Dear Faculty, Staff & Students,
I am pleased to report that the Pacific University Board of Trustees approved our proposed 2017-2018 budget at its regular meeting last week.
I had the opportunity to speak to several of you about the budget at a recent forum, and the slides from that presentation are available online.
We proposed, and the board approved, a balanced budget of approximately $122 million for 2017-20178. This reflects an overall increase of about 3 percent in our operations. As you know, however, expenses increase each year, and we always dream of doing even more. The development of this balanced budget required many programs and units to make difficult choices, particularly as we prioritized minimal increases to tuition and fees for students.
It took a lot of hard work on the part of many people, and I appreciate your efforts.
Among the highlights in the 2017-2018 budget:
- We have funded a 2 percent increase in salaries, with the specific distribution method to be determined. There will not be a comparability adjustment in the coming year.
- We were able to negotiate our medical and dental insurance rates, and we maintained our percentage contribution to employee benefits.
- We continue our contribution rate of 9 percent to employee retirement plans. A concurrent series of surveys and forums with employees found that we could also save employees money by moving to a single retirement plan provider, which we will do in the fall. Look for more information from Human Resources.
- We minimized increases in tuition and fees for almost all academic programs.
- We continued funding of faculty sabbatical replacements and also funded 30 faculty promotions.
- We restructured and enhanced the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Office, and the search to hire a leader for that office is underway. Candidates will be brought to campus this spring.
I also am excited to share two additional actions taken by the board last week on behalf of the university: the naming of Ledbetter Field and the approval of an honorary degree for Trustee Tommy Thayer.
Trustee Kim Ledbetter and his wife Barb have been generous supporters of Pacific, contributing to scholarships, the renovation of Jefferson Hall, and the Pacific Excellence Fund. Most recently, they have made a significant gift that will substantially underwrite the cost of replacing the turf on the field at Hanson Stadium in Lincoln Park. In honor of their tremendous support, the Board of Trustees has approved naming the field Ledbetter Field. The new turf, bearing the name, will be installed this summer prior to the fall football and soccer seasons.
Trustee Tommy Thayer, meanwhile, has been an incredible supporter of Pacific in his own way. The lead guitarist of the legendary rock band KISS, Thayer was the face of the university’s signature fundraising event, Legends. The Tommy Thayer Endowments for Music & Athletics were created from gifts from the 10th and final Legends this year. Thayer also is an advocate for music in schools and a supporter of veterans, raising funds in support of the new Oregon Military Museum, which will be named for his father, Gen. James Thayer, who received an honorary degree from Pacific in 2009. The board approved granting Tommy Thayer an honorary doctor of humane letters degree, which will be bestowed at a future Commencement ceremony.
The board was informed that Pacific University’s accreditation has been renewed. The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities conducted its Year 7 peer-review and visit this fall and the results included four commendations and seven recommendations for the university.
The evaluation committee commended Pacific faculty and staff for their personalized and caring approach to guiding students. The committee complimented the development of our new program implementation process to involve multiple constituents. The committee also specifically noted the College of Health Profession for its incorporation of the diversity theme into strategic planning, curriculum and cocurricular activities and called out the library faculty and staff for their support of student and faculty interests and achievements.
Recommendations included a clearer definition and measures of mission fulfillment; continued development and implementation plans for the assessment of student learning outcomes; deeper alignment of the university-wide diversity program; evaluation of entrance counseling for students taking out loans; and support services for graduate students that grow with enrollment.
Accreditation is an ongoing cycle, and the university will immediately begin work on our Year 1 report, due this fall, as well as responding to these recommendations.
Finally, in other news, the board approved tenure for several faculty members. The board approved expansion and improvements of our Hillsboro Campus at the Tuality Professional Plaza, where we will add PhD research facilities for the clinical psychology program, graduate student support offices, and a student lounge. The board also approved a resolution in support of refinancing the bonds that funded the construction of Burlingham and Gilbert halls.
Thank you each for all you contribute to our Pacific University community, and warmest wishes for the spring.
Lesley M. Hallick