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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    “Budget needs faculty input, Shelton says”

    President Robert Shelton is looking to rework the way budget decisions are made by including more faculty input, he said at a Faculty Senate meeting yesterday.

    Antonio Estrada, a professor of Mexican American studies, said the faculty needs to be a part of helping the UA achieve its goals as outlined in the five-year strategic plan for the university.

    Estrada said the main goals of that plan are to build a world-class academic community, improve student climate and success, expand the UA’s role as a land-grant institution and build a larger financial foundation.

    The overarching objective is to make the UA one of the top 10 public universities in the country, Estrada said.

    Most changes to that end involve tough decisions about how university money is spent.

    “”We are working hard…to put together a new approach to the budgeting process,”” Shelton said.

    Another thing pressuring faculty is a four-year stabilization plan calling for each college to reduce its overall budget by 1 percent every year.

    In this aspect, too, faculty members have been feeling the pinch of year-by-year gradual reduction in their funds.

    “”I’ve been hearing that we’d be better off in terms of budget just to take one big cut,”” said Robert Mitchell, an interim associate dean in the library.

    Shelton said a one-time cut would amount to 4 percent, which he thinks is so large that it may not be the most viable option.

    Individual colleges should bear the most responsibility for those decisions because they are much more familiar with their specific needs, Shelton said.

    But Dr. Marlys Witte, a professor of surgery, said she was worried that certain colleges will make those cuts without first consulting faculty.

    Douglas Jones, a librarian in the Science and Engineering Library, said he is encouraged by Shelton’s stance on the strategic plan.

    Jones said he had seen administrations accommodate too many people’s concerns in the past and end up with “”vanilla”” strategic plans that didn’t make progress toward their goals.

    Also at last night’s meeting, Vice Provost Juan Garcia presented the results of a Harvard University-based survey gauging satisfaction among junior faculty – that is, full-time faculty who are tenure-eligible and were hired before summer 2005.

    According to the survey, a majority of these professors were happy with the teaching environment at the UA and most said they would accept the job all over again if they had to.

    But while most survey respondents said they were pleased with the research focus at the university, they felt strained for the funding and time to do their research.

    Many said they have had a hard time adjusting to balancing their outside life with their work, and they would also like some financial assistance with housing.

    The Faculty Senate also unanimously approved certification for a new biostatistics doctoral program separate from epidemiology and statistics.

    “”Statistics tends to be more focused on depth of theory. Biostatistics tends to be more applied,”” said James Ranger-Moore, an associate professor in the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health.

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