Acting Provost Dale Billingsley provided a lengthy budget report for the Staff Senate during its April meeting in Chao Auditorium, stemming from UofL’s $48 million deficit, which was discovered in January.

To get a working fund to address strategic initiatives and develop the ground for revenue enhancements, administrators took a 3-percent across the board from the general fund. General funds are constituted from the state appropriation and tuition and fees revenue.

Billingsley admitted one of the big challenges is trying to figure out all of the entangled budgets outside of the general fund, including ULP, clinics, etc., and how they affect our plan. The HSC budget, he added, represents about two-thirds of the entire university budget.

“All of that is information we have to get a grip on moving forward,” he said.

Most of the programmatic growth will be in graduate and undergraduate as opposed to professional schools, most of which are maxed out. Billingsley mentioned that the Speed School of Engineering will get additional support, since it attracts the highest profile students. A senator from the College of Education challenged this approach, cautioning that the CEHD, for example, will have to cut programming to make this work.

“No good deed goes unpunished. (CEHD) is very well managed. This is one of the griefs about this business right now. We are trying to prevent mass layoffs,” Billingsley said. “It’s not pleasant and it’s not pretty, but that’s the way we’re going to do it.”

He added that there are some risks involved with this approach; namely ensuring our enrollment goals and retaining the students we already have.

“The first step is to increase the size of our applicant pool,” Billingsley said, noting that Jim Begany, vice provost for Strategic Enrollment and Student Success, is tasked with doing just that. Begany has deployed recruiters in three regions specifically – Chicago, Nashville and Cincinnati.

“(Retention) is the most efficient way to do this. If they stay long enough, they’ll get a degree and we’ll be better off in performance measurement,” he said.

One senator noted that the university has been through budget cuts before, but this one feels different.

“This one feels like it will affect people this time,” she said.

“When you start talking about figures like $48 million – those numbers are just too large. It’s almost as if we have bad news fatigue. But the fabric of this university and our commitment to our values and our students can, I believe, sustain us through what’s ahead,” Billingsley said.

He said the next steps, besides a strong focus on enrollment management, include a budget development committee and a re-articulated mission and goal statement to help us coordinate our goals with our available funding.

“We can’t have 100 goals and only be able to fund 11,” Billingsley said. “We have to come up with how we can put all of these priorities on a list. We can’t wait until the president search is over to do this.”

Billingsley also reported on decanal searches (there are three searches – Brandeis School of Law, Speed School and School of Nursing) and the SACS accreditation process, which will continue with an on-campus visit in September.

Jeanell Hughes, associate vice president of HR, provided a report, noting that her department continues to focus on customer service initiatives, including through campus tours and extended hours. Later this month, a survey will go out to all employees about “HR Effectiveness.”

Hughes also said that HR is working on identifying some cost savings and efficiency improvements. The department is also looking at professional development ideas that can be done with limited resources.

Lee Smith, interim COO, gave the final report of the meeting, providing an update on the transition to a new, cloud-based email system, Office 365. Students and ULP are already on this system. Smith said the transition for faculty and staff will be gradual. More information is available online

UofL was recently the victim of a phishing attack, though it affected fewer than 10 people. Smith said we are making a procedural change in regards to phishing attacks.

“If we see that you’ve clicked on a phishing link, we will require you to immediately change your password,” he said.

Smith’s department has an RFP out for banking services. PNC is the university’s primary banker now.

Finally, UofL is looking at its purchasing processes to see if there are better contracts we can get in place to improve pricing.

Standing committee reports

The Credentials and Nominations committee did not meet, but the application deadline is this month, and officer applications are due May 8.

The Policy, Economics and Development committee discussed the university’s RIF policy, as well as budget items. Senator Gary Southard, said many suggestions have already been incorporated into the budget conversation. The professional development initiatives brought up a few meetings ago have been tabled for now due to budget issues.

The Staff Grievance committee reported no grievances. The committee’s goal is to increase awareness about the process, including through an FAQ page. The ombudsman office has received about two to three calls a week, but these calls have not progressed to a grievance, which indicates this process is working as it should.

The SHARE committee did not meet, but acknowledged the School of Dentistry for donating money raised from its Dress Down Day to the SHARE fund.

The Staff Morale and Community Outreach committee is looking for better ways to communicate staff news and is issuing a survey asking for input on this initiative. The committee has contemplated changing its name to focus more on communications and staff relations.

Treasurer’s report

The general balance this month is $6,722.55. The SHARE account grew by nearly $400 last month and is now $13,803.47. The technology budget sits at $1,674.

Staff Senate has not been notified to cut any funds due to the budget cuts affecting campus.

Will Armstrong’s chair’s report is available online

Sabrina Haug provided the Strategic Plan and Bylaws report, listing new members and soliciting senators’ ideas on what should be included in a new mission statement for the body.

Vickie Tencer provided the Presidential Qualities report, stating that a survey has been sent asking senators to list five qualities (not qualifications) they desire for UofL’s new president. The committee is also asking for broader distribution of the survey to senators’ constituencies.

Finally, the Academic Technology Committee and University Police Advisory Committee reports are both available online.

The next Staff Senate meeting is May 8 at 2:30 p.m. in Chao Auditorium at Ekstrom Library.