UF-IFAS Faculty Council Meeting Minutes
26 August 2008
Red Larson Dairy Building, Room 102
Individuals present: David Holmes, Mike Kane, Steve Johnson, Bill Lindberg, and Tom
Obreza (current members rotating off); Judy Butterfield, Billy Crow, Bola Adesogan,
Jerry Culen, Sherry Larkin, Monica Elliott (Polycom) and Brenda Rogers (Polycom)
(current, continuing members); Heather McAuslane (representing the Faculty Senate),
Gene McAvoy, Charlie Guy, Debbie Miller, Kevin Kenworthy, Wendy Wilber, and Art
Teixiera (new members). Also attending were Eric Luc (Graduate student aide Billy
Crow) and Xiomara Diaz (Marion county 4-H agent).
David Holmes opened his final meeting as Faculty Council chair at 1:02 PM. He then
asked each of the new and continuing council members to introduce themselves. David
welcomed the new members and provided an explanation of the council's typical
David Holmes proceeded by reviewing results of the faculty vote on the IFAS
constitution. About 25% of eligible faculty voted. Of that number, 92.7% voted for
approval. Several people wondered why the turnout was so low, followed by a
discussion of possible reasons. Steve Johnson reminded us that the constitution
requires that several new directives take place, and asked how these will be taken care
of procedurally. The group decided to wait until Dr. Cheek arrives to answer that
question. The Faculty Council must keep pushing the idea of the constitution and its
utility to the IFAS unit level so the chance for its success can be strengthened. David
asked if the council should issue some talking points that department chairs can use
with their faculty. The group felt this was a good idea, but no action was taken to write
these at the meeting. Each unit will need a framework that describes how it will operate
under the new constitutional directives. The council should give this some thought prior
to the next meeting.
The next item of business was to review the minutes from the July 2008 Faculty Council
meeting. No changes were put forth, so a motion to adopt the minutes into the
permanent record was made, seconded, and approved by unanimous vote. Brenda
Rogers volunteered to become the recording secretary for the 2008-09 academic year,
and David thanked her for providing this service to the council.
David Holmes then provided more details to new members about how the Faculty
Council has worked during his 2 years, particularly how the back-and-forth works
between 1) council members and the chair, and 2) the council and IFAS administrators.
Dr. Cheek arrived at 1:25 PM. The first question he was asked is how transition to the
constitution-mandated IFAS Faculty Assembly will be handled. He suggested that we
first get the new Faculty Council up and running, followed by initiation of the Faculty
Assembly. The two groups should run simultaneously for a short time, during which a
decision will be made about how to proceed. First, each IFAS unit must elect a
representative to the Faculty Assembly. The Faculty Council should write to each unit
leader, asking them to conduct this election within their unit. Brenda Rogers asked if the
current Faculty Council members could move into their respective places (with respect
to their home unit) on the Faculty Assembly. One potential problem with this approach is
that while Faculty Council members are elected at large, Faculty Assembly members
will be elected by unit. After some discussion it was decided that this may not be a
problem after all because Faculty Council members were elected candidates. A second
potential problem is that some were Faculty Council members were appointed, not
elected. The question of when units will elect their representatives was asked. The
group agreed that elections should occur as soon as possible after the fall semester
begins. Monica Elliott suggested that if the Faculty Assembly could be elected in the fall,
then their first meeting could be held after the spring 2009 semester starts.
It may be quite difficult for Faculty Assembly meetings to be broadcast via Polycom to
many different sites. If Polycom is to be used, it may be necessary to have regional
sites instead of individual sites. Billy Crow and David Holmes agreed to draft a plan
describing how the Faculty Assembly will be created and deliver it to Paul Willis, who
will give the charge to department chairs and unit heads. The directive will be for each
unit to have a Faculty Assembly representative elected to convene at the November
Faculty Council meeting. Current Faculty Council members are eligible for election as
unit representatives to the Faculty Assembly. Brenda Rogers calculated that the
Faculty Assembly will consist of 35 people from the various departments, centers, and
extension districts. The Faculty Council and Faculty Assembly will co-exist until the
Faculty Assembly becomes functional. At that time, the Faculty Council will be phased
out. The Faculty Council will decide when the Faculty Assembly is ready to take over.
Dr. Cheek began a discussion about the state budget. UF's state budget dropped from
$73 billion state last fiscal year to $66 billion in the current year. Revenue accumulation
in Florida continues to decrease, so Governor Crist has held back 1% of the state
budget for the first quarter of the current fiscal year. The Governor will not use any of
Florida's "rainy day" fund at this time, but he may go to it later this year if it is not
needed for something else (e.g., a bad hurricane season). There could be a budget call-
back at the end of the calendar year. It is difficult to plan for the future when you have
little idea of what the budget will be. President Machen is currently visiting legislators
around the state, asking them not to cut UF this academic year (i.e., not until June 2009
at the earliest). There may be some discussion going on about how revenues could be
increased, but we do not know any particulars. Data summarized by state economists
show that Florida is not in good financial condition at this time, and the future is very
Salary increases that accompany promotions have gone forward, and SPP increases
have as well. Merit raises are now going forward for non-unionized (e.g., IFAS) faculty.
