University Senate

Report from the Vice President for Finance and Administration

November 11, 2009

 

To:  President Peter Gilkey and Members of the University Senate

I have been asked to report on the following:

     Concerning Implementation of the Senate Resolution Concerning a Smoke Free Campus US08/09-6

     Concerning Implementation of Transparency of University Financial Transactions US08/09-8

Smoke Free Campus

In April 2009 the University Senate passed the following motion:

The UO Senate endorses the report of the smoke free task force and recommends that the University of Oregon move toward becoming a smoke free campus.

First a little background.  Beginning in July 2006 all buildings on campus became smoke free.  There are no tobacco sales on campus or at the Duck Shop.  Current University policies meet the January 1, 2009 revisions to Oregons Smoke-free Workplace Law.  This law prohibits smoking within 10 feet of entrances or exits to buildings, windows that open and ventilation intakes of workplaces or public places.  Additionally, both University Housing and the Lillis Business Complex do not allow smoking within 25 feet of building entrances.

Two primary issues came to my attention during my review of the task force report and the discussion at the Senate. 

       The first relates to individual rights.  In looking into why the Environmental Issues Committee did not endorse the report, it appears that one concern expressed at that committee meeting was acknowledgment that creating a smoke-free campus infringed on the personal right to choose.  This concern was also raised during the Senate discussion. 

       The second related to whether implementing a smoke free policy during a time of high personal stress among our employees and students due to economic circumstances is an appropriate action.

I find these concerns compelling and ones that require further discussion. 

There were also other issues identified that relate to implementation.

     The definition of smoke free has not been agreed.

       The impact on neighbors if all  smoking activity moves away from campus to outside the campus perimeter

       The definition of campus boundaries both within Eugene and in other locations as they apply to any implementation of additional constraints on smoking activities.  The university controls property in Coos Bay, in Bend, in Portland and in Washington State.  The university sponsors programs in both domestic and international locations.  This potentially has a significant impact on outside speakers and performers coming to campus and on ticket holders for athletic and other events on campus. 

       Enforceability.  Both the practicality of enforcing policy related to smoking activities and the mechanism for enforcing policy.

       Appropriate communications particularly with regard to future students and future employees and visitors to campus.

       Sufficiency of education programs.

These are important issues and deserve attention.  An additional challenge in this environment is balancing priorities for limited staff resources.  In my judgment looking at the sufficiency of university supported educational programs is an appropriate place to start and potentially provides the greatest impact on our ability to encourage smoke free environments.  Accordingly I will be exploring this issue with both the Office of Human Resources and the Student Health Center.  At this time we do not have sufficient administrative capacity to investigate the other issues.

Transparency of University Financial Transactions (this report is made jointly by Don Harris and Frances Dyke)

The UO Senate passed the following motion:

The University Senate respectfully requests the University of Oregon Administration to establish a publicly accessible, on-line budget reporting system at the University of Oregon by 15 November 2009 that will allow users to track current and retroactive individual university expenditures as is currently done at our sister institution Oregon State University on their budget reporting website ( https://bfpsystems.oregonstate.edu/webreporting/).

 

Frances Dyke comments:

 

The CIO, Don Harris is here to answer any of the more technical questions you may with regard to the financial reporting tool that will be available on November 16 (the first workday after November 15).  As discussed at the May University Senate meeting work began on developing this tool after a major enterprise software upgrade project was completed in September. 

 

The tool you will be able to access starting next Monday is the initial roll out of a financial reporting tool for compliance with the university Senate motion on financial transparency.  In the course of discussions related to development the work group has identified impediments to our ability to provide transactional level detail in a publicly available financial reporting tool.  There are issues of both security and legally binding confidentiality that must be balanced against the desire for full transparency.  As mentioned at the October Senate meeting I am now asking the Senate President to appoint an advisory group to help analyze these problems and find solutions that can be legally and operationally implemented.  In making this request I also recommend that the Senate President consider creating this advisory group by drawing on membership of the Senate Budget Committee and other members of the Senate or university community who have a particular interest or expertise in financial management reporting.

 

As a side note the state will be implementing a web site to comply with HB 2500 on financial transparency at the state level.  This website will be active in January 2010 and will contain salary information on all state employees including all employees in the Oregon University System.  It will also include information summarizing payments from agencies to vendors.  A copy of the House bill is attached.

 

Don Harris comments:

The application developed uses the WEB development portal tool kit and will be accessible via DuckWeb. This was done so that we could deploy a resource that could be supported by IS Enterprise Administrative Applications and several programmer/analysts who are trained in the use of this toolset. The application will be easy to use and incorporate pull down menus, drilldown capability within specified limits, the ability to compare several years of data, and the ability to download data into an Excel spreadsheet. We have developed this application to be responsive to the senate motion while seeking to balance the needs for transparency and the security and confidentiality issues that have become apparent.  As the VPFA and I work with the advisory group appointed by the Senate president appropriate modifications will be made.