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Minutes & Agendas


University of Hawaii at Manoa Faculty Congress, February 28, 1996

Architecture #205

Presiding: Co-Chair Alison Kay, Manoa Faculty Senate Executive Committee

Present: Two hundred and twelve persons signed the attendance sheets placed just outside the auditorium.

Prof. Kay opened the meeting at 2:35 PM

The minutes of the Faculty Congress of Fall 1996 were approved as submitted.

Prof. Kay introduced University of Hawaii President Kenneth Mortimer, saying that it was her hope and expectation that he would provide us some "words which will give us strength to meet the challenges ahead."

Prof. Mortimer said that he would try to show that there was indeed light at the end of the tunnel but that he was sure some wags in the audience would only conclude that it was the light from an oncoming train.

The President began by noting that he believed 1996-97 to be "the worst year" the University had ever faced in the past, and he was hopeful that there would be none worse in the future. He noted that there had also been a great deal of criticism leveled against him personally, including from the Governor who challenged him to have the University "get its act together" and from others who expressed doubt that there "was anyone running the University" at all.

He then noted that Vice President Coleen Sathre had prepared for him a list of fourteen issues which had nearly overwhelmed the University this year, While he did not read them all, he did mention that the University had emerged from the last legislative session in very good shape, only to be blindsided when the Governor withheld $48 million from the Legislature's appropriations. Though long anticipated, the timing of Bill 161, which gives the University full control over setting, and keeping, tuition, and determining tuition waivers, was particularly unfortunate, and much of the Administration's and the Board's attention has been devoted to activities relating to determining the best level for tuition, and criteria for tuition waivers.

Moreover, for the first time in two decades, no one at the University received any pay raises, and collective bargaining reached an impasse. In addition, even though the University had gotten through the past legislative session without the Legislature calling for an audit of the Faculty Workload Policy, the Legislative Auditor's office "somehow" decided to conduct a workload audit anyway.

Finally, the State seems to have revealed its true priorities by deciding to spend substantially more on prisons and substantially less on higher education.

President Mortimer said that the citizens of Hawaii need to understand that the need a strong university if they are to succeed in today's, and tomorrow's, world; that this is no time to cut back on higher education. It is also necessary for the public to understand and appreciate the work of the faculty. Students need to be motivated to excel, and to have the faculty and facilities that can enable them to reach their full potential. We must of course be fully and openly responsible to the community in order to get the necessary resources and support, and we believe we are, and will be even more so.

Now, as to some of the good things that have happened that make it possible to be cautiously optimistic about the future, President Mortimer mentioned that bills are moving through the current legislature to enable the University to retain its full overhead revenues, without at the same time having its General Fund appropriations reduced.

Indeed, the President had high praise for the Legislature, saying that there have been many statements of strong support for the University by various legislators.

Moreover, the Governor has promised not to cut any more from the University budget next year, Mortimer said, adding that the recent news of an additional $14 million was already known and accommodated for, and thus was misreported in the media. Indeed, he is hopeful that it may be possible for the Governor not even to make that anticipated $14 million cut.

Most important, the President said, is that the tuition decision is finally behind us. We now have set tuition and tuition waiver levels for the next year, and are able to anticipate an income stream which enables us to live within our budget without making programmatic or budget cuts beyond those already anticipated. Until we had set the tuition levels, and adopted a budget based on it, we could not make many other decisions needed to be made, so that many things have been at a standstill for several months. This has been very frustrating to everyone, and it has led some members of the faculty (and others) to conclude that the President was hiding something and acting surreptitiously. But it was not possible to move on most fronts until the tuition decision was made. And now it has been and we can move forward.

So, said President Mortimer, that is where we have been and presently are. He then turned to what the University is doing, and planning to do, to get the University moving ahead again. Noting that his talk was being broadcast, and taped for rebroadcast, over HITS, and that he would be visiting all other campuses soon, he stressed that in his talk now he would only be commenting on what UHM alone can and must do.

The faculty needs to understand that, inspite of demands from outside, a conscious decision was made not to issue pink slips and fire personnel--in contrast to what was done during the budget crisis of the early 1970s--and that tenure and promotion processes were allowed to proceed inspite of arguments that it should be stopped. The position of the Administration was that steadily declining University budgets over the past five years, the negative impact of the Early Retirement of so many faculty and staff, and the fact that there were already one thousand unfilled positions at the University- -three hundred of which were reclaimed by the State--all meant that the University had already done all the personnel downsizing that it could quickly do, and that it would be irresponsible to cut even further without more careful analysis, with fair faculty assessment of the consequences.

On that point, the President reiterated his commitment fully to respecting and following traditional faculty governance processes at UHM. He pledged to continue working with the Faculty Senate, noting that faculty members participate openly and fully on all of the taskforces set up to review programs for possible consolidation, reorganization, or elimination.

The President said that he expects to have a fiscal plan placed before the BOR and adopted at the March meeting of the Board. He then assumes he will be able to release money for filling certain positions, and so the Library can resume its normal acquisition process.

Within 3-5 years, he expects the Law School to move from being "state-run" to being "state-assisted". By the Year 2000, 70%-80% of the budget of the Law School should be self-generated from its own tuition and other sources, with the General Fund contribution being scaled correspondingly downward.

Similarly, the Administration intends to withdraw General Funds almost entirely from Intercollegiate Athletics, the University Press, and the College of Continuing Education and Community Service, and the Summer School, transferring those funds to other units of the University.

Concerning collective bargaining, the President said he understands and welcomes the Union's role in the process and has no intention of "keeping it in its place" in any pejorative sense of that phrase. He has received and read the report of the independent Fact-Finding Panel concerning the current impasse. He said he wishes to return to the table soon with a set of proposals which can be quickly accepted.

