Cabinet Highlights: Sept. 15, 2009

Science Foundation Arizona
The president introduced Bill Harris. W. Harris spoke about the critical role the universities have to play in addressing the financial and social problems of today. The university must set priorities, manage its budget actively, and plan for the long term. It’s important to focus on new ideas and look to the future. In general, university are averse to risk and don’t want to change. Always ask what is best for the students.

W. Harris suggested that if the universities would raise their admission standards, that would result in dramatic changes in the K-12 system and increase the value of an education. The university also has a role to play in addressing the political problems of the day. The country needs to focus on shared values and not the things that divide us.

President’s Cabinet Report
L. Jones reviewed the report. M. Gerety discussed the changes to the data presented in the advancement portion of the report. L. Huenneke highlighted the changes to the grants and contracts portion of the report. She reminded the Cabinet that the most meaningful measure of research is in research expenditures and that the university’s financial system did not enable timely reporting of that data.

In student data, D. Bousquet reported that this year the Admissions Office would be working to reduce the number of applications because too many are being received from students who have no intention of coming.

F. Hurst reported that the data presented is complete from his perspective because it reflects only new students and he looks at total enrollment. Overall he is pleased with the numbers.

L. Grobsmith applauded the efforts of R. Mellott to increase enrollment of graduate students.

L. Jones reported that preliminary census data showed total enrollment at 23,600, almost a 5 percent increase over last fall.

University Budget Update
P. Haeuser distributed the state agency budget distribution. Once the FTE figure is known, she will be able to project tuition revenue. C. Farley reported that the state finally has a sign budget but it is not a balanced budget. There is a one billion dollar deficit but there does not seem to be any interest on the part of the legislature or governor to address this issue until the legislature reconvenes in January. Although the universities thought the budget really was finalized but now it appears that there may be more cuts ahead in the spring.

Potential New Residence Hall and Parking Structure 
D. Bousquet reminded the Cabinet of the growth of students on this campus and that two years ago, McKay Village opened at capacity, as did Aspen Crossing last year. If housing renewals continue at the same rate and the freshman class continues at the same rate, we soon may be faced with turning away more than 700 students who want to live on campus. He reported that the university now is in conversations with a private developer and the Board to build additional housing on campus.

The president noted that this project is very important to the growth of the university. In addition a public/private partnership is the only way to go because the university is approaching its debt capacity limit.

ABOR Meeting
The president noted that the university has a few items on the agenda. F. Estrella reviewed the information technology strategic plan data that is on the agenda. He noted a dramatic change in toll usage charges.

J. Kuhn reported that at this Board meeting, the university would be seeking re-approval of the SPEED projects.

MJ McMahon noted that the Board was going to review a policy change about advancing sick leave. D. Verkest reported that this topic came up because of the concern for the flu pandemic. New employees and others may not have sufficient sick leave accrued to stay home as requested if they become ill. There will be a specified time when this policy will be in effect. This policy can only apply if all other forms of leave, including furlough, have been used.

P. Haeuser noted that they university’s FY11 budget request will appear on the Board agenda.

MJ McMahon reminded that Cabinet that the Board meeting will be on campus next week. L. Grobsmith noted that the president’s report to the Board would include reports on sustainability.

Benefits Changes
D. Verkest informed the Cabinet that along with the budget legislation signed by the governor, there was a bill that changes the definition of those eligible to receive benefits. The definition is narrower than it was last year. A number of questions remain unanswered at this point. C. Farley indicated that she is working very closely with the Department of Administration to help them understand the impact of this change on the universities.

SPAC Report
T. Carpenter described that Service Professional Advisory Council. He indicated that their two pressing issues were child care on campus and having an ombuds process for alternate dispute resolution.

Academic Chairs Council Report
R. Michalowski noted that in the past the council had been primarily reactionary. However, at the end of last year the council decided to identify issues they could be more pro-active about. One working group was created to look at research opportunities. Another working group is looking at the new system architecture as it relates to online education.

New Marketing Plan
M. Gerety noted that a contract had been signed with a new outside vendor for limited marketing services. The strategy for the next year is to continue with The Difference That Matters campaign. Most specifically how NAU makes a difference. The campaign will address the university’s research, sustainability, and how we’re changing the world. The Marketing Committee is very interested in building a NAU story archive. The Marketing Committee will be looking for great world-changing, region-changing stories. Audiences include prospective students, alumni, Phoenix leadership groups, and the internal campus community.

Comprehensive Campaign
M. Gerety discussed the process required to enter into a campaign and where the university is in the process.

S. Bickel reported that the university is reviving the incident management team. Letters will be going out this week to a group of people from the president asking them to serve on the team, participate in meetings, and take part in training to help the university in times of crisis.

L. Grobsmith noted the first of the President’s Speaker Series, Bill Harris this afternoon.

F. Hurst noted the initial meeting with the consultants for the VP for Administration and Finance search.

The Dennis Jones visit is coming up Friday. He will be with the Cabinet from 9 to 11 on Friday. Let P. Haeuser know if you do not plan to attend.

F. Estrella reminded the Cabinet about the required security training and asked for advice about how to best get the word out to those who have not participated.

H. Farley reminded the Cabinet about the annual Classified Staff Advisory Council warm clothing drive.

M. Molly announced the start of the Flagstaff Festival of Science on September 25. This is the 20th anniversary of the Festival.