Cutting Textbook Costs

January 10, 2019

Questioner: Julie Ingersoll

Posed to: Shari Shuman, Vice President, Administration & Finance

In Religious Studies we have long worked to keep student book costs low by using books available used on Amazon.  This works really well for most of my students (last semester none of my classes was more than $40)  but students who rely on Financial Aid can only use their funds at the bookstore.  Who’s rule is that? With new interest on the part of administration to cut textbook costs, can we change it?

Response by Vice President Shuman:

Students on financial aid have the opportunity to purchase their books from any source. Unless, they choose to use the bookstore, the student has to upfront the cost and then they receive a refund from their financial aid. However, we have worked an arrangement with the Bookstore to provide a line of credit to the student to purchase their books prior to the first day of class and before financial aid is distributed. There is a complex technical integration between the University and the bookstore, which allows the bookstore to know which students will be receiving financial aid. The bookstore then provides a line of credit to the student until financial aid is paid. Further, the bookstore assumes the risk for any uncollected funds under the program. The technical integration, line of credit or the guarantee for risk of loss is not available from Amazon or other book sellers.

The University and the bookstore have long endeavored to find ways to reduce the cost of course materials and continue to do so. Bookstore personnel routinely meet with faculty to discuss ways to reduce course materials costs and identify multiple text formats to provide the greatest flexibility for all students. They would welcome the opportunity to visit and explore ways to assist.

Metrics to Shorten Students’ Time to Graduation

Questioner: Anonymous

Posted to: Mark Dawkins, Dean, Coggin College of Business 

In the wake of UNF’s poor showing on the BOG Performance Based Funding Metrics, some colleges are taking steps to increase student retention and shorten student’s time to graduation – the two metrics UNF has consistently scored the lowest on. However, at least one college has taken steps over time that education research shows do just the opposite. In the last few years, the Coggin College of Business has taken steps to materially lower their admission standards, significantly increase the number of part-time faculty teaching their courses, dramatically increase the number of their courses being taught online, and increase the number of faculty teaching overload assignments. Although they have increased their enrollments, education research demonstrates that less qualified students, those taught by part-time faculty, those taking online courses, and those being taught by faculty teaching overloads are more likely to drop out of their classes and take a longer time to graduate. If the administration is serious about increasing student retention rates and shortening student’s time to graduation, should not these decisions be reevaluated? Are the benefits in enrollments worth the costs to UNF in terms of lost funding and reputation due to lower student retention and higher times to graduation?

Answered by: Mark Dawkins, Dean, Coggin College of Business

The Coggin College of Business (CCB) has not lowered its admission standards, although CCB faculty has revised the graduate admissions policies. Nor has CCB significantly increased the number of part-time faculty teaching its courses. In fact, CCB hired five (5) new tenure-track faculty in Fall 2018. Additionally, CCB hired five (5) instructors in Fall 2018 (1 new hire, 2 visiting instructor hired as permanent instructors, and 2 adjunct instructors hired as permanent instructors).

CCB has increased the number of its courses being taught online, and this increase is not “dramatic” relative to the overall number of courses taught by CCB. CCB did increase the number of faculty teaching overload assignments in 2016-17 and 2017-18 to staff the Master of Science in Management (MSM) Program (about 200 new graduate students) and the Fidelity on-site MBA Program in 2018-19 (22 new graduate students), and the overload assignments have decreased with the addition of the five (5) new tenure-track faculty in Fall 2018. CCB started the MSM Program in the summer of 2016 with an agreement with AA to staff the classes with teaching overload assignments for two years, and based on enrollments, to hire two new tenure-track faculty in Fall 2018.

COAS Media Person

Questioner: Anonymous

Posted to: George Rainbolt, Dean, College of Arts & Sciences

 

When there is a call for reallocation to student scholarships from across campus, all units must think of ways to contribute to that funding (which is fine since this is focusing on the students), but

1) Rate from unfilled lines may possibly be used so that departments may not be able to request a needed line (should be a priority to better serve students)

2) The dean says the COAS web/media person hire may be put on hold but might still be able to move forward. Why can’t departments continue updating their sites and maybe have meetings to make sure all units are on the same page (uniformity across the college)?

If unfilled lines are potential sources of the scholarship revenue, then so should this potential admin position (another one in the dean’s office).

 

Response by: George Rainbolt, Dean, College of Arts & Sciences

Thank you for your question. I place a high value on the transparent allocation of resources. The COAS Dean’s Office is happy to answer any questions about resource allocation.

In the recent temporary reallocation to support student scholarships, no rate from unfilled lines was reallocated. I have not heard anyone suggest that colleges will be asked to reallocate rate from unfilled lines to scholarships.

I believe that support for web pages across the College is an important priority. Several departments and office managers have expressed frustration with needing to design and update websites. As you suggest, some level uniformity seems to be a good idea. However, it would not be appropriate to have too much uniformity. We must strike a balance.

As you suggest, the Dean’s Office is exploring a number of different possible configurations for a web/media position. The Office of Human Resources specifies a number of different sorts of positions that might be used for a web/media person. We are also reaching out to other colleges to see how they configure their web/media staff in hopes that we may find some good models that we can adapt to the COAS situation. In consultation with the department chairs, I hope to select a model for the web/media position by the end of the fall semester.

Departments are free to update their sites as we explore the options for the web/media person. Several departments have updated their sites recently. Others have decided to wait on updates until this exploration is finished.

 

Yours in peace,

George Rainbolt, Dean

College of Arts and Sciences

Email to COAS Faculty Members

Questioner: Anonymous

Posted to: Pamela S. Chally, Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

On September 23, Dean Rainbolt sent an urgent e-mail to all COAS faculty saying:

“As some of you may have heard from your chair, the University has asked all units across campus to temporarily reallocate resources to support student scholarships. ”

and after asking for suggestions states:

“I will make the decisions regarding which funds will provide the temporary reallocation.”

