September 1, 2011 Minutes

Meeting Date: 2011-9-1

Person Presiding: Michael Frizell

Members in Attendance: Sandra Arthur, Scott Fiedler, Nadine Jones, Peggy Jones, Charles Klarr, Erin Parrish, Holly Robison, Matthew Stublefield, Erin Trotter, Andrea Weber, Kirk Whittington, Dixie Williams, Mary Ann Wood, Kelly Barnts

Proxy Members in Attendance: Konya Knackstedt on behalf of Sandra Johnson

Ex-Officio Members in Attendance: Cynthia Hail

Guests in Attendance: Jeremy Shenck, Sharon Lopinot, Beth Bruner, Susan Willingham, Ashleigh Lewellen, John Wall, Catherine Beck, Janelle Melton, Dorothy Holmes, Yvette Medley, Holly Pepe, Kelly Cara, Corbin Campbell

Actions of Meeting

Agenda Item: Call to Order

Staff Senate has quorum, and was subsequently called to order by Chairperson Michael Frizell

Agenda Item: Approval of Agenda

The agenda was emailed in advance of the meeting. There were no changes requested and the agenda was approved unanimously.

Agenda Item: Approval of Minutes (8/4/2011)

The minutes were emailed in advance of the meeting. There were no changes requested and the minutes were approved unanimously.

Agenda Item: Presentation

Interim President Clif Smart joined Staff Senate today to talk about the budgeting process, the salary package proposal, and the biometrics issue, followed by a period for questions and answers.

Interim President Clif Smart reviewed the committee structure, which is the same as last year, but which will be complemented by a six-person committee named the Staff Allocation Task Force, on which last year's Staff Senate Chair, Tabitha Haynes, will be serving. This committee's focus is to bring recommendations regarding staff utilization. Interim President Clif Smart stated that there will be no layoffs and that there is nothing to be scared of, but with eighty or more retirements coming plus other people leaving for unrelated reasons, this is a good opportunity to make sure the University is utilizing people as best it can.

Addressing utilization is also important because by improving efficiency the University can provide a salary package for this year, which will need to come from reallocated money. He anticipates a decrease in state appropriations for the third year in a row, but is working to provide a salary package regardless.

One of the focuses on the salary package is to benefit the people at the bottom of the pay scales the most, and under consideration is not giving a raise to people at the top of the pay scale. The funding for this salary package will be provided centrally for January through June, but the budget committees will need to present recommendations on how this cost can be absorbed by Cost Centers by the end of the year. An amount for the salary package has not yet been decided.

Regarding the biometrics for health insurance, this is an attempt to address the rising cost of health care. Currently, Missouri State University's self-insured plan is not breaking even, and the University pays in $750,000 annually to maintain it. While the Board recognizes that the University cannot fund more of the cost centrally, many administrators have pushed back on requiring payments from employees in light of the lack of raises. The goal of the biometric screenings is to identify issues and prevent problems such as catastrophic health failures that cost more than the preventative measures.

Interim President Clif Smart stated that participation is not required, but those who don't participate will have to pay a portion of their health insurance. No one will have access to biometric data except the Wellness Coordinator who inputs the data, and once the results come in no one will receive a phone call or any sort of harassment. People will receive a report and it's up to them whether to act on it or not.

Interim President Clif Smart stated that he wants to make sure that staff and Staff Senate are represented this year in the University's decisions. He went on to state that he isn't faculty and isn't tenured, that he is staff, and that he wants to make sure staff are represented.

Guest of the Senate Konya Knackstedt asked a question regarding the salary package. Since it will be available to everyone who worked at the University prior to June 30, 2012, she wondered if there would be any consideration given to employees who had been here for years rather than people who had been at the University for only a few months. Interim President Clif Smart stated that there would be4 no differentiation because the size of raises are on the order of cost of living, which everyone ought to get.

Guest of the Senate Corbin Campbell asked what the repercussions of the biometric screenings and health incentive plan will be for those whose results are unfavorable. Interim President Clif Smart stated that they would receive a report, but that's it; there is no follow up. He went on to say, "I promise you, no one will harass you, no one will call you. If they do, call me and I'll stop it."

Senator Erin Trotter asked if the raise would be a one-time occurrence or if there will be another in four to five years. Interim President Clif Smart replied that he'd like to give a raise in January and another in July of 2012, but that depends on enrollment and the state appropriation. Once the appropriation begins going up again, he anticipates annual raises will be reinstated.

Senator Erin Trotter asked if a raise during the summer of 2012 would just cover the increased cost of health insurance to employees. Interim President Clif Smart replied that he hoped that wouldn't be the case as the University works to contain its healthcare costs. In addition, the University will be rebidding its health insurance at the end of the year and hope that with competition the price can be driven down some. He went on to say, "It doesn't do any good to give people a raise with one hand and take it away with the other."

