Campus Journal News
Trustees reaffirm budget request to governor
By David Deziel, USNH Associate Vice Chancellor for External Affairs
Bolstered by a recent study from the New Hampshire Forum on Higher Education on the substantial economic impact of higher education in the state, the University System of New Hampshire (USNH) Board of Trustees re-affirmed its support for an operating budget that calls for increased spending over the next biennium. The budget seeks a 6.4 percent increase in FY04 and a 6.2 percent increase in FY05.
In its regularly scheduled board meeting held at Plymouth State College last week, the trustees agreed that the budget request represents what is truly needed for the state's system of public four-year colleges and institutions to continue to be a key partner in pursuing New Hampshire's public agenda of economic development, quality of life and citizenship.
"We are united in asserting that the budget we have submitted is a fair budget and one we think is critical to the ongoing operating needs of the university system and all its campuses and programs," said board Chairman John Lynch of Hopkinton. "It is a budget which addresses the needs of New Hampshire families interested in the pursuit of public higher education." Lynch added his thanks for trustee and staff effort in this area, noting that "we have an outstanding record of stewardship of state resources and a strong track record of efficient spending, on-time and on-budget capital project management, and a proven ability to leverage resources to generate greater value per dollar invested by the state."
According to a recent study released by the New Hampshire Forum on Higher Education, the economic impact of the state's 28 colleges and universities in 2001-2002 totaled more than $3 billion and contributed to the creation of more than 4,400 new jobs. UNH, Plymouth State College, Keene State College, and the College for Lifelong Learning serve approximately 30,000 students and represent a significant portion of the higher education "industry" in the state.
"If New Hampshire is going to continue to benefit from the higher education industry, it needs to concentrate on quality, access and affordability," said USNH Chancellor Stephen Reno. He said quality programs will draw students, but access to those programs is linked to affordability.
Appropriation increases are needed to maintain the affordability of tuition, provide adequate financial aid, provide access for New Hampshire students, continue to invest in information technology and proper maintenance of USNH facilities, and address sharp increases in the costs of medical benefits.
"The education industry is one of the fastest growing industries in New Hampshire," Reno said. USNH institutions award more than half of the state's bachelor degrees in engineering, mathematics, information sciences, biology, and physical sciences.
By Kim Billings
With Gov. Craig Benson slated to release his budget yesterday, USNH Chancellor Stephen Reno said the university system is "committed to working with the governor to meet current budget challenges facing the state of New Hampshire."
Unlike state agencies, USNH receives a block grant from the state, and funds are administered by the Board of Trustees, Reno explained. So last week, at a meeting of the full board, trustees reaffirmed its support for an operating budget that calls for increased spending over the next biennium. The budget seeks a 6.4 percent increase in FY04 and a 6.2 percent increase in FY05. (See related story above.)
"The university system is a proven resource for the state of New Hampshire," said Reno. "Our FY04 and FY05 budget request includes strategic initiatives that will have a direct impact on jobs, businesses and the economy."
Reno also noted that trustees are committed to keeping higher education accessible, affordable and of high quality. "Current in-state tuition is the second highest of any state system in the country," he said.
Because USNH relies on a highly skilled workforce to deliver programs and services, it competes in a national marketplace, and needs to provide faculty and staff with fair and competitive compensation. And yet, he noted, the average employee contribution to the typical HMO family plan increased from $208 to $1,377 in January of this year. "Our employees recognize that we need to work together to achieve our budget goals, which we appreciate," Reno said, "so there are efforts to address the budget challenges."
At the same time, Reno says there are many opportunities for the university system to continue strategic partnerships in its service to the state, and that USNH is very much worth investing in.
"From the Hamel Center for the Management of Technology and Innovation, in partnership with the state Department of Resource and Economic Development, to the Center for Alternative Teacher Education Preparation to numerous examples of our applied research throughout the Granite State, we are serving the state of New Hampshire and its citizens in ways that promote economic development and a better quality of life for people and the environment," he said. "Any budget cut does more than simply harm the system, it harms the state."
Of the total system revenues and expenses, almost $550 million this year, the state appropriation represents about 15.1 percent. In allocating the state's contribution, trustees and the campus presidents look at costs of operations and tuition rates. Reno says in order to accommodate any proposed cuts, "We would need to resort to some combination of revenue increase and expense reduction, beginning by reducing proposed increases in the salary budgets, renovation and repair monies, and institution-administered student financial aid, as well as increasing both in and out of state tuition," he explained.
