STATE OF THE UNIVERSITY
1. Intro Welcome Back
2. The Year Ahead
> Faculty Governance
3. Administrative Searches
4. Strategic Plan
5. Faculty Survey
6. VP Human Resources
7. Legislative Agenda
8. Faculty Challenge
Good afternoon everyone. Welcome back to those of you who have
been away. Those of us who have been here all summer IN COOL
North Florida are glad you're back! The Fall term is underway and it
looks as if we will have the most outstanding freshman undergraduate
class in the University's history. Its size is the same as last year but
the talent of this group of students offers promise and a challenge -
to the faculty.
We are estimating the size and the overall quality of our graduate
and professional students will be increased slightly this year. This is
the result of much hard work in recruiting and resource allocations by
many departments, colleges and programs. Congratulations to all who
made it happen. This offers intellectual excitement for the campus
and promises to help us become an even better university.
> 230 New Faculty
We have an estimated 230 new faculty. They come from all over and
will provide new resources as well as intellectual diversity to the
University. This infusion of new blood is important for us.
THE YEAR AHEAD
In addition to the normal, and most important, emphasis on teaching
and scholarship there are a number of other important activities for the
This is a significant year for faculty governance. We need to
operationalize our structure and get the business of the faculty moving
forward. The councils will be formed, dialogue between the
administration and faculty needs to take place in a number of areas.
The faculty survey results, which I will discuss later, will be a focus
for the appropriate Senate committees. Since much of the dialogue of
faculty governance has not occurred before, there is much that needs
to be addressed. Some is procedural how do councils function?
How does the administration get and give input? How do college
governance units interact and interdigitate with the Senate? How do
we obtain needed participation from various components of the
University staff? This is all good stuff. It will be time-consuming
and, sometimes, confusing. But, it will be fun!
September 9 & 10 is the University celebration of inaugurating a new
president. I've been here 8 months and we need to get this done!
Hopefully, it will be tasteful and in harmony with the mission and
goals we hold dear. To say I enter this process enthusiastically would
be a stretch. However, I am rather pleased with the plans and hope
you will be able to participate in some way. I appreciate efforts by the
colleges and other academic units. This is an opportunity to celebrate
our academic accomplishments and both faculty and students are
working to make the event a success.
This fall is also important because it is an election year. There are
important issues at the local, state and national level. We anticipate
considerable exposure to national candidates and I am hopeful the
campus will engage in this important dialogue. The students are
announcing a voter education initiative entitled "Chomp the Vote"
which we can support and, perhaps, emulate in some way.
1. Patricia Telles-Irvin
2. Sr. Vice President IFAS
3. Vice President University Relations
4. Sr. Vice President-Provost
I am announcing the beginning of the search for the Provost. The
committee will be posted on www.aa.ufl.edu. Doug Barrett will chair
the committee. The goal is to complete the search this semester. This
will be Provost Colburn's last semester and I have appreciated his
commitment and his help during the transition.
** Pleased to note there is stability in governance boards BOG,
BOT. Both entities are setting into their prescribed roles in ways that
should be reassuring to the faculty.
One of the important tasks we must accomplish this year is to take a
close look at the University Strategic Plan. This plan was completed a
year and a half ago. It needs to be reopened and retooled if
I have asked the college deans and various program directors to
engage the faculty this fall in discussions about the current plan. We
cannot and should not throw out what has been done. We should -
and must redo and reprioritize the plan where indicated. I need your
help and so do the deans. I am asking each academic unit to report to
me by the end of this year that's December this calendar year.
By now most of you have heard, and perhaps seen, results of the
Faculty Survey that was conducted in the spring. I want to thank
Angel Kwolek-Folland and the Senate's Task Force on Quality of Life
Issues for Faculty for their assistance in constructing the survey
instrument. I am quite pleased that so many of the faculty took the
time to participate. I am still sorting out what to make of the results.
Many of you have given me input and I encourage others to do the
same. Hopefully, these data will serve as a starting point for some of
the faculty Senate Councils. We need to look at what's being said as
we move forward. There are some obvious conclusions and there are
also some areas that need further study.
