University of North Florida
Board of Trustees

  • Workshop
November 19, 2004
University Center at 9:00 a.m.

Minutes

Trustees Present

Edythe Abdullah, Toni Crawford, Luther Coggin, O’Neal Douglas, Wilfredo Gonzalez, Steve Halverson, Ann Hicks, Wanyonyi Kendrick, Judith Solano, Bruce Taylor, Carol Thompson, Kevin Twomey

 

Trustees Absent

Jerry Watterson

Chair’s Remarks

Chair Thompson opened the meeting. Remarking on the busyness of the season, she expressed her appreciation for everyone’s attendance and thanked Dr. Taylor for hosting the workshop. She noted the length of the agenda, stating that the group was unlikely to cover all of the items. The topics originally planned for discussion had been usurped by recent events with the Board of Governors and would probably have to be covered during another workshop. She said that the preceding week she had participated in a conference call between board chairs and Governor Bush, primarily focusing on performance funding and accountability measures. The boards asked that tuition be devolved to local authority and she felt it was important to discuss these issues from a philosophical standpoint before proceeding further. She added that the more information trustees had, the better they could participate in affecting future legislative decisions.

President’s Remarks

President Delaney also thanked Dr. Taylor for hosting the workshop. He brought up recent media concerning the campus group PRIDE and Student Government president Jerry Watterson. He noted that almost everyone quoted in the initial article felt he or she had been quoted incorrectly or out of context. Mr. Watterson was quoted incorrectly as saying he was taking a stand against homosexuality and that someone had to do it. President Delaney said Mr. Watterson was adamant that he had not made the statement but had also said that his religion did not support homosexuality. He said that, as a result of the actions attributed to Mr. Watterson and the ensuing media coverage, as well as the extreme polarization of the issue, some students on campus were uncomfortable. A rally had been held on campus and university administration was in the process of creating a vehicle for discussions to move forward on the issue. He added that the Board could be drawn in as currently UNF policy did not include an anti-discrimination plank on sexual orientation.

 

Trustee Gonzalez said the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights had a report and offered to help or have someone from the Commission come if President Delaney thought it would be of assistance. President Delaney thanked him for his offer. He said Vice President Gonzalez was responsible for organizing the meetings. Regardless of the formal university policy, President Delaney said that the University would not tolerate any type of discrimination. Trustee Coggin said the email sent out to the UNF students, faculty, and staff was very well written. President Delaney thanked him for the compliment and stated he could not accept students feeling marginalized, threatened, or uncomfortable on campus. Vice Chair Halverson said he appreciated that administration had used the event as an opening for conversation in the spirit of academic freedom and social inquiry. He also thought the email well written and said that facilitating the ensuing discussions would be an appropriate role for a university to take in any community. President Delaney added that Sharon Ashton, director of Media Relations had a goal to try to get a positive story about UNF into the paper every day. He hoped that would help to assuage some of the negative light currently on the University due to the publicity over Mr. Watterson’s actions.

Naming Policy

Dr. Allaire went over the changes to the policy. He noted that there were only a few minor changes on the first page. The second page separated non-employed individuals from former employees. He outlined the qualifications for the two categories and said the policy had been vetted through various associations and groups on campus then put before Committee Chair Twomey, Vice Chair Halverson, and Chair Thompson for comments, which were also incorporated. Trustees agreed with the policy as written with the correction of one error noted by Trustee Solano. The policy will be placed on the agenda for the next regularly scheduled BOT meeting.

Board Phone-in Policy

Chair Thompson noted that the agreement limiting trustees’ ability to phone into regularly scheduled board meetings was a practice rather than a policy. The group had allowed phone-in on occasions, such as during the presidential search and at times during the summer months. She said she was open to further discussion on the topic.

 

Trustee Hicks said she felt it would be good to allow trustees who were unable to physically attend the meeting to listen in, but said she felt it was difficult to engage in debate under such circumstances. Trustee Crawford agreed. Trustee Taylor said he had been one of the trustees who wished to bring the issue up for discussion; he said he was very interested in keeping up to date and abreast of current discussions and would at least like to listen if possible. Trustee Douglas said he had driven back from North Carolina during the summer in order to attend meetings. He would also like to stay informed if on occasion he was unable to physically participate. He felt it would be better to have a policy of listening in but not participating unless specifically requested to do so. Trustee Twomey added that the trustee listening in should count toward quorum and be able to vote. Trustee Abdullah agreed. Trustee Twomey noted that trustees should not abuse the practice. Trustee Douglas and said he felt the group should have an understanding that habitual use of the practice by an individual would be addressed by the other members. Chair Thompson stated that she was sure that such action would not be necessary as board members were extraordinarily dedicated, even requesting that conference calls be changed to face-to-face meetings.

