CAL Budget Reduction Task Force Meeting (October 29, 2020)
From Danielle Nicole DeVoss on October 30th, 2020
Advisory Council Chair Danielle Nicole DeVoss:
Well, I have four o'clock and I don't want to short us at all in the time we have together today. Thank you all for being here with us. And I hope they'll hear more thanks today. The Cal budget reduction task force subcommittee chairs for being here and everyone who served on the subcommittees. This was heavy lifting and many, many hours spent with each other with charts and graphs and spreadsheets and data and with the commitment to the transparency and collegiality and care. And I wanted to thank Sarah Jackson for again, serving as our moderator for question and answer Dean Long is going to provide some opening remarks and then we'll turn things over to the co-chairs of the BRTF steering committees to ride a big picture perspective. Then we'll turn to the questions that we received and thank you for sharing by the Qualtrics survey. And if we have time, we'll open things up for live Q&A session. And with that, I will turn things over to Dean Long.
Thank you, Danielle I hope everybody can hear me. I want to begin actually with just us all taking a moment together to take a deep breath because there is an enormous amount going on at the moment. And so if you'll just join me for a minute taking deep breath, just be mindful of where we are and some gratitude for our being together today and for all of those who make it possible for us to be together today as well. So I'm mindful of that. We joined each other really at a moment where I think everyone is completely exhausted and, where we are facing a national election that has been, quite, anxiety producing, with dealing with the pandemic, we're dealing with a really important reckoning with racial justice, and we're also dealing with economic crisis, that is part of what is bringing us here today to talk about the budget reduction taskforce.
So I want to at least begin with just that importance of being intentional and mindful in our daily interactions with each other, as we do this so thank you for that. I'm going start here with sharing if I can do that. The budget reduction task force website, just to make sure that everyone is aware that this is here. This has over here. Hopefully everybody can see this screen share. It has the contingency planning document with the principles associated with that we're here. And then it has all the names of the people who have been so generous and kind, and really resourceful with their time in bringing the recommendations forward. So we have all the names of the steering committee and then the academic structure subcommittee, the curriculum and integrity and program shifts subcommittee, and the staff structures and personnel adjustments subcommittee.
And the financial advisory board they've been working very hard on trying to bring us the data that we need. We have a record of communications here, and of course the notes and minutes from all the meetings and the very important button for feedback form that I know Ryan would be very happy for me to remind people if we do need to continue to receive feedback, feel free to use that form to provide feedback to us, as well as speaking, you can email me or others associated with the project as we move forward. So I just want to call everyone's attention to that as a reminder that, that is all there. And so I just thank you to everyone for all the work you've done for this. Given all of the issues that we're addressing and the degree of uncertainty and anxiety that's out there. I just want to say a word about where we are in the process.
We have received the recommendations from the subcommittees. We received them about a month ago and we've been working very hard to think through them in the Dean's office. And so this is an opportunity to give people a sense of our thinking at the moment to continue to receive feedback from people and to begin to move towards some decisions. Although I want to emphasize that the big picture that we're receiving from these recommendations is as we'll discuss a movement toward some further processes that will allow us to make some decisions that will impact us over the course of the next several years. So I think we need to be thinking in terms of longer time horizons.
And so, as you've seen from the recommendations there are not recommendations for immediate cuts in drastic ways. So please, we're talking about trying to put the infrastructure in place in order to continue to make very responsible data informed and people informed decisions as we move forward. So that's really continues to shape our work in this meeting and in the meetings that we'll follow up and we will follow up with another meeting in December as well as we continue to work together to navigate this challenging period. So I'm going to stop there and turn it over, well, back over to you, Danielle, I think you're calling the shots here.
Well managing the agenda.
There we go. [crosstalk 00:06:31]. I don't want to use the war metaphor yet. Appreciate it.
Thanks Dean Long and now I want to turn it over to Ken Desloover our chief of staff to provide a bigger picture of the current budget context, Ken?
Chief of Staff Ken Desloover:
All right, good afternoon, everyone. I want to talk a little bit about the budget situation here in terms of three really big categories. What's the college budget status? And then talk a little bit about the state of the university budget, and then look at what the forecast for the university budget and what they're trying to consider. So, first thing, if we come to the college budget, if you remember last spring, we were talking about the budget cuts of four, six, and six. That means 4% this year, 6% next year, and 6% the following year as the projections, those projections haven't changed. And these also projections include the 1% that goes back to the provost first strategic investment. And to put that in dollars amounts, that's 1.2 million for this year that we hadn't make up. And now it's 2.8 and 4.5.
