Widgets Magazine

Faculty Senate examines faculty composition, budget plan

Provost John Etchemendy Ph.D. '82 presented the Consolidated Budget for Operations and the Capital Budget for the 2011-2012 fiscal year at the Thursday Faculty Senate meeting. It's "a very boring budget,” Etchemendy said, given that the state of University finances has improved since last year. (Courtesy of Linda Cicero)

Faculty composition and the 2011-12 University budget plan were the focal points of the May 26 meeting of the Faculty Senate.

The Senate began the session by addressing professorial gains, losses and composition. Provost John Etchemendy Ph.D. ’82 then highlighted key points of the Consolidated Budget for Operations and the Capital Budget for the upcoming year.

Commitment to faculty diversity

Karen Cook, vice provost for faculty development and diversity, introduced the “Report on the Faculty.” She underscored a continued “commitment to faculty diversity” before embarking on a discussion of faculty composition by gender, race and ethnicity.

According to Cook, the number of Stanford faculty dropped from 1,908 to 1,900 last year — a consequence of 96 hires and 104 departures, 66 of which were retirements, likely due to enhanced Faculty Retirement Incentive Program (FRIP). There were 65 departures in the preceding year.

Women continue to rise in number across the ranks of most professorships. In 2010, they made up 20.7 percent of full professors, 35.7 percent of assistant professors, 30.4 percent of associate professors and 41.7 percent of senior and center fellows.

“University-wide, women are now 26.3 percent of the faculty,” Cook said.

Thursday’s meeting also concentrated on the stunted progress in the hiring of underrepresented minority (URM) faculty. Cook said there has been no increase in the proportion of URM faculty in the past 10 years, especially since turnover has offset the impact of proactive hiring.

Stanford is home to 116 traditional URM faculty members, who represent 6.1 percent of the entire faculty. Among this group, 2.6 percent are black/African American, 3.4 percent are Hispanic/Latino and 0.16 percent are Native American/Alaskan Native. Cook maintained that the task at hand is to “figure out what we can do to move the bar on diversity higher.”

According to history professor Albert Camarillo, the current Faculty Development Initiative (FDI) borrows from it predecessor, the “faculty affirmative action program.” He stressed a continued need for proactive leaders and cooperation in this effort. Camarillo also underlined the need for “quick responses to counteroffers” from competing institutions of higher learning.

“We are into the fourth year of the FDI,” Camarillo said. “We’ve had some remarkable successes.”

All things considered, he noted that Stanford is “on track” to reach its goal of hiring 10 URM colleagues by the end of the fifth year of FDI.

Classics professor Richard Saller agreed that the faculty development initiative has been a critical component in the endeavor to enhance diversity. He stressed the importance of “adding more graduate students of color” since the University “disproportionately” hires back its own graduate students in the long run.

Saller further noted that biggest hurdle to faculty hires involves partner issues. He said Stanford sometimes loses faculty in cases where a couple receives an offer, but “one or the other of the partners was offered a faculty position that was less ideal.”

Dean Deborah Stipek spoke about the successes of the School of Education in encouraging faculty diversity.

“Whatever strategies are available, it is very clear to me that it has be part of the culture of the department or the school,” Stipek said.

University budget plan

“This year the budget is a very boring budget,” Etchemendy said.

He noted that this fact bespoke of the improved state of University finances.

The budget plan consists of the Consolidated Budget for Operations and the Capital Budget, which is one component of the three-year Capital Plan. The Consolidated Budget encompasses all of the University’s expected operating revenue and expenditures, and it is expected to see a surplus of $203 million next year. Etchemendy predicts $4.1 billion in revenues, $3.8 billion in expenditures and $104 million in transfers.

The Capital Budget includes capital projects such as the Bing Concert Hall, the Jill and John Freidenrich Center for Translational Research, the West Campus Recreation Center and the Bioengineering/Chemical Engineering Building. That budget estimates $456 million in expenditures for the following year.

While Stanford finances have improved, “the recovery is not complete,” Etchemendy cautioned.

“This endowment payout here is 12 percent below what we were three years ago at the peak,” he said.

At the same time, tuition and room and board income is projected to increase by 4.2 percent.

Etchemendy noted that the financial crisis led to two adverse effects: a drop in the endowment and increased financial stress felt by students’ families. The President’s Fund and The Stanford Fund filled the financial hole left by this “double whammy” effect, he said. But such a solution cannot continue indefinitely.

The provost said Stanford aims to fill that financial hole by raising additional endowment and building an equal portion into the general fund. Remaining financial gaps would be covered by money from The Stanford Fund.

With financial aid under control, the future of sponsored research might present the greatest challenge in the coming year.

“The main gathering cloud on the horizon is the federal research budget,” Etchemendy said.

In the last couple of years, sponsored research increased thanks to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), which provided stimulus funding for research. This ARRA funding will essentially disappear by 2012.

It is anticipated that total sponsored research will fall by 1.7 percent next year, a figure that may change once the federal budget is determined. But the future may not be as dire as these numbers suggest.

“Historically, Stanford’s share of the federal research budget has tended to increase in tight times,” Etchemendy said.

While the federal budget may remain flat in the coming years, Stanford could receive a larger portion of this money, thereby offsetting predicted falls in federal funding.

Etchemendy also spoke at length about incremental general funds allocation, announcing that undergraduate overseas seminars would be reinstated in the future. These seminars were “the number one request from students” for reinstatement among programs that had been cut, he said.

He discussed lessons learned in previous years and defended the University’s decision to consolidate cuts in one year rather than spreading the cut over five years.