Provost gives ‘cautiously optimistic’ budget outlook at faculty meeting

(Originally published Jan. 27, 2009.)

SMU Provost Paul Ludden presented a “cautiously optimistic” budget picture for the 2009-10 academic year at the 2009 Spring General Faculty Meeting Jan. 21. Faculty and staff pay increases will occur, he added. Assistant Professor Maria Dixon received a special award during the meeting. Read a recap under the link.

SMU’s draft budget for 2009-10 includes a 3 percent merit pool for faculty and staff salaries, Ludden said. When merit increases, promotional increases, retentions and equity adjustments are factored together, SMU’s faculty salary pool has increased about 4.5 percent annually for the past decade, he added.

The offices of the vice presidents and University deans are in the process of identifying permanent expenditure reductions of about 2 percent for the FY 2010 budget, Ludden said. The cuts will not affect the 3 percent merit pool and will be part of the budget presented for approval to SMU’s Board of Trustees at its May 2009 meeting. In addition, “while each position will be reviewed carefully, there is no plan for a freeze on hiring for faculty or staff positions,” he added.

“The quality of this university is the quality of its faculty,” Ludden said. “It is all of our jobs to ensure that we have the best possibly faculty.” The University filled 34 tenure and tenure-track positions in 2007-08, and currently there are 35 such positions in various stages of search and hire, he added.

Ludden also emphasized the importance of SMU Unbridled: The Second Century Campaign to the goal of faculty excellence. One of the campaign’s goals is to bring in new gifts to support endowed professorships. “Those are the funds that allow us to provide the salary increases to reward and retain our best and most productive faculty,” he said.

In addition, Ludden updated faculty members on the upcoming 10-year SACS accreditation review. Randall Griffin, professor of art history in Meadows School of the Arts) will chair the steering committee. John Kalb, director of institutional research, will provide organization and support.

Faculty Senate President Dennis Foster, Frensley Professor of English in Dedman College, reported on several resolutions that passed during the Fall 2008 term. Among them was a resolution that will bring SMU’s language regarding “adequate cause” for faculty dismissal, as stated in the SMU Policy Manual and in other publications, into accord with guidelines set forth by the American Association of University Professors.

The Faculty Senate also passed two resolutions on admissions policy – one to simplify recognition of transfer credit for students applying to SMU, and the other to simplify the processes by which certain applicants are reviewed by faculty panels. Foster also noted the Calendar Committee’s progress toward producing a standard calendar that will enable the University to set the academic calendar up to 5 years in advance. Under committee guidelines, classes will start on Mondays except on Monday holidays. The guidelines also reduce the number of days between final exams and Spring term graduation.

“The committee has provided a model for the calendar that should provide a welcome consistency from year to year,” Foster said.

The full text of all current Faculty Senate resolutions is available at the Faculty Senate website.

Ludden also presented the 2007-08 Golden Mustang Award to Maria Dixon, assistant professor in the Division of Corporate Communications and Public Affairs, Meadows School of the Arts. The award honors junior faculty members who sustain high achievement as both teachers and scholars.