University of North Florida
Board of Trustees
Finance and Audit Committee
September 5, 2003
University Center at 12:00 Noon
Committee Members Present
O’Neal Douglas, Steve Halverson, Wanyonyi Kendrick, Judy Solano, Kevin Twomey
Committee Members Absent
Other Trustees Present
Ann Hicks, Jerry Watterson
Call to Order/Approval of Minutes
Chair Twomey asked for a moment of silence in remembrance of Trustee Bowen. He welcomed Dr. Solano to the committee. Upon request for a motion to accept the previous minutes, Trustee Douglas so motioned and the motion was seconded by Trustee Halverson and approved unanimously.
University Fees Policies
Janet Owen spoke to the fee policies before the committees. She said that all of the policies had been drafted to coordinate when fees would come before the Board of Trustees and to institute a consistent schedule and procedures. Florida statutes clearly delegated authority for the establishment of tuition and fees to the Board. She distributed a chart outlining proposed dates for bringing specific fees before the Board.
The Activity and Service, Health, and Athletic fees were set apart in statute to allow staff to make recommendations regarding increases to the fees. However, she said, these fees were capped and UNF, along with eight other institutions, had already exceeded that cap. Each year, the President would bring changes to these fees to the Board at the first meeting of the year in January or February.
Parking and Child Development fees policies were presented together as both required recommendations from committees: the parking committee and the Board of Directors for the Child Development Center. Changes would then be recommended to the President who would bring those changes before the Board the first meeting of every year in January or February.
Ms. Owen said that originally the general appropriations act would have been completed during regular session, moved through the veto process, then changes would be finalized in the summer for implementation in fall. Currently, some across the board increases were mandated by the State. For other increases, the President would consult with student government leadership and would recommend changes to the Board of Trustees at their June meeting.
With regard to housing fees, Ms. Owen stated that the intent was to decide fees a year in advance so that they could be published in a timely manner. Changes to housing fees would be brought before the Trustees in June of each year for decisions on fees for fall of the following year.
The miscellaneous fees included a number of various fees passed on to students each year. For planning purposes, these fees would be brought before the President in December of each year for the fall of the following year. The University requested that the Board delegate authority for approval of these fees to the President as fees were minimal and were also capped. Trustee Watterson asked it such delegation would allow a similar occurrence to the decision made by Florida State to put the technology fee under the facilities and equipment charge after the technology fee had been refused by the Board. Ms. Owen responded that the other universities believed that decision was illegal and pointed out that the Board of Governors chair had insisted upon the item’s removal from the agenda. She said that UNF would not attempt such a thing in any case and added that the Board of Governors served as a reviewing body for these issues and clearly monitored them carefully.
Trustee Douglas motioned to recommend the policies to the full Board. The motion was seconded and passed unanimously.
Universities Expenditures and Allocation Analyses
Dean Serwatka stated that he and Chair Twomey had begun discussion on this subject last year, examining how the University was funded by program. Dr. Serwatka indicated three charts included in the packets. The charts illustrated comparisons of what was expended on and what was allocated for FTE through comparison of one year to another, then through comparison with other universities. Comparisons were also given among different disciplines. He explained the causes some of the differences shown among institutions and programs.
Chair Twomey remarked that the information was very interesting and asked if it would help in planning for 2003-2004. Dean Serwatka answered that it would not be as helpful as one would hope, because the rate of funding per new FTE varied from year to year. He added that universities were often penalized for their efficiency based on the current funding formula. Trustee Halverson indicated that he would like to get information on the funding formula. He felt the issue was extremely important and though he was aware that the workshop would be time consuming, he did not feel that strategic issues could easily be addressed without an understanding of the formula. President Delaney agreed that the information was useful. He remarked that the formula was likely to change next year due to dissatisfaction with the current formula. Florida and Florida State would like to see the formula designed to better assist them with improving their quality without FTE growth. Chair Twomey asked if a workshop could be offered for interested Trustees.
A discussion ensued regarding the presentation. Chair Twomey asked about expenditures for FTE. Dr. Serwatka replied that institutions and centers were not included but advising, teaching, secretarial support, etc. were considered. Trustee Kendrick noted that FAMU was markedly more expensive than other institutions. Dr. Serwatka replied that the reasons could have to do with inefficiencies but there could also be other explanations. President Delaney added that though FAMU was only slightly larger than UNF, they had a considerably larger budget. Chair Twomey asked if the cost of the engineering program was high in part due to the new building construction. Dr. Serwatka answered that the higher cost was due primarily to the fact that it was a new program and as such would come down some in time. Trustee Douglas asked if the psychology program at Florida Gulf Coast was more expensive because they offered a doctoral degree. Dean Serwatka replied that the college did not offer a Ph.D. but was more expensive as it was a new program. Dean Serwatka pointed out that the cost of performing arts was high but said this was not due to the cost of faculty in this instance but rather due to the small size of the classes. Dr. Serwatka noted that the masters program in mathematics was costly but said the program should continue as it was a high need area. President Delaney added that the same was true for physics. A decision had been made that, as a comprehensive university, physics should be offered despite the cost. Chair Twomey thanked Dean Serwatka for his report.
