CLAS Acts August 15


I'm only 6 days ahead of myself in welcoming you back for AY 2015-2016.  Some of you will rightly point out that you never left, but have been on campus regularly with your teaching, research, advising, governance and other hats on.  Some, like our colleagues at AWRI, have been quite active in community engagement projects like taking community members out on Muskegon Lake for a taste of water research.  In fact, on August 12, the W.G. Jackson research vessel will take a delegation from the Regional Center of Expertise for Education for Sustainable Development (sponsored by the United Nations University). Some serious boxing and unboxing has also gone on.  On July 24 another wave of our colleagues moved into the Kindschi Hall of Science.  The formal dedication will take place on August 28, but the place is already a hive of activity.  I'm very grateful to Shaily Menon for watching over this process in our office, and very conscious that a project of this magnitude is never accomplished without the input and work of many PSS, AP and faculty.  It may seem to be about architects and hard hats, but good lab design and even the updating of addresses on PeopleFinder does not happen by itself. 

And many colleagues gave generously to the fund to help outfit the building.  The donor wall will contain the names of many of your CLAS colleagues who will never work or attend classes in that building but wanted to support those who will. In the spirit of supporting each other, the college office staff has been ferreting out some of the resources that our campus has to help students in need.  Faculty often have that "I wish I had known about that last week" feeling when they hear about some of these resources.  Since students may confide their situation to you, we wanted to acquaint you with as many of these as we can. For instance,    The Student Textbook and Supply Fund was profiled in the Grand Valley Magazine  The Robert Fletcher Memorial Fund can help a needy student with things like recovery from losses due a house fire or other acute needs.  Contact Financial Aid or Sue Korzinek. IT can help a student whose laptop was stolen by lending an older model. A students' current living situation can become untenable.  Call Housing to find out if they have emergency availability. A change in circumstances may mean a significant change in access to financial aid.  When a student says, "Now I can't afford next semester!" be sure to call Financial Aid first. If coming out is not met with acceptance, a student can experience sudden housing or financial issues.  A call to the Milt Ford LGBT Resource Center can help the student to access emergency assistance. Don't know where to start?  Give us a call on 1-2495.  We will make calls for you to find out about available resources.

Before the students get here, their professors may need a few resources for syllabus-building. The date of our Fall Breather is October 24-25.  Please consider designing your course so that weekend is a chance to consider, recoup and chill before the drop date.  As an outgrowth of its Out-of-the-Box series, the CLAS Faculty Council developed a  webpage on academic integrity which includes syllabus statement samples. The Faculty Teaching and Learning Center (FTLC) has syllabus resources available: Mary Schutten has run off to be a Dean at SJSU, but she left us with a great legacy of information.  Syllabus Construction, a proactive tool for student success- Mary Schutten And so that you make it to the right place at the right time, here are links to the start up activities of the College and university.    I look forward to seeing you!


