It’s not just the Athletics Department that’s running a deficit — after fiscal year 2014, nine other units at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa were operating in the red because they overspent what they were given.
This has caused fewer classes with higher numbers of students, according to David Chin, information and computer sciences (ICS) chairman and a Mānoa Faculty senate member, who says his department has grown 34 percent in the last three years in terms of instructional load.
“At this point we can’t simply add more seats to our classes anymore if they just all filled up. When you look at [the fall 2016 class availability webpage] for ICS in a few months, you’ll find all of our classes will have wait lists,” he said at the senate’s April 20 meeting. “…So that’s what it means in real terms for both students and faculty when we don’t have the right budget model.”
As the campus faces a hard time getting additional state funding, increased expenses and a historically-based budget, two groups are looking to change the way units receive money to spend – and they agree that students’ money should go back to benefit them.
Arts and Sciences asks for more money
The fact that allocations given to units at the beginning of the fiscal year are less than operating costs has caused the Arts and Sciences Faculty Senate (ASFS) to pass two resolutions in March, one of which called on the chancellor to ask the legislature for a one-time infusion of $7.5 million for urgent fiscal relief of its four colleges.
These funds would be in addition to the current Arts and Sciences allocations and would not be offset by shifting other monies, the resolution said.
“For all the units, it was meant to be a one-time fusion of funds to bring us back to some level of health for one cycle,” said David Ross, a ASFS executive committee (EC) member and mathematics professor.
The hope was that moving to a new budget model would correct ongoing issues because allocations would be based on the actual expense of doing business.
CNS is in deficit because it overspent its official allocation on additional faculty, Ross said. In Languages, Linguistics and Literatures, faculty worked overtime and taught during summer so the college could pay for lecturers to teach general education courses, Ruth Hsu, an ASFSEC member, said.
“We’re providing [general education],” said, Aurelio Agcaoili, an Ilokano Language associate professor and ASFSEC member, said. “So the idea is that are we being recognized for the kind of services we’re doing for this university?”
All campus units are projected to spend within their budget allocations for this current fiscal year, according to UH spokesman Dan Meisenzahl.
State has its hands tied
Rep. Isaac Choy said if he received the ASFS request at the beginning of the legislative session, he would have supported it.
Choy, who represents Mānoa, is well-known for introducing bills related to UH — especially this session.
Since the recession, state funding for the university system has increased every year, though the state did not account for inflation, Choy said. However, competing needs of various state departments prevents the state from giving UH more money.
“We’re not reluctant to give the UH more money; we just don’t got [money] to give,” he said in a phone interview.
Another reason is the university has another source of money – tuition, which UH raised in 2011 and is asking to increase again.
“…We used to be the bargain of the Pacific until we raised tuition seven percent, seven percent, seven percent. So now we’re above the median now,” he said. “…Hopefully they stop picking on the students. So now they have to better manage the funds that they have.”
Although the nine-member ASFSEC has not officially talked about budget model construction, Ross said students should benefit from the money they spend.
“What we would like is to see that if students are brought in and money is brought in to go with that, that money be used to guarantee that those students get seats in classrooms, that their classrooms are staffed by not by people dragged in off the street but by filling faculty as much as possible, that the students in the classrooms not just be ridiculously large, that the students get a quality education for their money,” Ross said.
The chancellor’s budget model
The chancellor’s budget model focuses on the idea of instructional return.
“The philosophy is that in the increased revenue from tuition increases ought to go to the units who are teaching … students who are paying the tuition,” Chancellor Robert Bley-Vroman said.
Distribution of tuition – which is one part of a unit’s allocation – would include:
– Undergraduate return: 40 percent of tuition revenues – after 20 percent is taken out to fund campus scholarships – would be allocated to units based on a mix of student semester hours (SSH), graduates and majors
– Graduate return: 70 percent of regular graduate tuition and 100 percent of differential tuition will return to the units
For FY 2016-17, the campus will pilot this system with any additional tuition collected, which the chancellor estimates to be around $2.5 million. Only the law, business and medical schools will pilot the graduate return method. These schools will also pilot a system where they have to fund their portion of scholarships externally, rather than contribute to the common scholarship pool.
The idea is to incentivize the units to major in their departments and graduate, according to Bley-Vroman, who says the opposite is currently in place with the historical model.
For the upcoming year, Bley-Vroman said the revenue-based components of budgets will increase, especially for those who do a lot of teaching, like Arts and Sciences, though the plan is to roll this model out over several years.
“It’s easy to change to new allocation systems if you’re just a wash-in money…,” Bley-Vroman said. “Everybody has seen cuts to the amount of money they have and some people are getting very close to not being able to fulfill what they need to do.”
The faculty senate’s model
A day after the chancellor released his model, the Mānoa Faculty Senate once again passed a resolution that recommended a phased-in adoption of a budget model that would distribute campus revenues to the units first before each pays off their proportion of costs relating to campus functions.
According to the senate’s Committee on Administration and Budget’s (CAB) presentation at the senate’s meeting, under this Responsibility-Centered Management (RCM) model, the campus’ income – 100 percent of general funds, tuition, which includes Outreach College fees, and RTRF monies – would first go to the schools, colleges and organized research units – also called responsibility centers.
Funds would be distributed as follows:
– Undergraduate tuition: based on SSH, majors and graduates
– Graduate tuition: based on major count
– Differential tuition: returns to the units that generate them
– General fund monies: based on permanent personnel expenditures
– RTRF monies: returns to the units that generate them
The hope is that by returning all income to the units first, they will be incentivized to do more research, increase graduation rates and hire more permanent faculty.
The responsibility center would then pay amounts proportionate to their uses for direct costs— like utilities, personnel and supplies. They would also pay amounts proportional to their revenues to support cost centers – like libraries, facilities and administration – and taxes for strategic investments, buffering fast enrollment changes and the system.
Under this model, each center would have advisory committees and budget information for the responsibility centers would be publically available.
“If it is not implemented, we are concerned that institutional financial troubles faced in recent years by UHM will continue,” the 10-member CAB said in an email.
Both CAB and the chancellor will seek feedback and input from various stakeholders.
In the meantime, one department is seeing the effects of not having a change of faculty when people retire because there’s not enough money. Noel Kent, an ethnic studies professor, said he’s still teaching at 72 years old because once he leaves, his classes and work for students disappears.
“At this point as long as my health [is good], I’m willing to stay there and try to do my best,” he said. “If we had some younger person who was coming along and do things that I couldn’t possibly do, hey I’m out of here. So it really encourages people to stay, maybe, beyond their time.”
Mānoa fund sources
- General– state-allocated funds
- Tuition– supports general university operations
- Research and Training Revolving Fund (RTRF)– supports university research activities
- Other special– funds for a specific statutory purpose
- Other revolving– funds that provide goods and services and are replenished by transfers from other funds or fees
- Federal– contracts and grants, federal appropriated funds
- Trust/private– non-federal contracts and grants, private awarded funds, gifts
- Bond fund– funds associated with capital/bond projects
- UH Foundation