Policy Board Minutes—Feb. 11, 2015
Present: Nola Agha, Robin Buccheri, Steve Devlin, Joe Garity, Sharon Gmelch, Devon Holmes, Richard Johnson III, Jack Lendvay , Gabe Maxson, Elliot Neaman, Gleb Nikitenko, Mary Jane Niles, Judy Pace, Julia Orri, Todd Sayre, Claire Sharifi, James Taylor, Brian Weiner, Maggie Winslow
Guest: Jeff Hamrick, Vice Provost, Institutional Planning, Budget and Effectiveness;
Minutes from 1.28.15 were approved
- Provost Turpin will be our guest on 4/8
- Weiner clarified that subcommittee members received documents in the drop box. Meeting is 2.18.15. There are 16 applicants.
- New Business
- Leadership Changes at USF—Hamrick. Hamrick explained his organization— the Center for Institutional Planning and Effectiveness (see PowerPoint attachment). He supports the University’s leadership in its decision-making and planning. The Office of Planning and Budget works on financial planning—there will be, for example, $13-17 million in incremental net tuition to hand out in FY16. A large part of it will support faculty and staff pay increases that were established during bargaining. The Leadership Team identifies how the new money will be spent with Father Fitzgerald making final decisions. Hamrick emphasized the importance of transparency with budget-building.
Hamrick’s office handles the budgets for new and existing programs. They develop 5-year models based on projected growth. Historical norms determine the amount of money allocated to areas like marketing, general operating, number of required new faculty lines, etc. Many new faculty lines have come from program growth. Some money is left, for example, after instructional expenses are covered, but it must be used for overhead expenses like ITS, Physical Plant, etc. The deans are in charge of their portfolios of graduate programs and they work closely with the Provost on their portfolios. Budget forecasts are also another aspect of Hamrick’s work—spring tuition is not quite known in the fall, for example. Very small gifts ($10-50) are received but do not form a large part of the revenue budget. Auxiliary revenue (athletics tickets, vending machines, etc.) are also in the budget forecasting but their impact is small. Careful planning is important to avoid leaving money on the table—it is needed for investments in faculty, staff, and students. Indirect costs (overhead, e.g., dean of college) is effectively covered by departmental and program activity.
Some new projects will generate revenue (such as geospatial analysis certificate program and the reinstitution of lab fees). Different programs at different campuses can be priced differently if a case is made to the Provost. Hamrick is helping units spend their money (budget reorganization, better use of restricted funds, etc.). University Operating Reserves are spent throughout the year to handle unexpected contingencies. One example is the $1.9 million to fix Wi-Fi. University Operating Reserves would also be used to handle emergencies. Hamrick said that one of his jobs is to defend University Operating Reserves and make sure that it is properly budgeted.
Institutional research and analytics include externally-facing reporting—reporting to state and federal regulating agencies. Internally-facing reporting includes (for example) the ratio of student credit hours to faculty FTE in different departments and programs, for example. The goal is to see which departments are under stress (assists dean with allocating future lines). They use data and programs like DegreeWorks to determine retention and graduation. They also answer research questions such as the number of study abroad students who receive significant financial aid. Questions arise in his office such as “What happens if a large amount of faculty retire at all once?” They set aside money in the budget, Hamrick explained, for retirement buyouts. Efforts are being made to recruit students who are more likely to be retained.
Goals for the 2014-2015 school year include adding one staff position, improving student address data, and coding gender data more effectively. University enrollment models will be improved also—using more modern forecasting techniques. Pace asked about tracking alumni. Hamrick replied that there is a new SalesForce product (roundCorner) that is being used. It can be merged with LinkedIn, he thinks.
