Throughout fall semester, President Michael F. Adams and Provost Arnett Mace held a series of meetings with small groups of faculty to discuss issues of concern and interest to the faculty and to offer an administrative perspective. Out of those meetings came a request by the faculty for more regular communication from the senior administration. This article in Columns is the first in a series that will address administrative goals and priorities.
“It was clear that the faculty would like to hear about administrative priorities more regularly and to have the opportunity for more input into the decision-making process,” Adams says. “I agree that open lines of communication are crucial to the operation of the University of Georgia, and I hope that this series will be one step in that process.”
State budget cuts
The condition of the state budget remains the top UGA issue as the Georgia General Assembly convenes. Gov. Sonny Perdue’s budget proposal includes a 2 percent raise for University System of Georgia employees, welcome news considering that the last raise was effective October 2002.
“The staff and faculty at UGA have done more with less over the past two years and have not been rewarded with a pay increase,” says Adams. “I am hopeful that the legislature will agree with the governor on this issue and find a way to fund a salary increase.”
The governor has also included two important UGA construction projects in his bond package, which he announced in his State of the State address Jan. 14. Those two projects are $10 million for the Animal Health Research Center, a high-tech facility connected with the College of Veterinary Medicine, which will allow UGA researchers to broaden their investigation into a number of diseases impacting animal, and sometimes human, life; and $36 million for the construction of a new facility for the Dodd School of Art, to be located on the south side of the Performing and Visual Arts Center and Georgia Museum of Art. (The new art school will take up the space currently occupied by a parking lot, but the East Village parking deck was built to accommodate that displacement.)
“We are grateful that the governor has recognized the critical importance of these two facilities by including them in his capital construction bond package,” says Mace. “The School of Art is currently operating in six buildings, and the College of Veterinary Medicine has a number of funded research opportunities available once the AHRC is completed.”
The $10 million proposed by the governor for the AHRC brings to $25 million the total committed by the state to complete a facility that was to have opened several years ago. Construction problems and a dispute with the general contractor have kept the state agency responsible for managing construction projects-the Georgia State Financing and Investment Commission-from approving the work and turning the building over to UGA.
The governor’s budget proposal has been submitted to the House of Representatives, which will debate and approve a budget. UGA’s government relations team will work closely with the legislature to be sure that the university’s needs are understood. State agencies, including UGA, have been directed to identify a 5 percent cut to the fiscal year ’05 budget, but have not been directed to enact such a cut. To date, UGA’s baseline fiscal year ’02 budget has been cut by some $50 million.
Adams presented a report on the impact of budget cuts at UGA to the state House and Senate higher education committees on Feb. 12, and invites the faculty, staff students and university community to see the presentation on Feb. 17 at 4 p.m. in Mahler Auditorium. The presentation lasts approximately 25 minutes, with a question-and-answer session to follow.
In early January, the university received a letter of inquiry, as expected, from the NCAA regarding its investigation into allegations made by former UGA men’s basketball player Tony Cole and the administration of that program by former coach Jim Harrick. Although the usual time frame for a response is 90 days, the NCAA has asked that UGA respond in 70 days so that a committee can consider the final report at its April meeting.
“We do not anticipate any difficulty in responding within that time frame,” says Steve Shewmaker, executive director of the university’s legal affairs office. “In fact, much of what is included in the letter comes directly from the joint investigation we conducted with the NCAA last summer.”