Friday, July 10, 2015

Decision to shift COE fiscal agent duties to FSU made in May without approval of FAMU board

Update (July 10, 2015): Yesterday, the FAMU administration sent WCTV-6 a statement that addressed the recent changes in the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering (COE). That statement was later posted on www.FAMU.edu.

It stated that the Joint College of Engineering Governance Council passed a resolution on May 20, 2015 to shift the COE fiscal agent duties from FAMU to FSU. The FAMU Board of Trustees has not taken a vote to approve any changes to the current university policy stating that FAMU wants to serve as the fiscal agent/budget manager of the College of Engineering.

FAMU Board Chairman Rufus Montgomery told WCTV-6 on July 8 that “a conversation about the College of Engineering and other issues will be taken up by the board later this month as part of a broader discussion of governance at FAMU.”

From the original story (July 9, 2015): Based on the information that FAMU gave WCTV-6, Rattler Nation has made a correction to a previous report about the payroll process that is to be used after a new dean of the college is selected on a FAMU line. 

Rattler Nation continues to stand behind its statement that FSU can make an extension of the “interim deanship” happen without FAMU’s approval. The two universities must make a joint decision on the appointment of a dean, so FSU could decline to let a new dean be selected.

The FAMU statement said that the deanship line will be transferred to the university on August 1 after current Dean Yaw Yeboah steps down. But it did not explain why a professor with tenure at FSU was chosen as the interim dean when the tenure home of the dean was supposed to be rotating to FAMU.

The full statement by FAMU that was posted on the WCTV-6 website is available below:

Frequently asked questions about the shift in the “fiscal agent” responsibilities from FAMU to FSU and other related items. Provided by FAMU

Q: When was the decision made to switch the “fiscal agent” responsibilities for the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering (COE) from FAMU to FSU?

A: On May 20, 2015, the Governance Council adopted a resolution providing that:

-The fiscal agent responsibilities (operating and fixed capital outlay) for the College would be transferred to FSU
-The faculty line for the dean of the College would be transferred to FAMU at the point there is a vacancy in the position
-The transfer of fiscal agent responsibilities would occur with the new fiscal year beginning July 1, 2015, except that FAMU will continue with its existing contracts for the expenditure of fixed capital outlay funds for the ongoing construction

Q: Does FSU have more say so than FAMU on the College’s financial matters? What does it mean to be the “fiscal agent?

A: No, FSU doesn’t have more say so than FAMU on financial issues.

As you can see from the resolution mentioned above, FSU merely replaced FAMU as the “fiscal agent.” As the “fiscal agent,” FSU will administer or process financial matters, but is not the sole decision-maker in the financial process. Decisions on financial matters and such items as expenditures on faculty, students, and staff are made jointly.

The State Legislature's role is to adopt the joint budget. The budget for the College for 2015-2016 is $12.9 million. Over the past few years, the budget has been about $11 million per year, with about $5.6 million going to FSU and $5.2 million going to FAMU.

Q: What will be the role of the new Governance Council and what is its makeup?

A: The Council is not new; previously there was a Joint Management Council that consisted of the provosts, presidents, and CFOs of FAMU and FSU. The Council did not regularly meet in recent years.

On March 23, 2015, a 12-member permanent Joint College of Engineering Governance Council was established. The Council is comprised of the Chancellor of the Board of Governors, presidents, provosts, CFOs, the vice presidents for Research, the dean of the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering, and two ex-officio non-voting student representatives appointed by their respective Student Government Association presidents.

The policy-making structure remains unchanged, with the exception of the Governance Council replacing the Joint Management Council. The addition of the Chancellor to this body is designed to speed up the decision-making process by having a “tie-breaker” on the Council. According to the CBT Engineering study, “Many joint College faculty members contend that issues were dealt with promptly when the Council included the ‘tie-break’ vote of the Chancellor.”

Q: What does it mean for FAMU to have oversight of the deanship?

A: The deanship of the COE is now an FAMU line item upon vacancy. A vacancy was recently created by the resignation of Professor Yaw Yeboah. The line will be moved to FAMU by August 1, 2015, giving FAMU management over filling the position. FAMU and FSU agreed to the appointment of the "interim dean" to ensure continuity, which is paramount given the upcoming ABET accreditation visit this fall.

The dean reports directly to the provosts of FAMU and FSU. Thus, FSU cannot unilaterally decide that an extension of the “interim” deanship is needed as has been reported in some publications and online. Nor can FSU pick the date that the new dean starts receiving a paycheck since this is a FAMU line item. Therefore, the dean will be paid by FAMU and reimbursed from the joint budget.

Since 2004-2005, there has been a tremendous shift in the makeup of the College. The number of FAMU students declined from 638 to 345, a 46 percent decline. During the same period, FSU's student body increased by almost 32 percent.

Arresting the decline in FAMU's student body means hiring new faculty, which is an important factor in attracting students. The dean has the responsibility of approving vacant and new line items. Gaining the responsibility of selecting the dean will help to address this issue.

Shifting the dean line item to FAMU is not a panacea. Hiring new start up faculty is costly. It can cost upwards of $2 million to hire a new engineering professor. During the last regular legislative session we asked for $30 million for new faculty, salary increases, scholarships, et al. Getting additional funding is essential if we are to close the gap between the number of FSU and FAMU students and between the number of FSU and FAMU faculty members.

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