 

Trustee Coggin reminded trustees of the value of conference calls on occasion, stating that such opportunity should not be overlooked when it would be difficult for trustees to meet face-to-face. Trustee Gonzalez noted that he participated in a national conference call with the Small Business Association every Wednesday afternoon, which seemed to work well. He added that he did not think trustees should use cell phones to participate in conference calls. Chair Thompson agreed, with exceptions made if necessary due to travel. She also mentioned trying to be aware of background music if putting a conference call on hold. President Delaney clarified the new practice, stating that participation by conference call during a physical meeting would be discouraged except for listening in and would be addressed if it occurred too often.

Performance Funding and Accountability Measures

Ms. Janet Owen reported on this week’s meetings of the State Board of Education and the Board of Governors. A law was passed in 2001 based on an initiative by then Education Commissioner Jim Horne that required 10 percent of a university’s appropriated funds to be subject to its performance of certain measures approved by the legislature. The new Commissioner, John Winn, is supportive of incremental or incentive funding for extraordinary performance, as opposed to potentially withholding funds. For perspective, UNF’s “appropriated” E&G funds for fiscal year 2004-05 totaled $68 million, which would mean that under the present law, if implemented, $6.8 million could be “at risk.”

 

Commissioner Winn will submit a report for all of K 20 indicating that he embraces accountability, and proposes that money should be set aside to reward high performing institutions that meet the goals established. Trustee Abdullah said she was quite excited to hear of this as her institution had been put on a 15 percent hold five years ago, which had nearly destroyed the management system. Ms. Owen said the changes were to be put in place over a period of time and that she looked forward to the submission of the bill to the Legislature. Trustee Douglas noted that punitive measures almost always backfired though a reward system generally worked well. Ms. Owen went on to discuss the BOG measures. The BOG-approved goals are four: achievement, access, progression and readiness, and efficiency. Specific measures are listed under each of these goals. The best advice for the university boards is to look at the BOG measures and determine which fit with the institution’s mission.

 

Trustee Solano asked about the academic learning compacts. President Delaney said the compacts were a contract between each student and the university attended that outlined what the student would learn and the licensing he or she would obtain. He said there were a couple of problems with the compact idea. Students were not held accountable, though the universities were. Also, as each area of specialization was so different, it would be difficult to apply standards. Ms. Owen added that there are several potential operational and legal obstacles associated with ALCs. Chair Thompson said the topic was also discussed a great deal during the conference call between the board chairs and the Governor. She said the Governor had embraced the compact plan and was pushing it after hearing that the boards were balking at the idea. Chairs had responded that the universities had measures in place already. She said the conversation had not really progressed past that point.

 

Ms. Owen said she believed the Governor and the BOG did not want to hear, in opposition to ALCs, that universities do the same things in accreditation. She recommended assuring them that the boards were looking at each course, department, and beyond to make sure that accountability measures were in place. President Delaney observed that initially it seemed the idea was to move toward something like the FCAT for universities but that concept had proved unworkable due to the many different fields. Now it seemed as though another accreditation process was under consideration. He said that Governor Uhlfelder’s stance was that if universities opposed the academic learning compacts then they opposed accountability, which was not the case.

 

Vice Chair Halverson recommended examining the issue from a positive light. As this was clearly a concept that carried weight with the Governor, perhaps UNF could look for a feasible way to apply accountability measures along these lines. Trustee Hicks proposed something like comprehensive exams for each field.

 

Ms. Owen said she believed the BOG would now leave it up to the universities to determine how to implement accountability measures. Chair Thompson asked for the timeline. Ms. Owen replied that there was no specific timeline. She added that she believed there was a lot of support in the Board of Governors for the universities’ opinions that the learning compacts were unworkable.

