From the beginning, I have promised that we would chart our course together in a collegial manner. We will celebrate our successes together, and there will be many. And we will face our challenges together, and we will have those, too. We will work on these together so that, in the end, we will have the best collective thinking and the best decisions.
In this Dear Colleague letter, I want to identify some examples of this collegial work.
Budget process under way
In late September, in conjunction with the State of the University address, I announced the budget process we would use. That process is now under way.
The various budget committees are established and organizational meetings are scheduled. The membership of those committees, their meeting schedule, and notes from those meetings soon will be posted on the Financial Outlook website.
In the meantime, I would draw your attention to these highlights:
- Dr. Eric Bosch, professor in the College of Natural and Applied Sciences, will serve as the chair of the Executive Budget Committee.
- Dr. David Byrd, professor in the College of Business Administration, will chair the Academic Affairs Budget Committee.
- Ken McClure, vice president for administrative and information services, will chair the Administrative Budget Committee.
- At the initial meetings, the various budget committees will receive an orientation on the budget — the process, the timing, and the numbers.
I want to thank the dozens of faculty, staff and administrators who have agreed to serve on the committees and assist with the budget process.
I will keep you informed as the process continues and we learn more from state officials about the appropriations and tuition options for fiscal year 2012. Until then, I invite you to stay engaged by fulfilling your role on one of the committees and by checking the Financial Outlook website regularly.
Facilities review task force
As promised in my State of the University address, we are establishing an Academic Classroom and Laboratory Utilization and Priority Task Force to review these facilities and recommend a plan for strategically investing in these facilities. We need to have a clear understanding of our inventory and what improvements are needed.
This task force will be chaired by Dr. Belinda McCarthy, provost, and include the following members: David Caravella, classroom coordinator in the Educational Technology Center; Dr. Kathy Coy, director of institutional research; Dr. Frank Einhellig, associate provost and dean of the Graduate College; Dr. Dennis Kear, dean of the College of Education; Dr. John Kent, professor of marketing; Ken McClure, vice president for administrative and information services; Dale Moore, director of university support services; Dr. Sean Newton, associate professor of physical therapy; Kate Shellenberg, SGA’s director of academic affairs; and Dr. Kelly Wood, head of the communications department.
Follow-up on state audit
I focused on the state audit in the October 19 Dear Colleague letter. I want to follow up.
As you recall, I established a three-person advisory group to look at the audit: Clif Smart, general counsel (chair); Dick Williams, head of the School of Accountancy; and John McAlear, secretary to the Board of Governors. That group has begun its work and divided the recommendations into three categories:
- Ensuring we are implementing the recommendations as we indicated we would
- Identifying additional recommendations that should be implemented
- Determining which recommendations have already been adequately addressed
The committee will continue its work identifying the issues and priorities for change. I fully expect that there will be changes in procedures, policies, reporting and possibly costs as we address the issues in the audit. I will keep you informed on that work.
JQH Arena task force
JQH Arena is an outstanding facility and a tremendous University asset. It benefits not only athletics and major performance events, but also the entire University due to its use for student events, convocations, commencements and more. JQH Arena is now going into its third year, and we need to evaluate and recalibrate based on the first two years of experience.
When JQH Arena was planned in 2006, those involved did their due diligence and developed a budget based on the best information possible; however, we need to take a new University-wide approach to ensure its success.
Toward that end, I have appointed a task force to look at JQH Arena and make recommendations on how best to fund and operate this facility in the future.
The task force will be chaired by Brent Dunn, vice president for university advancement, and include Randy Blackwood, executive director of entertainment and athletics facilities; Nila Hayes, chief financial officer; Dr. Jim Hutter, professor of agriculture and member of the Intercollegiate Athletics Committee; Kyle Moats, director of athletics; Dr. Philip C. Rothschild, assistant professor of management and director of the entertainment management program; Clif Smart, general counsel; Dr. Christina Simmers, assistant professor of marketing; and Jacob Swett, president of the Student Government Association.
I will ask for the report and recommendations by the beginning of the spring semester. I am confident we can develop a plan for the future.
First 90 days
I want to again thank members of the campus community for the warm welcome Deborah and I have received in our first 90 days. It has been an active three months, but a productive time as well. We have much work to do together and I look forward to it.
James E. Cofer, Sr.