Thursday, October 15, 2009

Activities of the Faculty Senate at the start of 2009-10

PUBLICATION DATE: October 15 2009 AUTHOR: Bruce Balick

Let me introduce you to the activities of the Faculty Senate at the start of the academic year. Most of our work has its roots in the work of 14 different Faculty Councils, though there are several issues that require ongoing collaboration between the Senate Leadership and the Provost and Executive Vice President and her staff.

Let me first introduce the Leadership agenda. At the top of the list is the carryover item from last year, class-A legislation that changes the Faculty Code Chapter 24, Section

24-70 and 24-71. These changes are needed in order to bring the Code into harmony with changes in faculty salary policy imposed by events of last year. The tiger team consists of Phyllis Wise, Doug Wadden, Cheryl Cameron, and Carol Niccolls for the Administration and David Lovell, Marcia Killien, Lea Vaughn, Gerry Philipsen, and me for the Faculty Senate.

Another activity that is gathering momentum in all quarters is Activity Based Budgeting (ABB), in which the key activities of the University are directly supported by revenue. You’ll hear much more about this in the months ahead. As of yet we have no concrete plan to discuss. Instead we’re learning from the successes and problems at universities where ABB has been in use for a decade. My primary concern at this point is not whether ABB is a good idea, but rather that its core equation be devised to encourage both the quantity and quality of the instruction that we provide. This provides the tensions and the trade-offs that put the money of the university where its mouth is.

Connecting with School/College Faculty Councils that advise the deans is another high priority. The reason is simple: the huge size of the faculty corpus requires that we exploit built-in chains of communication between the Senate Leadership and the people that it represents.

Finally is the Faculty Senate restructuring. The size of the University and its Faculty has drifted upward over the past three decades or more. The old structure of representation provides for one senator per 15 faculty members. Instead of about 100 representatives, we now have close to 300. Decisions and debates simply become ponderous, and the quality of governance suffers under the weight. Over the past year we have been re-designing the structure of the Senate. The devils are pouring out of the details, so the going is slow. But we’re seeing light at the end of the tunnel. We hope for class-A legislation to reach the Senate in January 2010.

Our 14 councils are wading through many other issues of operations and governance that are summarized below. This list is a snapshot taken in October 2009 from an always-evolving set of issues. Among the highlights are cross-campus enrollment policy, software tools that enhance cross-campus collaborations and, possibly, remote class attendance. We need to diversify our retirement investment options. The influence of faculty on library policy and possible inclusion of librarians as full members of the Senate round out the list. Finally, we also expect to work closely (as always) with the Senate Committee on Planning and Budgeting on a myriad of topics that drive the university forward.


Senate Leadership (Balick, Harrington, Lovell, Killien, Fridley)

  1. Changes to faculty salary policy as required by the executive order and related circumstances.
  2. Close collaboration with teams working on ABB and 2Y2D panels, especially in areas that directly affect the instructional and research functions of the university.
  3. Enhanced collaboration with school/college faculty councils.
  4. Restructuring governance structures (Senate, SEC, Faculty Councils) for more efficient and effective governance.~

Academic Standards (John Schaufelberger)

  1. Handbook fixes to allow undergraduates to receive a degree that crosses college boundaries. At the present time multiple majors and degrees must lie within a single college. However, now that the College of the Environment (CoEnv) has formed and the Program on the Environment (PoE) has moved into it many students will earn degrees in both CoEnv and CA&S.
  2. Handbook updates on certain procedures related to undergraduate graduation requirements. This is a technical issue. Even so, class-B legislation may be required.
  3. Evaluation of how well cross-campus enrollment is working out in practice (joint with an FCTCP task force).

Benefits and Retirement (Bob Briedenthal)

  1. Diversification of options for retirement investments.
  2. Track and publish the performance of retirement investments.
  3. Inform the faculty -- especially incoming faculty -- of the relative long-term merits of index funds.
  4. Possibility of ‘opt-out’ structuring of UW retirement matches.

