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Faculty Forum Papers

"WHAT I WOULD HAVE SAID"



by

Roy Arnold
OSU Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs


November 7, 1991


The November 7, 1991, Faculty Senate meeting had
considerable discussion and lasted past the
normal time. Dr. Arnold agreed to have a summary
of his proposed remarks placed in the minutes.
These remarks appear to be of interest to all faculty
and, thus, Dr. Arnold agreed to have them appear as a
Faculty Forum Paper.



Summary of Remarks Prepared for
Faculty Senate Meeting
November 7, 1991
Roy Arnold, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

As demonstrated at today's meeting, the Faculty Senate provides a valuable forum for discussion and debate of important topics and issues within the university community. Admittedly, issues such as implementation of the new student information system, establishment of a core course on cultural diversity, and funding of Intercollegiate Athletics presents complex and difficult choices. Discussion of diverse views regarding such issues is important to the process of decision making within higher education.

I agreed to accept a two-year appointment as Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs following Graham Spanier's appointment as Chancellor of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. I began this assignment on October 15. Expressions of encouragement and support during the process leading to this appointment were helpful and sincerely appreciated. I am pleased to have the opportunity to work with the leadership of the Faculty Senate, other OSU administrators, and the excellent team within the Office of Academic Affairs.

Because my appointment as Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs occurred very quickly, I do not come to the position with a lengthy list of agenda items or preconceived notions of intended outcomes or changes. It has been my observation that the Office of Academic Affairs has been quite effective and responsive. Although it is always important to review systems and processes, specific areas in need of major overhaul are not apparent at this time. I am committed to sustaining the several positive initiatives and improvements which were implemented during Graham Spanier's leadership as Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs.

Over the next several weeks, I will be visiting with groups of faculty and administrators throughout the university to "listen and learn." A better sense of issues, concerns, ideas, and suggestions will likely emerge from these interactions. Certainly the major issue facing OSU for the immediate future is the climate of uncertainty regarding future budgetary support. Although the impacts of Measure 5 on OSU's budget are known for the current biennium, state support for higher education and all other state-supported programs and serviced beyond 1993 is unknown. The outcome of current and future discussions and actions regarding the state's tax structure will determine whether adequate replacement revenues will be available to reduce the future consequences of Measure 5 on state support. The Governor's "Conversation with Oregon" (including sessions currently underway in the LaSells Stewart Center) is designed to gather views and arrive at a consensus regarding the levels of services Oregonians desire and the appropriate means to support those services.

Of particular challenge to those of us in higher education is the wide range of views regarding the effects of Measure 5. Our faculty, staff, and students have some awareness of its impacts on programs, staffing, and tuition. Parents of current or future students and some other clientele of OSU programs may also be aware of some of the impacts. But many other Oregonians are doubtful that any significant impacts have occurred…and some are quite cynical about Measure 5 as they perceive its modest impacts on programs and property taxes to date. However, I am encouraged that more Oregonians are becoming concerned about the negative impact of Measure 5 on higher education in Oregon. For example, a recent telephone conversation with the mother of a high school senior in the greater Portland area indicated substantial concern about the level of state support for higher education in Oregon. This concern was triggered by their family's unhappiness about having to send their son out of the state to access a program that he had planned to study at OSU…until it was eliminated last year. The caller wasn't faulting OSU, but rather seeking information and suggested contacts to advance the cause of higher education funding in Oregon.

Although the process of resolving Oregon's future funding uncertainty is unclear, the "Conversation" and other efforts currently underway are aimed at increasing Oregonians' understanding of the detrimental impacts of failing to implement replacement revenue sources. I do not believe that a majority of Oregonians want the potential "worst case" scenarios to happen to higher education or other state-supported programs and services.

At the same time, we can anticipate some difficult "what if?" questions along the way to resolution of the state's funding dilemma. We will need to remind ourselves and each other that this is all a part of the process and that such questions don't necessarily reflect the final outcome. This was clearly demonstrated during the last legislative session when questions were asked during legislative hearings about the potential impact of reductions in state support for specific programs that were 10 times greater than reductions actually realized.

OSU, and higher education in general, must overcome some current credibility problems as we deal with these issues. Internally, it will be important to focus on our institutional processes for responding to "what if?" budget reduction questions. How do we respond without severely damaging people and programs but still convey to Oregon's citizens that further reductions will have serious detrimental effects on our state? Our internal processes for dealing with these circumstances will be reviewed and discussed with the leadership of the Faculty Senate and with deans and other OSU administrators in the weeks immediately ahead.

We should also be prepared to make some changes within OSU. Avoiding the "worse case" impacts will require a demonstration of good faith and an effort to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of our operations. Administrative structure and organization within the OSSHE will be reviewed and evaluated. At OSU, the Faculty Senate, the Dean's Council, other OSU administrators, faculty, staff, students, and external constituents will be expected to provide input to these discussions.

In spite of uncertainty, we should be proactive in developing and implementing strategies to strengthen OSU's competitive position within higher education. Our effectiveness in student recruiting is an example. Recent Deans' Council discussions indicate a willingness for academic colleges and the Admissions Office to develop jointly and initiate some targeted recruitment efforts. Another example is development of new multidisciplinary undergraduate programs which capitalize on OSU's distinctive mix of academic strengths.

Challenges for all of us over the next two years include the following:

1) Maintain a balanced view of our circumstances. We should not lose sight of many positive developments, such as the state's funding of salary increases for faculty and staff, even in the face of serious budget constraints. Another example is the development of the new Office of Multicultural Affairs and, included within it, the new position of Indian Education Coordinator. These are important resources to help OSU colleges, departments, and other units do a better job of meeting our cultural diversity goals. Their function is not to handle OSU's multicultural responsibilities for us, but rather to help us meet our responsibilities.

2) Avoid the cynicism that so easily enters into discussions and deliberations in times of budget stress. We will need to help each other focus on our jobs and think more positively about future initiatives and possibilities for OSU and Oregon.

3) Seek ways to help Oregonians work through current issues of budgets, revenues, taxes, and loss of programs and services. Participation in the "Conversation" process is a start. I am aware that many OSU and OSSHE faculty and staff are playing important volunteer roles in the "Conversation with Oregon" process. This is certainly an appropriate and potentially very important response to our current circumstance, and I applaud these efforts. Also needed are efforts to communicate to Oregonians the quality and impacts of higher education programs and the importance of continued investment in higher education to Oregon's future. We all share a responsibility to help close the credibility gap referred to earlier.

4) Be open-minded about possibilities for change and more creative in influencing the directions of change. The issue of organizational/administrative structure for OSU is an opportunity for creative thinking. Over its 123-year history, OSU has evolved and changed dramatically in response to changing needs and expectations. No publicly supported institution can expect to justify its continued existence based upon past contributions. We should expect continued change and evolution and bring our best thinking to bear in planning and directing future change.

5) Maintain communication. These times of change and uncertainty will require much greater effort at communication within the university community.

During the next two years, I am committed to giving my best effort to help OSU work through these challenges. I look forward to working with you during these challenges but interesting times.
Due to budget limitations, this will be the last paper copy of Faculty Forum Papers distributed to all faculty. In the future, they will be available, as are the Faculty Senate Agenda and Minutes, electronically or in Kerr Library Reserve Book Area. Notice of procedures to electronically subscribe and access will be submitted to OSU THIS WEEK in the near future.
Opinions expressed by authors of Faculty Forum articles are not necessarily those of the OSU Faculty or Faculty Senate.