Did the university in fact, ask colleges to make such a reallocation? As an underpaid, under supported COAS faculty member, I do not see how we can continue to serve our students with fewer and fewer resources. Does the administration not recognize this?

Response from the Floor by Provost Chally

Provost Chally stated that colleges look at their budgets to identify monies that could be used for student scholarships. Provost Chally stated that Academic Affairs would not ask departments to cut critical funds.

Travel Funding

Questioner: Anonymous

Posted to: Chip Klostermeyer, President Faculty Association

Will there be an increase in travel funding and/or travel funding for non-tenure-track faculty?

Chip Klostermeyer replied during the meeting, at this time, it does appear there will be an increase in travel funding due to the budget uncertainty. However, President Delaney and I have discussed the possibility of a tactical increase in travel funding to strengthen UNF research productivity. I believe the President supports this idea and I will continue to work with him on this issue.

Faculty Members Salaries

Questioner: Anonymous

Posted to: John Delaney, UNF President

#1 – As a follow-up to last month’s question, could the administration please provide the faculty with the following public information: The total salaries (including any salary funds drawn from the Foundation) for 2011-12, 2012-2013, and 2013-2014 for the following individuals: Tom Serwatka, Shari Shuman, Pam Chally, Barb Hetrick, Mark Tumeo, Ajay Samant, Larry Daniel, Jay Coleman, Len Roberson, Jeff Michelman, John Kantner, Mark Workman.

 

#2 – Two recent pieces of information cause me to ask: Is UNF “over-administered”?

  1. First, in Florida Trend’s June 2013 issue, it was noted that the number of administrators at UNF increased by 15.7% from 2007 to 2011. (In 2007, there were 235 administrators and in 2011 there were 272 administrators). As a side note, in fall 2007 there were 16,406 students and in fall 2011 there were 16,368 students.
  2. Second, we recently learned that Tom Serwatka received a $60,000 raise. I think a thorough analysis of this issue is warranted. Has the Budget Advisory Committee looked into this? Is there another group of non-administrators on campus that should be examining this issue?

 

Responses from President Rakita: “I’ll answer that, and I’ll answer it from the floor. The answer to the first part – Has the Budget Advisory Committee looked into this issue?
No, to my knowledge the Budget Advisory Committee has not looked into it.
Should they, or should some group of non-administrators look into it?
I would ask that the Budget Advisory Committee await the response from the President’s office about the salaries that was asked in Question 2, and then, given that response, make a recommendation to me about any action the Faculty Association may want to take on the issue.”

Summer Classes Budgets

Questioner: George Candler

Posted to: Associate Provost Bobby Waldrup, Academic Affairs

Apparently when we do summer budgets, we allocate x dollars to pay for faculty to teach summer classes. These classes then generate tuition revenue, which I’ll call y. The problem seems to be that y and x do not interact. To take the graduate program I teach in (the MPA): we average 20+ students for our classes. To put me in front of that class will have a marginal cost of maybe $10k, at 12.5% of my salary, plus retirement contribution (no extra health costs are incurred), and a bit of electricity. Yet with 20 graduate students at tuition of $1272 each, the marginal revenue generated by this class is over $25k. We only offered three MPA classes this summer due to budget constraints, rather than our usual four. I’ve no doubt (student numbers are healthy) that we left $15k (revenue of $25k – cost of $10k) on the table. If the revenue side of the equation was added to the cost, we would be able to make less harmful decisions about how many classes we can ‘afford’ to offer.

 

Written Responses for Question Synopsis
Bobby Waldrup, Associate Provost for Academic Programs:

Gordon,

Please find the question offered by Dr. Candler to the September Faculty Association meeting and my response below.

Thank you,

 

Bobby

Bobby Waldrup, Ph.D., CPA

Associate Provost for Academic Programs

Academic Affairs

University of North Florida

Phone 904-620-2700

 

From George Candler at Sept 6th, 2012 FA Meeting

I’ve got a question about summer scheduling, about a problem that has existed everywhere that I’ve taught. It might be best directed at Provost Workman.

Apparently when we do summer budgets, we allocate x dollars to pay for faculty to teach summer classes.  These classes then generate tuition revenue, which I’ll call y.  The problem seems to be that y and x do not interact. To take the graduate program I teach in (the MPA): we average 20+ students for our classes. To put me in front of that class will have a marginal cost of maybe $10k, at 12.5% of my salary, plus retirement contribution (no extra health costs are incurred), and a bit of electricity. Yet with 20 graduate students at tuition of $1272 each, the marginal revenue generated by this class is over $25k. We only offered three MPA classes this summer due to budget constraints, rather than our usual four. I’ve no doubt (student numbers are healthy) that we left $15k (revenue of $25k – cost of $10k) on the table. If the revenue side of the equation was added to the cost, we would be able to make less harmful decisions about how many classes we can ‘afford’ to offer.

 

In matching marginal tuition generated against its associated marginal costs, the 12-month fiscal year is used as opposed to traditionally bifurcated academic year / summer term.  In the short run, the university’s expenditure budget is approved and set in Tallahassee, and therefore we do not locally have the freedom to deviate significantly by adding additional summer costs regardless of possible tuition generated.  In the long run, the vast majority of costs at the university is fixed in nature across the 12-month fiscal year, and must be matched against the FTE generated across that same 12-month period.  Since 99% of summer enrollment is constituted of non-transient students, the marginal tuition that would be generated by increased summer enrollment would come at the expense of future Fall/Spring tuition revenues.