Martha Pollack, the University’s vice provost for academic and budgetary affairs, told the faculty’s leading governing body yesterday that University officials are working to make sure there will be enough space to accommodate the 150 new faculty members who are expected to begin working at the University in the upcoming years.

Pollack said that because not all of the faculty members are coming to campus at the same time, there should be enough space to accommodate everyone. She added that some of the faculty will also be housed in the North Campus Research Complex.

In her talk to the Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs yesterday, Pollack also answered questions about the University’s cost cutting plans and the faculty health plan.

Of the faculty members expected to arrive on campus in the near future, 100 were or will be hired through University President Mary Sue Coleman’s 2007 faculty initiative, and the University expects to hire 50 more using money centrally allocated in this year’s budget.

Pollack said the University will repurpose unoccupied classrooms to be used as faculty offices since the University has a low classroom utilization rate of 49 percent.

In response, Stephen Lusmann, associate voice professor and a member of SACUA, raised a concern about the lack of practice rooms available for students at the School of Music, Theatre and Dance. Pollack answered Lusmann’s question by saying she believes the University has allocated money to create new rooms.

Pollack also told SACUA that the University won’t cut anything that detracts from its core educational mission in order to meet its budget goals in response to a question from one of the faculty members.

Instead, Pollack said the University will decrease energy usage, cut down on maintenance costs and possibly ask the deans of multiple schools to reduce their budgets in order to meet its reduction goals of $100 million from the 2010 to 2012 fiscal-year budgets and $120 million from the 2013 to 2017 fiscal years.

Pollack said she feels the University has done well overall with regard to budgeting, compared to other public universities, as it hasn’t forced faculty or staff to take any furlough days and even issued some faculty salary increases.

Following Pollack’s discussion of the budget, Ed Rothman, SACUA chair and a professor of statistics, said he’s concerned the health benefits offered by the University won’t be able to match the rising costs of health care.

Pollack said the University has been comparing its health care package to other institutions and has found that overall its benefits are in line with comparable plans. But because this is an overall measure, Pollack said singular benefits might be higher or lower than the average.

Salary Task Force shares findings

Larry Boxer, a professor in the Department of Pediatrics and Communicable Diseases and chair of SACUA’s Salary Task force, also discussed the task force’s findings at yesterday’s meeting.

Rothman said the task force was created to investigate if the salary reduction plan in the University’s medical school — which was applied across the medical campus in 2007 — could affect other units on campus.

Reading the task force report given to SACUA, Kim Kearfott, SACUA member and professor of Engineering, said the group found that the salary reduction plan won’t have an impact on other University departments. But despite the findings, Kearfott said she was concerned that the salary plan could be used as precedent for the creation of salary plans in other schools.

Boxer said that under the medical school’s current plan, a faculty member’s salary can be lowered if he or she refuses to take on extra teaching hours or fails to perform at a high level when conducting research. A faculty member’s salary could also go down if the faculty member opts to reduce the amount of time he or she works as retirement nears.

Salary reductions are made at the time of the annual review of faculty, Boxer said.

The plan was widely accepted by the medical school’s clinical departments, but hasn’t yet been adopted by the school’s science departments, Boxer said.

Rothman also discussed the task force’s examination of how the salary plan affected Bylaw 509, a University Board of Regents’s bylaw that determines what issues constitute a faculty grievance. Because one of the issues constituting a grievance is demotion, Rothman said he’s concerned that the medical faculty could claim their reduced salary under the plan as a grievance.

Boxer said he doesn’t believe there was ever any discussion in the medical school about a salary reduction constituting a demotion.

Kearfott and other faculty members also expressed disagreement with the fact that new faculty members are not made aware of the details of the salary reduction plan in their letters of hire.

SACUA Vice Chair Gina Poe said she feels there will be an influx of grievances from medical school faculty members who were hired just before the salary plan was implemented and may not be aware of its implications as their third-year evaluations approach.

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