The University Planning and Budget Council has discussed the question of resource requirements of the BRIDGE proposals. The UPBC comsensus is that, since none of the proposals increases the number of student credit hours beyond the current General Education requirements, in the long run, any of the three should be approximately neutral with respect to revenue requirements.
Certainly, for any of them, there will be non-recurring (or, perhaps, briefly recurring) conversion costs associated with course development and faculty and staff development. To the extent that the Gen Ed program ultimately implemented teaches the same number of student credit hours in smaller classes, there may be small but significant increases in recurring resource requirements, perhaps offset by a lower total number of student credit hours in the program implemented.
The process of adjustment to the new program will, of course, require internal resource reallocation. For example, if instruction is needed for a new quantitative literacy course in the Mathematics/Statistics department, that may require intra-departmental reallocation of resources away from other courses and will most surely require inter-departmental reallocation of resources from courses no longer taught as frequently in Gen Ed by other departments. It is the view of the Council that is next to impossible to have permanent addition of new lines to teach this (or any other) new course in the program without an eventual offsetting reduction of lines elsewhere in the university.
To date (3/20), specific numbers for the conversion costs and for required amounts of internal reallocation have not been forwarded to the Council, because the details have not yet been provided by all of the teams. It is the view of the Council, however, that, at this stage, such numbers would have little meaning, since the product of the BRIDGE committee process is not expected to be an exact replication f any of the current three proposals. When the committee's recommended program is determined, the needed cost details can be applied to the program planned for implementation to produce estimates of non-recurring conversion costs and necessary internal reallocation. The Council strongly recommends that, before the BRIDGE committee forwards that program to the Faculty Senate, a careful evaluation of the type and time path of new, non-recurring resource requirements and required internal reallocation be undertaken jointly by the Provost's Office and the UPBC and, where needed, working with Financial Affairs.
The context of the Council's perspective on implementation of BRIDGE—or the undertaking of ANY new venture, academic or otherwise—is the past five years of cuts or minimal increases in appropriated funds from the State and the prospect of little change in the future. Moreover, with legislated “guaranteed tuition” for undergraduates, the potential for additional revenue from tuition collections decreases, percentage wise, each year, to the point where increases next year will barely cover a 3% salary increase, leaving next to nothing for new undertakings.
The Council recognizes that if we, as a University community, wish to move forward in Gen Ed or other programs, we must do it collaboratively. In a nearly zero-sum budget reality each year, we must face the difficult choices required when progress in one dimension means, perforce, that some others must be either streamlined or abandoned. As an advisory body of students, staff and faculty members, the Council is eager to play a part in a collaborative, constructive process of change.
20 March, 2007