Summary of Senate Meeting, June 11, 2002

Dr. Timothy Heaven (Dentistry) presided over his first meeting as president of the Senate. Dr. Mark Hickson was thanked for his recent service as Senate President, and a resolution commending the service of John Schnorrenberg as Secretary of the Faculty was approved. Dr. Kurt Denninghoff and Bettye Wilson were elected as at-large members of the Senate Executive Committee.

The main part of the meeting was a presentation, and responses to questions, by Chancellor (and Interim President) Malcolm Portera. Dr. Portera first identified what he believes are the noteworthy characteristics of UAB—its complexity, its entrepreneurial spirit (he mentioned specifically the number of business start-ups at UAB and a recent proposal for a venture capital fund involving UAB, Vanderbilt, and Emory), and the pride and commitment of UAB’s faculty and staff. He also mentioned the new buildings for biomedical research, and noted that a student recreational center will be proposed to the Board of Trustees this month.

Challenges facing UAB, according to Dr. Portera, are:
(1) Faculty and staff salaries, which are not competitive. A plan will be proposed to the Board this month.
(2) Need for continued improvement of physical facilities.
(3) Implementation of a new computer information system, which at present is behind schedule and over budget. Linda Flaherty-Goldsmith is providing leadership with this.
(4) The billing issue for clinical trials, on which considerable progress is being made.
(5) The strengthening of the relationship between UAB and the Health System.

The Chancellor indicated that his priorities are as follows:
(1) Budget.
(2) Transition to the new president, who he believes will be in place by September 1.
(3) Implementation of the new computer software system.
(4) Building and renovation projects.
(5) Athletics—there is a plan to close substantially the gap between revenues and expenditures.
(6) Final phase of the capital campaign; Dr. Portera expects UAB to reach its upwardly revised goal of $350M within the next year.
(7) Work on improvements in the state budget.

Various senators asked Dr. Portera to comment on articulation and distance learning, the goal of the School of Medicine to be in the top 10 in NIH funding by 2010, contact between the east and west ends of the campus, faculty development opportunities in both research and teaching, completion of the Alys Stephens Center, continuity of leadership at UAB, relations with the community, and issues related to the board of the Health System. While not all of Dr. Portera’s observations on these issues can be presented here, it is particularly worth noting that he indicated that campus presidents will, in addition to representing their campuses, assume some system-wide responsibilities.