So, this year we're handling the budget deficit through travel restrictions either retirements that we had and limiting to central hires only. And then really what we're talking about today for the next two years is the 2.8 and 4.5 million. And then, like I said, there's no projected difference. They're not telling us to change the projections from the central offices [inaudible 00:08:03]. So the state of the university, we've been hearing a lot about RHS putting people on furlough athletics is back in playing football again. And how does that impact our budget? Well, it doesn't and the reason why is the university doesn't like the commingle different fund types and for good reasons. The only time that really comes into play is if either one of those units was not able to pay the bond payments, and the university can't just ignore bond payments and from everything I'm hearing, they're not close to that yet.
And then so this past spring, they projected the budget for this year and a contraction of 123 million. Now you have to bear in mind that the university's overall budget is over a billion about $1.4 billion. About billion of that is from tuition and fees associated to that. So the big two items were enrollment. They projected $63 million deficit in student enrollment. And that is just from the demographic changes. You guys have seen the same number of students, but we have lost out of state and lost international.
And the other big piece was state appropriations 46 million. Well, there's some good news here. The state has decided to keep the funding flat, so we're not going to see the $46 million deficit that they projected. And they're making a commitment for two years. Now there was some concern that the state can back out of that, the university has been watching the revenue coming into the state to see if they'd actually be able to follow through on their commitment and everything's looking good if it starts going South, they're going to be able to see that.
But they're really happy with the current administration being committed to higher ed. So then the other good news is enrollment was projected at $63 million deficit. It's actually $54 million deficit, still a ton of money, right? To put this in context, that million dollars is about 0.8% of the overall budget, and they almost considered immaterial that is such a low amount of change. So how did they plan to address the $123 million contraction? So they were bridging that with salaries 30 million, other units that 4% I talked about, that's 20 million. And then the rest that they redirected some funding from capital projects, some interest that was coming in and also tapped into the reserves. I know there've been some questions why the university has been using reserves, they have.
So what's the forecast for the future and what are they really concerned about? Well, they're looking at spring enrollment and it's tough because, we're going to see this demographic change again. And as society has changed, everybody makes their decisions at the very last minute. So naturally the students said, [inaudible 00:11:14] has been telling me for years that the students make the decisions, right? At the deadline, and then somehow find out how they can do that even more last minute, each year. So they're really looking at that. There is the possibility that the demographics could change, because we still have international students, we still have out of state, but that can possibly change and quit some of the budget shortfalls. Then they're also concerned about the salary and benefit adjustments because they're treating that as a loan, right?
So at some point we got to add this back into the budget and this also in terms of other areas. So like the reserves, because the reserves really help the university issue bonds for capital projects, keep our credit rating really high. And we also don't know what's coming down the line. One of the things I'd like to remind everybody is we're in our second major financial situation here, we went from NASA, to a pandemic, and a university still [inaudible 00:12:15]. So they're doing a pretty good job with how they're managing the reserves and such. And with that, I'll turn that over to you, Danielle.
Thank you, Ken. All right. I am turning things over again. This time to Associate Dean Fritzsche and WRAC chair person Jackie Rhodes, to provide an overview of the steering committee work.
Dean Sonja Fritzsche:
Thank you. I forgot to unmute myself. And I'd like to also think… as always for helping us to understand the financial pieces of all of this, because it's very complex and it seems to always be shifting so I'm always very grateful for your perspective. I have been asked to give a brief overview of the function of the steering committee of the college's budget reduction task force and how it has helped to move the whole process forward. And the steering committee itself, we decided to create it because we felt that we needed to facilitate the communication and the work between the three subcommittees so that they wouldn't be siloed.
It's important to remember that the steering committee always kept the college values and priorities in full view as to the subcommittees. These are protecting and putting people first enacting our commitment to equity, advancing our core academic mission and leading transformative change. And the nature of the steering committee work has not been to dominate what happens in the subcommittees, but rather to have each report out and make sure that the process remained collectively on track. And in practice, this allowed the subcommittees to discover similarities in data requests and overlapping questions, considerations and contingencies, and the report outs often lead to fruitful exchanges that informed the work of all subcommittees. And I think the other members would agree with me. They're very interesting conversations.