Any remaining budget reduction targets, he added would be assigned to individual campuses to manage through some combination of program and services reductions.
By Lori Gula
The campus community is invited to a series of Campus Master Plan forums that will focus on specific needs and planning issues in three campus zones and provide a glimpse of some initial ideas for the updated campus master plan.
The first forum is focused on the academic core of campus, classified as Precinct I. It will be held Tuesday, Feb. 18, from 1 to 2:30 p.m. in the MUB, Strafford Room, and will include a presentation of observations and ideas for the precinct followed by an open discussion. This presentation will be based upon a workshop held the previous day with more than 50 invited precinct constituents and members of the campus master plan committee.
"We feel very strongly that the UNH community play an active role in the process of updating the Campus Master Plan. This plan will guide long-term campus development so it is crucial that the strength and knowledge of the collective institution assist in ensuring that the final plan reflect UNH's academic priorities and vision," said Douglas Bencks, university architect and director of campus planning.
UNH has identified three precincts -- or zones -- on campus as it moves to update the master plan. Precinct I deals with the academic core from Hood House to Nesmith Hall to the Environmental Technology Building to McConnell Hall.
The Precinct II forum is scheduled for March 4, and the Precinct III forum is set for April 10. Precinct II represents the student life areas of campus, including residences, dining, student union, recreation, athletics, and off-campus housing in adjacent neighborhoods. Precinct III covers the open lands west of the railroad tracks and out-lying properties, such as Kingman Farm, Thompson Farm, Foss Farm and the Jackson Laboratory.
Ayers Saint Gross of Baltimore is serving as the master plan consultant and will lead the workshops and forums.
By Lori Gula
The UNH community is invited to three open forums this month that are one piece of UNH's preparation for a comprehensive decennial accreditation review by the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC).
The university is conducting a rigorous self-review, using both the traditional approach that focuses on the NEASC's 11 standards encompassing principal areas of institutional activity, and a more intensive alternative self-study process that allows UNH to look more in-depth at specific critical areas.
The February forums will focus on a draft report on compliance with NEASC's 11 standards. The draft report on the 11 standards is available at www.unh.edu/neasc/reports.htm.
The forums will be held, Wednesday, Feb. 19, from 4 to 5 p.m. in MUB 338/40, Wednesday, Feb. 26, from 4 to 5 p.m. at UNH-M, and Thursday, Feb. 27, from 12:40 to 1:40 p.m. in MUB 336. Comments also may be directed to Stephen Hardy, chair of the NEASC Steering Committee, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Comments should be submitted by March 10. NEASC will begin to address UNH's compliance with the standards May 1 and 2, when three members of a NEASC team come to the university.
The second, more extensive part of UNH's self-evaluation focuses on planning in three areas: undergraduate experience, engagement through research and scholarship, and institutional effectiveness.
The entire process will prepare UNH for a visit October 20-22, by the full NEASC external review team.
The following letter was sent to President Ann Weaver Hart by Candace Corvey, vice president for finance and administration, Feb. 10, and outlines the Transportation Policy Committee's recommendations in its final report.
Last March the Transportation Policy Committee (TPC) forwarded its preliminary report and recommendations to President Leitzel and embarked on a period of community comment and dialogue. In May, the TPC provided the President with a summary of community reaction. In June, the President endorsed the general direction of the TPC recommendations and agreed that more detailed work would be required before a final decision could be made. President Leitzel directed the TPC to continue its work and refinements through the fall. I write now to give you a preview of the Final Report of the Transportation Policy Committee, which will be delivered to you shortly under separate cover and will be posted on the web.
While the report contains numerous recommendations, all of which are important and interconnected, I summarize the most critical ones below. Over the first five years of implementation, the proposals -- including energetic efforts to attract outside grant funding -- would add roughly $3 million per year to Parking and Transportation Services. About 70 percent of those additional funds would be used for capital investments including garage debt service and 30 percent for operating improvements including transit services.
