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Members of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) want more say in how the University spends its money and have called for the creation of a faculty committee to advise President Neil L. Rudenstine on finances in a report released by the FAS Committee on Resources.
"Major decisions involving the commitment of substantial resources...are sometimes first discovered by faculty from the local press," the report said. "But the committee feels that--in general--input from members of the faculty could add significant value to such decisions."
During yesterday's full Faculty meeting, Rudenstine agreed to consider the creation of the faculty advisory committee.
"I have committed myself to write down something on the way we
are going," he said. "[I am] thinking about a University-wide committee to talk about various large issues that come up before the University as a whole."
Committee member Mark A. Kishlansky, Baird professor of history, said the proposal--along with the other suggestions in the committee report--is intended to give FAS more information about central administration funds and perhaps more influence over their use.
Kishlansky said the Faculty does not know whether it is getting appropriate returns on the money it deposits in central administration funds. Kishlansky said there has long been suspicion that the Faculty has not gotten the proper returns from the central administration.
"There are literally billions of dollars flowing back and forth and around, and it's hard to get a handle on it," Kishlansky said. "It's just so bloody complicated."
But some members of the central administration said FAS's input is already considered in University decision-making processes.
"There is an enormous amount of consultation that goes on within the University," said Elizabeth C. "Beppie" Huidekoper, vice president for finance. "The president is incredibly consultative."
However, a high-level administrator said that the relationship between FAS and the central administration could be better.
"It isn't that the Faculty is unhappy, but rather that they feel that consultation with the Faculty could improve the quality of the [central administration] decisions made," the administrator said.
The committee's report also suggested that an annual financial report be issued by the central administration and made available to the Faculty.
The last report of this kind was published several years ago by then-Provost Albert Carnesale. Huidekoper says that current Provost Harvey V. Fineberg '67 is responsible for deciding to issue such a report.
"There has not been a financial report [in the last few years]," Huidekoper said. "I believe we intend to do that."
Both Huidekoper and Rudenstine said that there is some budget information available even without the report.
"It is important to communicate clearly and regularly to the University
community about financial commitments and directions of the central administration," Fineberg wrote in an e-mail message.
But the Faculty calls for a more detailed breakdown of accounts.
Kishlansky said there is some disagreement about what constitutes a clear report.
"We want the disaggregated information," he said. "It does not help us to know what the endowment is--we want things broken out the way a budget is broken out."
According to Kishlansky, the central administration has not been able to provide FAS with a detailed enough account of how and where the money FAS contributes to the budget is spent.
The report expressed disappointment that Project ADAPT--a recently implemented series of computer programs intended to organize and collect University information--has not yet been able to give FAS more explicit financial information.
Rudenstine said the administration had hoped ADAPT would increase financial communication between the central administration and FAS, but admits ADAPT has not yet accomplished this mission.
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