February 2011
Volume 4, Issue 7 Our Mission:
The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is a student-centered and diverse learning community that engages in critical inquiry extending knowledge to enrich and enliven individual and public life.  

CLAS College Office Monthly Newsletter for Faculty  

Frederick J. Antczak, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

The year is off to a fine start with good news coming from every direction.  Two of our alumni, both of whom studied English, have made impressions on the small screen-Steven Rinella is the star of  "The Wild Within," a new Travel Channel program and Paul Clemens was interviewed about his latest book on The Daily Show.  Meanwhile 30 former outstanding Art & Design and School of Communications students were celebrated in the Art Gallery in a show called MultiMedia III (part of a series of exhibits for Grand Valley's anniversary).  The Graduate Dean released the list of Citation winners with students in our Biology, Communications, and English masters programs making an excellent showing.  And Geology's Peter Wampler was instrumental in conceiving of and launching a scholarship for promising Haitian students to attend GVSU.  You may have also noted the surge in reporting on CLAS faculty in the Lanthorn.  I really enjoy seeing your work-- and that of our students and graduates--recognized and celebrated.  Remember too that by making your work visible to the larger university community, you make it possible for others to imagine collaborations.  In many ways, we can't afford not to let our light shine--with the cumulative effect of raising the visibility of our students' degrees. The events of the semester are up and running too.  Last Friday evening, CLAS was represented by Monica Johnstone and Betty Schaner at the GVSU Family Association's parents reception.  It is our hope that the more parents understand about the support systems here, the better off students-and by extension the rest of us--will be.  Our most recent (and very well attended) CLAS Faculty Research Colloquium was a delightful array of topics-from the ocean's relationship with climate to the intersections of politics with language to metal filigree speaking of our ephemeral nature to the fate of fish species in Muskegon Lake-it's not likely that anyone in attendance didn't learn to see the world in some new way.  So,let me make a plug for the February CLAS Faculty Research Colloquium which starts at 2:30pm on Thursday, February 17 in 308 PAD.   I'm also intrigued to hear what Merritt Taylor will be addressing in Evolution for Everyone's When Cell Lines and Social Lines Cross -- A Primer on What the Cells from Henrietta Lacks Can Do (Friday, Feb. 11 at 3:30pm in PAD308). February will also be a time of introspection.  From February 1-14 you have an opportunity--and since it's done rarely, but with enduring impact, I'd even go so far as to say a duty--to provide your thoughts as part of the myGVSU climate survey.  This survey is the mechanism by which some very important allocations of attention resources will be determined so that Grand Valley can be an even better place to work for all of us.  You'll receive a prompt from the committee, led by Vice President Arnold.  I urge you to make this small investment of your time in the living and working conditions at Grand Valley for years to come. And speaking of resource allocation, though I believe we spell out our priorities well in our Mission Statement and the CLAS Strategic Plan, and though you hear about these priorities in my two addresses to the faculty each year and Unit Heads get a more nut-and-bolts briefing, I think that it is important to remind the faculty at large how we go about prioritizing our budgets.  We never lack for good ideas, so one might well ask how the college determines which programs and projects can be funded at any given time.  The feature article in this issue of CLAS Acts is presented to provide this transparency.  It was the great Yogi Berra who said, "If the world were perfect, it wouldn't be," but we do our best to stay as true as we can to our mission and principles in the relatively flush times and those closer to the bone.  

What Deans Do in February

Dean Antczak reports, "It's a busy February.  I'll be meeting with our colleagues at GRCC in the effort to make transfer articulations smoother. There will also be, sometime in February, a meeting with our MSU colleagues about plastination, and that's sure to be fun. The Deans' Academic Advising Group will meet a couple times.  I'm on committees about the University's summer strategy, and about bringing closer together GVSU's arms of shared governance.  Of course I'll be going to the Faculty Awards Convocation, February 3 at Loosemore, to celebrate the many CLAS faculty who will be recognized.  I'll be meeting with several search candidates, and with all our new faculty in a series of lunches.  The University Leadership Team meets in February, as do the Deans' Council and the CLAS Student Advisory Committee. The Board of Trustees meets in February, and we'll welcome our new Trustees Mr. Hooker and Mr. Kennedy. "Indulge in a Cause" happens after our February 17 faculty colloquium; come to the Eberhard Center and let me serve you dessert on behalf of the Women's Center.  Paul Hillegonds will be lecturing on the next 50 years in Michigan, and Chick Blue will lecture as a part of the 50th anniversary series--I wouldn't miss either one.  Also, I'm doing an Inclusion Advocate training; and I thought it would be important to do the Allies and Advocates training too.  We are one university, and anything that can help make that more real for our students, our staff colleagues and our faculty is worth the work."  AD Mary Schutten will continue to coordinate the alignment process for the alignment of units' existing strategic plan objectives with the CLAS strategic plan  and collaborate with university personnel and processes to support the units in this process. She will also continue to implement and assess degree cognate substitution requests; support the CLAS Curriculum Committee; participate in the Council for Undergraduate Research (CUR) Dialogs event in Washington, DC where faculty can dialog with federal funding agencies; participate in the Awards of Distinction interview events, begin work the Transfer Research Committee; and serve as an academic advisor in the exercise science program.

AD Jann Joseph will be running the new faculty orientation and seminars, continuing work on the WKK-WWF teaching fellows including review and selection of candidates for admission to GVSU and further development of the program's evaluation plan, collecting data and requests for facilities upgrades, interviewing candidates for various searches, and supporting collaborations between CLAS and Van Andel Research Institute. AD Gary Stark will be reminding faculty that Digital Measures now takes your Novell Network password, making it even easier to use.  Gary will also review 2011 summer instructional budget proposals and 2011/12 visitor requests, review 2011/12 schedule, assist CPC with Winter personnel actions, assist FC with Winter election, and interview candidates for faculty searches.     


How CLAS Prioritizes the Budget and Resources 

"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.  Forgive me for burdening you with specifics, but I think it'll help you see the scope and the progression of our budgeting process."  The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences has an Annual Budget in FY 2010 of $58,609,090,of which 93% 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% of the budget.  The Operating Budget is 5% of the Annual Budget for consumables, supplies, services, and maintenance (now you know what "CSSM" abbreviates).  The final 1% is earmarked for equipment.  It's only with this last 7% that most discretionary decisions are made. "Personnel" in CLAS means the 657.78 fiscal year equivalent (FYE) regular faculty, APs and COTs (2010-2011) in our college.  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 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.  Assistant Dean Pat Haynes notes that "we were allocated $35,000 for 2010-11. 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 needed specialty Art software, Super Science Saturday, special state-mandated training for Modern Language faculty, classroom supplies for MAT, upgrades of equipment to digital formats, and the Homerathon. And for the last three years, the College has been fortunate to have, through the support of private donors' (including many faculty; thank you!), the CLAS Fund for Excellence 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.  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 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.  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.