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Etchemendy discusses budgetary woes at faculty senate

ASSU vice-president Brandon Hill speaks at the close of the penultimate faculty senate meeting this year (Courtesy of Stanford News Service).

The 48th Faculty Senate had its penultimate meeting on Thursday, wrapping up issues from the year and beginning to look forward to next year with a report on the budget from Provost John Etchemendy Ph.D. ’82, a summary of faculty changes and a preview of future committee reports. The Associated Students of Stanford University (ASSU) Executives also attended and thanked the Faculty Senate for their work.

Provost’s budget report

Since this report would most likely be Etchemendy’s last budget report as Provost, Etchemendy decided to split the focus twofold: the 2016-2017 budget and retrospective trends of the budget during his term as Provost. Unfortunately, the 2016-2017 budget showed concerning signs for the future.

“This is the most sobering budget report since ’09,” Etchemendy said.

In every budget report, there are three budgets allocated: consolidated budget, general funds and capital plans budget. The consolidated budget is for the entire University, with the exception of the hospitals. The Medical Center is considered an independent non-profit owned by Stanford, but not a part of the University itself. The general funds budget is a fourth of the consolidated budget and “greases the wheels” of the University, according to Etchemendy. Finally, the capital plans budget shows a forward-looking, three-year window on projects, and demonstrates what the University expects to pay for those projects next year.

On average, the budget grew 4.5 percent after inflation every year during Etchemendy’s term. The University’s budget grew from $2.2 billion in 2001-2002 to $5.9 billion in the 2016-2017 budget.

One major change in the budget has been a shift in the main forms of revenue. According to Etchemendy, Stanford has been funded primarily by research funds since the postwar era with investments and student income (tuition, room and board, dining) paying for the bulk of the remaining expenses.

However, in the 2016-2017 budget, the contributions of these main groups has changed drastically. Research is the fourth largest provider of funds for the University, and its funding per researcher has fallen. Etchemendy emphasized that the drop in funding for research is not due to a drop in the amount of research done, but rather a shift towards University subsidies.

The growth, meanwhile, has been from investments and healthcare. Healthcare revenue grew from $196 million to $1.2 billion during Etchemendy’s tenure. The Provost attributed this to Stanford Hospital being forced to expand and improve to compete with local hospitals.

“[Stanford’s healthcare revenue growth] is faster than China’s,” Etchemendy said.

Other shifts have been more troubling. For example, the proportion of research funded by the government has fallen from 84 percent in 2001 to 72 percent today. In particular, research funds for non-medical research has fallen from 47 percent to 35 percent. The University therefore has had to subsidize its own research by paying $25-35 million from its general funds, which are the most scarce.

There has also been a decrease in government funding for graduate students. Thus, while the University has increased its funding for graduate students, the percentage of revenue gained from student payments has stayed the same. According to Etchemendy, this means that the University has simply covered for the drop in government funds.

The Provost was additionally concerned that the 6.9 percent raise in expenses has far outpaced the 2.6 percent revenue growth. The budget still managed a $121 million surplus, but is more meager than prior years. Consequently, Etchemendy argues that this pace of growth is unsustainable. Excluding the hospitals and the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC), which grew by 10.5 percent and 18.9 percent respectively, revenue sources dropped 1.4 percent overall. Etchemendy attributed this to a 9.5 percent drop in investment values.

Although Etchemendy acknowledged that many large donations have recently been given to the University, he also said that the budget does not directly incorporate these donations because most are given to the endowment. Only between four to six percent of the endowment can be allocated to the budget.

However, Etchemendy said he does expect revenue growth in student income due to the construction of residences and dorms, which will allow more students to live on campus and thus raise revenue.

Faculty statistics report

After this report, Vice Provost for Faculty Development and Diversity Karen Cook and sociology professor Matthew Snipp gave a brief report on the gains and losses in Stanford faculty this year, putting particular emphasis on diversity within staff. Overall, Stanford has about 2,150 faculty, with about 70 percent of them on a tenure track. 72 percent of the faculty were male.

Cook and Snipp commented that there are more women within the humanities and social sciences department and fewer in the STEM departments. However, no grouping had over 37 percent women on faculty. In the past year, 36 percent of new hires were women.

Regarding racial and ethnic diversity, Cook and Snipp commented that seven percent of faculty were from underrepresented minorities (URMs), and that 17 percent of faculty were Asian. They also noticed that the School of Education was representing URMs particularly well, with 20 percent and 11 percent of new hires being URMs.

Cook and Snipp also detailed two initiatives aimed at improving faculty diversity, the Faculty Incentive Fund (FIF) and the Faculty Diversity Initiative (FDI). The FIF has pushed for more diversity in hiring through providing the funding for professors. Since its inception, it has provided funds for many new faculty, 80 percent of which are women. FDI hired 15 minority faculty.

Ultimately, Cook and Snipp concluded that this year has been a good year for faculty diversity recruitment. However, political science professor Judy Goldstein argued that Stanford should do more, including encouraging earlier retirement of older professors to accelerate the demographic change of the faculty.

Goldstein also argued that FIF is not inclusive enough, as her department is ineligible to receive funding from FIF because her department has what was deemed as “enough women,” or the University average of 28 percent women faculty.

“There is a lot of work to be done,” Goldstein said.

Previews of what’s to come

The Committee on Committees gave snapshots of their efforts that will be elaborated in future Faculty Senate meetings, segueing into brief reports by the Planning and Policy Board (PPB), the Task Force for Women Leadership and the Provost Search Committee.

Richard Saller, Dean of the School of the Humanities and Sciences and head of the Provost Search Committee, outlined the details of the search process.

“We [the Provost Search Committee] are not … picking a new provost,” Saller said.

Instead, the Provost Search Committee will simply provide incoming President Marc Tessier-Lavigne five candidates that Tessier-Lavigne himself will interview and finally choose one as Provost. Saller also added that the closing date for nominations are May 30, and that everyone is invited to make nominations.

Following the reports, outgoing ASSU Vice President Brandon Hill gave a short statement thanking the Faculty Senate for its hard work and actions during the past year and expressed hope for additional positive action in the future. Hill specifically cited the struggles with sexual assault and climate change.

 

 

Contact Christina Pan at [email protected]

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