How CLAS Prioritizes the Budget and Resources

Each year or so, CLAS provides the faculty with an overview of how budget priorities are assigned and with information about the scale and general landscape of the CLAS budget. "Budgets are a way of expressing over time a community's values and aspirations within the limits of resources," says Dean Antczak. "So it's appropriate that the CLAS community know how our resources get distributed.  As you may recall, in 2013/14 and 2014/15 we adapted to 1.5% budget cuts.  In 2015-2016 departments' CSSM (consumables, supplies, services, and maintenance) budgets were again cut by a new 1.5%.  The College budget was cut by 5% (about $43,000 cut). The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences had an Annual Budget in FY 2015-2016 of $72,054,813, of which 94.25% is dedicated to personnel expenses (big ticket benefits such as health for CLAS faculty and staff are included in the personnel allocation). Student wages represented roughly 1.41% of the budget. The Operating Budget is 3.65% of the Annual Budget for consumables, supplies, services, and maintenance (CSSM). The final .69% is earmarked for equipment. It's only with this last less than 6% that most discretionary decisions are made. "Personnel" in CLAS means the 684.56 fiscal year equivalent (FYE) regular faculty, APs and PSSs (2015-2016) in our college. There were another 10.57 FYE positions funded from designated or restricted funds, which are a separate budget.  In addition, from the personnel allocation comes what is known as the Adjunct Overload Budget. In simple terms, any money available from vacant positions and from sabbatical and other leave is used to fund adjunct and visiting instructors. This is a constantly moving target; this figure is difficult to determine at a given moment because of sudden decisions to retire, faculty members giving short notice of a leave or departure, intended full-year sabbaticals not receiving anticipated grant funding which suddenly become half-year sabbaticals, the salary level of faculty covering summer courses, and other unavoidable fluctuations in who is available to teach at any given time and the exact amount of funding needed to provide that coverage. To complicate matters, even a sudden drop or rise in the stock market can change the pattern of anticipated faculty retirements in a given year. "Since we can only squeeze our budget to the maximum for the College each year if we plan on such patterns," says the Dean, "such a change in the outside world can present us with conditions to which we must adapt on the run." In addition to the Annual Budget is a small, annually variable Working Budget assigned to us by the Provost. Assistant Dean Pat Haynes notes that "we were allocated $144,237 for 2015-16. The amount allocated each year is very variable." From this working budget the College office squeezes funding for one-time spending requests such as special events and one-time purchases. Examples of this type of funding include support for the Homerathon, the Statistics Career Day, the Perugian faculty exchange, and the Sociology Colloquium. And for the last seven years, the College has been fortunate to have, through the support of private donors' (including many faculty; thank you!), the CLAS Fund  from which the Dean can assist several projects annually. The Fund for Excellence supports College programs for faculty and students which are exemplars of our mission. Director for Communications and Advancement Monica Johnstone worked with University Development to establish this fund. "I wanted Fred to be able to say yes to more of the many worthy student and faculty initiatives," Johnstone said. "We also do what we can to suggest germane sponsors to match our funding when that is appropriate so that we can do as much good as possible with the fund." Within these constraints, the Mission Statement of the College and the CLAS Strategic Plan are used as guiding principles for decision making. In general terms, this means maximizing the benefit to students, selecting to fund high-(and wide-) impact projects, and helping the faculty and staff to do their jobs increasingly well and efficiently.  The PEAT (Principles of Equity in Allocation Taskforce) last year reviewed our allocation principles, and the unit heads of CLAS  have had opportunities to discuss ways in which we can increase appropriate transparency. In some cases, there is an added layer of urgency associated with a specific request to support compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and/or safety standards. These can be seen as part of our commitment to an inclusive, healthy, and sustainable environment for the faculty, students, staff and all visitors to our college facilities. While many mundane or mechanical matters are dealt with independently by the College Office, those most directly relevant to the teaching mission are conducted in close consultation with the Unit Heads and faculty governance. For instance, to prioritize a limited number of faculty lines that the University can sanction in a given year, such consultation is critical. Units are provided with enrollment and staffing statistics for prior years to help them set their internal priorities based on a firm foundation. Units then submit a prioritized list of new or replacement faculty positions (including affiliate positions) requested for coming year, with justifications. The CLAS Associate Deans and your elected CLAS Faculty Council independently review and prioritize position requests and both submit these prioritized lists to the Dean. The Dean reviews all of this input and sends the Provost a final prioritized list of all CLAS faculty position requests for the coming year. All of the participants in this winnowing process base their prioritizing on enrollment and staffing trends; areas of highest student demand; curricular, accreditation, and certification requirements; impact on liberal education; retirements and resignations; availability of adjuncts; and efficient use of the existing staff. For obvious reasons, a clearly articulated and compelling rationale for each requested position is vital to its success. For those interested in seeing how this process plays out over the year and in each of the several separate processes, a calendar of CLAS's prioritizing process for budget and resources is available online ( here). While a dean cannot by individual fiat approve new personnel or erect buildings or reconfigure classrooms shared by all of the academic units in the university, the Dean and Associate Deans (or even interim Assistant Deans as is the case this year) have seats at the table where such priorities are set. They provide information that makes its way to legislators, Trustees, donors, and the senior management team of GVSU. In short, they become the voice of CLAS in the larger planning and resourcing processes of the university as a whole. Of course, funding from the college and the university is only part of what it takes to fuel our values and aspirations. External grants, private donation and gifts-in-kind play a larger role each year. To illustrate, in FY 2004, indirects (costs not directly attributable to the grant project itself, such as administration and some overhead costs) accounted for only $12,804 and now they are over $165,000 this year.  Four years ago CLAS established a fund for a CLAS scholarship and through fundraising such as the CLAS on the Green golf outing surpassed endowment level and will soon begin making awards to our students.  Elbow grease never shows up on the CSSM spreadsheet, the dedicated hard work of students and faculty isn't easy to quantify in the bottom line, our increasing credibility with the general public that can be detected in newspaper articles and anecdotally from our neighbors is impossible to assign a dollar value, but all of this goes into the equation the sum of which brings us more and better students, a greater impact on our community and a trajectory towards the future we have planned.

CLAS Faculty Research Colloquium Dates •             Friday, September 18, 2015 •             Friday, October 16, 2015 •             Friday, November 20, 2015 •             Thursday, January 21, 2016 •             Thursday, February 18, 2016 •             Thursday, March 17, 2016 Each colloquium will be held from 2:30 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. in 308 PAD.   

Monday, August 31st, 2015--First day of fall semester!!! A friendly reminder from your Course Reserve Experts: submit course reserve requests early to assure availability of reserve items for the 31st.   Forms are available at all library locations and can be filled out and submitted with tangible items. Online reserve items can be submitted electronically or in person, again forms are available at all library locations.    Checkout the changes we made to our online submission form! We are happy to meet in person to discuss your reserve options at your earliest convenience.   We hope you enjoy the rest of the summer and we look forward to seeing you before the fall semester! ~Course Reserve Group ( 616-331-2617)   Upcoming Events of Interest September 22 (Tuesday) 6-7:15 pm, Cook Dewitt, presentation by Edward Paulino (assistant professor at CUNY/John Jay College) titled "Bearing witness to the 1937 Haitian Massacre and its legacy: How a diplomatic letter, an activist's death and the internet sparked a social movement for reconciliation and equality." This presentation is co-sponsored by Latin American and Latino Studies and African/African American Studies. September 28 (Monday) 1:30-2:45 pm, Kirkhof Center RM 2250 Grand River Room, presentation by Jose Galvez (Pulitzer-prize winning photographer) titled "Aqui Estamos, Here We Are." This talk is part of Hispanic Heritage Month and is co-sponsored by the Office of Multicultural Affairs and Latin American and Latino Studies. There will be an exhibit of Galvez's photos at the Red Wall Gallery in LOH. Padnos International Center is also sponsoring a reception for Galvez from 4-5 pm.