 

Trustee Solano said the discussion about accountability had been from the top down. Faculty had not been engaged in any of the discussion to date and had been waiting to hear what the BOG was looking for and what would qualify as meeting its requirements. Chair Thompson recommended a discussion in conjunction with faculty about what accountability measures to instate and how to accomplish the measures. She said that the University could wait to have measures imposed or could help guide the new policies. Vice Chair Halverson agreed. He said there was an intellectual vacuum in accountability and trustees, faculty, and administration needed to define the playing field for themselves. He felt that UNF’s ideas could impact the rest of the SUS. Trustee Kendrick expressed her belief that the cultivation of successful degree candidates must begin in early education. She added that she felt the differences the Governor wished to see could not possibly occur quickly. Trustee Crawford concurred with Ms. Kendrick’s statements about the importance of early education.

 

Trustee Taylor said he agreed with Trustee Halverson, that the quality of graduates struck to the fundamental values and objectives the Board had for the University. He thought it was important to place a definition on what type of students UNF wished to graduate. He stated that all graduates should be able to read, write, and communicate effectively and suggested that exams could even contain additional components embedding the values of leadership and service. Trustee Solano said that some of the measures were incompatible. Increasing the quality of graduates would mean that ground was lost in terms of degree production and graduation rates. Trustee Taylor acknowledged that there would be constraints dictated, but he felt that should not deter the Board from pursuing what it believed was right for the University. Trustee Douglas felt it was important not to lose sight of the quality of education for which UNF had a reputation for the sake of numbers. Chair Thompson agreed, stating she would like to see UNF take a leadership role in addressing the topic.

 

President Delaney said the University could look at both quality of education and degree production, but would need the funds to do so. Trustee Crawford agreed, stating that it was not possible to have quality educational programs at any level while quibbling about cost. She hoped that the Governor would see that changes for the better must come with adequate funding. President Delaney noted that UNF had microscopes that were thirty years old as there was not sufficient money to replace them. Trustee Kendrick reiterated that it was not practical to have students who were products of substandard schools and expect them to do well at the university level. She said the Board needed to recommend funding for early learning as well. Chair Thompson gave an analogy used in health care. She said many later problems could have been prevented with proper care as children or even proper prenatal care. Even so, it was important that those in the health care field provide the best care possible to the patient at the time of a problem, while at the same time trying to address the causes of the issue. Ms. Owen recommended a letter from Chair Thompson to the BOG chair stating that UNF was very interested in this issue and was working to devise ways to implement standards. Chair Thompson said that those who spoke the loudest in opposition were getting the greatest attention. She said the Board should be proactive.

 

Vice President Giordano remarked that it was a genuine thrill to work with a professional such as Ms. Owen, stating that her interpersonal skills with legislators and executive skills were next to none. He said the committee chair made it clear that the issues of accountability and degree production had the attention of the committee, Legislature, and the Governor. Florida ranked forty-fifth in the U.S. for the number of persons aged 18 to 44 who participated in higher education. He said the BOG and the Governor would like to see Florida move to twenty-fifth over the next ten years. He said the BOG was reforming school at the elementary and high school level to enable more students to participate, as well as for the sake of expected growth in the state. He reported that one of the presidents attending the meeting had asked what priority would be assigned to recruiting high quality students and establishing high quality programs. The response from the chairperson was that the state assumed that the caliber of students and programs met its expectations so universities should not expect differential funding to reward quality. The questioner, from FIU, said that the institution had invested a tremendous amount of money in its international program. The committee replied that such may be the case, but reward would be offered for cost effectiveness and more degrees.

 

Dr. Giordano said the next steps were evaluative; the state had hired two consulting firms to work on an optimization model. The first firm would examine whether universities were at full capacity operationally and the second would draft strategies to help universities achieve the goals. The firms would meet with universities in the next couple of weeks regarding their initial reports, which categorized each institution as more or less effective in terms of how much money was spent in degrees. Dr. Giordano said that in both reports UNF had ranked in the top half of the universities. He said there had been some controversy, however, as the results did not give the factors utilized or the weight that was given to factors. He said that Dr. George Perkins was following up with the consulting firms to obtain that information.

 

The broad recommendations that came out for the system were to increase the number of research dollars to help subsidize the budgets, to sustain the number of doctorates the institutions were currently producing, to focus heavily on high demand areas such as teaching, nursing, and technology/engineering. He said the initial plan was to take funding away from underperforming institutions and give it to those that were at capacity. The current philosophy was to provide incentive funding. In order to qualify, universities must demonstrate that they were expanding capacity and providing degrees in a competitive manner.

 

Trustee Twomey said that one of the discussions last year had revolved around where to allocate money. He said it seemed to him that these recommendations framed that strategic choice and made it far more important. President Delaney noted that just because money was available did not mean the students would come. Ms. Owen offered nursing as an example. Nursing faculty were aging and retiring. The demand could not be met due to the capacity constraints. No one was available to teach. In education, there was plenty of capacity but many students were not interested in a degree in teaching. Trustee Twomey observed that perhaps Duval County should examine its pay scale for teachers.

 

Ms. Owen said the first recommendation to come out of the meeting was for the board chairs, the university presidents, the BOG, and the Governor to all sit down together to discuss the issues. She was very excited about that potential conversation. In examining what universities submitted for the Y Axis, the BOG said the institutions were heavy on excellence but not on degrees. She said the timeline for future developments was a workshop in February to educate the BOG followed by another in March with the universities to discuss their issues. Chair Thompson suggested that UNF hold a workshop prior to the February BOG workshop.

Legislative Update

Ms. Owen talked about the results of the recent revenue estimating conference. She said $1.3 billion more was available for this year, not including the hurricane impact. In PECO funds, there was an additional $169 million. Universities generally received about 30 percent of PECO dollars, though Ms. Owen said the BOG had no plans to allocate the funds in the immediate future.

 

Ms. Owen said the BOG had submitted its budget request in July, which included monies for enrollment growth, inflation adjustment, and funding for special initiatives. It did not include a recommendation for tuition increase. Ms. Owen added that this was not unusual; such recommendation might not come out until the Governor’s budget. One main concern with raising tuition was the effect on Florida Bright Futures and the prepaid college plan, so Ms. Owen said the universities would have to keep the cap on resident undergraduate tuition. President Delaney summarized the plan currently under consideration. An additional 7 percent would be added to the total amount, tuition and fees, with the university having the highest total, tuition and fees, setting the benchmark. That amount would establish the ceiling and universities would be allowed complete flexibility in fee structure. Resident graduate and all levels of out-of-state tuition would be up to each individual institution.

 

The BOG proposal of October included a requirement for the adoption of a block tuition and excess hours policy. Universities would have flexibility in deciding whether to charge the cost of 15 hours starting at 9, 10, 11, or 12 credit hours. Ms. Owen stated that the excess hours policy was softer than previous renditions, gradually instituting a surcharge of 25 percent once students had reached 110 percent of degree requirements. President Delaney observed that the block tuition requirement would result in more revenue, but said he was concerned that if students took the added course(s) it would be difficult to provide the additional classes necessary for the increased numbers of students.

 

President Delaney indicated that the BOG believed Amendment 11 established its authority in decision-making related to tuition and programs, but as funding was the purview of the Legislature, there was some question as to how much authority the BOT would ultimately have. Ms. Owen added that the Senate did not like the new funding formula, which was favorable for universities, so lobbying efforts for the formula would be helpful.

 

Trustee Twomey noted that each BOG meeting required a good deal more work than the BOT meetings and that it was a significantly greater time commitment. Ms. Owen assured trustees that the BOG did want to hear from the universities. Chair Thompson reiterated Ms. Owen’s comment.

Adjournment

A discussion ensued about the length and number of reappointments for BOT members. Dr. Serwatka said trustees could be reappointed twice, each time for five years, after the appointment originally establishing the Board upon the passage of Amendment 11. Chair Thompson recommended the Board take the process of selection and length of service for the chair position under consideration.

 

Dr. Serwatka observed that the University was in the process of developing a new strategic plan. He said that it would be helpful to marry any Board decisions about student learning compacts or goals for programs, etc. to the plan. Trustee Douglas agreed, saying it would be an opportunity for the Board to have controls in place. He felt it was important that trustees had a basis for their standards so that the multiple influences the Board was exposed to would not degenerate the standards it set. Trustee Taylor added that he was also a bit concerned that the Board was not giving the correct guidance. He felt it would be useful to have a dialogue to establish the BOT’s overarching educational policy, the standards the Board would set, and the metrics to be examined by the Board. He said the Board should consider its definition of the ideal UNF graduate. President Delaney suggested a workshop in December to discuss these topics and academic learning compacts in conjunction with the University’s strategic plan, as well as future partnerships, possibly including FCCJ.

 

Trustees agreed and requested that staff find a suitable date in December. Trustee Hicks asked Trustee Twomey if the workshop could be held at St. Joe Company. Trustee Twomey responded that he would be pleased to host the workshop. Chair Thompson adjourned the meeting.