Ms. Toni Crawford, Mr. T. O’Neal Douglas, Ms. Donna Harper Gibbs, Mr. Steven T. Halverson, Ms. Ann Hicks, Ms. Lindsay Hodges, Ms. Joan Wellhouse Newton, Mr. Kevin Twomey, Ms. Carol Thompson, Dr. Floyd Willis.
Mr. James Stallings, Mr. Wilfredo Gonzalez.
The University of North Florida’s Board of Trustees conference call meeting began with Ms. Karen Stone taking roll. Following the roll call, Chair Thompson asked for a motion to approve the minutes from the November 28 meeting. Trustee Douglas moved the acceptance of the minutes and Trustee Newton seconded the motion. The Board unanimously approved the minutes.
As their first item of business, Board members reviewed a proposed set of guidelines for the required 2001/2002 budget reductions. In introducing the item, President Hopkins discussed the mandated $4.1 million reduction that must be made to UNF’s current budget. She also talked about the need to have guidelines for use in determining where these cuts should be made. The President then asked Trustee Halverson, Chair of the Finance and Audit Committee, to discuss the proposed guidelines.
Trustee Halverson provided the members of the Board with a brief background on the State’s revenue shortfalls and the midyear budget revision that occurred during the Legislature’s most recent special session. He then spoke about how the proposed guidelines helped define the manner in which the President and the Board could most effectively interact in dealing with this situation, and how they provided the President with both the guidance and the flexibility she would need to make decisions. He also commented about a number of specific issues addressed by the guidelines, including the fact that the guidelines called for the University to preserve its instructional programs and to meet the instructional needs of its students. They also encouraged collaboration and open communication and allowed for decisions to be made in a timely manner. By adopting the guidelines, the Board would give the President the authority she needed to act, while allowing the Board to review the revised budget at its April meeting.
After his discussion on the guidelines, Trustee Halverson moved that the Board approve the guidelines as presented. Trustee Newton seconded the motion. In the discussion of the motion, Trustee Willis asked if approval of the guidelines was consistent with the authority vested in the Board. President Hopkins stated that it was. Trustee Twomey asked about the Board’s current authority to set tuition and fees for the University. Because this item was likely to be discussed later in the agenda, Chair Thompson asked if that question could be delayed until Ms. Owen’s Presentation. Upon completing their discussion, the Board voted to approve the guidelines.
As its next order of business the Board conducted a first review of a set of proposed criteria for use in approving new baccalaureate and master’s level programs. Trustee Hicks, Chair of the Educational Policy Committee, and Provost Kline led the discussion on this item.
The proposed criteria consisted of six items that provided information on program accountability, readiness, and access. By addressing these criteria, departments would be required to document the need for the program and how the program fit with the mission and priorities of the University. They would also need to demonstrate how the program would compare to other programs in the field and how it complied to State rules on articulation and mandatory credit hour length. Additionally, the criteria require the department to show that they have the needed faculty and fiscal resources to offer the program, and that they will routinely evaluate the program.
At its next meeting, the Educational Policy Committee will conduct a more detailed review of the criteria and of a format that faculty would use in bringing a proposal for a new degree program to the Board. At its February 21 meeting, the full Board will then have an opportunity to take final action on the criteria and the format for new program proposals. Trustee Hicks requested that members of the Board forward any suggestions that they had on the proposed criteria to Provost Kline prior to the meeting of the Educational Policy Committee.
In the discussion of the criteria, Ms. Cohen asked whether the new proposed programs would also need to go through a departmental, college, and University faculty review process. Provost Kline responded that these reviews would still be required. Trustee Halverson asked how a department would establish that it had the necessary faculty to deliver the program. Provost Kline stated that in developing the program proposal format he would provide a description of the evidence that a department would use under this criterion.
Ms. Owen began her update on statewide issues by discussing recent actions taken by the Florida Board of Education (FBOE). In December the FBOE moved to rescind seventy-five different Chancellor’s memoranda, devolving these powers to the universities. These included responsibilities in contracting and construction. The FBOE also determined that an additional seventeen memoranda would probably not be needed after this year of transition and in anticipation of the successful passage of legislation to more fully empower the university boards to govern and set policy for their universities. These included memoranda that covered areas related to employment and budgeting.
The FBOE also reviewed and approved the recommendations of the Florida School Code Rewrite Workgroup. This is the committee that was providing recommendations on changes to laws governing local school bards, community colleges and the State universities. Following FBOE approval, these recommendations were sent to legislative staff who will be working on drafting the needed legislation.
Following her update on the actions of the FBOE, Ms. Owen began a discussion of current authority for setting tuition and fees. In this discussion, she explained that while currently universities do not have this authority, there is support to give them increased flexibility in this area. This support comes from both the FBOE and the Governor’s Office. However, before this can be done, there are a number of issues related to financial aid, the Florida College Prepaid Program and the Bright Futures Scholarships that would need to be resolved. To help accomplish this, during the next year the FBOE is expected to appoint a work group similar to the School Code Rewrite Workgroup to work on various issues related to higher education funding.
In her report, Ms. Owen provided the members of the Board with a brief overview of the Governor’s proposed educational budget. In this budget the Governor proposed a 6. 19% increase over the budget that came out of the most recent Legislative special session. This represents a 3.9% increase compared to the budget that was approved at the beginning of this fiscal year. The increase in the proposed budget is to be funded largely by a proposed tuition increase. The budget includes a $10.4 million increase for performance funding.
In discussing this coming year’s budget, Ms. Owen reported that there was a reduction in the amount of money requested for Public Education Capital Outlay (PECO) projects. Under the revised PECO list UNF would receive only $5.11 million of the anticipated $9.7 million needed to complete its Library addition. It would also loose $1.2 million in remodeling funds.
In her closing remarks, Ms. Owen suggested that the Board might consider working on three major goals during this legislative session: (a) achieving devolution of authority; (b) ensuring that funds allocated to support increased enrollment come in the form of recurring dollars, as opposed to nonrecurring or one-time money; and (c) securing the full $9.7 million needed to complete the addition to the UNF Library.
In the discussion that followed Ms. Owen’s presentation, Trustee O’Neal encouraged her to keep in close contact with the members of the Board, providing them with daily updates on issues that need immediate action, Trustee Halverson thanked Ms. Owen for helping the Board understand how it could serve the needs of the University.
At the close of the meeting, Chair Thompson recapped the fact that as part of the devolution of authority there would be ongoing reviews regarding the Board’s ability to set tuition. However, action on this initiative was not likely to occur during this legislative session. She also wished the President well on her upcoming surgery.
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