April 21, 2003

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* Administrative Professionals Day Luncheon, 11:30 a.m., Wednesday, April 23, Convocation Center

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Budget planning outlook reviewed at UPC meeting
Members of the University Planning Committee (UPC) heard an update on the budget process and the Legislature from Dr. Les Wyatt, president, during a meeting Friday.  The budget development process for the upcoming year has been delayed because the Legislature adjourned without approving a state budget, including funds for higher education.  Dr. Wyatt believes the state budget will be approved during a special session in May; in the meantime, the process for developing a budget will be slowed until the level of state funding is determined.

Dr. Wyatt said the university's priorities continue to be restoration of scholarships, raises for faculty and staff, and restoration of funds lost due to budget cuts.  He does not anticipate any reduction in faculty or staff as a result of the budget outlook.

One possible recommendation, from the Department of Higher Education, would be for the Legislature to provide the current funding level, or 94.25 percent of Category A, plus $836,000.  President Wyatt told the UPC that this would not be an acceptable alternative because of the huge burden that would have to be shifted to students through a tuition increase.

A second possible proposal would be an increase of funding through the Revenue Stabilization Act.  One plan considered for new state revenue would be a 15 percent increase in taxes on tobacco products.  This would generate an estimated $80 to $100 million overall, or about $1.95 million in new money for ASU.  Even if this is approved, ASU would still be short of restoring funds lost due to budget cuts, about $3.7 million.  Stated another way, Dr. Wyatt said ASU will probably start the 2003-04 academic year in July with less money than at the beginning of the current biennium, in July of 2001.

Until the Legislature acts and more information is available, ASU's budget for 2003-04 cannot be developed and presented to the Board of Trustees for approval.  More information will be provided to the university community as it becomes available.

New dean appointed for College of Science and Mathematics
Dr. Hector E. FloresThe first dean of the College of Sciences and Mathematics will be Dr. Hector Flores.  Currently, Flores is a professor of plant pathology and biotechnology at The Pennsylvania State University.  His administrative experience includes serving as director of the Science, Technology and Society Program at Penn State.  The new college is one of two which will result from the split of the College of Arts and Sciences, effective July 1.  Academic Affairs will be making a more detailed announcement this week.

NCATE approves College of Education accreditation
The College of Education has received word from the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) that it has been successful in its quest for accreditation for another review period.  This is important news for the College of Education because of the large number of teacher education graduates it produces each year.  A formal announcement will be issued this week.

Fowler Center to host Opera Memphis Artists in Residence
The Fowler Center has recently added another special event to its spring schedule . . . on Sunday, April 27, Opera Memphis Artists in Residence will present "Italian Songs and Arias," with Sandra Franks, soprano, Sean Miller, tenor, Robert Ian Weintraub, baritone, and Stephen Carey, piano.  The program begins at 3 p.m. in Riceland Hall.  Admission is free.

Planning for Delta Blues Symposium X
Repeated as a reminder: An organizational meeting for Delta Blues Symposium X will be held at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, April 30, in Wilson Hall, Room 315.  Participants will select dates for Symposium X and to determine its specific focus.  Everyone is welcome; if you can't attend, express your interest by contacting delta@astate.edu.

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