I am struck by the disconnect between the faculty and past central
administrations. We in the administration have work to do. There are
areas where misunderstanding of lack of understanding exists.
Benefits is one of those areas.
The responses of each college have been returned to the dean of the
college. They will be sharing that information. Likewise comments
have been distributed to the colleges. I hope this will be of some use
to these academic units.
I consider these data to be baseline information and food for thought.
We are committed to repeating the survey annually for several years.
Lets see what happens.
VICE PRESIDENT HUMAN RESOURCES
As part of my review of administrative practices at UF, I have looked
closely at issues involving people our human resources. As you may
know, faculty issues are handled by the Office of the Provost and staff
issues are managed in the Office of the Vice President for Finance and
Administration. I am concerned that we have too many unsolved
problems in human resources. I note that faculty benefits is the area in
the Faculty Survey that generated the most comments and questions.
There appears to be significant dissatisfaction here and I have
struggled with how to respond.
Another significant personnel glitch is the process at UF for handling
complaints about discrimination. The EEOC Office needs to be able
to serve as the initial receiver of such complaints both for faculty and
staff and it should conduct an independent investigation. The office
needs more authority. Currently, the unit in which the complaint is
filed conducts the initial inquiry.
Therefore, because of the magnitude of the faculty and staff issues and
my conclusion we are not currently set up to optimally address them.
I am announcing today that I will ask the BOT to create a new
administrative position Vice President of Human Resources. It will
report to me. It will handle both faculty and staff issues. It will
contain the Office of Equal Opportunity which will independently
investigate complains of discrimination. This is an additional
expense, but we will consolidate existing resources and, hopefully,
help make UF a better place to work. We can only achieve our goals
if our faculty and staff are provided a working environment that
enables them to be productive and feel rewarded.
This year will be important for the University in Tallahassee. We
need legislative support for faculty compensation. There is also a
compelling need for staff compensation. This year's $1,000 payment
is a one-time benefit. There was a significant state contribution to
staff health insurance such that there were no premium increases.
However, we must concentrate on obtaining real increases for faculty
Devolution is another central issue for UF. We are no longer a state
agency but there exists considerable confusion about how we can
operate in this new environment. This affects all the state universities
and is something we will be working on.
Related to managing our own affairs is the historic shift in operating
systems that occurred this summer as UF changed every operating
system to Peoplesoft. This is a staggering undertaking and this
transition is going to take months. It has been my fate to be involved
in Peoplesoft conversions at three universities. We will make it
through this but it is going to take time. This is particularly difficult
on our staff the ones who transact the business of the University.
The key is communication and patience.
Finally, today I want to announce a major new initiative for the
This summer the BOT held a retreat to explore the issues facing UF as
we strive to achieve the goal of becoming one of the top 10 public
universities. We looked carefully at our current levels of excellence
compared to our peers and saw some positive signs. Our
undergraduate student body is as good as anybody. Our Faculty
research effort is strong and improving every year. Our facilities and
plans for improvement are on track.
However, there is one area where we fall significantly behind our
peers. That is in the category of Faculty support. We are behind in
salaries and benefits. We have inadequate support for research,
sabbaticals and graduate student support. We don't have enough
faculty for our workloads.
This is a big, multifaceted problem but the solution is simple. More
resources. We need to help our faculty by getting them the resources
needed to lift off to the top tier of higher education institutions.
Therefore, with support from the Board of Trustees, I am announcing
today The Faculty Challenge.
This multiyear initiative will focus on obtaining $150 million in
private funds for the faculty. It will be the central theme of our
fundraising effort until it gets done. We need everyone's help.
Hopefully, you will see this come to fruition in the next few years
when we launch a capital campaign. But, we start right now today
on this piece.
In conclusion, let me express how happy Chris and I are to be at
Florida. It was the right move for us and we love it here. Our
enthusiasm is kindled by the wonderful people we have met faculty,
students, staff, alumni, citizens of Gainesville, Florida.
UF is truly the Flagship for Discovery
The place for self discovery.
The place for discovering this wonderful, complicated world.
The place for discovering new expressions of art and culture.
The place for discovering solutions to society and mankind's
I'm looking forward to sailing with you.