To:       Elon University Budget Committee

From:   Academic Council

Re:       2002-03 Budget Priorities

Date:    11/28/01

Listed below are the 2002-2003 Faculty Budget Request Priorities, as determined by faculty survey results and Academic Council discussion.  The six “general priorities” mentioned most often by faculty were:  salary, staffing (reduced teaching load, class size, more full-time positions), scholarships, health insurance, technology improvements, and research development and travel.

Budget Request Priority # 1:  Faculty Salaries

In making the recommendation below, the Academic Council considered the ongoing work of the Salary Planning Committee.  Last year, with Board of Trustees approval, the university committed to raising average salaries to place Elon in the top one-third of Associated New American Colleges (ANAC).  Funds for achieving this plan were set aside in this year’s budget.  The Salary Planning Committee is currently considering ways of implementing this plan.

The Academic Council supports the plan to place Elon salaries in the top one-third of ANAC schools.  The Council recommends that consideration be given to the following:

 1.  gender inequities (where they exist),
 2.  differences in salaries by rank relative to ANAC,
 3.  differences in school/discipline salaries relative to demand and ANAC,
 4.  compression resulting from longevity, and
 5.  merit.

In addition to the above salary adjustment, the Council recommends a yearly salary increase of 5 % for the 2002-2003 academic year ( 2.6 % for inflation and  2.4 % for merit).

Budget Request Priority # 2:  Staffing

Three interrelated issues confound the staffing priority:  reduced teaching load, class size, and an increase in full-time positions.

The standard teaching load for full-time faculty at Elon is 24 semester hours or six four-hour courses annually.  Consistent with last year’s request, the Council recommends that the standard teaching load be reduced by one course to 20 hours annually. A one-course reduction for all full-time teaching faculty would result in the need to fill approximately 200 course sections. A standard 20 semester-hour five-course contract would require 40 additional full-time teaching faculty members.  Using an estimated average salary of $ 51,000 per faculty member, this plan would result in additional full-time salaries of approximately $ 2,040,000 annually.

The Council recognizes that the number of faculty continues to increase in correspondence with the increasing number of students.  However, this increase in faculty does not address teaching load issue discussed above.  In recognizing the magnitude of this priority item, Council recommends that the Council and administration begin serious discussions next year toward achieving a reduction in teaching load.

The related issue of class size continues to be a major concern among faculty.  Average class sizes within several departments have crept upward in small increments over the past one to two years.  While no single year has created large increases in these averages, it is troubling that the general trend in class size in several departments has been upward in recent years.  This is particularly a concern in lower division classes,  which currently have caps of 37.  Council recommends that immediate planning begin in order to achieve lower class caps in both upper and lower-division classes.  Council suggests that a reasonable first step in addressing class size would be adjusting upper-division caps to 30 and lower-division caps to 33.

Council recognizes the difficulty of simultaneously increasing the number of full-time faculty, reducing teaching load and reducing class size.  Consistent with last year, Council selects as the higher priorities reducing the teaching load, which correspondingly will require an increase in the number of full-time faculty.

Budget Request Priority # 3:  Scholarships

This year’s survey of faculty priorities reflected greater concern for increasing need-based and academically-gifted scholarships, as this priority moved up in the rankings.   As noted last year, current institutional practice limits the amount of funds (12 % discount rate) allocated for this purpose.  Once again, the Council recommends that funds for student scholarships be developed through endowments managed by the Office of Institutional Development to increase diversity, promote retention, and attract gifted students.

This priority is consistent with the New Century @ Elon (goal #4, items 7 & 8), and the plan to establish a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa.  Last year the committee reviewing Elon’s application expressed concerns over the level of scholarships. The committee raised questions about the balance between athletic and academic scholarships.  The committee also expressed concern over Elon’s ability to attract a body of students qualified for membership in Phi Beta Kappa, and the need for scholarships in this regard.

Council recommends that the university administration place the issue of percentage of funds allocated for scholarships on the agenda for discussion with the Board of Trustees.

Budget Request Priority # 4:  Health Insurance

Academic Council acknowledges the ongoing work of the Health Benefits Committee for the past two years and recognizes the progress the committee has made toward establishing a separate and optional health insurance program for retirees to supplement Medicare.  Council urges the committee to now turn its attention to securing partner benefits, a concern which has been expressed by faculty for several years.  Additionally, Council encourages the committee to work strenuously to maintain at least our current level of health benefits and to increase the university’s portion of the employees’ health insurance costs as the premiums for these benefits inevitably rise.

Council further recommends that the committee investigate the most appropriate manner to address these concerns and that a plan be implemented as a part of the 2002-2003 budget.

Budget Request Priority # 5:  Technology Improvements

Based on specific needs cited in the Council survey of priorities and also those described by the Academic Technology and Computing Committee, the Council recommends the following items:

1.  Increase the number of technology liaisons who will focus on the specific needs of related disciplines, such as the current liaison serving the Computing Sciences, Mathematics, and Physics programs. An increase would enable technology liaisons to not only address the current needs of faculty, but to engage faculty in better planning and foreseeing what can be done with technology in the future.

2.  Faculty who are expected to serve as informal technology consultants for their programs as part of their professional development should receive a course release for doing so, in order that they may also progress as teachers and scholars.

3.  Continue installation of data projection equipment in classrooms, as well as increase the availability of portable data projectors (ideally located in various academic buildings rather than checked out from Media Services).

Council also notes the following concerns from the survey of faculty members:  the need for more "state-of-the-art" classrooms with data projection, Internet access, sound, etc;  an increase in support staff to maintain and repair technology; ongoing training and development in the use of technology; and, improvement in Internet connection access and speed.

Budget Request Priority #6:  Research, Development and Travel

As recommended last year, the Council requests that general travel funds be increased to reach the $500 level in the 2002-2003 budget year.    In addition, full support should be provided for faculty making presentations at conferences through separate funds.

Consistent with last year, the Council recommends that the college work toward the goal of establishing sufficient funding for sabbaticals to grant each full-time teaching faculty member a sabbatical every seven years.  Council recommends continued modest growth in this area, requesting 3-5 sabbaticals for academic year 2002-2003.

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