Ms. Shuman spoke regarding the audit report. She said the Auditor General’s Office examined all university operations every two years. Sixteen recommendations were made from this examination, which Ms. Shuman indicated was pretty good as over a hundred areas were surveyed. Ms. Shuman presented the recommendations and the University’s responses. She indicated that these were preliminary findings and asked that any additional comments be submitted before September 18 as the responses were due to the Auditor General by that date.
Ms. Shuman summarized the report findings: three of the auditor’s recommendations were related to items the University discovered, reported, and had already taken appropriate actions to resolve. The Auditor General felt the issues should be listed anyway but no further action was required from UNF at this time. Several of the Auditor General’s recommendations were valid but there were a few instances when the University disagreed with at least part of the recommendation. For instance, in Finding 1, UNF disagreed with the Auditor General’s finding that there was not a contingent relationship between deliverables and payment of fees in relation to the contract with ERP. President Delaney pointed out that the issue had been addressed during negotiations and that SCT had agreed to change the language in accordance with UNF’s wishes, therefore the issue had been resolved. Ms. Shuman stated that in two cases University rules were in place but had not been documented. Contrary to the Auditor General’s recommendation rules did not need to be created in those instances.
Ms. Shuman noted four instances that were more major than the others: two issues were concerned with employee theft of funds – the theft had been discovered internally and appropriate measures had been taken, the third issue was related to inventory control, and the fourth had to do with professional selection procedures. Regarding the Auditor General’s recommendations on inventory control, according to Florida statute, the University was required to inventory property each year. Inventory had previously been a function of the Controller’s office. Ms. Shuman stated that the University planned to decentralize the function, distributing it to all departments in an effort to provide better supervision over inventory control. President Delaney agreed that the best avenue for oversight lay within the departments. Ms. Shuman noted that other universities had been contacted regarding their policies and generally used this procedure.
Trustee Kendrick asked to what degree departments could be held accountable. She wondered if consistent loss of inventory from a particular department could result in loss of budget monies. Ms. Shuman replied that the new policy would allow the University to decide upon a course of action to make reasonably sure of accountability. Trustee Solano said she had a concern about decentralizing inventory control to the department level. As a department chair, she was concerned that extra work and responsibility would fall to the chair. President Delaney responded that such duties as physically inventorying a department would typically become the responsibility of one or more clerical employees, dependant upon the size of the department. As a physical inventory would be required quarterly at most, he did not feel it would be an issue. Chair Twomey added that as departments would have the cost of replacing lost inventory, it was to their benefit to maintain control over their property. Trustee Solano reiterated her concerns about increased workload for departments and asked if the departments would be responsible for tagging property. President Delaney consulted with Ms. Shuman and answered that the function would remain with the Controller’s office.
The final finding discussed was in relation to professional selection issues. Ms. Shuman reported that the instance was based on a singular occurrence. In order to retain funds from a state grant, an engineer was hired in an emergency situation. Later the same engineer was used again as someone familiar with the situation constituted the most practical choice. However, UNF would select professionals according to the selection procedures outlined by State statute in the future.
Chair Twomey asked Mr. Khan what his impression was of the audit outcomes. Mr. Khan answered that the recommendations did not result from systemic problems nor were the problems extensive. All had been relatively simple to address.
Trustee Kendrick noted that she was glad to hear that UNF was in line with the ERP contract. She said she did not see anything in relation to business processes and would like to make sure that business processes were aligned with technology. She also stated that she took the Auditor General’s report very seriously and considered it an indirect indicator of how the University was doing and how much funding the University would receive. She wanted to present the information before the full Board. Dr. Serwatka said the information would be presented but comments were required before September 18 in order to have them submitted to the Auditor General’s office in time. Trustee Kendrick said she would like an action plan presented at the next meeting and she would like to make sure the Auditor General’s recommendations were not repeated in the next audit. Mr. Khan stated that all findings were followed up on at once. Action was taken immediately upon receipt of the report. President Delaney pointed out that the audit had been quite positive overall and that all issues from prior audits had been addressed: no repeated recommendations were included in the report. He said there was a possibility that recommendation 15 could come up again as the University disagreed with the finding. Trustee Kendrick said the University might want to document that all of the findings were new.
Trustee Halverson agreed with President Delaney that the audit recommendations were not generally on very significant issues. He said he felt pretty good about the audit and thought recommendations had been addressed appropriately. His only concern was the apparent breakdown of controls, which he felt certain would be patched. President Delaney affirmed that the issue was of concern but reiterated that University staff had discovered the theft and stated that dummy invoices and such were extremely difficult to discover. Trustee Kendrick agreed and congratulated the staff members who found the theft. Trustee Halverson said that the audit had been a vigorous one and that he felt the results were good.
Chair Twomey asked if there were any other comments or topics for discussion then adjourned the meeting.