But at the same time, it was clear that the work was also very difficult at times and perplexing as the subcommittees remained committed to these values and priorities. Which sometimes led considerations in competing directions and where the way forward is not at all clear. But just as many times the values and priorities led to greater certainties and realizations when they intersected and reinforced each other, giving certainty to particular suggestion, and I saw this happen in my own subcommittee as well.
And in the end, the steering committee enabled each subcommittee chair to compare notes and to push, to get the final recommendations together in similar and meaningful formats, but also pointed to identifiable categories and estimated amounts of potential budget savings. The full subcommittee reports are available online, as Chris mentioned at the Cal website. And Jackie, please go ahead.
Chairperson Jackie Rhodes:
I remembered to unmute some of the brass tacks of the steering committee, we met every Friday morning from the beginning of July until the end of September. And I think we were pretty good at setting milestones and deadlines for the subcommittees, even those shifted as needed. The three subcommittees were staff structures and personnel adjustments, and that was chaired by Yen-Hwei Linn. the curriculum integrity and programmatic shifts subcommittee, which I chaired. And then the academic structures subcommittee, which was first chaired by Karen Zitzewitz and then by Arthur Versluis. And so I wanted to go through some of the recommendations and give an overview and I will try to move through it fairly quickly so we can get to questions.
So the staff structures and personnel adjustments subcommittee met weekly like the steering committee, from mid July until the end of September. There were four work groups that met separately from the subcommittee meetings. And those subcommittees of the subcommittees were evaluative criteria pathways to retirement staff structures and personnel adjustments. The subcommittee asks that this statement be read at this particular Cal meeting. All of the observations and recommendations below have been carefully wrought. And none of our decisions nor their potential impacts have been taken lightly. Members of the subcommittee have endeavored to gain college wide perspectives and insights through the data gathered committee members did not argue for the sake of their own siloed units and rather considered the questions holistically, keeping the equity of all faculty and staff within and across units in mind.
The preservation of shared decision-making and productive collaboration at the local level remained paramount in shaping recommendations to ensure informed decisions. In all of our meetings over the past three months, we prioritize keeping communication channels open and active, no matter how difficult the questions or points being made after the submission of this report, communication will continue to be a primary importance as will the enduring attention to values, priorities and guiding principles. We are thankful for the opportunity to have learned so much about the activities of our many colleagues across the college and from each other.
So the evaluative criteria work group developed a set of rubrics that can be used to evaluate the recommendations made for pathways to retirement, staff reorganization, and personnel adjustments. Recommendations on the pathways to retirement, provide guidelines to department chairs and faculty contemplating retirement on the procedures of setting up the agreements with examples of possible agreements, the timeline and pre-retirement and post-retirement engagements. Cal should determine and publicize parameters for moderating various one to two-year retirement packages related to salary and effort and have the timeline for retirement vetted by Cal by department chairs and faculty, via the CAC. And then also publicized on the Cal website.
Recommendations on the staff structure suggest a shared business team model of staff organization in which first staff and functional areas are organized into collaborative functional teams. For example, a finance team, human resources, graduate and undergraduate studies, unit and office coordinator. And second, each unit is assigned a shared business team made up of at least one member of a functional team. This would look better on charts rather than me reading this, but sorry, a shared business team model sustains working relationships between staff and units. Detailed recommendations for each functional team are provided by the collaborative staff restructuring work group and considerations for better efficiency and equitable workload distribution are expected to be sustainable and functionality, and also produce savings through attrition and retirement.
Third, the recommendations on personnel adjustments start with an understanding and assessment of the appointment types and demographic data of faculty and academic staff, and then proceed to identify potential savings through personnel adjustments, by answering questions about percentages of tenure system versus non-tenure system faculty and academic staff, staffing practices and strategic reduction in hiring, considerations of diversity, equity, and inclusion, faculty workload, post-tenure review, sabbaticals course releases and administrative costs. The integrity of the teaching research and service outreach missions must be maintained and engaging in caring, transparent and equitable practices is crucial in accordance with Cal's values, priorities, and guiding principles in the contingency planning document, as well as the culture of care initiative. Therefore, the recommended guidelines and considerations mostly center around unit level decision-making.
So for more on unit level decision-making, I'll move to the curriculum integrity and programmatic solutions subcommittee, which I chaired this subcommittee also met weekly from mid July until October 5th, to finish up our report. After the second regular meeting, the committee broke into four working groups first to explore process changes, models for change derived from the National Center for Academic Transformation or NCAT principles. Third compelling curriculum models, and fourth curricular redesign.
