be on the chopping block.”

Rosenstein asked how the university will show people what makes it strong, since the profit-loss sheets are confusing to read for people unfamiliar with the language and numbers.

“It’s really hard to quantify service and it’s really hard to quantify research,” Rosenstein said. “We really have to attack the transparency issue quickly because we need people to know what they show and what they don’t show.”

Glassman said he reviewed the questions raised by the transparency budget subcommittee, as well as those submitted to Workgroups no. 4 and no. 7 and said he does not agree with the subcommittee’s conclusion that the data is “profoundly misleading and imperfect.”

“I believe they are very transparent and reflect the accurate response to the questions that they serve to generate them,” Glassman said.

Glassman said it is important to realize that the profit/loss sheets are just one piece of information about a department among many other factors that are under consideration for assessing whether a department is productive.

He said all the vitalization project Workgroups understand that the sheets are not the only criterion used when making any recommendation relative to the project.

“I firmly believe that the information that exists in the (profit/loss sheets) are important for review and examination,” Glassman said.

Glassman the profit/loss sheets do not tell the whole story, giving an example of the many concerns brought up by the subcommittee.

“You have this instance where you have faculty doing outstanding university service and you won’t find that in (the profit-loss sheet),” Glassman said. “Or you have a number of students who are high achievers and coming in with presidential scholarships, and the department is not getting any credit for that revenue that is being generated because there is no revenue from a presidential scholarship and therefore the department is being penalized.”

Glassman said while it is true that the profit/loss sheets do not explain those measures, they are not intended to.

The departmental spreadsheets were developed to analyze Ledger One, or the real net revenue based on tuition generated by a given department using two scenarios.

The first scenario is looking at how much money a student pays for classes or actual tuition dollars, and the second is looking at how many real dollars a major brought to the university.

The net revenue could be an increase or decrease in revenue. Because it measures “true dollars,” Glassman said scholarship money and waivers are taken out.

Glassman said the spreadsheet is transparent and tells exactly what scholarships and waivers were subtracted from the tuition, but the problem with that is that it is no longer a profit growth analysis and it would have to be called something different.

“In both of those scenarios, that revenue that was generated…is subtracted from the (Ledger One) expenses of your department,” Glassman said. “This would be faculty salaries, the supplies, travel, things of that nature.”

However, it does not count any kind of overhead such as taking care of buildings or maintenance staff salaries.

Glassman said there are certain things, such as outstanding students and grants, that are not captured in the profit/loss sheets, but those fall into a different criteria.

As for intercollegiate athletics, Glassman said their profit/loss sheet is measured differently to see the benefit that the university reaps from intercollegiate athletics and if it offsets the $1.3 million investment that was given them from Ledger One tuition dollars.

Since athletics has Ledger One, Two, Three, and Four monies coming in, Glassman said they compare only Leger One fees to academic departments.

Senate member Teshome Abebe said Glassman’s explanation regarding athletics was good.

“Athletics brings to this institution substantial, direct benefits to the university, and it should be supported,” Abebe said.

Abebe said the perception around campus is that there has been an accounting maneuver to mislead the athletics profit/loss sheet, and that is what is causing some of the friction right now.

Abebe said if athletes are treated according to the negative perception, then he thinks it will pit students against each other.

“I think the accounting maneuver confuses the concept of the student-athlete,” Abebe said.  “We don’t want to cause more confusion in that area, and I think we need to take our students for who they are and keep that in mind as we continue to explain this whole issue of athletics relationships with the university.”

Senate member Grant Sterling said there is great deal of trepidation among faculty members regarding Workgroup no. 7.

Sterling said though the idea that the profit/loss sheets are just one factor among many has been emphasized by Glassman, the concern is that the decisions made by the Workgroup will be implemented by people who do not understand the diversity of departments and therefore the sheets themselves.

“The fear from the faculty is…under the tremendous time constraints (the Workgroup) is in, the (profit/loss sheets) are going to be the only thing they focus on,” Sterling said.

However, Glassman said he believes the members are thoughtful and are able to ask questions.

“Until we see the product of the work, I would rather not pass judgment on it,” Glassman said.


Analicia Haynes can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].