Educational Outreach (Leslie Breitner)

  1. Study the possible assimilation of FCEO with another faculty council.
  2. Study the opportunity and logistics of rapid expansion of distance learning (DL) for undergraduate and professional courses, especially for off-campus students (this connects to FCET, FCTCP, possibly FCIQ and FCAS).
  3. Merging the upcoming technology of DL with new ways of content delivery.
  4. Study the need for uniformity of DL software among campuses and colleges.

Educational Technology (David Masuda)

  1. Portfolios are becoming common for students to use for job applications, compiling materials for career building, and for showcasing intellectual and scholarship accomplishments. Catalyst is dropping their support of this service. FCET will explore commercial alternatives, especially those provided at no cost through web companies.
  2. Educational technologies: a better understanding of best practices and potential implications of such technologies such as enhanced pedagogical outcomes, cost reductions, and market reach.
  3. In concert with FCEO consideration of a campus-wide platform for remote classrooms and e-portfolios; development of proper usage guidelines and predictions of unintended negative consequences.
  4. Academic integrity and plagiarism tools. Reassessment where we see anti-plagiarism tools going over the next several years.
  5. Data retention technologies - closure to this long-discussed initiative at the next FCET meeting.
  6. Cloud Computing – Faculty issues and related security issues.

Faculty Affairs (Rich Christie)

  1. Senate Restructuring, including issues of ex-officio representation on SEC and Senate.
  2. Conciliation Privacy Issues. Conciliation policy in the Code promises a level of confidentiality that may not be enforceable in court. May need code changes.
  3. Faculty assignment of their own textbooks: this may be handed off to FCFA by FCIQ.
  4. Tenure & Promotion policy revisions.

Instructional Quality (Mary Pat Wenderoth)

  1. Activity Based Budgeting Program: Is there a way to balance quantitative measures with academic rigor. Is there a way for FCIQ to create a measure of student learning gains, depth of understanding attained, academic challenge and engagement ( beyond the CEI of the course evaluations).
  2. Ten Year review process: Review their assessment of instructional quality.
  3. New Teaching and Learning Center: How will the new center help to maintain instructional quality? Does it have the resources required and the vision required to support and promote instructional excellence.

Research (Jerry Miller)

  1. Ongoing reviews of classified, propriety and restricted research.
  2. Means to encourage more active interdisciplinary research (Jerry and Mark Haselkorn share). One of the unresolved issues is how faculty in interdisciplinary research can be fairly and accurately evaluated for T&P (see also FCWA). Possible issues of seed support in a new UW budgeting model.
  3. Dissemination of research results, including influence of open access publishing and future plans of the library (see also FCUL).

Student Affairs (Brian Fabien)

  1. Campus safety. Including safety issues at fraternities and sororities.
  2. Faculty Appeals Board (FAB). The FCSA will establish membership guidelines for the FAB.
  3. Athletics. Continued monitoring of the academic progress of students in athletic programs.

Tri-campus Policy (Steve Collins)

  1. Continuing study of tri-campus organizations, especially coordination and representation. Engage more closely with administration (e.g., rebuild FCTCP as a joint faculty-administration advisory group).
  2. Evaluate the effectiveness and implementation issues associated with the new cross-campus enrollment policy, with special emphasis on the barriers to delivering top instruction to cross-campus students. (May look at potential impacts of new technologies for distance learning.)
  3. Review of how Phase-II proposals for new majors and curricular offerings are being handled. Is there a need for a uniform process?

University Facilities and Services (Bill Rorabaugh)

  1. President's Climate Action Plan. On Sept 15 the President has submitted a preliminary plan for reducing GHGs and for engaging the academic curriculum and research communities at UW. FCUFS will review and comment on the plan in behalf of the Faculty Senate. Related issues are utility monitoring at each campus building and various proposed changes to transportation and parking policies.
  2. New Construction Projects. Renovations at the HUB and Hall Health and the design of new dormitories will come to FCUFS for faculty comment and approval. These projects are funded by student fees.
  3. Plans for a SR520 interchange and associated impacts on land use, commuting, and parking.

