Florida Atlantic University

POSTING DATE: May 17, 2010

Q. How much state funding will FAU receive in the 2010-2011 fiscal year?

A. The legislative session ended on April 30 with the passage of a $70.4 billion budget for fiscal year 2010-11 — an increase of nearly $4 billion in total spending over the current fiscal year. For FAU, the budget includes about $247.8 million for expenditures from all sources, including student tuition, state general revenue, Federal Stimulus dollars and the lottery. This represents an increase of about $2.8 million in discretionary funding over the current budget.

While this is the first positive budget news we have had in more than three years, it is important to note that approximately $12.8 million of the operating budget is in non-recurring funds, including the Federal Stimulus monies. When viewed against the reality that these temporary funds are eliminated with the 2010-11 budget, the outlook for the 2011-12 fiscal year is uncertain at best.

Q. Has the University considered closing the campuses when classes are not in session, such as during spring break? This would serve the dual purpose of saving money and boosting employee morale.

A. Everything is being considered, but at this time there are no plans to close the campuses when classes are not in session, such as during Spring Break and at certain times during the summer. For the last few years, the University has closed for a period in December (Winter Holiday) when classes are not in session. It has already been announced that we will be closed this year from December 24 through January 1.

The University is always interested in exploring alternatives that may save money and boost employee morale. Several years ago the Office of Human Resources established an Alternate Work Arrangement program. Currently they are looking into the feasibility of allowing staff in selected areas of the University to move to voluntary 9-month appointments with benefits.

Q. There is an obvious temptation to respond to the current budgetary squeeze by attempting to collect more FTE monies by growing enrollment, which would exacerbate the problems we are having with student retention. I would like to know what safeguards the administration is considering putting in place to ensure that we don’t waste Florida taxpayers’ money in this way.

A. For the past three years the number of freshman admissions to FAU has been frozen by the Board of Governors in response to repeated reductions in state appropriations. During this period the number of applications for admission has increased significantly, 17% in the last year alone. As a result, a large pool of students who meet FAU eligibility standards for admission have not been admitted because of these restrictions, which are no longer in place. Any growth would come from this pool of qualified individuals.

Q. Will it be possible for the University to give employees who have earned and need more income cost-of-living increases with the expectation that they will take on greater responsibilities?

A. The salaries of all our employees remain a top priority.  As you know, several years of budget reductions by the State of Florida have placed an unprecedented burden on all of our employees as we continue to maintain quality and access consistent with our mission. We are exploring ways to generate revenues (increased/sustainable enrollments, for example) and we are optimistic that the state’s economy will improve so that we will be able to use those funds to reward our employees. It absolutely is one of our most important priorities.

Q. Will introduction of the free-standing FAU medical school mean that resources will be drained from other areas of the University?

A. The medical program will operate on state dollars that were allocated for that purpose when the original agreement was developed. That funding is still in place and will provide the financial resources needed to operate the medical school.

Q. Will the library get the resources needed to build a proper medical library without reducing the collections that serve other areas?

A. Library staffing and materials/collections are being increased to serve the needs of the new medical degree program. These funds come from the medical school budget, not the existing FAU Libraries budget.

Q. Given that FTE production will be an important stream of revenue with tuition increases, why are we not offering more lower division courses on the Jupiter campus? If we are no longer bound by the articulation agreement with the (former) community colleges, it seems as if we should offer more lower division courses to gain back those FTEs  from the newly created four-year schools.

A. Board of Governors Regulation 8.009 limits university offerings on branch campuses to upper division and graduate programs. The Honors College is an exception because of its special status as a four-year college. Should this regulation be lifted or amended, we could explore the possibility of offering more lower division courses on the branch campuses.

Q. If a unit wants to change its administrative structure to make chairs 9-month faculty (with one- or two-month overloads) rather than 12-month out-of-unit, will it be able to do so?  In other words, can we relax the previously inflexible “in-unit/out-of-unit” dichotomy in order to cut costs and increase efficiency?

A. Following the devolution of the Florida Board of Regents (BOR), the FAU Board of Trustees (BOT) became the employer and the FAU Chapter of the United Faculty of Florida (UFF) was certified by the Florida Public Employees Relations Commission (PERC) as the bargaining agent for certain FAU employees in 2003. PERC certified certain FAU employees as “in-unit” at that time; chairs and others were not certified as “in-unit.” FAU cannot alter the decision of PERC at its own discretion.

The 12-month appointment of chairs/directors precedes the 2003 PERC decision. Chairs at FAU have been on 12-month appointments from the mid-1990s. As FAU grew in size and complexity, the need for chairpersons to be available all year long became evident. There may be a situation, however, in which it would be more efficient for a chairperson to be on a 9-month appointment. If you believe this to be your situation, please discuss it with your dean.

Q. What is the % of operational expenses and non-operational expenses? Can the non-operational expenses be reduced?

A. FAU follows the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) Financial Statements format in addition to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) for its official financial reporting of the institution. As such, “non-operating expenses” are those that are not considered part of the University’s normal expense generating activities. Examples include loss on capital assets (assets that are sold, surplused, removed, loss in which there is a net book value left — cost less accumulated depreciation) and interest on debt related to housing and traffic and parking. Non-operating expenses represent 2% of the total, and operating expenses are 98% of the total.

Q. Is there a plan to make the Jupiter campus into a biomedical campus? If so, when is that happening and how will this, along with budget cuts, affect current Jupiter staff members?

A. The partnerships that we have established with Scripps and Max Planck have laid the groundwork for the expansion of our biomedical footprint in Jupiter, meaning that we’ll see an increase in the number of graduate students on that campus. Also, certain other units of the University that are carrying out work in the biomedical area may be relocated there. However, any decision to change the focus of the campus’ mission to an exclusively biomedical one would have to be made by the president and the provost, in consultation with the Board of Trustees. No such decision has been made at this time.

Q. Will the Honors College be moved off the Jupiter campus because of budget constraints?

A. No decision has been made about moving the Honors College.

Q. Will a graduate level biomedical campus need its own library if the Honors College moves off the Jupiter campus?

A. The Honors College plans notwithstanding, library technology is moving rapidly out of the bricks and mortar era. Holdings are now widely available in electronic form, and this trend is certain to continue in the years ahead. With supplemental funding for electronic resources and staffing support, the existing library can handle the medical program’s library needs.

Note: A video of the last budget forum can be accessed at mms://streamwms.fau.edu/FAU/Open_Budget_Forum_May_3rd_2010.wmv

Archived questions and answers can be found here.

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