On April 1, 2010, Dr. Diane Miller, Interim Provost, submitted the Proposal for Restructuring Colleges in response to a recommendation from my May 21, 2009, final report for Positioning the University for the Future. In that 2009 report, the Provost's Office was charged with working with academic leaders and faculty to review the overall college structure at MTSU and offer a viable restructuring model for campus review and my approval. Prior to the April 1 submission, three iterations of the proposed restructuring document were presented to the University community--the initial proposal in October, a second in November, and a third in December. The last of the three submissions resulted in my extending the deadline for a final proposal just prior to the end of the 2010 spring semester. This extension was granted at the request of the Faculty Senate Liaison Committee to allow additional time for the academic leadership and faculty to provide added feedback and address critical concerns with the previously proposed models before any ultimate decisions were made.
Before offering my responses to the recommendations in the latest proposal, I would like to thank Dr. Miller and her staff for the hard work that they put into the development of the very comprehensive report submitted to me on April 1. In addition, I would like to thank our deans, department chairs, faculty and all others for their involvement in discussions related to restructuring our colleges and for providing their input about the proposed changes.
I submitted a Proposal for Restructuring Colleges to President McPhee on April 1, 2010. Over the next couple of weeks, he will be talking with key groups on campus, members of the Faculty Senate, department chairs, and college deans, to personally receive feedback on the proposal.
I appreciate everyone's participation in the process to date and encourage your continued engagement. President McPhee wants to make a decision about the proposal before faculty members leave campus for the summer break.
Best wishes for a successful ending to what has been a very busy Academic Year.
I am pleased that the posting of this memo and the accompanying report signify the culmination of the year-long campus review process that was developed to help us address the ongoing challenges brought on by the recent downturn in our state and national economy. Although the majority of the recommendations presented to me as part of this process has been accepted and/or revised, I have decided to continue my review of a select number of the more complex recommendations in order to assure a thorough impact analysis and to allow for the additional time needed to develop and assess proposals associated with those recommendations.
We have completed a comprehensive, open, and transparent process that has resulted in a series of important recommendations that will help the University better manage its limited resources during these tough financial times. As has been previously noted, some proposals will be implemented immediately while others will be phased in as indicated within the report grid. For a select number of recommendations, ad hoc committees will be established and comprised of representatives from the appropriate constituent groups to address the critical issues and processes needed for successful implementation. The focus of these groups will be to help facilitate the execution of accepted proposals with the least amount of negative impact on the campus community.
With regard to the federal stimulus funds, despite the short-term benefits that will come with these funds over the next two years, economic conditions in Tennessee remain such that we must continue to prepare for the significant budget cuts that await us in FY 2012. Today, I discussed with Chancellor Charles Manning and members of his staff how we propose to address the $19.3 million budget reduction and how the recommendations approved as part of our Positioning the University for the Future initiative link to our plan. Our discussions went well and we are moving forward with our Positioning the University for the Future plan.
Although we anticipate some enrollment growth and minimal increases in tuition over the next three-year period, the revenue realized from these increases will only help to mitigate some of the planned reductions. It is important to note that any revenue gained from enrollment growth will first be allocated to the costs associated with that growth, including hiring needed instructional faculty.
Additionally, as part of my meeting with the Chancellor, we discussed a proposed voluntary employee buy-out program for our university. The buy-out plan, along with the anticipated normal attrition, will be important in helping us to avoid the immediate layoffs in personnel or furloughs that had been expected prior to the approval of stimulus dollars. Participants will be able to sign up for the voluntary buy-out program in fall 2009 with a severance date after the conclusion of the spring 2010 semester. Complete details regarding faculty and staff eligibility and participation will soon be available on the Human Resources Web site and via a series of information sessions that are planned for this summer.
Again, I wish to thank each of you for your contribution to this process over the past year. We could not have reached this point without your hard work, input and commitment. I sincerely appreciate the dedicated leadership of the Co-Chairs of the University Oversight Committee, Drs. Charles Perry and Rick Moffett, as well as the excellent work and guidance provided by members of the Oversight Steering Committee and the four strategic work groups. Their services were invaluable.
In spite of the continued difficult economic circumstances in the State, I remain
excited about where we are and where we are going; and the fact that, through this
process, we will be better positioned to meet the needs of the outstanding team of
faculty, staff, and students who call MTSU home.