University Libraries (Isabelle Bichindaritz)

  1. Faculty involvement in the Libraries’ administrative policy decision making -- for example, early faculty participation in decisions about branch library closures and consolidation.
  2. Representation of library staff on the Senate and the SEC (as per recent letter of Charles Wilkinson).
  3. Increasing faculty awareness of and participation in publication of research and scholarship papers through Open Access (see also FCR).
  4. Representation of all Faculty Council chairs on SEC and Senate.

Women in Academia (Sandra Silberstein)

  1. Complete the analysis and publication of the Catalyst Survey on women in UW academia.
  2. To find and support students to help with analysis of ongoing data collection projects in order to develop better policies and to monitor the impact on extant practices.
  3. Study policies and practices for tenure & promotion in the academic units (overlaps somewhat with FCR).
  4. Follow up research on anomalies uncovered in surveys.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Activity-Based Budgeting @ UW: An Early Glimpse

Activity-Based Budgeting @ UW: An Early Glimpse

PUBLICATION DATE: October 14 2009 with addenda; AUTHOR: Bruce Balick, Chair of the Faculty Senate

What is ABB?: Activity-Based Budgeting (ABB) is a clearly defined process for directing funds used for instruction to the departments and programs who deliver instruction to students. At the core of the ABB model is a simple and predictable quantitative prescription (formula) for the allocation of most of these funds from the Provost to the colleges and schools of instruction. Other instructional funds that lie outside of the ABB model are used for a variety of necessary services, such as libraries and police, and for supporting strategic investments and incentives that enhance and complement our mission, as determined by the Administration and the Regents.

Following the money: The sources UW's instructional revenue (sometimes "funds") consist of tuition, state appropriations, and in much smaller measures, indirect cost return from grants, and endowment income. These revenues collect in the Provost's office each year and are then distributed to deans and other support units. The Senate Committee on Planning and Budgeting advises the Provost on the best ways in which to use revenue for academic purposes. The bulk of the funds go into colleges where deans and department heads redirect it into the salaries of faculty, lecturers, and support staff who enable instruction. Deans establish their funding priorities in consultation with their College Councils consisting of elected faculty members. (ABB models are not generally used for this more granular process, and most faculty will not be aware that ABB is part of the UW funding scheme.)

Formulating high-level budgets: A “budget system” describes the entire method by which instructional funds are allocated. For example, “incremental change” is a budget system where allocation decisions are made at the margins of the previous budget. A budget model such as ABB is narrower. It describes how some fraction of the instructional funds are allocated according to some sort of prescription. (ABB is just one of many types of possible budget models.)

How ABB works -- the short version: The ABB funding flow is largely based on recent instructional activities. The ABB prescription normally allocates funds on the basis of activity metrics, such as enrollment, credit hours of instruction, and college majors averaged over the most recent 2-3 years. ABB models occasionally undergo periodic minor revisions to correct for unforeseen stresses and strains produced by the mechanistic flow of funds. The modified formula is often phased in gradually to avert disruption.

What's coming to UW?: At the time of this writing (October 2009) a possible ABB model for UW is in early development and a long way from adoption. As presently envisaged for UW, the ABB model applies only to the funding of instruction on the Seattle campus. The initial focus is on undergraduate instruction, though its extension to graduate and professional programs is not unlikely before the design is complete.

The boundaries of ABB: All funds used for athletics, medical services, professional and graduate programs, and all activities at UWT and UWB lie within other dedicated, “fenced” budgets that are managed separately from undergraduate instruction at Seattle. Additionally, ABB does not directly affect the allocation of faculty positions. These -- including open positions -- are expected to remain within colleges just as they do at present, though ABB may well impact the flow of central funds that support them. Also, ICR will continue to reside in the same colleges or schools where the funds are generated.