This initial split resulted in two things fairly quickly, a rubric for assessing compelling curriculum and changes to the work copy procedures, the full committee reconvened, and then divided again into two final working groups, one focused on providing tools for chairs and directors to assess their curricula and the other explored possibilities for NCAT redesigning Cal. The subcommittee assembled this report and its appendices after reconvening as a full cohort, and this is available on the budget reduction task force website.
So this subcommittee recommends that Cal creates a sustainable curricular self-study process during the academic year for all departments and programs, the self study will enable chairs and directors to identify programmatic areas of growth, stability, and decline, and to make database decisions about equitable allocation of resources. The four components of this self study will be first a compelling curriculum self-assessment second, a changed work copy procedure third, a program health dashboard that we're developing with university research and forth, an exploration of cross college course offerings that make use of design principles from NCAT.
So the recommendation essentially is that all programs and departments should be doing a focused assessment of their curriculum and they should be doing it this year. And this assessment or self study should be tied to specific evaluative criteria for program support and resources moving forward. Individual units should be given a manageable deadline for this assessment and should consult with relevant curricular standing committees in the process.
The self study will assist Cal and budget reduction, planning by identifying programmatic areas of growth, stability, and decline, it will empower units and programs themselves to make decisions about allocation of resources, it will establish an iterative sustainable data-driven self-assessment process as we anticipate a possible movement to a new budget model at the university. It will provide units with a set of guiding questions to ask about their curriculum, tied to Cal and unit values and evaluative criteria for program support and resources moving forward. It will provide units with the best data resources for evaluating program growth, health, and sustainability. And finally it will encourage units to deliver their most compelling and most effective curriculum while maximizing teaching capacity and efficiency. Back to you Sonja.
Thank you, Jackie and I am going to report then on the academic structures of committee that was chaired by Arthur Vesluice and these comments are taken from the report. I want to say first that the subcommittee was not looking for potential programs to eliminate. This is the very first sentence, which most of the time does not mean extensive cost savings. The subcommittee does recommend a closer look at duplication of programs and possible consolidation where this makes sense for all concerned. The report consists of a series of broader non-unit specific scenarios with pros and cons, as well as some proposed synergies that may have cost savings associated with them, such synergies, if pursued to be successful, would of course need the support of the units involved.
So there are several recommendations. The first that the subcommittee includes is a distribution model for some IAH courses, which would be offered in departments that choose to participate designated departmental courses could for instance, be marked with iCode at the registrar's level. And would then count as fulfillment for instance, of an IHB course during the academic year.
Another recommendation, or really is posed as a question, are there collaborative opportunities or synergies that might also provide budget savings. The clear path towards savings through curriculum is reduced instructional costs. Synergies between programs, centers, and departments that don't reduce instructional costs don't really provide much in the way of savings. But one particular idea for instance could be that certain graduate programs could choose to cross list commonly taught courses for instance, a research methods survey. So then instead of three sections at seven students each, then there could be run two sections that have 10 to 12 students thus saving the cost of one class and freeing up faculty time. Of course, this would involve graduate programs that have overlapping research method survey possibilities.
The next recommendation has to do with revenue based initiatives, better known as RBI the committee or the sub-committee recommends judicious support of existing RBI initiatives, particularly those that can provide revenue in one to three years. Possible RBIs include consulting labs and service centers for UX or DH functions, for instance, or advanced degrees or graduate certificates aimed at older working students. Clear definitions and expectations of RBIs should be articulated bearing in mind the need for university level approval.
The next recommendation entails online optimization and the subcommittee recommends more offerings in the area of high quality student centered online education. Such contributions can help to simplify structural curricular and academic staff collaborations, or resource sharing and are worth exploring as a long-term strategy to enhance, but importantly not diminish what Cal offers students and faculty now. And then some comments on broader reorganization that kept coming up in the conversations. And this involves the reorganizations that might take place regarding college organization at MSU more broadly. And this was of course beyond the purview of the subcommittee. But they felt they wanted to include it because that was always being talked about.
Subcommittee members noted positive collaborations are happening between departments or colleges and through units like CFRI or third parties like the MSU libraries or museums. And so let's continue such collaborations and recognize the importance of these. Of course, any proposals for reorganization would require attention at the provost level. And some also might not be desirable. That is the end of the high level summary of the subcommittee reports. Thank you, Jackie. And I wish to thank again, all of the faculty and staff who put so much time, care, and thought into these reports. And also the individual such committee chairs, Yenway Lynn, Arthur Vesluice sorry, I have too many names in my head and Jackie Rhodes are available to answer further questions or go into more detail in the question and answer section. Thank you.