Click here to view the full report.
Date: May 1, 2009
Subject: Positioning the University for the Future Schedul e
Early in the spring, I provided the university community with a tentative schedule of significant dates related to our Positioning the University for the Future Initiative. The last entry on the schedule indicated that I would submit the final recommendations to the Board today, May 1. This schedule was developed prior to the expectation of receiving stimulus funds and at a time when MTSU and other TBR institutions had been mandated to explore how we would make significant cuts in our budgets by July 1, 2009.
After the approval of the federal stimulus package in February and the March release of Governor Phil Bredesen's proposed budget to the legislature, TBR Chancellor Charles Manning set May 21, 2009 as the date when MTSU would be required to submit a three-year budget plan to the Board. I have decided to use this extended time period to continue my review of some of the proposed recommendations and to consider the additional feedback that I have been receiving from faculty and academic administrators regarding the proposed changes to the MTSU college structure.
Since we have been asked to submit our plan to the Board in a specific format, I do not anticipate developing a separate detailed report regarding the recommendations that are currently under further review. I will, however, address those proposals as part of our report to the Board and will provide the appropriate details to the MTSU community upon the completion of that document.
Since economic circumstances still dictate that we must reduce our budget by $19.3 million by fiscal year 2011, I remain committed to the plans that we have in place to help position the University for the future. I sincerely appreciate the support and steady flow of feedback that I have received from faculty, staff, students, alumni and community leaders throughout this process. Please know that your continued interest and involvement remain vital. Thank you.
To: MTSU Personnel
Date: March 30, 2009
Subject: Updates: State Budget & Positioning MTSU for the Future
As you may know by now, Governor Phil Bredesen submitted his proposed
2009-2010 budget to the state legislature on Monday, March 23. The proposed
budget will reduce (in two years) MTSU's recurring state base funding by the
anticipated "tier two" figure of $19,310,600, which was the worst case
scenario, but restores that amount for the next two years with non-recurring
federal Stimulus funds.
I am pleased that approximately $471 million in stimulus funds will be
distributed to state higher education institutions, but the Governor
continues to remind us that these dollars will provide only one-time help,
and funding for higher education will decrease by $180 million after
stimulus funds run out. This affirms that MTSU is headed in the right
direction with our Positioning the University for the Future Initiative, and
we must continue our efforts to reduce the base budget in preparation for
the significant decreases that we must make by July 1, 2011.
As President of MTSU, I am thankful that the infusion of stimulus dollars
will help us to avoid having to make immediate drastic cuts in budget and
personnel by July 1 of this year that we had previously been mandated to
plan for. The non-recurring stimulus funds will allow us to implement
required budget reductions over a one- to two-year period, dependent upon
further instructions from the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) and the
Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC). We are hopeful that general
employee attrition over the next couple of years will help us to avoid
layoffs once stimulus funds are no longer available.
As we anticipate the pending budget reduction, it is important to note that
although we expect to see nominal increases in tuition over the next two
years, we will not be able to count on increases in tuition dollars to
replace our reduced state funding in any significant way. With this and
other factors in mind, Chancellor Charles Manning has instructed all TBR
Presidents and Directors to be prepared, by June of this year, to review
with him a three-year financial plan on how each institution proposes to
make its reductions and balance their budget to the reduced state
appropriation. Thanks to the dedicated efforts of many individuals including
those who participated in our spring 2008 brainstorming sessions, the
members of the Oversight Steering Committee, our four Strategic Work Groups,
and others who submitted suggestions and ideas to my office, we are well
ahead in this endeavor.
Since we do not have the luxury of waiting until the stimulus funds run out
before we take action on reducing our budget, I encourage you to continue to
offer your feedback regarding the proposals that are still under
consideration as part of our efforts to position MTSU for the future. As a
reminder, I look forward to also hearing your comments during one of the two
upcoming open forums that are scheduled for April 1 (1:30 p.m.) and April 2
(3:00 p.m.) in Tucker Theatre. Additionally, you may continue to share your
comments and concerns via the electronic submission forms that are located
on the Positioning the University for the Future Initiative Web site.
