Cabinet Highlights: Oct. 21, 2008

May Commencement
R. Pitt presented a proposal to accommodate spring commencement at three campus facilities since the Skydome will be under renovation. F. Hurst expressed concern that distance students might be excluded from attending the ceremonies on campus. Nineteen ceremonies are proposed. L. Gould spoke in favor of including distance students in the on campus ceremonies. J. Fallis and J. Kuhn asked if the Field House had been considered; it could accommodate a larger number of people. R. Pitt expressed concern about traffic flow in central campus.

The president approved the proposal with the understanding that distance students would not be prevented from participating in the campus ceremonies. R. Pitt and L. Nelson to work on putting information together for publication.

Procurement Policy
K. Shinham informed the Cabinet that the Governor had announced a freeze of general fund expenditures greater than $50,000 and asked the universities to develop a similar plan. A draft management plan was distributed.

Tuition Recommendations
The president will be telling students that the tuition guarantee will be continuing but the price for new students will be greater than the amount freshman paid this year—probably around 14 percent. For continuing students, the proposed increase is nine percent. The president is not sure how this will be received by either the students or the Regents.

Budget Reduction Strategy
The president believes the budget reduction is likely to be much greater than first thought. Forty-five percent of the state’s budget is protected, making it difficult for budget cuts. The slow down of the construction industry in the state is having a serious spill over effect.
The university needs:

  • to plan for a much larger FY09 cut;
  • to plan for a large potential FY10 base cut;
  • to keep momentum going. Need to reinvest in strategic initiatives;
  • to take advantage of SPEED, with careful attention to risk
  • to develop a range of strategies.

The president encouraged all to think about revenue enhancements — program fees, class fees, user fees. Units should plan for an increase in the administrative overhead fee (from six to eight percent for FY10). The university must consider increased user fees for employees/others (e.g., parking, health) and try to increase fees/revenue from auxiliaries such as the Bookstore, Skydome, etc.

Cost avoidance
Hire internal; stop most administrative searches. Reduce travel for FY09. Scale back communications/marketing. Postpone equipment purchases.
The president indicated that there would be no across-the-board cuts; cuts will be targeted. Decisions largely will be at the vice president and dean level. This is an opportunity to do things differently.

Productivity Initiatives
The Governor’s Office is very interested in how the universities are going to participate.

Tribal Policy
There is a new effort on the part of the Board of Regents to develop a new policy for working with tribal governments. D. Camacho, L. Grobsmith, and L. Huenneke are working on developing a university policy. D. Camacho asked Cabinet members to document everything each area is doing that has to do with tribal relations. He also is interested in identifying individuals from each area that could become part of this advisory group. The president noted that the university does have a job description for a special assistant for Native American affairs. We need to move forward with this position but it will be filled internally using released time.

Preliminary Peer Institutions
P. Haeuser reported having done more research in this area as requested the last time this topic was discussed. It did not make a lot of difference but she will send the results to those interested.

Bus Passes
R. Bowen reported on a proposal to provide employees with a bus pass; continuing the university’s efforts supporting sustainability, reducing the carbon footprint, and reducing traffic on campus. The program is proposed to start November 15. The president wants to be sure that this is presented as part of the campus commitment to the environment.

ACTION: The president approved moving forward on this plan on the November 15 start date.

Administrative Salaries in Vice Presidential Areas
K. Shinham noted that this group of positions has not been benchmarked with a market analysis. She has asked Human Resources to conduct this study. The results will be reviewed by the vice presidents.

Holiday Closure Dates
K. Shinham reminded the Cabinet that the holiday closure dates had been approved. The university will be closed for Veteran’s Day on November 11; that’s a Tuesday. The winter break holiday will involve four vacation days for most employees.

Diversity Issues
D. Camacho reported that the perceptions among commissions and others interested in diversity that the university is regressing in this area. Concerns have been expressed about climate on campus. He reiterated that the university does have a commitment to diversity.

SPEED Project Update
J. Kuhn distributed a document updating the schedule for the projects. One change is that Liberal Arts project will start in May rather than January.

J. Fallis: Reminded that tomorrow night is reception for NCAA team. Friday night is the Axer Auction. Saturday, there will be a rededication of the Lumberjack Stadium field and the football game against Weber State.

S. Bickel: Homecoming dedicatee banquet is tonight and a parade on Saturday. She noted that efforts were under way to encourage students and others to drink responsibility, especially with regard to the unofficial Homecoming tradition of Tequila Sunrise.

L. Huenneke: Gave a preview of a report on research activity. Last year was the best yet.

L. Grobsmith: Announced that a new dean has been hired for Engineering, Forestry, and Natural Sciences.

P. Haeuser: Distributed the draft strategic issues the university must submit to the Regents and legislature. This document is due as a draft November 1. Please send any comments or concerns to her. The document will be finalized and submitted January 1.