Note that ABB is not a way of rewarding good performance since such performance measures have proven elusive. Most colleges that adopted performance-based models have since dropped them.

ABB elsewhere: There are many variations of ABB models in use at other large universities. In most implementations, ABB is used solely to control between half and two-thirds of the flow of funds from the central administration to colleges and schools for the direct support of instruction within these units. Consider the example of U Michigan. Their ABB formula for undergraduate support is based on student credit hours taught (50%) and student enrollment (50%) in a college. Different formulas are used for graduate programs.

However, Michigan Rn't us. Their instructional revenue for undergraduates is 66% tuition, 22% state funds, and 12% ICR and other small sources. (At UW tuition and state support are about equal.) Tuition rates at UM are set by the Regents, not the Legislature. In-state tuition in the first two years is $11,600 per annum, which rises by 13% to $13,100 in the third year. Our rates tuition are far lower and don't automatically increase as a student approaches graduation. Their balance of in-state and out-of-state students is 40%-60% -- vastly different than ours: 25%-75%. Also, the tuition rate changes from one major to another (according to the cost of instructional delivery for such activities and labs and studios). Departments at UM are charged directly for all use of classrooms, teaching labs, office space and utilities.

ABB has become popular among Michigan administrators and at several peer institutions. We are told that ABB has been a great leap forward over earlier budgeting models for its transparency and predictability. Details of their ABB model and its implementation issues along with a ten-year review are online at

UW's present funding system -- incremental change: Most people agree that the present system--incremental budgeting-- is a leftover from simpler days when instructional allocations remained essentially the same from year to year with a few changes here and there as budgets rose and fell, or as critical opportunities arose on an ad hoc basis.

Why change it?: Incremental budgeting has slowly evolved into a ponderous, opaque process which assures continuity (i.e., makes programmatic change difficult.) What we do next year is based largely on whatever we've been doing. As time mounts we lose sight of the rationale of the entire budget. It is impossible to say for sure whether our funds are being used wisely or purposefully. The Legislature has been frustrated by our inability to account for the impact of their funds. The day may come when students and their parents also ask for more transparent accountability. The present system won't readily provide it.

In other words, the old model is not ideal despite its apparent successful outcomes over the years. At this point ABB is assumed to be the best of several alternative revenue allocation schemes under consideration. One plus of ABB is that it helps to inform budget decisions by making clear how much bang is produced for the buck based on hard data. ABB shines the light on inefficient or ineffective instructional processes and provides deans and departments with predictable incentives to optimize their units' performance in the long term. Ineffective processes are those whose activity metrics are low (e.g. relatively low enrollment per cost, few student credit hours, etc.. Note that if these metrics are low this simply raises a flag, the result of which might be additional investment or a recognition that some courses or majors are simply require more funding per student than others.)

ABB and budget cuts: ABB is not a tool designed to deal with abrupt budget cuts. However, consideration of ABB at UW is an indirect result of revenue turbulence of the 2009-11 biennium as UW found itself unable to understand clearly how to best exploit its use of available instructional funds. This triggered the realization that incremental budget procedures were not a solid planning basis for the future.

Designing an ABB model for UW: The process of designing an ABB program is still in its infancy at UW. ABB programs elsewhere are now being examined for their applicability, pros, cons, and impacts if implemented here. The discussion is shared among a faculty-administration task force/steering committee and the Senate Committee on Planning & Budgeting (SCPB: David Lovell, Chair). In the next few months smaller working groups will be established to look more carefully at implementation plans and impacts. Among many other things, a method of detecting abuse of the model (e.g., large but very easy courses, grade inflation), the unplanned and unproductive competition among units, and the management of inter-college collaborations and degree programs will need to be considered. Also, planning for a smooth transition is of paramount importance.

