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July 09, 1980 - Image 4

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Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1980-07-09

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lWedriresav. Jiv 9. 1980-The Michiaon Dailv

Billy Frye plans for
'U' budget decisions

New V.P.Frye
faces hard times
BILLY FRYE has his work cut out for
As new vice-president for academic affairs, Frye
is in the difficult position of attempting to maintain
the quality of education at the University during a
time when economic hardship is translating into
miserlystate higher education appropriations.
He also assumes the delicate task of acting as a
liaison between the central administration and the
various academic units (including the 17 schools
and colleges). Frye has demonstrated in his role as
LSA dean the diplomatic skill and administrative
ability which will enable him to serve the Univer-
sity well in the hard times ahead.
One of Frye's first duties is to help plan the
University's fiscal 1980-81 budget-without
knowing what the state allocation to the University
will be. As academic affairs vice-president, he
automatically steps into the role of chairman of the
University's upper-echelon budget planning com-
mittee.
Planning the University's gargantuan budget is
always a difficult task, but this year the state's
higher education budget may not be approved un-
til November. That means Frye and his fellow
executive officers must choose whether to estimate
the University's share of the state budget, or to
base spending on the fiscal 1979-80 University
budget. University officials now concede the in-
crease in the state appropriation is likely to be no
more than three per cent.
Because of the very tentative nature of budget
planning at this stage, the University should not at-
tempt to enact a budget at the July Regents
meeting. Rather, we advocate an extension of the
1979-80 spending levels until the state budget is ap-
proved in the fall. In this way, the University can
protect itself against the possibility of a reduction
in the state's allocaton. Although there exists a
strong temptation to enact an optimistic 1980-81
budget at this time, it is better-in this case-to be
realistic.
Among the probable consequences of the
economic crunch will be program reductions
resulting from budget cutbacks. In addition, there
will likely be a decrease in the number of
professors granted tenure. It is obvious that a
haphazard approach in dealing with program and
staff reductions could be disastrous.
The preliminary criteria advocated by Frye are
commendable; the new vice-president stressed
that there will be a close scrutiny of fluctuations in
the student demand for courses and schools before
budget reallocations are made.
We applaud Frye's recognition that large
programs may not necessarily continue to receive
large chunks of the budget, especially if there are
signs that smaller areas show potential for growth
and demand.

Billy Frye became the Uni-
versity's vice-president for
academic affairs on July 1.
His appointment comes at a
time of extreme economic
hardship for the University
and the entire country. In an
interview last week with Daily
staff writer Mitch Stuart,
Frye discussed his views'on the
problems confronting the
University; and his new
responsibilities as vice-
president.
DAILY: what is the major
problem the University
will face in the next few years?
FRYE: The major problem
will be a complex set of things
which you can describe in this
way: Managing a no-growth or
possibly shrinking budget in a
that will maintain and hopefully
even build quality programs
within the University.
DAILY: How will you deal with
this situation in your new
capacity?
FRYE: It gets down to a
question of program
management on all levels. And
for me it's going to mean very
largely smatter of building an in-
formation base and procedures
that will allow the University
administration and the faculty to
make the best judgements about
where to put our resources-and
by implication, where to take
them away-where to shrink and
where to develop.
DAILY: It was mentioned at
the (June)Regents meeting that
it will be very important to look
at faculty promotions and tenure
decisions to make sure the
University doesn't make long-
term commitments it can't keep.
How important will fiscal
restraint be in making those
decisions?
FRYE: Promotion decisions
will be tougher-they have gotten
tougher. How much tougher they
will get I don't know. My opinion
is, in the parts of the University I
know, that they've toughened up
very substantially already, and it
may well be that there is room for
more tightening up of standards.
To this date, to my knowledge, we
have not denied a promotion for
budgetary reasons. It may well
be that at some point we'll find
ourselves facing that question of
the University's financial need
independently of faculty merit. I
hope we will not reachthe point
where we review a young
assistant professor's record and
say, "This is a superb individual,
but financial circumstances
prevent us from promoting this
individual." If we do come to a
point where there has to be
program reduction-if we were to
discontinue an entire unit-then
clearly, at least the non-tenured
faculty in that unit would be
discharged. And that clearly
wouldn't be a question of merit,
but a question of a decision
largely motivated-but not en-
tirely-by financial reasons. I
say "not entirely" because

By Mitch Stuart
hopefully we would find a coin-
cidence between the financial
need of the institution and units
that are less central and perhaps
of weaker quality overall than
others.
DAILY: All the University ad-
ministrators are very concerned
about maintaining the Univer-
sity's drawing power for top-
notch faculty. What will happen
to that drawing power if
promotions decrease?
FRYE: Of course if the number
of appointments we can make are
reduced, then our opportunities,
to bring in outstanding new junior
faculty will be decreased. What
you have to do is balance these
forces out as best you can. Some
of the steps that will have to be
taken are bound to work
somewhat to out detriment. We
will play the game in a manner
that maintains or increases our
position relative to our peer in-
stitutions-to manage this
problem no worse than, and if
possible, better than anybody
else.

DAILY: How is the uncertainy
in the state's (fiscal 1980-81)
higher education budget affec-
ting your budget planning?
FRYE: We are coming up
against a decision very soon of
whether to proceed with an ex-
tension of last year's budget or to
go ahead and enact the budget for
next year based upon our best,
predicton of what the state
allocation might be. We're ready
to have to decide by the July
Regents meeting (July 17 and 18)
because they will have to enact
the budget-if we delay any longer
than that we've effectively
chosen to wait until the state acts.
DAILY: Since program
decisions are so vital, what kinds
of criteria will you use to decide
which programs to cut?
FRYE: The notion of program
reduction is in the air. What we
haven't done is deal with the
procedures and the strategic
questions of how to go about it.
We haven't really specifically set
up criteria. But it's not as if I
don't have some notion of those
criteria; it's not as if we haven't
thought about this often and long
over the past several years. What
kinds of criteria ought to affect
whether a unit grows or is
reduced?
- Quality. You can't simply say
that a program of high quality
will remain the same size or
grow. Quality is not commen-
surate with size or vice versa.
Quality is a criterion, but it is not
an ultimate protector against
budget reductions.

" Demand. It is clearly a
criterion to which we should
respond. Some programs, such as
computer science and business
administration, will continue to
have the student enrollment and
demand, unlike certain other
areas.
* Intellectual centrality. I can't
imagine, for example, irrespec-
tive of whether students think
there are jobs in the field or not,
an English department below a
certain size because of its central
importance. Music, similarly. In-
tellectual centrality is really two
different things: Centrality could
mean that a field is central to the
curriculum, say mathematics,
and consequently it simply has a
certain instructional load to bear,
that's not likely to be modified.
That's somewhat different than
the role math as a subject plays
in the scholarly life of an in-
stitution. Now they may coin-
cide-math may be central in
both senses, and I think it is-but
they are somewhat different.
* New areas. Nobody has a
crystal ball, but we ought to be
doing the best we can to judge
what the potential intellectual
development of a field is. If we
see important new ideas sur-
facing, which should be given the
opportunity to flourish and grow
on this campus, then we've got a
strong responsibility to en-
courage that possibility. You
can't just use the kind of
retrospective criterion of where
a field is at. You have to also look
and see where it is going. There
has to be some creative ad-
ministration.
DAILY: A computer
engineering graduate has a star-
ting salary of more than $20,0
per year. but a humanities
graduate has a hard time finding
ajob. How is that going to affect
the administration's priorities?
FRYE: I believe we have to be
responsive .to the student
demand, and when enrollments
go up as they presently are in
engineering and business, that
has to be one of the con-
siderations for the allocation of
instructional resources. On the
other hand, we must not pull back
from the lower-enrolled areas
unduly. You've also got to make
sure that you dampen out the
"short-run oscillation'-you
don't want to make foolish
decisions to grow here and shrink
there only to have to turn around
tomorrow and do it all over
again.
DAILY: What do you think of
the phrase "education for
education's sake?"
FRYE: If it means what I think
it means, I think everything of it.
I think to look at education, par-
ticularly on the undergraduate
level, simply in terms of em-
ployability is to take a very, very,
narrow view of its potential.
Daily staff writer Mitch Stuart
covers Regents and University
Administration for the Daily.

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