Thank you both. I am going to toggle us into big old brady bunch view now I think so you can see us all for questions and discussion. We're going to start with the questions that you shared. Again, thank you via the Qualtrics survey, but we'll likely have time to take other questions. Please do use the Q&A function to pose questions as you have them. So I'd like to direct the first question to Sonja and Ken, when will the pathways to retirement options be rolled out, it's a multifaceted question. So first when will the pathways to retirement options be rolled out? How will Cal supplement university incentives? Can you talk a bit more about approaches and timelines in terms of flexibility, given that one size does not fit all in terms of pathways to retirement? That was a lot.
No, that's fine. And actually I'm going to defer to Chris to start out on this.
Thanks Sonja. I thought we had agreed to have me start out on it. So what I say to that, and I'm sure Ken and Sonja can chime in as we move forward on this is first of all, we don't have a timeline for the university rolling out a package at a university level. That is not, I can assure you for a lack of requesting such a timeline and actually really pushing for some definitive decision-making on that side of it. To be generous I would say there's a lot of things happening in academic human resources right now as they move into as obviously Terry Curry retires, and we have a new provost and they are really focusing a lot of attention on trying to address issues around COVID-19 and the impact on promotion and tenure and annual evaluations, which we did just receive some initial feedback on some of the ideas that they have in those regards so I'm really glad to receive that.
But from my perspective, we really need some help at the university level for them to either say, "Okay, we're going to move forward with something or not." I mean, if they say, they're not moving forward with something that would help us because we have a number of colleagues who are thinking about their pathway to retirement and we need to have some definitive responses for them. I have no information about what the university is going to do. I know that they were working some ideas through the general council and I'm hoping, and I'm pressing. And as recently as yesterday or this morning, asked for some more clarification on that. Having said that we do as a college and we have long done this really worked with our colleagues to try to identify a package and a process that will give them what they need to make the transition that they need to make toward retirement.
And for each faculty member that involves a different set of values and priorities and interests. And so, we are committed to doing that. Sonja has drafted a document that all we have to plug into it is whatever the university might add to it. And we really have been intentional about trying to be mindful of what the specific goals of an individual may be. I mean, so for some people they want to do a modified teaching set of duties, others want to focus on a different set of service duties, some have one year rollouts others have more than one year. We try to keep that to a minimum, but we will put in a framework and we had the framework basically worked out so that we can both provide a standard across the college, so that there's some basic structure for that.
But then that we have enough flexibility within the commitment that we have to equity, but some flexibility for individual needs and desires so that people can complete a research project that they're close to completing in order to make the next step or whatever it might be. And there's no way for me to give a definitive, okay, well, this is the package that everyone is going to have. We really work closely with the individual, their unit chair and our office, Sonja's been really helpful in managing a number of them moving through. And of course, I'm always ready to engage with that process so that we are responsive to the needs of the individual.
Thank you, Sonja?
Yeah. Thanks. Chris. I really enjoy working on retirement agreements because it's a time when I see that a person is working through what is it that they feel that they need to accomplish before they retire? And then how are they going to continue in that period afterwards to meet the goals that they have, they're formulating the goals that they have for retirement. How do they want to stay connected with their department, with the college, with the university, their students, what does that look like? And it can be a very anxious time, but it can also be a very rewarding time and a time of great opportunity and great possibility. I really appreciated the work of the retirement sub committee. My colleagues on that and particularly also we met with the culture of care taskforce retirement subcommittee.
And there was just so much careful thinking and consideration that had gone on in their work as well and we were able to bring all of that together and really take a good look at retirement and the college and what some positive next steps would be. And then a little bit longer horizon some other exciting initiatives I think that would come up that. I do want to get back to at what Chris was talking about, just to give, in the retirement subcommittee report, there are a couple of standard options that I wrote in that we often see in these of agreements. There is the opportunity for those who were at the university before January 1st of 1992, who are still eligible for a consultant ship year, if you are eligible for that, you have to make sure that you don't take a sabbatical and the five years prior to that, because it's considered to be that type of sabbatical.