Parking Permit Pricing
We recommend that the campus adopt a zone approach to permit pricing, as summarized on the attached price schedule and map, effective July 1, 2004, on the condition that the aspects of the plan that are subject to collective bargaining are agreed to by the AAUP. For example, this would increase the price of unreserved parking on the core campus (Zone 1) for faculty, staff, and commuter students from $32 to $200 a year. In Zone 2, which includes A Lot, the increase would be from $32 to $125. In Zone 3, which includes the West Edge, the increase would be from $32 to $50. In order to assist you in evaluating these price levels, we conducted a survey of our approved comparator institutions and found that the average price for faculty/staff parking on the core campus in that group is $236 this year.
In this plan, no particular lot will be designated for a particular group except that Forest Park, Woodside, Gables, and E1 would be restricted for use by students who live on campus. The New England Center and NHPTV lots would remain designated to those purposes with reduced fee agreements due to their self-maintained status, and B Lot would continue to be reserved for faculty and staff only unless the AAUP were to agree otherwise.
Students who reside on campus would pay $650 for Zone 1, $550 for Zone 2, and $250 for Zone 3. Currently, on-campus residents pay $200 in Zones 1 and 2 and $100 in Zone 3. In order to assist you in evaluating these price levels, the current annual rate students pay to rent privately-owned Durham parking spaces ranges from $700 to $1,200. There are waiting lists for those spaces.
All of the incremental revenue generated by the increased fees should be strictly designated toward improvements in and maintenance of the parking and transportation system.
Mandatory Student Transportation Services Fee
A proposal is pending before the Student Fee Oversight Committee and Student Senate concerning the creation of a new mandatory fee beginning in FY04 which would be dedicated to student transportation services. The fee range under discussion is $45 to $55 per year for full-time students.
The revenue from this fee would provide a number of services important to students including expanded free fare Campus Connector and Wildcat Transit service, funding and professional drivers for the SAFE Ride Program, non-emergency rides to local hospitals, annual operating cost for the Amtrak Quik-Trak ticketing machine at our train station, and a student organization vehicle pool. A key concept associated with this proposal is that the students will work with Transportation Services to identify funded projects and investments each year. The funds will not be used for parking infrastructure or to offset parking permit fees, but instead be focused on services for all students.
The TPC recommends that you approve the new fee if it emerges from the Fee Oversight Process with the requisite support.
The University should construct a parking facility of roughly 800 spaces (net 600) and finance it with some of the incremental revenue that will be generated with the higher permit prices. Our preliminary recommendation is that the facility be sited on A Lot to serve ongoing and special event parking needs, but a final site selection should emerge from the Master Plan update process. We are awaiting the results of a technical feasibility study from an outside consultant which will confirm site location(s), geotechnical issues, traffic impacts, cost estimates, and other site considerations. We currently estimate the capital requirements of such a facility at $15 million. If the new permit prices are in effect in July 2004 as recommended, we believe we could have a parking facility completed by December 2005.
The TPC plan calls for additional capital and operating investments toward a balanced range of transportation projects (parking, transit, sidewalk and bicycle related infrastructure) in a prioritized multi-year list, which is detailed in the Report. I expect these investments to be consistent with the outcome of our Master Plan update, but we are prepared to adjust the priorities to fully support the transportation system recommendations in the new Master Plan.
The community has expressed frustration with frequent closings of various lots for special events during regular weekdays. The TPC proposes to limit special events lot closings as much as possible, pending construction of the parking facility. Once we have a parking facility, we would aim to confine special events parking to that facility wherever possible. Moreover, notice of the need to close all or part of a lot for a special event will be made through professional and prominent signage at all entrances to the lot in question at least 48 hours prior to the event. Finally, we will complete talks this spring with Whittemore Center and Athletics Department management about revenue and operational responsibility for major event parking. A share of revenues from these events will contribute to the overall parking and transportation services system.
Currently, administrators eligible for reserved spaces pay $200 a year. Departments that have received permission for reserved spaces, including Residence Life on behalf of Residence Hall Directors, pay $100 a year. The TPC recommends that we make up to 200 reserved spaces available to individuals by lottery and that the annual price for any reserved space (individual, departmental and administrative) increase to $1,000 in Zone 1, $750 in Zone 2, and $500 in Zone 3. One exception is with respect to Residence Hall Directors, who would pay reduced rates for reserved spaces near their buildings due to the unique nature of their jobs. We are also working on a set of criteria for the assignment of departmental reserved spaces and will send that to you under separate cover. The criteria are likely to reduce the number of reserved spaces assigned to departments and limit the number of all types of reserved spaces available in Zone 1.
