We want to update you about the Program Prioritization workshop that was held on October 13. Provost Edmund shared information about the workshop, as well as the presentation by author Robert Dickeson, in her “Provost Post” newsletter and is available on her website. The full set of documents from the workshop is attached to this message.
There were many participants in the workshop and opinions vary about the wisdom of this particular process as well as whether there is a clear timeline for UM to begin the process and what its relationship is to the strategic planning process currently underway. It does seem clear to us that the UM campus will be engaged in some type of prioritization exercise in the coming months—the metrics and process are still to be determined (or at least revealed) and we will share information with you as quickly as we learn it, verify it, and are able to provide what we hope to be useful analysis for your consideration. In addition, it is our intention to work collaboratively with Faculty Senate to be involved in the decision-making process.
As a result of this workshop, the UFA intensified a series of conversations regarding the importance of the CBA in program prioritization. We have communicated to Commissioner Christian, President Engstrom, and Provost Edmunds that both the tradition of shared governance and our collective bargaining agreement CBA provide Faculty Senate with a principal role in governing academic affairs, including “issues that pertain to the academic affairs of the University and matters of critical concern about the welfare and Administration of the University (7.100.5). Furthermore, our CBA outlines clear procedures for retrenchment, curtailment and discontinuance (section 18.500). Hence, use of Program Prioritization to discontinue or retrench academic programs would be covered by the CBA. We proposed to them that our UFA-Administration contract maintenance committee might be the appropriate venue to reconcile how PPP and the academic governance rights of faculty would function in practical terms. It would be best to include Faculty Senate representatives in those discussions.
We also want to inform you that important discussions are currently underway on the University Budget Committee, which has a charge including making recommendations regarding “budget changes, reallocations, or new initiatives.” As a result of past bargaining, the UFA has secured a seat on this committee and is currently participating and advocating for our members in this venue. Again, we will share information with you from these meetings so that we are all more knowledgeable about the current budget climate and challenges.
Finally, we want inform UFA members that we are fully aware that the campus has a 2017 fiscal year deficit that it is struggling to adjust for and respond to (the most commonly referenced number is 1.8 million dollars). As some members are already cognizant because they work in affected units, cuts in NTT faculty and academic affairs staff are currently underway. We are now seeking clarification not only of the amount but the metrics/logic being employed by the administration to manage this deficit, which will hopefully include some additional revenue that will at least mitigate the cuts. We need to learn this so that we cannot only communicate difficult and painful news to you as necessary, so at least you understand what is happening, but also so that we might better be able to add our input into the process.