The Faculty Senate has established a group charged with assessing the entire administrative structure of the University for efficiency in light of a $50.4 million budget cut.
This group, called the “Faculty Senate Task Force to Review the Administrative Structure of the University of South Florida,” was not only created because of budget cuts but also because the University needed a more streamlined administrative system, said Laurence Branch, president-elect of the Faculty Senate.
He said that the University has had a “spirit of entrepreneurialism” over its 50-year lifespan that contributed to its rapid and successful growth, but that this spirit caused USF to have a segmented administrative system.
“The downside of (entrepreneurialism) is that you often get redundant systems,” Branch said. “Everyone creates their own structure that they need to support their own activities.”
Similar to the Budget Priorities Advisory Task Force created last year to assess academic programs, this new task force will examine whether the administrative structure is efficient.
“It’s important for us to study the current structure,” said Gene Ness, chair of the task force. “Not to make haste but to examine it carefully and to see if the current structure best serves students and the faculty: the community which it is dedicated to serve.”
The task force will make suggestions to University President Judy Genshaft to make the system more efficient and cost-friendly in terms of “restructuring, reduction, elimination and/or redirection,” according to an email sent by Branch to the Faculty Senate.
The task force will assess every administrative structure in the University, from central administration to departmental administrations. It will also assess the administrative structures of the branch campuses.
It is not intended to overhaul the system and start anew but to make recommendations and adjustment to what the University already has, Branch said.
“We’re not wiping the table clean,” he said.
Ness hopes to have the assessment done and recommendations made within a year.
“I would like to make that minimum a reality,” he said.
Branch said he hopes the University would start to carry out the task force’s recommendations within the following year.
Composed of 16 members, the task force includes members appointed by Branch, Genshaft and past presidents/speakers of the Faculty Senate.
The task force will conduct their assessment by interviewing those in administrative positions and writing reports on their different divisions, Ness said. He said it was too early to judge if the format would be similar to that of the Budget Priorities Advisory Task Force.
He also said it’s too early to judge what the biggest concerns for the task force to deal with are. However, the redundancy of the system – for example, multiple email accounts like mail.usf.edu and helios.usf.edu – have been a topic of conversation.
“It’s premature to make a conclusion that that’s the major problem,” Ness said.
Michael Hoad, task force member and vice president of communications, said he thinks something that needs to change is the amount of core resources available to faculty.
“The role of the administration is to provide core resources for faculty,” he said. Core resources are substances vital to teaching, like technology and communication with students.
“It’s not enough to expect a faculty member to go into a classroom with a chalk board and teach off the top of their head,” he said. “USF cannot be the Wild West … where we rely on each faculty member to operate by themselves and be effective.”
Branch said that although the assessment is not a “witch hunt,” the task force is prepared for the controversy faced by the Budget Priorities Advisory Task Force.
“Anytime one considers changing the status quo, one gets criticism,” he said.
Hoad said he was not sure if the task force would be controversial, but that he hopes it is “provocative.”
“It should come up with some ideas that are a challenge for USF,” he said, explaining that the group should consider the future of education while making its assesments and recommendations.
The task force’s first meeting is expected before the beginning of the fall semester.