Hamrick stated that USF has grown to about 10,700 students. The medium-term growth rate is roughly 1%, including all branch campuses. The fall of 2014 saw 354 more first-year students compared to last year. As a result, dorms are impacted (students have tripled up). Graduate enrollments are slightly up—but robust if we bracket out School of Law. There is a 36% increase in graduate applications over two years. The law school is turning the corner—increased new enrollments over last year’s new enrollments. Hamrick said that USF did very well this year—more undergraduates than expected (2.2%) and (overall) 1% more students that we budgeted for. Our 6-yr graduation rate is steady. We need >80% for 6-year graduation rate. The 4-year graduation rate has flattened out and still requires work. Our combined SAT average is lower than 2013, however. We will increasingly be targeting foreign countries such as Peru, India, Scandinavian countries, etc. for recruitment. Hamrick explained that we are probably still too heavily exposed to China in terms of net tuition—there could be, for example, a crisis resulting in visa issues for Chinese students that could produce significant losses in net tuition. Stanley Nel has assisted with reducing the students from China to about 50% of our incoming international student population (down from a high of about 70%). There is an upward trend in the use of adjunct faculty.
Revenues and operating budget—approximately 88% tuition (net), 8% room, 3% board, <1% fees. We are very tuition-dependent. Our endowment is about to cross the $300 million mark—it is not one fund but is many funds, and many of those funds are restricted to particular purposes. Not all endowment income is injected directly into the operating budget, but in many cases there are budget-relieving effects. On the expense side—our labor costs are high. Revenues include: 18% full-time faculty 18% 7% part-time faculty, 26% staff, 17% employee benefits, 15% general operations, 6% debt service, 5% facilities, 5% capital expenditures, 1% bad debts (unpaid tuition).
A discussion began. Weiner asked about the source of the debt. Hamrick was not sure of all the sources—but examples are 101 Howard, LSCI, etc. The university has actively taken advantage of debt markets but its balance sheet is in good shape. Stacy Lewis and/or Charlie Cross could be brought to a USFFA meeting to discuss further. Interest rates are low—and so we should use debt so that we can make important investments. Our dorms run profitably. Rating agencies watch our borrowing levels carefully. Weiner asked about retiring the debt—yes, Hamrick replied, it is an ongoing process, but we will always make some use of debt. Paying down a large amount of debt would reduce liquidity or opportunities to make important investments.
Nikitenko asked about the <1% for fees. Hamrick replied that we need to focus on the big items like net tuition—and not as much on (for example) increasing the price of athletics tickets. Neaman asked about the university being so tuition-dependent. Are we resigned to this? Hamrick said that a main priority of Father Fitzgerald is fundraising. We would need to double or triple the endowment to see noticeable changes to our very high level of dependence on tuition. Lendvay asked about gender disparities in salary. Hamrick replied that there were none that he was aware of among faculty. Ledvay suggested that Hamrick consider gender-related discrepancies in salary among staff. Hamrick agreed to look into the issue. The step system makes several gender-based salary discrepancies among the faculty relatively difficult to create. Zeitz asked about relationship between Hamrick’s operating and Accounting and Business Services. There is a lot of engagement with the Business and Finance (Charlie Cross’s operating). Cross manages the endowment and debt (plant, assets, debt, accounting). There is a great deal of communication between the offices. For example—on setting up project funds, clearing negative balances in restricted accounts, maintaining appropriate financial and budgetary controls, etc.
Neaman asked about the changes in the Leadership Team. Hamrick said that certain changes (e.g., the retirement of Gerardo Marin) were planned for and known for some time. He did now know about Provost Turpin’s decision to step down until the day the announcement was made. Peter Novak had been contemplating a return to the faculty for some time. Hamrick recommended that faculty be heavily involved in the search for the new Provost—the faculty should be actively engaged in discussions with Father Fitzgerald. He emphasized the need for transparency in the budget process and argued that a member of the faculty should run the university’s operating budget.
Nikitenko asked about the worst-performing graduate programs—Hamrick said that there are around 5 or 6 underperforming programs. These programs are carefully monitored. Hamrick was asked about applications for the next academic year. International students are less interested in SOM for FY16, but domestic student interest is strong. SONHP has a very high retention rate and far more qualified applicants than the school can admit. There is heightened interest in the natural sciences. Hamrick said that most of the graduate programs make money (i.e., pay for themselves). Lendvay asked about the physics department, which is small. Hamrick said that sometimes small departments (e.g., physics, some languages, etc.) are integral to the university’s commitment to furnish students with a strong liberal arts education.
We thanked Hamrick for his time.
The meeting adjourned at 5:02 p.m.
Submitted by Julia Orri
Policy Board Secretary