As it is slowly phased in, ABB will bring gradual change to our academic program, and hopefully the benefits will dominate. Even so, there may be risks and unintended consequences. The potential academic impacts of ABB must be assessed once the nuts and bolts of he ABB model are being assembled. How will the system be monitored and regulated? Will college-to-college salary inequities grow? Will ABB abet grade inflation, dumbing the major, discourage interdisciplinary collaborations and co-taught courses, and general balkanization of the university? Will colleges without undergraduate programs start them simply to attain funding? We are told that these impacts have not materialized elsewhere. We also need to assure that there are continued pressures to maintain academic quality even though these lie outside of the ABB formula.

Role of the Senate: The Faculty Senate will play a vigilant role throughout the process. Among its functions may be to assure quality faculty representation on planning groups, to participate in setting high-level goals and requirements, to conduct a thorough critical review as the program's design converges, and to develop a plan to monitor the post-implemenetation impacts of ABB by the Administration. It is thinkable that changes to the code may be needed; if so we will be as proactive as possible.

Where can you find updates?: Official updates will appear periodically at the web page of the Office of Planning and Budgeting, The first report of the ABB Working Group (October 2009) is found at: . I will also write occasional status reports here in the Senate Char's blog.


10/30 : Interesting Addendum from the AAUP Hotline by JW Harrington

Good question about our basic budget. The University's budget refers to the "core education budget" of $717M that excludes such things as the two hospitals, externally funded research, intercollegiate athletics, and housing. Adding all those activities yields a total annual budget of $3.1B. For FY 2010, state general fund revenues are planned to be $320.6M of that $717.7M -- a decline of 20% from the previous fiscal year. Tuition and fees are budgeted at $330.6M, an increase of 12%, and the first time that tuition/fees account for more than the state general fund. "Designated operating funds" and $11M from the university's cash reserves provide the rest of the $717.7M [for this year but not beyond -- BB] -- that total is 5% less than the "core education budget" of the previous year.


11/3: Addendum on ABB experienes at Indiana, Minnesota, and Oregon

Interviews with high-level budgetary officials from Indiana, Oregon, and Minnesota -- each of them using some variant of ABB for disbursing instructional funds -- show similar outcomes to the experiences at U Michigan. Most of their ABB program shave ten or more years of experience. All are based on a formula consisting of student credit hours and college enrollment numbers. Each of the budget officers emphasize that the quality of instruction has not suffered, and that the annual budget discussions with deans focus more than ever on strategic issues. There is no evidence that regular faculty are directly affected by the ABB models,, and that department chairs are not under pressure to increase course enrollments at any cost. Several new and popular courses have been introduced in departments as an indirect consequence of ABB.

11/3: Addendum on "2y2d", ABB, and their relationship

The Provost has initiated two major planning efforts: Two Years to Two Decades (2y2d) and Activity Based Budgeting ("ABB"). Provost Wise issued this elucidation and clarification: "The 2y2d initiative is to identify those priorities and the revenue streams to fund them, and this is what we are calling a sustainable academic business plan. Accepting that we can no longer look to the state to pay for basic costs of either instruction or research/scholarship, we need to find ways to fill that gap with tuition, indirect costs, gifts, technology transfer, and other sources of revenue, and also by cutting costs. Cutting costs will involve both efficiencies and shifts in the funding of activities. How will we set those priorities? How can we increase revenues and cut costs? What will this mean for how we conduct our business in the future? Further, how do we do all of this and remain, or even further our position as a preeminent research university 20 years hence? These are 2y2d questions…. As a budgeting model, ABB does not and should not address University priorities. Those are set elsewhere, and an effective budget model facilitates their implementation." --memo from Provost Phyllis Wise 3 November 2009.

11/13: Addendum: The UW Office of Planning & Budgeting has established and will update a web page for local ABB documents:

11/13: Addendum on ABB at other comparable universities: