Resolution passed to strengthen shared governance in RCM budget model


A resolution to strengthen shared governance’s input in the process of developing a new budgeting model passed Faculty Assembly and Senate Council with no objections, even from Chancellor Patrick Gallagher who complimented Tyler Bickford and the Budget Policies committee for the work they’ve done to bring these issues to everyone’s attention.

“I just wanted to extend my appreciation to Tyler for one very thoughtful and complete process,” Gallagher said at the May 20 Senate Council meeting. “And I think landing to a point that we’re supportive of making sure that shared governance works even when we change the budget model.”

The main issues raised by the resolution are prioritizing transparency in the process, making use of existing committees instead of creating new ones, and building up planning and budgeting committees at the unit level so they are actively involved in the budgeting process. Staff Council passed a similar resolution earlier this month, which specifically asked to be included in the talks. Earlier this week, Provost Ann Cudd, CFO Hari Sastry and Controller Thurman Wingrove gave Staff Council a presentation on the budgeting process.

The proposed responsibility center management (RCM) budget would give schools and other units more decision-making power about how money is spent but also would make those units more responsible for raising money and would require them to pay a “tax” to the central administration for shared services.

A steering committee, chaired by Cudd and Sastry, has been working on the budget ReSTART (Revenue Sharing to Accelerate Responsive Transformation) since December. It is now working on formulas for how funds will be distributed. A simulated budget will be developed to run parallel to the actual 2021-22 budget, then the new system would go live for the 2022-23 fiscal year.

“Ultimately, the aim of Budget ReSTART is to empower schools to innovate and grow in educational reach and research impact,” Cudd and Sastry said in a statement. “Once fully implemented, it will enable the University to carry out its mission in a fiscally sound, strategic, and transparent way.”

They also said that, “While the steering committee is still in the beginning phases of developing the governance structure for the budget model, one of the goals will be to leverage existing governance committees.” In fiscal year 2021-22, there will be opportunities for feedback as the model is tested parallel to the current budget process, the statement said.

“I would say that my judgment is that the current PBC (planning and budgeting committee) system already has some serious concerns, and it’s pretty weak,” Bickford said at the May 12 Faculty Assembly meeting. “And specifically, PBC members are not always elected. PBC’s don’t always represent staff and students. PBC members don’t always know that they’re actually part of a university-wide shared governance process. And PBC members consistently report that they’re not actively involved in budgeting itself, but much more in planning.”

The resolution, Bickford said, is asking “to stand up a process where the Faculty Assembly, the Senate Budget Policies committee, the Staff Council, the student representatives, can participate in maybe re-envisioning the planning and budgeting system at the unit level a little bit so that when we do press play on this new budget model, we can all be confident that there’s going to be robust participation in the process, especially within the units.”

Faculty Assembly had initially passed a resolution asking for the Budget Re-START process to be paused until the structures can be put in place to provide full participation of shared governance entities. The resolution that passed Senate Council on May 20 recognizes that the process is going to be moving forward, but needs more input from faculty, staff and students.

“This is going to require a lot of work from us over the next six to 12 months,” Bickford said at Faculty Assembly. “This is the start of us continuing to be engaged.”

Susan Jones is editor of the University Times. Reach her at or 724-244-4042.


Have a story idea or news to share? Share it with the University Times.

Follow the University Times on Twitter and Facebook.