By Paul A. Anthony, Editor in Chief
The recent reallocation process is probably not the last, university President Royce Money revealed in an open forum with the faculty Monday afternoon.
The university is in the second year of a three-year process that has shifted funds away from two departments, a program, a major and 40 faculty and staff positions. Money said the Board of Trustees has suggested the university continue to reallocate every three years or so, and that he agrees with the Board’s advice.
“We’ve kind of always been doing this sort of thing, but we’d be more overt about it,” Money said.
Money stressed that future reallocation processes would not necessarily mean cutting departments; he would not predict further what could happen.
“We should be doing this sort of thing anyway,” Money said.
The forum, the first of its kind, allowed faculty members to ask Money whatever questions they had; most of the forum was dominated by questions about finances.
Among the financial uncertainties facing the school, Money added two new wrinkles-a drop in telephone revenue because of increased cell phone usage and a nationwide decrease in charitable giving.
These, added to higher-than-expected insurance premiums, rising utility bills and an endowment that has shed $20 million in six months, mean the university is focused even more on attracting students and increasing enrollment.
“We’re watching enrollment trends,” Money said, adding that he has told Jack Rich, executive vice president, and Kevin Watson, chief administrative services officer, to begin working on construction of a new residence hall as quickly as possible. “I think enrollment will always be a challenge.”
In many cases, the forum was a more informal version of Money’s state of the university address in October. Both times the president outlined where reallocated funds were going, the financial problems the university faces and the fact that ACU is dealing with problems that nearly every other school is facing, as well.
“I think if you look at the nation as a whole-if you look at what the state legislatures are facing-the publics may have it worse,” Money said, referring to public universities that face steep budget cuts because of many states’ poor economic conditions.
Money and Vice President of Finance Phil Schubert answered questions about the faculty’s health plan, specifically addressing rumors that the school would switch to an HMO.
Schubert said he and others are exploring other options in case a situation arises in which the school needs to switch plans. However, he said, “there are no decisions on the horizon at this point.”
The forum took an abrupt turn when Dr. Paul Lakey, professor of communication, asked Money about the rumored divorce rate of students who marry at the university. According to popular legend, the figure is 60 percent-about 11 points higher than the current national rate of divorces per married couple.
However, not one of about 150 professors and administrators present could cite a verifiable source for the data. Money dismissed the rumor as “anecdotal.”
Money did express concern that the rate is too high, even if it’s lower than the national average, and he encouraged the beginning of a long-term study of university students who marry here.
Another forum is planned for the spring, Money said.