CLAS Assembly Minutes
April 26, 2007
Place: Reitz Union Auditorium
The CLAS College Assembly meeting was called to order at 11:30am by John H. Moore, Chair of the CLAS College Assembly. Jed Keesling, Parliamentarian, was also present.
John Leavey (Department of English) presented an overview of the report of the CLAS Faculty Committee to Investigate the History and Causes of the College Financial Situation (CCHC) - Pradeep Kumar, Chair. The report is available at:
In the question period, Kirk Ludwig (Department of Philosophy) and Scott Nygren (English Department) addressed the following general point: While it is the case that all the Colleges at UF have been underfunded in recent years, it is also undeniable that the CLAS was the most underfunded. More precisely, other UF colleges, which rely on the same budget pool as CLAS, saw allocations increase by about 66% between 1995 and 2005. In contrast, CLAS had a below average increase of 59% during that same period. Kirk Ludwig specifically pointed out the following comment by UF Provost Janie Fouke in the article published in The Gainesville Sun, April 26, 2007:
“The committee also charges that other colleges have run up deficits in years past. Fouke, who said she was still familiarizing herself with the report, said she didn't have any evidence the charge was accurate. ‘I've not seen any data that, aside from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, other colleges have gone over budget in an unplanned way over multiple years,’ she said.”
(See “Report: Debt reduction spells steep CLAS losses” by Jack Stripling, The Gainesville Sun, April 26, 2007)
Alan Dorsey (Department of Physics) presented an overview of the report of the CLAS Faculty Finance Committee - Alan Dorsey, Chair. The report entitled “The Fiscal Deficit in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences: Sources and Solutions,” is available on the committee’s web page:
The report describes the effects of the present financial situation on the research and teaching mission of the College. The main finding is that “the Three-Year Plan will harm the operation of the University’s largest teaching unit and undermine the long-term financial health of the College. Both of these outcomes will impair the capacity of UF to meet the ambitious goals sketched out by President Machen in his work plan for the University of Florida (Machen 2007).”
During the question period, additional observations and questions were made all revolving around the basic issue: namely, where does the deficit really come from? Jane Brockmann observed that CLAS units only spent the funds that were allocated and authorized by UF, and not more, hence, it is unclear why CLAS should be held responsible for the deficit.
Pradeep Kumar (Department of Physics) asked two questions: (1) Are we going to solve the deficit problem? (His suggested answer was ‘no’.) (2) If we continue with the 3 or 5 year plan, are we willing to accept their consequences?
Alan Dorsey’s answer to (1) was ‘yes’, in 3-5 years the deficit will be wiped out.
Joe Glover addressed the basic question of the origins of the budget deficit. It is not a mystery, the simple answer is that CLAS spent more money than it should have. However, it is of no interest to ask now ‘who is responsible for this?’ Essentially, there are three ways to solve the budget crisis: (i) downsizing, reducing the number of faculty, staff and graduate teaching assistants (not acceptable as an across-the-board solution), (ii) ‘natural’ attrition due to retirement, and using the freed funds in targeted areas, (iii) allocating more money to CLAS (not an option, a more nuanced approach is needed).
Report of the CLAS Task Force on Shared Governance – Jed Keesling, Chair. The final draft of the proposed CLAS Constitution and proposed amendments to the CLAS Constitution are available at the following web page:
The discussion mainly revolved around the definition of ‘faculty’ in the new CLAS Constitution. Joe Glover and others agreed that ‘faculty’ comprises all hired at the level of a lecturer and at higher academic ranks. In conclusion, Richard Yost (Chemistry Department) encouraged all to read and vote in support of the proposed CLAS Constitution.
Dean Joe Glover’s Remarks. Dean Joe Glover thanked the faculty and staff for their help during his tenure as the interim Dean, as well as the committees for their work. His comments mainly regarded the search for the new Dean of CLAS. The discussion with the faculty that followed concerned this point, and again the issue of the budget deficit and future CLAS allocations were raised. David Pharies (RLL) highlighted a clear discrepancy between CLAS allocations and the goal to move UF into the top 10 public universities in U.S., and concerns regarding the transparency in allocations given the difficulty in collecting the relevant financial data experienced by the CCHC (see in 1 above) mentioned by John Leavey. Carol Murphy (RLL) suggested that if CLAS allocations will not change in the future, they should be challenged.
John H. Moore delivered some closing remarks, in which he observed that most of the faculty did not want to challenge the administration’s decisions legally or by means of demonstrations, for instance, when the CLAS budget crisis emerged about a year ago. Instead, the faculty chose to interact with the UF administration as colleagues and partners in the operation of the university. It is to be seen whether this strategy, “an appeal to reason,” will work. “If the administration is truly willing to operate within the structures we have established, consult with faculty in establishing priorities for the College and University--making dramatic and consequential decisions--there will be no need for the faculty to consider any other kinds of actions.”
The whole text of John H. Moore’s closing remarks is available on the following web page:
The CLAS Assembly Meeting was adjourned by John H. Moore.
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