The University Record, January 29, 2001

University appreciates staff efforts on M-Pathways, Kasdin tells Assembly

Click here for highlights of the Senate Assembly meeting.
By Theresa Maddix

“The University’s financial circumstances can only be described as excellent,” reported Robert Kasdin, University chief financial officer, at the Jan. 22 Senate Assembly meeting. Kasdin cited the fall upgrade of the University’s bonds to Aaa by Moody’s Investors Service and the dramatic increase in research funding—$200 million in a single year—to $650 million in total research funding. He also addressed the next application of M-Pathways for human resources, set to “go live” July 1, and the increasing cost of prescription drugs, before turning to questions from the audience.

Kasdin said he is excited about Barbara Butterfield coming “on board” as associate vice president for human resources and affirmative action and chief human resource officer, and he praised Martha “Marty” Eichstadt, executive director of Human Resources/Affirmative Action (HR/AA), for her work as interim head of HR/AA—“moving HR in the right direction.”

The Human Resource Management application of M-Pathways will be the final PeopleSoft rollout, Kasdin said. The delayed rollout has been a deliberate means to ensure confidentiality when the application becomes “live.”

Rising prescription drug costs are a continuing challenge to the University. Kasdin said, “We don’t have an answer. We’re subject to the same trends as are occurring nationally.” Kasdin said he hopes the ideas to be released from the working group for prescription drugs will soon be brought for discussion to the entire University community.

Kasdin fielded questions on issues ranging from Life Sciences funding to the renovation of Hill Auditorium to staff efforts in the M-Pathways implementation.

In response to a question on the degree to which Life Sciences funding is negatively affecting areas that are not part of the Initiative, Kasdin spoke of large capital plans throughout the University in many diverse areas. “This is not a University lacking for dynamism outside the Life Sciences,” he said. Examples include the Ford School of Public Policy, work in the social sciences and “very important initiatives in the humanities.”

When asked whether Hill Auditorium might suffer because of a focus on the Life Sciences Initiative, Kasdin said, “Hill Auditorium is going to get an infusion of $30 million,” addressing such problems as basic infrastructure and the lack of a sufficient number of women’s restrooms. Hill Auditorium is “not getting the $50 million fitting out,” Kasdin said, because the University has decided to focus more on educational and scholarship needs. At the same time, the administration “doesn’t want to join a long string who’ve said, ‘Leave it to successors.’ Renovation is extraordinarily expensive,” Kasdin added.

An Assembly member asked whether any effort has been made to analyze M-Pathways’ effects on staff. Kasdin responded, “This University cannot appreciate its staff enough. The staff at this University works harder and more selflessly than the staff at any University I’ve ever seen.”

Kasdin added that staff paid out of the general fund involved with M-Pathways received special thanks from Provost Nancy Cantor last year in the form of a one-time payment.