President search, enrollment concerns Faculty Senate
Despite an interruption by UH Students for Fair Trade, Faculty Senate resumed its meeting Wednesday with presentations by University officials on enrollment, budget and the search committee for the next president and chancellor.
The search committee, made up of 20 members, is narrowing down the number of candidates, Assistant Vice President of Academic Affairs David Bell said. Of the 20 members in the committee, five are UH faculty members and four are board members. Out of 120 initial applicants, the search committee is interviewing approximately 15 candidates.
"Over the course of the summer, we have received roughly 120 nominations and applications… and that’s converted to 40 total candidates," Bell said.
Bell said the committee, which was created in May, would narrow the amount to seven or nine applicants, whose names will not be released until a finalist is chosen.
Once the candidate pool has been reduced to three to five candidates, the UH System Board of Regents will select a finalist who will take office after 21 days. If the board disapproves of the candidates, the committee will have to nominate candidates again, Bell said.
Despite the interruption, Rudley said in his presentation that the budget for the fiscal year 2008 had increased from last year, especially in state funding to the budget, which it increased to $1.1 billion from $9.85 million for the UH-System. UH received $812 million, UH-Clear Lake received $91 million, UH-Downtown received $119 million, UH-Victoria received $71 million and the UH-System administration received $19 million.
Private donations for the fiscal year to UH have included $3 million from regent Michael Cemo to build a new auditorium and $1 million from the Dunn Foundation to create a new research position in the Institute for Biomedical Imaging Sciences.
Beginning this fiscal year, the University has implemented a new policy for colleges to fill out a template when requests for new buildings and renovations arise.
"It should tell us in the administration what the higher priorities are… on campus," Rudley said.
Rudley also said that tuition increases put into effect after the June 19 board meeting were to have students contribute to the UH-System budget. UH tuition was raised by 6.9 percent, UH-Clear Lake tuition was raised 6.2 percent, UH-Victoria tuition was raised 5.9 percent, while UH-Downtown had the highest increase at 9.9 percent.
Rudley also said the new budget has allowed the University to hire 20 new faculty members and expects to hire 12 more.
UH Vice President for Academic Affairs Donald Foss said that preliminary enrollment, although not official, for this academic year is higher than last year at 34,660 from 34,334.
Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences John Antel said that it has been difficult to retain transfer students and have them graduate on time.
With the implementation of retention programs and policies, such as the Graduation Pledge and the six-withdrawal rule, Foss said that enrollment and timely graduation would increase.
Implemented in 2006, the Graduation Pledge offers incoming freshmen a financial incentive if 30 hours are completed in good academic standing every year to ensure students graduate in a timely manner. The six-withdrawal rule implemented this summer stems from state legislation to prevent students from taking repeat courses.
"We’ve got to have reasonable, but high, expectations, and the drop policy was a significant move toward that goal," Antel said.
Vice President of Research Donald Birx said that to achieve flagship status UH should increase science research funds and faculty-to-student ratios, among other criteria.