Tuition increases will give UF $15 million of new money; an $11 million portion is being
used to provide the variety of salary increases. Dr. Cheek indicated that more SPPs
could have been given if more money was available.
There are four items that President Machen wants to press forward during the next
legislative session: 1) salary increases; 2) freedom to adjust tuition as needed; 3)
operational dollars for an R & D ethanol plant; and 4) allow use of federal rates for travel
reimbursement. His justification to the legislature is that UF lost 10% of general revenue
last year, so we should not be cut more this year, and legislators should try to give us
more help next year. Bill Lindberg asked how IFAS would address additional budget
cuts made during the current year. Dr. Cheek indicated that the response would depend
on the magnitude of the cut, e.g., a 3% cut would generate one strategy while a 10% cut
would generate something very different. IFAS administration would like to fill a few
faculty positions, but they are being held back until the future becomes more certain.
Still, there are some positions that must be filled. A small portion of the tuition increase
dollars must be allocated to decrease the ratio of students to faculty. Billy Crow recalled
that the last cuts made in IFAS appeared to be forced into certain areas; he asked if this
same pathway will be followed again, or if units will have more flexibility. Dr. Cheek said
that our central problem is that too much money is allocated to salaries and not enough
to operating expenses, which forces cuts in specific areas. We cannot cut funds where
they do not exist.
A discussion ensued about budgets, how they are structured and allocated at the
university level, and what drives the amounts (e.g., enrollment, extension programs,
research criteria). Budget allocations shift based on changes in programs (e.g.,
teaching, extension). We are moving toward a more flexible allocation of operating
dollars. Our largest single operating expense is utilities, which could go up by as much
as 20% this year. Charlie Guy suggested that IFAS should try to involve the faculty in
making budget-cutting decisions when they are necessary. Other than budget, all
indicators of IFAS' health are up (e.g., grants, enrollment, graduates, etc.).
The question of what system will be used in place of UNIFAS was asked. Dr. Cheek
indicated that the deans are trying, but their product is not ready for prime time yet. The
bottom line is any system must track IFAS' accountability, which is included in the
federal report. We have found new ways to gather accountability information.
A question was raised about how well the IFAS Supplementary Salary Compensation
Plan is working. Dr. Cheek indicated that 10 faculty are participating, covering 10 to
25% of salary. The plan has not been an overwhelming success, thus it needs to be
tweaked so it can work better. A suggestion was made to survey the 10 participants to
see what parts of the plan have worked well and not worked well for them.
Dr. Cheek left the meeting at 2:45 PM.
A discussion ensued about the Solutions For Your Life website. Billy Crow expressed
some concerns about how it has been working. He cited an example where the best
documents did not appear first following a key word search. Wendy Wilber echoed this
concern. The site is designed more for experienced web surfers; those who do not like
to surf probably do not like the website as much. Kevin Kenworthy felt that it takes too
many clicks to arrive at the desired publication. The group decided that if we bring this
subject up to Dr. Arrington when he visits the council, we need to set up for it by
showing examples of our perceived problems. We can also show how other universities
run their websites, some of which are simpler to use. Also, some university web sites
have short feedback surveys that are handy for gauging clientele reactions. We should
ask Dr. Arrington where are we now and where are we going with respect to our
extension web presence. If a Faculty Council member has a useful example, they
should send it to Eric Luc. Monica Elliott asked how publication lists are prioritized
following a key word search. Tom Obreza determined that they come up in alphabetical
order. An all-Goal 7 meeting will be held on Friday Sept 5th where this issue could be
raised. Brenda Rogers said she would handle this.
A discussion ensued about new extension goal teams and focus areas. David Holmes
noticed that the word "sustainability" appears much more than before. A major
difference exists regarding how often (or not) each goal/focus team meets. Some meet
very frequently, while others appear to not meet at all. Discussion continued about
problems with teams and how the successful teams work.
Judy Butterfield had no Faculty Senate update because they had not met since May.
The next meeting is this coming Thursday. On the agenda is action to sunset 4 or 5
degrees in CALS. Bill Lindberg told the group that if there is something a member wants
the senators to bring up, let him or Judy know. Bill indicated that the Polycom
connection for off-campus senators has been discontinued due to high expense. This
action will affect IFAS senators the most.
David Holmes thanked everyone and expressed his appreciation to all that worked with
him. Some major goals, such as passing the IFAS constitution, were accomplished
during the past year. He reminded the group that appointment of a vice-chair will be
needed by December, and volunteers are welcome. We had plenty of visitors to our
council meetings, and David advised that continuing this would be a good idea. His final
advice to continuing members was to be supportive and give good advice to Jimmy
The Faculty Council chairmanship was turned over to Billy Crow. Looking ahead, he
indicated that transition from the Faculty Council to Faculty Assembly will be a main
task during the coming year. First we must get unit elections going, and then make the
transition. Another prominent task will be to arrange a conversation with Larry Arrington.
The next Faculty Council meeting is September 11th, 2008 in the Red Larson Bldg. In
November, the meeting will move to the Entomology-Nematology building.
The meeting was adjourned at 3:36 PM.
Submitted by, Thomas Obreza, Recorder
Approved as corrected at the September 11 Faculty Council Meeting. B.Rogers,