To: MTSU Faculty and Staff
Date: March 2, 2009
Subject: University Oversight Steering Committee Final Report
On Friday, February 27, Dr. Charles Perry, Chair of the University Oversight
Steering Committee on Positioning the University for the Future Initiative,
submitted the Committee's report to my office.
Having taken the opportunity over the weekend to review the report and the
supporting documentation which accompanied it, I believe that the Steering
Committee, with the support of the four Strategic Work Groups, did an
outstanding job in completing its charge. The recommendations in the report
that are now under consideration, will not only help us effectively address
the critical budget challenges that lie ahead of us but also provide
direction for the future of the institution.
Today, I am releasing the report in its entirety. The report is on the
Positioning the University for the Future Web page for your review and
feedback. I have also included several other documents, which were
provided by the Committee, that I thought would be helpful in your
understanding of the recommendations as presented. As I have reminded the
University community throughout this process, I have not yet approved any
recommendations and have not made any final decisions and will not do so
until our faculty, staff, students and other key constituents have had an
opportunity to offer feedback not only on the Steering Committee's
recommendations but also on my preliminary recommendations as President.
Over the next several weeks, I will be meeting with key constituents groups
to listen to their concerns regarding specific recommendations that are
under serious consideration and to review other alternatives to our long-
and short-term budget challenges. As you can see from the tentative schedule
below, I have asked the Faculty Senate to provide me with their formal
response to the academic related recommendations by April 6. I will also
host two University wide forums on April 1 and 2 to give the campus
community an opportunity to provide me with direct feedback about the
Tentative Schedule for Developing Final Budget Recommendations
February 27, 2009
Steering Committee Report Submitted to the President
March 2, 2009
Steering Committee Report Posted to the University Web Site
March 20, 2009
Faculty Senate Provided with the President's Preliminary Recommendations for
Review and Feedback/President's Preliminary Recommendations Posted to the
University Web Site
April 1 & 2, 2009
President to Conduct Open Forums to Provide an Overview and Rationale for
April 6, 2009
Receive Report from Faculty Senate on Preliminary Recommendations
May 1, 2009
Submit the Final Set of Recommendations to the Board/Post Recommendations to
University Web Site
Note: The President will meet with various constituent groups to obtain
feedback regarding his preliminary recommendations between March 20 and
It is important to note that some of my final recommendations may not come
directly from any of those suggested by the Steering Committee or the
Strategic Work Groups, but you will have an opportunity to offer feedback on
these recommendations as well before any final decisions are made. Please
continue to use the electronic suggestion form on the Positioning the
University for the Future Web site to submit additional concerns or feedback
regarding the recommendations. At this stage of the process, your responses
will be sent directly to me for review and consideration.
While I realize that this process has created quite a bit of anxiety and
uncertainty for many individuals and departments across campus, I appreciate
the support and patience that you have demonstrated as we have worked
together to address these challenges as opportunities brought on by the
current financial crisis. The Steering Committee, Strategic Work Groups and
countless others have been diligent in their efforts to get us to this point
in the process, and I am extremely grateful for all of the hard work that
has been extended for the benefit of positioning this outstanding university
for the future. I look forward to your continued involvement in this process
as I seek to now develop and finalize my decisions. Thank you.
To: MTSU Faculty and Staff
Date: Feb. 20, 2009
Subject: Final Reports from the Work Groups
The Strategic Work Groups of the "Positioning the University for the Future" initiative
have submitted their final reports to the Oversight Steering Committee. I want to
thank each of the members of these groups and their chairs for the time and dedication
they have invested in this process.
The next step in the process is for the Oversight Steering Committee to review and
vet these recommendations and submit their final report to the university administration
for consideration. I am planning to conduct another series of forums in the very near
future to bring the university community up-to-date on recommendations that are under
serious consideration for implementation.
I am posting a copy of the our Works Groups' final reports on our "Positioning the University for the Future" initiative website. Please remember at this point NO DECISIONS have been made on any of the items in the reports. I hope that you will take the time to review these final reports from the Work Groups.
I am extremely grateful for your support of this process, and I look forward to your feedback.
To: MTSU Faculty and Staff
Date: Feb. 9, 2009
Subject: Important Update on MTSU Positioning the University for the Future Initiative
Over the past couple of months, I have had the opportunity to provide the MTSU community
with several general updates regarding the work of the Steering Committee and the
Strategic Work Groups of the Positioning the University for the Future Initiative.