Interim Price Changes
Finally, there are a number of areas where we feel we can and should increase fees prior to July 1, 2004, in order to affect improvements in the functioning of the overall transportation system. The full set of interim fee increase proposals is in the Report, but I would like to call your attention to the most important ones to be effective on July 1, 2003.
The TPC looks forward to discussing these proposals with you at its Feb. 27, meeting, and in the meantime we will take numerous steps to publicize our recommendations to the community.
By Lori Gula
The OS Council learned about a new security policy at its February meeting.
Dwight Fischer, director of UNH Enterprise Computing, presented the USNH Information Technology Security Policy to the council and asked for the council's endorsement of the policy. The policy is designed to help UNH and USNH safeguard its computer networks and the information stored on them, such as student and employee data.
The policy is different than the Acceptable Use Policy for Information Technology Resources, which governs the proper conduct of individuals using university IT resources, such as e-mail and Internet access. For example, the policy prohibits the general use of university IT resources for commercial uses, as well as political or lobbying efforts. For more information on this policy, visit www.unh.edu/cis/aup.html.
"If anybody has heard of Project FRESH, the student system, Banner Finance, or Banner HR, our objective is to make sure that those systems are accessible to those of you who need to use them to do your work, but we also have a huge obligation to protect those information assets, as well," Fischer said.
UNH's network security personnel monitor network traffic for spikes, he said. For instance, when students return to campus, network traffic increases because students are downloading files and music.
"What else is going on is hackers have these programs that search the Internet for vulnerable servers or desktop computers. If they find the server or desktop computer is not appropriately protected on the network, it finds it and barrages it with programs ... so that the server then becomes the source of an attack elsewhere, either on our campus or more often than not, on another site," Fischer said.
UNH has good security on the network, he said, but if someone sets up a server on the campus network and does not have appropriate security, CIS can see traffic flooding that unsecure server.
Fischer assured the council that UNH is not interested in reading e-mail, tracking Web pages, or viewing information on hard drives.
"Some organizations actually do those things, but not in higher ed. It doesn't make sense in higher ed," he said.
The entire policy is available online at usnhsecurity.unh.edu/.
By Lori Gula
A recent decision to begin outsourcing certain areas of Facilities Services spurred a lively discussion at the February PAT Council meeting, with several representatives questioning the value and cost savings of privatizing certain positions on campus.
In a Jan. 28 letter to the UNH community, Candace Corvey, vice president for Finance and Administration, said UNH is struggling to balance its budget. With the state facing a serious economic shortfall and the university system unsure of the amount of its state appropriation, UNH is making changes that would reduce budget costs while maintaining service levels. Areas in Facilities Services being privatized are housekeeping, maintenance, and grounds and roads operations. The process will take years, because UNH will privatize through attrition.
Corvey has said every operating staff member in Facilities Services will have the right to retain his or her current position as long as he or she so desires. Every PAT staff member in Facilities Services will be guaranteed his or her current job, a comparable job at UNH, or a comparable job with the private company with whom UNH contract for facilities services. No current staff member in Facilities will be without a job equal to or comparable to their current position as a consequence of this plan.
Councilors expressed a range of sentiments, from those concerned about the practical and philosophical impacts of privatization to those who saw it as a positive way to avoid a force reduction.
Those opposed to outsourcing were concerned UNH would see a decline in the quality of services, the creation of another level of employee "class" -- thus fragmenting the UNH community -- and compromising of security of offices and buildings.
"I am concerned with the state administration being able to make due on its promise to privatize government and run it like a business," District 13 Rep. Sonke Dornblut said. "My government is not a business. My government is a very different institution. I am proud to have a government that I can control and be a part of, and I don't want to lose that. That is one of the issues that one needs to consider -- the ability to self determine is lost when you privatize certain elements of an organization, and that would be true here."
Other representatives, however, saw the changes in Facilities Services as a valid way to address the current budget situation. "It is the way that they are trying to reduce costs without reduced force. Are you prepared to say, 'I don't think we should privatize; I think we should lay people off,' because I think that probably would be the response," Vice Chair Stephen Dunhom said.
