The extended delay in adoption of a federal budget has made a murky budget situation in Albany even more uncertain, according to Greiner. "We had one legislator predict August and a high level staffer said 'Don't be surprised if it's November," he told FSEC members during their Feb. 28 meeting. The state's fiscal year begins on April 1, but no budget has met that deadline in more than a decade. SUNY's fiscal year begins July 1.
Greiner said that SUNY could expect a cut of "five percent," but that the prognosis for relief through innovative flexibility legislation was not good. Greiner also complimented the contingent of alumni and students who traveled to Albany with him last week for a gallant effort. "They were good, particularly the students," Greiner said, "but I think they came away fairly discouraged."
Regardless of the outcome of this year's state budget, Greiner told FSEC members that his long-term push for upgrading academic quality at UB, as outlined in a white paper published recently in the Reporter, would go forward. Provost Thomas Headrick explained that deans had already received a request from him to provide a detailed inventory of "programs and contributions" which his office would assemble for wider distribution shortly. Greiner called this analysis an important step in the process. "The first thing that has to happen is that professionals in every discipline and at every level have to feel engaged in the process," Greiner explained. "If we all put our heads together, we can probably find ways to work better without relying on state dollars."
Responding to a report that Gov. George Pataki had been invited to speak at commencement, published in the student newspaper, The Spectrum, last week, Greiner announced, "Yes, I invited him." Greiner explained that, other than the president of the United States or the governor, UB does not invite speakers to its commencement. The policy, instituted by former president Steven Sample, has been to make commencement a student-oriented event.
Greiner told members of the FSEC that he is trying to "get the governor to treat SUNY as a more positive item." During his first year in office, Pataki has delivered two executive budgets which, together, proposed cutting the state's commitment to SUNY nearly in half.
In other business, the FSEC heard a report from one of the leaders of the Women's Task Force and revisited, once again, the university's policy on academic good standing.
Bernice Noble, a microbiology professor who co-chairs the Task Force on Women at UB, told FSEC members that the task force had produced a substantive report, which was on President Greiner's desk. She declined to discuss details or findings of the task force, since Greiner had not had an opportunity to review the document.
Noble called the task force "globally representative" of women at the university and said that their work was timely. "Women are entering academic life in increasingly large numbers across the country," Noble explained. "The task force examined where women are at UB and where we should be going."
Concerned by the considerable attention that the university's new policy on "academic good standing" has drawn in campus and local media recently, the FSEC voted to recommit the policy to its Grading committee. That committee was charged with "fast tracking" possible revisions so that action can be taken by the full Senate quickly, so as to meet publication deadlines for the fall.
The policy, which put more than 28 per cent of the undergraduate student body on academic probation this semester, was passed by the Senate last spring and implemented over the summer. Student-athletes, student government leaders and club or fraternal officers have the most to lose. Probation usually means the loss of these types of extra-curricular activities.
FSEC members singled out one requirement, which places any student who fails to obtain a 2.0 grade-point average in any given semester on probation, as particularly burdensome. That requirement accounts for roughly one-third of the students who were placed on probation this semester, according to Engineering Professor Dennis Malone. Malone proposed relieving those students of the burdens of actual probation, instead sending a "letter of warning" to them.
Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education Nicolas Goodman defended the good standing rules. "These are not new rules. They have been around for some time. Only the strict enforcement is new," Goodman explained. He contended that the problem was not with the standards themselves, but in the consequences imposed by the Office of Student Life.