Faculty Senate's Focus


Faculty Senate set to discuss budget and facilities issues, members are skeptical about new construction

Sarah Penix / For The Post

Introducing new administrative members, Faculty Senate will hold the first meeting of the semester on September 11th at 7:10 in Walter Hall 235.


President Duane Nellis and interim Vice Provost David Descutner will continue the Senate tradition of beginning the meeting, followed by updates from committee chairs. Sherri Gradin is the new Promotion and Tenure Committee chair, Sarah Wyatt is the new Professional Relations Committee chair and Katie Hartman is the Educational Policy and Student Affairs Committee chair this year.


“I think there’s a really good sense of energy around right now despite the budget challenges that we’re facing. I would say that a lot of people I talk to have a lot of confidence in the people who are now in charge of dealing with these challenges,” Faculty Senate Chair Joe McLaughlin said.


Budget and facilities will be important topics for the university this fall, as the Budget Planning Council (BPC) works to determine the budget for next year, Faculty Senate Vice Chair David Thomas said.


BPC examines major financial drivers of the university, along with costs such as facilities.


“There’s what we call operational money and there’s capital money. The operational money is going to possibly pay my raise, or not, or buy us a new widget,” Thomas said. “And then there’s capital, which comes every other year, and we get a diminishing amount of that because the state is giving out less and less and less money every year.”


Decreased capital not only impacts normal subsidies, it also funds “brick and mortar,” or repair.


The Sook Center, an academic center exclusively for student-athletes, plan remains a big concern to Facilities because it raises the question of how the university prioritizes money, Thomas said.

Faculty Senate

Blake Nissen | FILE

Members of Faculty Senate vote on a issue during their January 9th 2017 meeting


“Right now my sense is that there’s a great deal of skepticism among faculty (about if) we are in a place where we can do new major construction, and that we really need to be continuing to focus our efforts on deferred maintenance and renovating buildings we have, rather than growing our facilities’ footprint,” McLaughlin said.


Faculty Senate has representatives on the Facilities and Planning Advisory Committee and the Board of Trustees who keep the faculty informed and exchange feedback.


Additionally, Bill Willan, the executive dean of regional higher education, is expected to give a presentation to Faculty Senate this semester about how College Credit Plus programs are causing budgetary issues for OU’s regional campuses.


Despite budget challenges, McLaughlin said new leadership has “rejuvenated” the Senate.


“I think a lot of the work that’s gonna go on this year is transitioning to the new administration, making sure we keep open, very good lines of communication with President Nellis. David Descutner has been around here for a very long time so I think that will be a really good transition,” McLaughlin said.


Development by: Taylor Johnston / Digital Production Editor

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