Carton, Seidman and Goldmann. Goldmann, J.A.D., Temporarily Assigned.
Rutgers Council of the American Association of University Professors (RC-AAUP) appeals from the whole of a resolution adopted by the Board of Higher Education (Board) on December 15, 1972, accepting the Student-Faculty Ratio Study Report prepared by the staff of the Department of Higher Education and adopting a 32-week budgetary calendar and other procedures to provide equitable funding for Rutgers University, the State University, as well as for the Newark College of Engineering and the State Colleges. These funding concepts were utilized by the Board in preparing and presenting a budget request for Rutgers to the Bureau of the Budget, Department of the Treasury, and then to the Governor and Legislature for the fiscal year 1973-1974.
RC-AAUP is the exclusively designated negotiating representative for Rutgers faculty members in their employment relations with the University. Respondent Board is an integral element of the Department of Higher Education (N.J.S.A. 18A:3-1) and responsible for the general supervision of higher education in New Jersey, as detailed in N.J.S.A. 18A:3-6 et seq. Respondent Chancellor of Higher
Education Dungan is likewise a principal element of the Department (N.J.S.A. 18A:3-1) and its chief executive officer (N.J.S.A. 18A:3-21).
The validity of the resolution in question is challenged on three grounds: (1) in adopting the student-faculty ratio the Board violated the procedural requirements of the New Jersey Administrative Procedure Act (N.J.S.A. 52:14B-1 et seq.); (2) the Board's unilateral adoption of the student-faculty ratio policy and 32-week budgetary calendar without prior consultation and negotiation with RC-AAUP as negotiating unit violated the New Jersey Employer-Employee Relations Act (N.J.S.A. 34:13A-1 et seq.), and (3) in adopting the student-faculty ratio policy the Board violated the autonomy of Rutgers.
The following factual background may be derived from the statements of facts submitted by the parties.
The State has annually appropriated money to Rutgers, even prior to its becoming the State University in 1956 when it was designated an instrumentality of the State for the purpose of providing public higher education. The funds so appropriated have generally been made available to Rutgers to allocate, within limited guidelines, according to its own priorities. The total sum appropriated each year was determined by resort to certain formulas or budgetary mechanisms. Rutgers would submit specific budget requests or recommendations to the Department for such items as instruction, research, auxiliary services and other programs. After review and revision the Department would submit the budget to the Governor through the Budget Bureau. He would then send his recommendations to the Legislature, which would ultimately determine what should be appropriated for Rutgers.
The largest component of state funds appropriated to Rutgers and other institutions of higher education has been
for instruction and research, and the amount for these purposes was computed by resort to the mechanism of student-faculty ratios. Thus, the funding for Rutgers was on the basis of one faculty position for every 12.6 full-time equivalent students enrolled. Quite understandably, this ratio was nothing more than a budget-generating convention. It did not necessarily relate to the actual number of students in any particular classroom, since Rutgers could allocate teaching positions internally to accord with its own priorities. Moreover, it could generate additional faculty positions by using funds derived from private and federal sources -- revenues reflected in its budget requests.
The 12.6-1 student-faculty ratio actually had no analytical justification, nor did those used in connection with the Newark College of Engineering or the State Colleges. The several ratios were not grounded in rationale or in programmatic objectives. As the State's interest and efforts in providing higher education for more and more students increased, and the cost of doing so mounted, officials on both the executive and legislative levels of State Government questioned the validity of the ratios that had been used. The result was that the Legislature, on the recommendation of the Governor, appropriated $20,000 in the 1971-1972 budget for the Department to study the existing ratios in order to determine if changes were necessary. The intention was that the study be completed and considered for incorporation into the fiscal 1972-73 budget. The Director of the Budget Bureau set up certain guidelines to be followed. We are informed that the Department then established a committee made up of representatives of all public institutions of higher education, appointed by the respective institutions. Rutgers had six on the committee, one a faculty member.
As the study progressed ad hoc committees were established, made up of members of the general committee and additional individuals designated by the institutions. Rutgers
had representatives on all these committees. In addition, members of the Department's study team met with Rutgers administrative and faculty personnel some eight times to discuss issues related to the project. The comments, suggestions and critiques received from these sources resulted in changes in the proposed student-faculty ratios for Rutgers and the other institutions of higher education.
The study was not quite completed when Rutgers, in mid-September 1972, regularly submitted to the Department its budget request for the 1973-74 fiscal year. In a statement accompanying the request Rutgers acknowledged that the Department and the University had for more than a year been engaged in a study of appropriate ratios for funding faculty for instruction, research, curriculum development, public service and academic administration. However, no final agreement had been reached. Rutgers nevertheless agreed "to abide by a jointly determined allocation formula, but must insist on the understanding that Rutgers retains flexibility to assign faculty resources in accordance with institutional goals within reasonable limits of divergence from categories and units actually generating the faculty resources." Rutgers therefore did not consider the allocations in the detailed budget as final; rather, they were subject to change when a final determination was reached. It made clear that it could not accept a budget based on a student-faculty ratio formula alone. While Rutgers recognized that a formula budget based on cost per student had validity for elements of the budget impacted by students, that procedure would adversely affect areas of the budget not tied directly to students, e.g., expenditures for separately budgeted research, library functions serving industrial research and rendering public service to the community beyond the University.
After some 15 months of intensive study and discussion the Department in November 1972 submitted to the Board a staff report: "Final Report and Staff Recommendations and ...