Just got back from a presentation by Chancellor Hinshaw and Dean Teramura on the State of the College (of Natural Sciences).
The big issue is obviously budget cuts in UHM’s general funds. The legislature is pushing for a $33M cut, which is 13% of our general funds. There are still 2 more weeks of maneuvering at the capitol, but if the cut stays at that level, there will be no choice but to have layoffs for lecturers, temporary faculty, and some administrative staff. Chancellor Hinshaw has been lobbying the legislature to reduce the cuts, and her arguments sound convincing to me: UHM is more important to Hawaii than any university in any other state, and UHM can be a big part of the solution to the economic crisis if it gets sufficient funding.
Interesting point about the graduate assistant salaries: based on some discussions among the Dean’s advisory council, GA stipends have been increased by one step across the University, and GAs in the college are getting 2 steps to stay competitive.
The major theme for dealing with the cuts is to do whatever is possible to minimize the impact on the student learning experience. This means that faculty and staff will have to take on a lot of the burden, such as teaching larger classes less frequently. With layoffs of temporary faculty (and positions vacated by retirement that will go unfilled), faculty may be teaching classes that they are less familiar with.
One interesting point that Chancellor Hinshaw brought up is that when Facilities fixes a leaky roof (apparently there are 37 on campus!!), they are trying to put photovoltaic panels on to get some ongoing fiscal benefit from the work. Interesting to hear, but I haven’t heard of any PV installations on campus that have happened that way.
All in all, it sounded to me like the administration is doing a pretty good job handling a difficult situation.