As I mentioned in previous reports, the individuals serving on these committees have
been extremely dedicated to the work of their respective groups and have done an outstanding
job in engaging the entire University community in the process of soliciting ideas
and developing a workable list of preliminary recommendations for consideration.
I am pleased to report that we have reached an important milestone in the process
for identifying how we will address critical budget issues here at MTSU. The Steering
Committee recently submitted to me an interim report of the ideas that are being considered
by the various Strategic Work Groups. I am posting a copy of these reports, along
with a summary of the groups' preliminary ideas, for campus review. Please remain
mindful that no decisions have been made about any of the items listed within these
I hope that you will take the time to review the documents that have been submitted
and share your comments and concerns with the appropriate Strategic Work Group or
the Steering Committee as soon as possible. I am extremely grateful for your support
of this process, and I look forward to your feedback related to these interim reports.
Links to the reports are available at http://www.mtsu.edu/strategic/summary_reports.shtml.
To: MTSU Faculty and Staff
Date: Jan. 16, 2009
Subject: Positioning the University for the Future Report Summary #1
I am pleased to inform you that the first summary of the activities of the strategic
work groups of our "Positioning the University for the Future"; Initiative is now
available. This summary has been prepared by the Steering Committee and includes a
general overview of the most recent ideas that are being discussed by the various
working groups. Please note that no decisions have been made regarding personnel or any University
unit or process that may be mentioned as part of the report. According to Steering Committee Chair Dr. Charles Perry, discussions in each of the
groups "are still in an information gathering and brainstorming mode.";
I am pleased with the hard work and dedication that I see coming from our Steering
Committee and each of the Strategic Work Groups. The individuals who are serving on
these committees are investing a considerable amount of time in this effort to effectively
address the serious budgetary concerns that we face as an institution.
I wish to extend a special thanks to those of you who have submitted ideas and suggestions
for the benefit of this Initiative. Please know that all submissions are being reviewed
and considered by the appropriate committee. By the way, on January 12, I met with
members of the Steering Committee to discuss some of the concerns that had been reported
to me about the process of researching possible options for recommendation. Adjustments
are being made to ensure that this process is minimally disruptive to our office operations
and does not create additional anxiety for our personnel.
As always, thank you for your continued support of MTSU. I will provide additional
updates regarding the progress of our work groups as they become available.
Summary Report for January 8, 2009
To: MTSU Faculty and Staff
Date: Jan. 6, 2009
Subject: University Budget Update
First of all, I would like to take this opportunity to wish each of you a happy new year. Although I would prefer to start this new semester off on a more positive note, I felt it very important to share with you the latest update regarding the University's budget situation.
Just before the holiday break, we were advised of two possible budget reduction scenarios that would significantly impact MTSU's current budget. The first scenario indicates that our budget could be reduced by as much as $19,310,600, effective July 1, 2009. This amount is 20.3 percent of our current $95,246,400 state appropriation. The second possibility is that the reduction could be slightly less if the state receives funding from the federal stimulus package. In this case, our reduction could be approximately $11.8 million and would also be subject to what the legislature and the governor approves. In either case, the reductions are still significant but are in line with what we had expected.
As a means of addressing one of the two possible budget reduction scenarios, each of the TBR institutions was asked to submit a proposed summary by December 22 explaining how the institution might make the necessary cuts. Although we have submitted this very general and preliminary proposal as requested, we remain committed to the strategic planning process that we currently have in place, which involves giving the entire campus community an opportunity to provide input and receiving recommendations from our four strategic work groups. Our final plan to the Board, which is expected to be submitted later this spring, will rely significantly on the recommendations made by our work groups along with the appropriate consultation with various other constituents groups on campus.
I am very pleased with the progress that is being made by the Steering Committee and the Strategic Work Groups that are associated with our 'Positioning the University for the Future' Initiative. Each of these groups met before we left for the holiday break and will return to work this week to begin the process of formulating the appropriate recommendations as determined by the role of each group. This remains an ongoing process, and I continue to solicit your feedback and support for our efforts to identify the best ways to reduce our budget, reallocate existing funds and to generate new or additional revenue.
