Email from Kirk McClure, Faculty Senate President
August 21, 2018
To: Members of the Faculty
From: Kirk McClure, Faculty Senate President
I hope your summer went well.
As I am sure you know, the University is imposing a 6 percent (approximately $20 million), permanent cut in the base budget, with all units expected to share proportionately in this cut.
As Faculty Senate President, I oppose the cut in its current form.
I have been meeting with the Interim Provost and the Chancellor. In these meetings, I suggested three changes that could reduce the budget cut to about one-half of the amount that is currently being imposed.
The proposed changes are:
1. The costs of the Central District should not be borne by the faculty or staff.
We are informed that the incremental costs (debt service and operating expenses) of the Integrated Science Building are about $7 million per year. This is about one-third of the entire budget cut.
The faculty did not make the decision to build this structure when the University could not afford it. The faculty and staff should not be expected to suffer losses in salary and other programmatic funds to pay for this capital improvement.
The KU Endowment Association (KUEA) holds about $1.8 billion in assets and provides about $185 million annually in direct support to KU. It is time for KUEA to be tasked with finding a means to refinance the Integrated Science Building from KUEA resources, preventing the harm from this building being shifted to the faculty, staff, and their programs. If KUEA absorbs the costs this building it would amount to about a 4 percent increase in its contributions to the University. It is unacceptable for the faculty and staff to be expected to absorb a 6 percent budget cut without KUEA increasing its contribution. At the minimum, KUEA should increase its contributions in proportion to the cuts the faculty and staff must absorb.
2. Realignment of the relationship between KU and Kansas Athletics Inc.
Currently, KU gives about $1.5 million per year to Kansas Athletics Inc. (KAI). KAI contributes nothing to KU. Yet, KAI realizes about $100 million per year in revenue. The Chronical of Higher Education (January 24, 2016) reports that the University of Texas athletic department contributes about $9 million per year to its university. This contribution is unencumbered and is over and above payments from the university to the athletic department. The contribution is about 6 percent of the athletic department’s annual budget. The University of Oklahoma athletic department contributes to its university as do several other Division 1 schools.
It is time for KAI to stop drawing down from the University’s scarce resources and start making annual financial contributions to the University.
Eliminating the $1.5 million that KAI takes from the University and contributing $1.5 million would be about a 3 percent adjustment in the KAI budget. Again, this scale of adjustment would be proportionate to the cuts that the faculty and staff must absorb.
3. Reconfigure the aircraft of the University
KU operates a jet. The primary user of the jet is KAI, which does not compensate the University for the use of the jet. KU is asking the state legislature to restore funding lost to harmful budget cuts of the recent past. The request looks disingenuous while the University operates a high-cost jet.
It is time for KU to economize its aircraft, and it is time to expect compensation for its use by KAI.
Seeking your input
My fear is that the full brunt of the 6 percent ($20 million) budget cut will be borne by faculty, staff, and academic programs if steps are not taken immediately to adopt these suggestions to reconfigure the budget.
Please indicate your positions on these issues to me, to your representative members of the Faculty Senate, and to the administrators of your units.
All the best,
Kirk McClure, Ph.D.
Professor and Faculty Senate President
Urban Planning Program
School of Public Affairs and Administration
University of Kansas
1460 Jayhawk Blvd., 203 Snow Hall
Lawrence, Kansas 66045