Updated February 9, 2022
The following questions were submitted by Faculty Senate and will continue to be updated as needed.
Q: Will Henderson follow the financial exigency protocols set out in the 2016 Faculty Handbook?
A: Yes. The 2016 Faculty Handbook has been our guide throughout this process.
Q: What is the timeline for the financial exigency process?
A: Based on protocols set by the 2016 Faculty Handbook, the anticipated timeline is as follows:
February 3: Chancellor communicates intent to begin financial exigency process.
February 17: Deadline for Faculty Senate to provide Provost with written concurrence or disagreement with the proposal; academic administrative personnel will separately conduct their own analysis and submit recommendations on the same timeline.
March 11: The Chancellor plans to present an update at the regularly-scheduled Board meeting on March 11, 2022. However, the Board will consider a decision regarding the financial exigency recommendation at a separate, specially-called meeting due to the 30-day window stated in the Faculty Handbook for this action.
30-day program/position review process: Provost works with faculty (either through the Faculty Senate or a Senate-approved committee and the academic administrative personnel consisting of full-time faculty members) to determine recommendations for program cuts and position eliminations.
Following the 30-day review process: Provost will communicate the recommendations to the Chancellor.
Late April/Early May: The Arkansas State University System Board of Trustees will consider the recommendations for implementation.
Q: When will faculty be given notice if positions will be eliminated?
A: Faculty will be given notice within 10 days of the Arkansas State University System Board of Trustees approval of recommendations for implementation. Based on the schedule above, this could occur in late April/early May.
Q. What metrics will the Faculty Senate be using to determine program effectiveness? What is the source of the data, and when will it be available?
A: The week after spring break, the Chancellor will provide financial targets, proposed frameworks for a Reimagined Henderson and student success measures, and access to an academic performance and viability portfolio defined by institutional research and data analysis tools. The ASU System Office will provide support to the data gathering and tool building needed to inform a data-informed faculty process. Assistance from Huron Consulting is under consideration.
Q: Will tenure-track and non-tenure-track faculty be treated differently?
A: The processes governing tenured and non-tenured faculty are set forth in the 2016 Faculty Handbook, which is available online at https://hsu.edu/pages/faculty-staff/faculty-senate/2016-faculty-handbook.
Q: If an untenured faculty member is released, may a more senior, tenured faculty member voluntarily retire in order to restore that person's job, for at least the next year?
A: No. Retirement plans should be coordinated with Human Resources as described in the Fiscal Responsibility and Financial Exigency FAQ available at https://hsu.edu/pages/creating-the-future-of-college-reimagining-henderson/fiscal-responsibility-and-financial-exigency-process-next-steps-faqs.
Q: If a faculty member retires early and the university fails, will the Arkansas State University System honor the commitment to cover the university's portion of the health care benefit until retirement age?
A: Henderson will not close. Each ASU System institution is responsible for paying its own employee salaries and benefits. There is no mechanism for the ASU System or another System institution to cover such costs or unfunded liabilities.
Q: If we find out that our position is going to be eliminated, do we still have the option to retire and receive the insurance benefit of current retirees?
A: Yes, if an employee meets current retirement eligibility requirements and formally retires before June 30, 2022. The window as supported by Human Resources will open March 1, 2022. Interested faculty and staff have through June 30, 2022, to complete the retirement process and maintain the benefits currently mentioned in the 2016 Faculty Handbook.
Q: Historically, fall contracts have not been issued until August, which gives employees inadequate time to budget in case of a significant salary change. If faculty members are retained for the 2022-23 school year yet are slated to have a reduction in salary, when will they be informed?
A: The goal is to have this information available at the regularly scheduled meeting of the ASU System Board of Trustees on June 2. Historically, the June Board of Trustees meeting is when campus operating budgets are considered.
Q: What is the fringe benefits percentage that is added to each salary dollar?
A: 28 percent
Q: As a faculty member in an accredited program, I am concerned about staffing requirements needed for accreditation. Are we considering the effects of the loss of accredited programs on the rest of the university and on the state of Arkansas?
A: Yes. However, Henderson must prioritize its Higher Learning Commission accreditation, which requires us to address our financial stability at this time. Our ability to strengthen our financial position and implement strategies to address our organizational deficits will be monitored by the Higher Learning Commission for Accreditation and the U.S. Department of Education for ongoing access to federal financial aid.
