Report of the Faculty Senate Committee on Administration
April 25, 2001
The first charge to the Faculty Senate Committee on Administration this academic year is "to continue the review of trends in the allocation of funds between the central administration and the schools." Its second charge is to examine the financial health of the medical complex. In view of the rapid changes over the year in the medical complex, it did not address this second charge. Subsequently, it was asked to provide an expedited review of the proposed Financial Disclosure and Conflict of Interest Policy for Research and Sponsored Projects.
In response to this expedited request, the Committee reviewed the proposed policy. In its review, the Committee adopted the standard that any reporting procedure should be such as to minimize the burden on the faculty while providing meaningful disclosure. In conformity with this standard, the Committee suggested to the central administration various changes in the reporting procedure that in its judgment would alleviate some of the burden that the faculty would face. The administration is currently developing a revised set of guidelines, and has posted the current rules as interim policy.
In conducting its review of administrative activities between the central administration and the schools, the charge to the Committee stated that it should "interview the deans of the schools, as well as the Provost and the Executive Vice President."
To this end, the committee sent a questionnaire to each school. That questionnaire inquired about 10 administrative activities: Administrative Computing, Development, Facilities, Faculty Research Computing, Human Resources, Payroll and Benefit Support, Research Administration, Security, Student Computing, and Student Services.
For each activity, the respondents were asked two sets of questions. The first set consisted of two questions to determine whether any components managed by the central administration would be better managed at the school level, and vice versa.
The second set asked the school to identify those components of each administrative activity with which it was most satisfied and those with which it was least satisfied.
The focus of the questionnaire was on the quality of the administrative activities. The committee did not ask any questions about the cost of these activities and/or the reasonableness of the associated overhead charges.
The responses varied widely from one school to another. However, there were some common themes across many of the schools. Generally, the respondents suggested very few changes in the allocation of administrative activities between the central administration and the schools.
The schools expressed their satisfaction with the direction in which administrative computing was moving. They applauded the Data Warehouse and BEN. They wanted full integration of the legacy systems such as the Bursar system, SFS (Student Financial Services), and SRS (Student Registration System) into the Data Warehouse. Some schools thought that the systems for entering basic data, including particularly the payroll system, could be improved. Some of the professional schools called for more flexibility in the student systems to accommodate their teaching schedules, which differ in time from those of the non-professional schools. Expressed in different ways, some schools wanted better documentation and training in the use of these systems.
The schools liked the way in which the central administration obtains site licenses for software. However, they called for better documentation and support for the licensed software.
With a limited number of exceptions, the schools were satisfied with large project administration but were dissatisfied, and sometimes quite dissatisfied, with housekeeping and small project administration. Some of the schools thought that the schools should have primary responsibility for housekeeping and small project administration.
Among schools with large sponsored research projects, there was general dissatisfaction with how the central administration manages accounts receivables for research grants. It appears from the questionnaires that there is a long lag between the time that an account receivable becomes delinquent and the time that the researcher learns of this delinquency. The result is that researchers may have spent money that will not be collected.
Many of the schools were dissatisfied with the quality of counselling given to employees about their benefits, particularly retirement benefits. To solve this problem, some schools suggested that an employee benefits specialist be assigned to each school whose sole responsibility would be to provide counselling to that school. Such a person would provide continuity and accountability in the level of services.
Many of the schools stated their satisfaction with the emergency response by security. However, some schools were dissatisfied with the implementation of the swipe card system.
A few schools questioned whether the vendors that the central administration has approved are providing the lowest prices.
Some of the schools expressed dissatisfaction with the computer systems and data bases maintained by Development.
After reviewing the results of the questionnaire, the committee did not have sufficient time to interview the deans, the provost, and the executive vice president to determine the exact nature of each of these concerns. The results of the survey of the schools can provide a roadmap for the next Faculty Senate Committee on Administration.
Almanac, Vol. 47, No. 33, May 8, 2001