And this means that you can work for full pay at 50%. And then, so what goes into the agreement for that last year is what are you going to be doing for that 50%? And that is there's a template that's part of the retirement subcommittee report. And we use that template it has specific information that HR needs to put in then the workload I'm going to spend this much on research, I'm going to spend this much on teaching, this much on service, what does that look like? Another option is for instance do you not want to work one semester, but then work the next semester. So one you'd be on leave without pay, the next you'd be working full time. So that's something that some people do, and the more standard is here's your last year you want full pay, but you want a different workload, so what might that look like?
I'm going to be working with chairs so we can figure out good ways to have these conversations. And also then usually feel free to go to your chair to start thinking about what might this look like? Maybe it's five years from now, maybe it's three years from now, maybe it's next spring. So, have those conversations. I'm also happy to meet with anyone if you want to come directly to me. And I will stop there because I know we have other questions, but that's what direction we're going in.
Thank you. That was really, really helpful. Any other follow-up questions or comments on that question? All right. If other folks, other attendees have other follow-up questions again, please use the Q&A. This next question is for Dean Long, the university-wide arts initiative was an exciting development and the Cal priority your presentation to President Stanley, which was shared with the college acknowledged the lack of critical infrastructure support for the arts. That's the context the question is two part, how did the budget reduction taskforce take into consideration the aspirational positioning of the arts and the lack of infrastructure support relative to our peer institutions?
Sorry, I'm getting a request, an urgent request from my dog to pet her. So I'm petting her in the form of hard [inaudible 00:38:39] on the on the shoulder. So thank you, Danielle. With respect to the art strategy and arts infrastructure the task force didn't have concrete recommendations regarding that, per se. I think there's some recommendations around that we're going to talk about I think in a minute around the healthy program initiative that will be salient here, but what I want to emphasize is that we have had some conversations now with the provost. The provost came to see us, and we had a great follow-up letter. Thank you, Danielle, and the CAC, and all of you who contributed to that to give her some more indication of the work that we're doing in the arts in the college.
And I think a sign of the success of that whole effort is that I got a call from Barb Krantz to begin to have some conversations with her about the infrastructure issues associated with the art. So I think, combining the presentation at president's council, the art strategy conversation and our pressing this very strongly with the provost. And I did also press that as a fundraising priority for us in the next campaign as Christine and I have definitely talked about that. And that has been a central part of what we're doing is leading now to that coveted meeting with Barb Krantz, which as many of you know, is the first step to actually having anything from an infrastructure and building standpoint happen.
So we're going to start that there. And I take that as a really strong indicator that the provost is following up on what she explicitly told me, which was that she is ready to make that infrastructure a priority for the next campaign. So we'll be keeping the push on that. So my hope there is that this will be a net positive from a budgetary standpoint because we'll do the fundraising that we need to do to bring the resources in for that. And that will help us because we have held back resources to make sure that we could have the search for the new chair of our history, and design, which is moving forward was approved by the provost and despite the chill and is moving forward. So I'm hopeful about all of those aspects. And I know you have a follow-up there Danielle, so I could respond to that.
I do. Thank you. So the followup question related is how will the metrics that guide budget decisions recognize equitable treatment for students and faculty in the arts?
Yeah, I appreciate that follow up in particular, because first of all, I think we're learning at a university level and at a college level some of the more specific needs that the arts have with respect to a variety of things around instruction and facilities. And some of that has been made clear by the pandemic and the disparate impact that it's having on our education in the arts when practical face-to-face experiences are so critical to that work. I am hopeful that we'll have a little bit more ability to do some of that in the spring so that is moving forward. With respect to the metrics as Jackie mentioned in her presentation, a core component of the process moving forward now is the development of a healthy program dashboard and what that exactly will mean and the indicators of a healthy program is exactly what we're beginning to work on now.
And that work will be in very close conversation with chairs, the program directors and faculty in units. And I think that emphasis on unit level planning is going to really shape that dashboard. I am very sensitive to the fact that a key to all of this work that's been done so far with the budget reduction task force will be to make sure that we have the data that we need, the information that we need, and also the articulation of those things that are not captured by data or observable in a very straightforward way, shaping what this healthy program dashboard will look like. And that means, I mean, we'll talk more about this in a minute, I think is it's a really a holistic approach. So it shouldn't just look at student credit hours or numbers of majors, although those things are going to be very important.
It also has to look at research productivity and research activity and outreach and engagement work. So the whole picture has to be part of that dashboard that we look at to hold ourselves accountable to which areas do we need some interventions in, because if they're not healthy and which areas can we continue to advance with more investment as we move forward.