UNH estimates the plan can save the university more than $1 million a year in administrative costs. If UNH does not take these steps, Corvey said, increasing costs will force UNH to either eliminate services, or charge more than the budgets of the academic, research, and student service units can bear.
Other councilors were concerned that the full council had not been informed of the rationale behind the decision to privatize before the decision was made and announced to the UNH community. Prior to the announcement, UNH administrators met with members of the council's executive committee to brief them on the decision, but the full council did not meet until after the announcement had been made.
Chair Linda Hayden said while the council does not have control over the privatization process, it can be involved by being informed as it moves forward. To that end, Hayden said she would contact Corvey about the council's concerns and ask that someone from the administration address the concerns.
By Barbara Krysiak, Faculty Senate Chair
At the Faculty Senate meeting Monday, Jan. 27, President Hart told the senators that the state legislative session has begun and the university system has established a steering committee composed of the presidents; the chair of the Board of Trustees; Kathy Salisbury, director of Government Relations; and Gregg Sanborn, executive assistant to the president; to share information on legislative bills and to work on responses to them. For example, the university is following HB 55, on the issue of affirmative action, and HB 15, on the issue of student voting in local and national elections.
Hart asked that faculty inform her of legislation which would be of interest to the university system. The university is setting up a core group of community leaders and alumni who are willing to speak regarding such bills, including budget bills; and the president would like faculty members to participate in these efforts as well. In response to a question, Hart said she would ask that a list of bills important to the university be posted on the university Web site.
Governor's budget discussed
The president also spoke about the governor's proposed budget, and that a cut in state funding would be especially difficult for the university library and Cooperative Extension. The university system's board of trustees will try to make the case that now is not the time to reduce the budget for higher education, because that represents the future of the state. She also informed the faculty of the many meetings being held with legislators, e.g., a breakfast with Durham and Madbury delegates and proposed Cooperative Extension Advisory Committee meetings in different regions in the state which are expected to include the legislative delegates from those regions. On March 27, there will be an alumni/legislative breakfast.
IT security policy presented
Following the president, Bob Cape, assistant vice president of CIS, asked the senators for input on the proposed information technology security policy, which will apply to each of the institutions in the system. The Acceptable Uses Policy provided guidelines for the user, but the USNH Information Technology Security Policy would deal on a system level with issues such as security for grades, payroll, and alumni contributions and would try to safeguard access to the campus network, the wide-area network and the Internet. This policy would provide a code of practice for information security management. The proposed policy would clarify responsibilities and best practices and would not provide much change for the user. Cape assured the faculty that the fundamental relationship between Computing and Information Services and the Computer Science Department would not be changed. A committee chaired by Kent Chamberlin had given faculty input on the policy.
Senators report on NEASC effort
Roy Torbert and Julie Williams made a presentation on the activities of the NEASC Accreditation Subcommittee on Engagement Through Research and Scholarship. The subcommittee's report, now in draft form, will show how the university contributes to outreach and how that is a critical part of its function as a public university. The report states that the university has a rich tradition of outreach, engagement, and public service. The subcommittee looked at data from other land-grant institutions and conducted a survey to collect data about UNH projects that reasonably fit the definition of engagement through research and scholarship. The work on this report is directly linked to the academic strategic planning process, and the subcommittee includes both faculty and administrators. More information can be garnered at www.unh.edu/neasc/index.htm.
Sally Ward reported on the work of the NEASC Subcommittee on the Undergraduate Experience. The subcommittee, which includes faculty, administrators and students, has five working groups which concentrate on internships, advising, student life, international education and undergraduate research. The subcommittee developed a Blackboard site for the exchange of information and posted a number of reports on that site, as well as external links to other sources. Later this Blackboard will be open to the university community. The subcommittee also invited several faculty members to report on key issues; and it set up surveys to learn about internship activities, advising, capstone courses, and undergraduate research.
Final exams schedule discussed
Mark Wrighton, faculty senator and a member of the Athletic Advisory Committee, brought to the senate the issue of changed hockey tournament dates next December and the possible effect on final exams. The senators suggested that the Athletic Department send a note explaining the situation to the faculty members and that the faculty and students should work together to resolve exam schedule issues.