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Budget discussion foreshadows hard choices to be made
Faculty members attending the Sept. 26 opening meeting of this year's Faculty Senate got a preview of the conflicts that may develop later this fall as the university struggles to cut about $40 million from its $425 million annual operating budget.
Following presentations about the budget-cutting process, an art history professor accused a chemist of slighting the creative and performing arts.
A classics professor, meanwhile, questioned whether the process would gain faculty support or would faculty instead "be pulled along in something approaching a bloodbath."
And the two representatives of the Associated Students said students should have more input in the decision-making process.
The discussion opened with Provost James N. Rosse explaining the budget problem. The reduced indirect cost rate, a slower than expected growth in research volume and the general state of the economy "overpowered the intended effect" of last year's $22 million reduction in the budget base, he said.
Rosse reminded the senate that university trustees last June "reluctantly" approved a three-year cumulative deficit totaling about $47 million, excluding the Medical School.
Despite the $22 million "repositioning" effort, the 1990- 91 budget shortfall was almost $20 million, Rosse said. And even with projected holdbacks of $14 million this year, a deficit of nearly $15 million is anticipated for 1991-92 and another $14 million in 1992-93.
Rosse said that he and others "had hoped the deficit would go away over the summer, but it didn't."
At Rosse's request, Prof. Charles Kruger, chair of last year's senate, discussed the work of the Cabinet Committee on Budget and Strategic Planning (CC-BSP), which is playing a key role in the budget-reduction process. Kruger is deputy chair, under Rosse, of the committee.
Kruger explained the committee's structure and its relationship to other groups also studying budget issues. The 18 members of the cabinet committee include nine tenured faculty and two students, he said.
Specific budget-cutting decisions will be made in the fall and winter. Dollar targets will be announced after Oct. 17 for each of the university's 20 administrative and academic units.
Senate committee report
Following Kruger's presentation, chemistry Prof. Richard Zare introduced preliminary recommendations from the ad hoc Committee on Education and Scholarship (SC-ESS), formed by the Faculty Senate last June.
The group and its five task forces spent the summer developing a set of preliminary recommendations about the university's future.
Zare, who chaired the committee, told his senate colleagues that the committee felt administrative and support services should be targeted for larger cuts than academic programs.
Academic programs should not be subjected to across- the-board reductions, and university officials should preserve programs that are indispensable components of Stanford's essential academic character, he said.
Zare also described the work of the five task forces established to study undergraduate education, graduate and professional education, research and scholarship, administrative services, and revenue enhancement.
Scholarship vs. creativity
Zare said the committee felt that distinction and prominence in scholarship should be the university's central goals.
Stanford is "above all a community of scholars," Zare repeated from the committee's conclusions.
Anything peripheral to the pursuit and transmission of knowledge, such as expenditures that "merely enhance the quality of life," should have lower priority when budget-cutting decisions are made, the committee wrote in its preliminary recommendations.
During the senate discussion, Prof. Albert Elsen, art history, protested the emphasis on scholarship.
"Not seeing creativity spelled out as a basis for consideration requires an explanation," Elsen said. "It is a serious omission."
He challenged the composition of the nine-member senate committee, which in addition to Zare included Profs. Pat Jones, biological sciences (deputy chair); Lucius Barker, political science; George Dekker, English; John Eaton, mechanical engineering; George Fredrickson, history; William Northway, diagnostic radiology and nuclear medicine; James Van Horne, business; and Robert Weisberg, law.
Responding to Elsen, Zare said that choices must be made. "I bring you the wisdom of this group, and I welcome people who will convince us otherwise or enlarge our wisdom."
Elsen was joined by English Prof. Ronald Rebholz. "The decision is already made that the creative arts do not rank with other scholarly work," Rebholz said, asking "are we entitled to challenge this?"
There would be nothing for humanists to study if people were not creating great works of art and literature, he said.
Supporting Zare, committee member Fredrickson agreed that the committee felt "that more traditional scholarly academic enterprises did deserve some priority over the performing and creative arts."
He acknowledged the committee may have reached that conclusion because the performing and creative arts faculty was not represented.
But Zare said the decision was not an accident. "We discussed this type of issue and other kinds of things the university could have."
Academic vs. administrative cuts
Classics Prof. Marsh McCall, who also serves as dean of continuing studies and summer session, said that future budget discussions should deal with questions of legitimacy, credibility and trust.
Although calling the results of the Zare committee "magnificent," McCall said he was dissatisfied that the task force on administrative services chaired by political science Prof. Stephen Krasner "has thrown up its hands in despair."
McCall said no cuts in academic programs should be considered until a faculty group assures the senate that no further cuts can be made in administration and support services.
He predicted the current process would not answer questions about how things are done.
Zare countered the implication that administrators are trying to keep faculty in the dark about their functions. "Administrators are begging faculty to come listen and understand what they do."
Krasner told McCall that he felt from the beginning that the administrative services task force assignment was not achievable because faculty members lacked expertise to make recommendations about administrative units.
The assignment has been reorganized and more faculty members added to liaison teams studying administrative units under the auspices of the Cabinet Committee on Budget and Strategic Planning.
President Donald Kennedy told McCall that faculty on the liaison teams have been very active and that administrative and support functions are being put "to the sternest possible test."
He criticized the notion that all administrative cuts could be made before trimming any academic programs. "It is a lot more complicated than that.
"I found your representation of the problem disturbingly simplistic," Kennedy told McCall.
Students John Louie of the Associated Students' council of presidents and Kevin Warsh of the student senate both said students should have a greater say in budget cuts.
Just two students on the 18-member cabinet committee cannot represent the full diversity of the student body, Warsh said.
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