Q: How will academic administration be restructured?
A: In the future, Henderson will utilize a Chief Learning Officer/Dean of the Faculty to centralize academic leadership and instructional allocation within an Office of the Chief Learning Officer. As part of the overall university realignment, Henderson also would reduce the current number of Assistant and Associate Deans at the college level along with the current number of academic departments, and therefore chairs, in a meta-major model of academic programs led by a reduced number of program directors. There also will be changes to the overall senior administrative structure of the university as part of the plan.
Q: How much will the elimination of dean/chair stipends save the university?
A: Henderson anticipates annualized savings of $499,140.
Q: If chairs/directors, etc., lose their stipends, will coaches’ stipends be eliminated?
A: Coaches do not receive stipends from the university. Like all Henderson employees, coaches will be taking one furlough day per week.
Q: Did Henderson send $1.9 million to athletics from Educational and General Funds last year?
A: The amount of $1,391,407 was transferred to athletics from Educational and General funds during the previous fiscal year. The annual athletic transfer is approved by the Arkansas Division of Higher Education and is based upon a state statute.
Q: What is the message that we are sharing with current and future students? Is there a unified plan for countering the negative impacts that these circumstances could create?
A: Information about what students can expect during the changes and an FAQ have been shared with all current students. Admissions counselors are in contact with future students who are already admitted or have inquired about Henderson and are providing assistance. The chancellor and vice chancellor of student affairs met with two groups of student leaders and held a general campus student forum on February 15. The FAQ will continue to be updated and is available online at https://www.hsu.edu/StudentFAQ.
Q: After Henderson achieves financial stability, will competitive salaries be offered? If not, what does it plan to do to cultivate excellence in its faculty and staff?
A: The Administrative Efficiencies component of Henderson’s Strategic Resource Allocation Model addresses reclassification and realignment of roles and responsibilities to align to student success outcomes and completion. Reclassification and realignment are important components for identifying job position responsibilities and aligning those to market values. Competitive salaries and classifications that reflect job responsibilities are elements of a long-term sustainability plan. Additional information about the Strategic Resource Allocation Model is available at https://www.hsu.edu/futureofhenderson.
Q: How much does Henderson expect to save this year with the anticipated staff position cuts and faculty/staff furloughs?
A: Henderson anticipates saving $3,207,288 in this fiscal year.
Q: What is the target amount to cut from this fiscal year’s budget?
A: The current modified cash budget indicates a cash gap estimate of approximately $12 million.
Q: Can we get weekly enrollment numbers updates, along with last year’s numbers, and your projections for budget impact?
A: Current and past semester enrollment numbers are available in the Census Reports that are available on myHenderson. Enrollment data for the Fall 2022 class is changing daily and can be made available by the admissions team. We are creating dashboards on the critical elements of the Modified Cash Budget to track savings, revenue performance, and our overall progress toward improving our cash position.
Q: Is there a structure by which the Arkansas State University System can offer assistance to mitigate our exigency, and if so, is that possible? If not, why not?
A: The ASU System has a small operating budget and does not have significant discretionary funds or reserves. However, in recognition of institutional challenges, the System has done, and continues to do, a considerable amount of work for Henderson at no charge, although such services would typically carry a cost to the institution. The other six institutions in the ASU System are independently appropriated institutions. If any funding were to be transferred from another institution to Henderson, it would have to be in the form of a loan with interest. Considering the already high debt load of Henderson, this is not a feasible option. Henderson is exploring options to align some instruction with what is offered by Arkansas State University in Jonesboro as well as course offerings by Arkansas State University Three Rivers.
Q: What are Henderson State University and Arkansas State University System administrators doing to appeal to the state legislature and the governor to advocate for Henderson?
A: Administrators secured state agreement to defer payment on the $6 million no-interest loan until June 30, 2028. State funds of $3.885 million were secured to cover implementation costs for the systemwide Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) conversion. There is also considerable work under way to re-issue our current institutional debt within the positive value of the ASU System’s consolidated financial statements. Work continues to constantly communicate with elected policymakers on behalf of Henderson.