Updates on the activities of our strategic work groups are forthcoming. Please continue to watch the Initiative Web site and your e-mail for additional updates as they become available. Thank you.
I wish to start this communication by expressing my gratitude to the entire MTSU community for the overwhelming response that I have received regarding our current budget crisis. Since my last email message to you on November 26, following the initial campus-wide forums, I am pleased to report that I have had the opportunity to also host an additional 6:00 a.m. session on the budget for third shift employees and speak directly with members of our Faculty Senate on budget issues and to reiterate our commitment to academic quality in spite of these challenging economic times.
These sessions have resulted in numerous telephone calls, visits and electronic messages from individuals who have provided valuable feedback for helping us address the issues related to our budget. All suggestions have been forwarded to the Steering Committee of our 'Positioning the University for the Future' Initiative and will be distributed to the appropriate strategic work group as outlined during the forums.
Update on MTSU Budget Cuts & Strategic Work Groups
Due to the deepening financial crisis in the State, the Governor has indicated to the Tennessee Board of Regents that decisions regarding additional cuts may have to be made sooner than we had anticipated. As a result of this news, we have had to accelerate our internal processes and timelines for making recommendations to reduce our institutional budget. This means that we will now have to work toward submitting the final decisions about our budget reductions in early March as opposed to this summer as we had originally expected. This earlier than anticipated timeframe has prompted me to make the necessary appointments to our strategic work groups from the large pool of individuals who had volunteered or were nominated by their colleagues.
On December 10, I met with the Steering Committee and the chairs of the strategic work groups to provide an overview and guidelines for proceeding with the work that must be done. The chairs of the four groups have begun the process of contacting the selected group members and will work to schedule at least one meeting before the University closes for the holiday break. A listing of the chairs and committee members of each group will be posted to the initiative web site by Monday, December 15.
Although we were unable to select all of the highly qualified and experienced individuals who volunteered or were nominated to assist the four work groups, we remain extremely interested in everyone's involvement and input in the strategic process that has been outlined. We continue to encourage everyone to stay informed and to access the initiative web site regularly for additional updates by clicking on the yellow link at the bottom of the MTSU homepage. You may also continue to use the electronic suggestion form to provide the appropriate committees with your recommendations and concerns.
Update Regarding Chancellor Manning's Proposed 'New Business Model'
Before concluding this communication, I would like to briefly comment on some of the concerns that have resulted from Chancellor Charles Manning's recent memo and 'new business model' for addressing budget cuts at TBR institutions. As many of you know, the plan provided by the Chancellor has created a considerable amount of spirited discussion among faculty, staff and students of TBR institutions, including here at MTSU. As a result, over the past couple of weeks, there has been a significant amount of misinformation about the impact of the proposed list of ideas and suggestions which has caught the attention of local and national media and has been circulated by various individuals across our campus.
I want to assure the entire MTSU community that, to my knowledge, there are no plans being discussed, at any level, that would transition MTSU into an online institution, revoke or diminish our accreditation status, or change our overall mission as an institution of higher learning. As President, I would vigorously resist any such plans and would not hesitate to solicit the support of our internal and external constituents in helping me to oppose any decisions that would negatively impact our ability to fulfill the historic mission of our comprehensive university.
While I encourage open discussion on ways we may approach this financial crisis and respect the rights of individuals to express their views, I ask that we explore the issues and the facts of this very sensitive situation thoroughly before we disseminate our personal views publicly. I further ask that, as you exercise your right to express your views to our students, your colleagues and to the community at large, you also give some consideration to how your opinions and expressions will impact these groups and the University as a whole.
Ladies and gentlemen, we are not simply a group of workers and learners, we are a family. And, it is with that mindset that I hope that we will approach this very difficult situation, with the best interests of our students and MTSU in mind. I will work diligently to ensure that we remain transparent in our processes and that you have input in those processes until the last recommendation is approved. As I reminded you before, the decisions that have to be made are not going to be easy and will not be received positively by every member of this family, but please know that you can count on my commitment to not compromise the academic quality or integrity of this institution. MTSU belongs to each of us and its continued success depends significantly on your commitment to its principles and its mission. With that said, please accept my continued gratitude for your support and positive attitude as we face these challenging times together.