Thank you. The next question I mean a pose the first chunk of it to associate Dean Fritzsche. And it's more of a statement for you to respond to then a direct question. Sensitivity to the lack of external funding opportunities in certain disciplines needs to be considered when weighing sabbatical requests, especially faculty sabbatical requests that are either full year or half year. The faculty handbook states 'appropriate applications for a full year of leave with reduced pay normally have precedence over shorter term leaves with full pay'. So given the lack of external funding opportunities from many and the low salaries of faculty in the college, this person is arguing. This should only be invoked as a criteria in the most severe of instances. Otherwise we're deservicing our college and our colleagues.
Thanks, Danielle. Yeah I'm happy to speak to this. And first of all, I think it's an excellent question. It's a very important question. Sabbaticals are some of the very important investments that we make in research and creative goals of the faculty and the college and certainly a one-year sabbatical provide salary savings that enables the department to more easily cover instructional costs, which is one of the reasons that's in the faculty handbook. Because that's always when a faculty member goes on leave, then there's the challenge of what about the courses. And following the same faculty handbook policy it also says that departments are required to cover the costs of sabbaticals. And so this then puts a chair and programs in a challenging position because they want to support the sabbatical, but also they need to cover the courses or the work that's being done in the program.
And particularly this becomes acute too, of course, when multiple faculty have overlapping sabbaticals in the department for one semester, and then also if that's happening in the same program at the same time. So this becomes, I think an issue that a program and a department and the chair need to work with each other. If this happens to think about staggering sabbaticals in such cases, so that courses can be covered more easily if we're dealing with one semester, full pay leave. There needs to be holistic conversations with everyone involved, of course, mho needs to be of the stakeholders about the best way to balance the instructional needs with the scholarly agendas.
And it is possible to apply for sabbatical earlier than most do, if you need to plan further ahead, because I know sometimes people feel that they can't apply for funding because they won't know whether they'll get to sabbatical until way far right before they actually take it, right? Because the July deadline is for the following spring, which is really not, very much of a lead time, but it's possible to apply at the deadline before in February or even conceivably if you wanted to apply it probably even six months before that in the July deadline the year before, I think we could consider that.
But really this is an issue of planning. It's not an issue of, we will prioritize the one-year over the semester, it's an issue of planning and salary savings and how can the courses be covered with the schedule that you're putting together. So I would say have a conversation with your chair more than a year in advance and tell them what you're thinking about so that this can all be balanced. I hope that helps.
Thank you. That was helpful. And I have a related statement again for Associate Dean Bill Hart-Davidson, and this has to do with the timing of sabbaticals. And this person wrote quote, I don't think it's appropriate to prioritize sabbatical requests based on whether or not the sabbatical will significantly and immediately drive the faculty members application for promotion. This assumes faculty pre-promotion are either more worthy or that full professors have other funding sources, which isn't always the case, this criteria and sets up associate professors to be the only faculty group that benefits, which is an equity issue.
Yeah. I appreciate that point. I don't know that we that we make those distinctions or that criteria in a deciding factor at the college [inaudible 00:48:54]. I haven't been part of a conversation where that's been a deciding factor at all actually. We do talk about timing and so I'd appreciate a chance to talk about how that would work, but we don't necessarily talk about it in relation to what the person's career milestone that they're approaching is. Instead we ask a slightly different question when we have a chance to talk with the faculty themselves as the best way to do it. And that is when is the moment when this time that the sabbatical is going to give you we'll do the most good, like how can it land in the place that helps you make the most progress on the goal that you have?
Now sometimes that goal is a promotion moment, but most often it's related to the outcomes of the project that they're working on, and what I've seen in my time in the Dean's office. And we've made some adjustments to some of our other programs to try to account for this too, is a semester leave that hits right at the right time for the right person, makes all the world a difference. And one that is at the wrong time does almost nothing. And so we want to try to get that right, because these only come around once every seven years at the soonest. And I do think that it's just a matter of planning, as Sonja's saying there has to be some preparatory work. And often that's about looking at the whole arc of a project.
I'm looking at Jackie, I'm thinking about, at what point in making a documentary, do you really need the intense time? And now that she's lived through one, she could probably tell us, "Oh yeah, this would have been the six months to do it." And that's what we're trying to find with everybody's project, whatever that might be. So that's really earnestly how we try to think about it. And I would just say I welcome that conversation, on our side of the office too, when you're talking with Sonja about that as a career matter, we would love to help you figure out what your research plan might look like, so that your sabbatical is an investment that you make that pays off in the biggest way.