He reaffirmed his commitment to returning to previous positions of mutual trust, and said he seeks an agreement with "no winners or losers."

He then moved on briefly to comment on other activities which are intended to move the University forward, beginning with the draft Strategic Plan which he intends to use as the basis for future academic decisions.

Some of the features of the Plan include reviewing the current quota on out-of-state students; more selective entrance and exit standards for UHM--and for the Community Colleges as well, noting specifically that remedial education should not be the task of the Community Colleges (and certainly not of UHM), but of the DOE itself.

He expects the BOR to approve the draft plan in principle during its May or June meetings, and he will then turn to the faculty for their guidance and suggestions.

The President referred to David Yount's recent book in terms of illustrating the need to raise the public's trust in the University. He believes that the legislature's apparent acceptance of the RCUH reorganization, and returning overhead to the University without reducing the General Funds appropriations, are signs that we are regaining public trust. He also noted that he believes he can get legislation that will allow UH to raise funds from private sources without also being penalized by reduced General Fund appropriations.

He then described briefly again his plans for an extensive fund- raising campaign in the private sector. He said that UH has already raised $30 million last year--two or three times more than in the previous years. He said there is tremendous willingness in the private sector to fund scholarships and to make other gifts, if they can be assured that the State will not also reduce its own support accordingly.

The President noted that a telemarketing program is already underway, and that alumni giving is already 4000 people ahead of where it was this time a year ago. Membership in the prestigious (and expensive) President's Club is also up.

How much can we raise from private sources? No one can be sure, but he hoped it might be $400 million under current plans and projections.

The President then turned to a question and answer session.

Various persons immediately rose to say that they were still not sure the President understood how desperate the current situation is in the University. The case of the Chemistry department, which has lost seven of its nineteen positions, which has then led to a marked decline in federal grants, was cited. Many other departments have been similarly impacted.

President Mortimer said that he is fully aware of the seriousness of the situation, and hopes to be able to restore Library funding within ten days. He also observed that Deans and Directors have already prioritized their position vacancies, and he hopes to be able to authorize filling some of the most urgent of them soon as well.

Dean Alan Teramura pointed out that the hiring process, in Chemistry and elsewhere, is in fact already underway in anticipation of a partial hiring thaw.

A question was raised about the President's apparent position on copyright and patent control by the University.

He replied that this was an issue also raised in the Fact-Finding panel's report, and that he intends to look at it again.

A question was raised as to whether the Administration was taking any of the downsizing hits or not.

The President said that proposals were already being passed to the BOR to cut out three deanships at Manoa, and one Vice President. The RCUH has also been cut back, and there are similar cuts expected on the Hilo campus. In addition, ten percent of the present vacancies are administrative and APT positions. "I have heard you, and you can hold me personally responsible if we do not make appropriate administrative cuts. But this is an extremely slow and cumbersome process, which takes a great deal of time."

There was a question about the merit increase process.

President Mortimer replied that there were of course no funds for merit increases now but that "one aspect of merit is promotion" and, as he said before, he has kept that process going in spite of the budget crisis. The only purely merit-type actions on his part recently have been in order to retain three professors.

A question was then raised about the President's fiscal conservatism on the one hand and his support of West Oahu on the other. How can that be reconciled? Won't West Oahu be built out of the hide of Manoa?

The President said that he supports the Governor on this if there can in fact be the kind of no-cost landswap the Governor envisions. Pres. Mortimer very strongly stated that he will not allocate money from any existing programs to fund the operating expenses of West Oahu. He did note that establishing a permanent campus for West Oahu is a crucial issue, especially in light of the upcoming accreditation visit which will likely censure UH if it has not clearly moved forward on this.

Another person wanted to know what the chances were that we would get our budget restored to the 1995 levels, as Act 161 requires.

The President said he doubted it would happen exactly as the bill assumed, but that the basic 161 premise will hold. The Legislature has assured us that it will not subtract here if funds are added there, so he does expect some level of additional funding to be restored. "The Legislature is asking good questions," the President said.

Another question was raised about the President's attitude towards collective bargaining, noting that he seemed to have a "tone of hostility" towards the process. Instead, the speaker said, we need a statement of strong support from the President about the mission of the faculty. He expressed concern about the failure of the President to speak out strongly in support of the faculty.

The President replied that, as he said, he is looking forward to sitting down again at the bargaining table. And he added that in many speeches throughout the community he does indeed praise the faculty. But he admitted that he believed he had made a mistake, in the previous bargaining processes, of leaving it to the State to form the University's position. He intends to take a more active role in that, insisting that the faculty needs to be adequately compensated. But, at the same time, he has no intention of interfering with the bargaining process by any statements he might make now or otherwise outside of the formal process.

So, asked the same person, can we expect more support for the faculty from you?

"Yes," the President replied, "you can expect that."

Well, the person continued, faculty morale is a non-cost item. Your failure to speak out more aggressively for us is like "kicking a man while he is down."

"I hear you,", the President replied.

Prof. Ikeda rose to speak out behalf of junior faculty, who, because they lack tenure, may be afraid to speak out for themselves. What are you doing on their behalf?

The President replied that he knows the travel restrictions hurt junior faculty, who are building their reputations, even more than it hurts senior faculty. He noted that he did unfreeze the research and training revolving funds for which junior faculty could competitively bid for research and travel support for that reason. This was $400,000 which was not from General Funds. And, he again noted, we have protected the faculty's right to be promoted, unlike some State universities which stopped the process during their budget crises. We have not done that.

Prof. Kay rose to thank the President and to call the 1996 Spring Faculty Congress to a close at 3:30 PM.