And, that includes helping maybe locate some hard to otherwise pinpoint external resources. I have all kinds of conversations with folks who are grant seeking, but I think I've only ever had two that were in three enact years, maybe that were about folks planning a sabbatical. And I'll say this, both of them got the funding that they sought. One of them was a Fulbright. So I actually think that we can be creative in finding sources of funding if we have a long enough runway, and we'd love to help you do that.
Thank you all for the information and more over your collective, willingness to talk and to listen, to make yourselves available and to recognize that each person, whether they're staff or faculty, their situation is contextual. I am going to turn things back to Dean Long for a few more remarks.
Thank you, Danielle. Okay. So I want to give a little bit of a summary here of where we are with respect to the recommendations and give you a sense of the thinking that we are doing here in the Dean's office about them. So the first thing I will say is that, I really appreciate the summarizing of the recommendations that we've had today really very helpful in presenting them. And I see, three main areas of general agreement that we can move pretty directly on, based on the recommendations. One is the whole engagement around retirement, which as I mentioned, we need to move the university level on that. But that has definitely an area that will generate some cost savings over time and will allow us, I hope to also think about how our curriculum is developing over the next few years. Obviously retirements take time to unfold so this is again going to be a two, three-year time horizon for that.
The second is around staff restructuring, which I appreciated Jackie's articulation of the shared functional teams and shared business teams model. I was able to have a conversation with the staff this morning, a little bit to signal my intention of moving in that direction, according to the recommendation of the subcommittees. And they have been just unbelievably engaged and thoughtful and candid about both their concerns about this, and also about the possibilities that lie in this. Ken and Melissa have done a really good job of beginning to engage the central HR on this. And so that we're going to begin that process. I think that's pretty important recommendation to move forward on.
And then the third piece is the healthy program initiative, which we talked about, and this is from my perspective, a real key to the long-term thriving of the college within the context of the current moment, where we have to both make some budget reductions and also position ourselves for real success moving forward in an uncertain environment, but in an environment where we're beginning to understand a little bit more about where things might be going from a budgetary standpoint.
So I just want to spend a brief moment on the healthy programs initiative, recognizing that the healthy program initiative really is the infrastructure for continued dialogue and shared governance moving forward. So this is not going to be a situation where the Dean's office is going to lock itself in a room now, well, first of all, we can't be together in a virtual room and come up with you know, here are the three key metrics that every program has to be helping. No, this is going to be a process that we undertake now over the next few months in dialogue with unit leaders, with chairs, with directors. In fact, on Tuesday, we have a chairs and directors meeting where we'll be talking about some of the dimensions of this, what are the indicators of success? What are the peculiarities for certain kinds of disciplinary areas that we need to be mindful of?
And how are we providing ourselves with the data that we need to be responsible? Because we do see trends that we are going to have to address. There are these trends across the arts and humanities in terms of reduction of majors interested in some of our disciplines, we have a cultural challenge that we're doing, nationally with regard to that. But I'm also hopeful that the pandemic and the opportunity people have had to reflect on their lives and to slow down a little bit, may make it the case that people are turning toward some of the things that we have. We already see a lot of people turning toward the arts to make meaning out of their lives and towards some of them basic questions that our humanities units engage in as well.
But we need to be very mindful and intentional and strategic about how are we drawing interest to those programs. And we also need to recognize that as a research university, it is the research that we do that informs the compelling teaching that happens across the programs. And so we need to make sure that continues to be animating the work. So this healthy program dashboard has to really take a holistic approach to the indicators that are operating on a healthy program. And then we have to have real conversations with unit leaders about, okay, what are some of the interventions, if you're noticing some areas that are not healthy, and can we give people time to make those interventions learn if they're working and if they're not, then have the conversations about, "Okay, maybe this isn't working, we need to put our energy and effort in a different way."
So this component of the process is I think the critical next step for us to work together to develop and further articulate and then implement.
Thank you Dean Long. Sarah, am I correct? That we've been able to address the questions in the Q&A already?
Yep. That's correct.
Excellent. Well, perfect timing. Thank you again for your time, your voices, your ideas please reach out to your college advisory council representative or the subcommittee chairs. If you have further questions you'd address or again, use the web form on the BRTF landing page. There's also a web form on the Cal, CAC landing page. The recording of this meeting with complete transcripts will be posted and shared within a couple of days. And we look forward to seeing you all at our December 10 college meeting. Thank you for your time today.