Guest of the Senate Cathy McFall asked a question regarding the salary package: would there be any consideration given to people who have been at the minimum of their range for ten to twelve years to get them more quickly to the middle of their range or at least a few thousand above minimum. Interim President Clif Smart stated that the goal is to get everyone to at least the middle of the salary range, but the question becomes how to do it without new money or new students. There are a number of strategies being considered to address this, which is what the budget committees will be looking at over the next year.

Faculty Senator Cynthia Hail asked about the Interim President's feelings regarding retirement incentives, since we just had two. She stated that she is in a group that hasn't had a raise in several years and is almost at retirement, and that financially things were better several years ago when she was allowed to teach extra classes. Interim President Clif Smart stated that he would not anticipate another retirement incentive this year, but that's not to say there wouldn't be one in a year or two.

Guest of the Senate Jeremy Schenk stated that he oversees a committed group of staff who operate a service with one-third the staff of some of our peer institutions. Mr. Schenk raised the concern that, when hearing about "reducing our footprint" in relation to staff reallocation, some people as worried that their workload is going to increase dramatically. Interim President Clif Smart recognized that there are certain units that do not need to be reduced, and that we cannot reduce equally across all units. Some need more people, some are fine, and some could stand to decrease by one to two positions. We must, however, continue to provide services to students and perform the necessary functions, and he knows some units are operating at 110% or more.

A Guest of the Senate asked if a committee had looked at the insurance changes to see what the percent covered for dependents would be. Vice President of Administrative and Information Services Ken McClure answered that this had not yet been examined but hopefully they would stay the same as they are now.

Senator Kelly Barnts asked a question regarding retirement: Last year a new position was advertised for an administrative assistant making $35,000 a year, but the decision was made after posting that there wasn't sufficient money for the position, so it was later decreased to $24,000. Subsequently, many applicants declined the position or withdrew from the search, but after a person was hired they were then given a raise of $12,000. Senator Kelly Barnts asked what Interim President Clif Smart thought of this situation, who replied that he knows of the situation and that it is unfortunate. He went on to state that he cannot say anything else other than that it won't happen again.

A Guest of the Senate asked about staff reallocation with a specific example. Interim President Clif Smart replied that he cannot address specifics well, but that the committee would make recommendations and address areas individually.

Chair-Elect Dixie Williams pointed out that admissions and retention is the job of all staff, not just the Office of Admissions, and that we should all be working to retain students. She went on to point out the increase in transfer students that Ozarks Technical Community College (OTC) had this year.

Interim President Clif Smart talked about doing house calls in the residence halls, and that he visited five art classrooms an hour before the Staff Senate meeting.

Senator Sandra Arthur asked about filling executive assistant positions with part-time people. This raises concerns regarding continuity, and she wondered if those positions would now be part-time permanently. Interim President Clif Smart replied that this sort of move is something that needs to be considered in some areas, especially in the short-term to save money which can then be put towards a raise for full-time staff. While it may impact continuity, it is worth looking at.

Guest of the Senate Corbin Campbell raised questions about the diversity initiatives at the University related to hiring and search committees. He stated that a recent search did not have a diverse enough pool, which necessitated extending the search and spending more money advertising. Mr. Campbell expressed concern that the University is prioritizing diversity over qualifications, and that this is costing the University excessively during a time of financial hardship.

Interim President Clif Smart pointed out that many searches are local and don't require a diverse pool. On national searches, though, a diverse pool is needed. He stated that only by increasing diversity in our staff and faculty can we attract a diverse student body, and that during times of decreased high school graduation and concerns about enrollment, it is important to recruit students from everywhere we can. Therefore, diversity considerations in hiring are important.

Interim President Clif Smart said, "It is not unfair for our minority students to expect to see people who look like them in staff or faculty positions. In terms of just the economics of being able to recruit people from all races, backgrounds, and ethnicities, that will help us just as much in our economic model. Economically, we're going to have to change to some extent because our clients, our student base is changing."

Agenda Item: Old Business

Chair Michael Frizell stated that there are still cookbooks from last year's Staff Senate fundraiser available for purchase.

Director of Staff Relations Andrea Weber reminded the Senate of committees that need more people to serve on them. In addition, the Denim Day committee met twice and encourages people to participate. The Denim Day luncheon was moved to September 29th to avoid conflict with the United Way breakfast.

The Staff Relations and Public Affairs committees in particular are seeking additional committee members.

Chair-Elect Dixie Williams asked for a quick report from the Certified Professional Secretaries workgroup. She yielded the floor to Senator Peggy Jones, who reported that the workgroup has met and is working with Human Resources to gather information regarding similar certifications and compensation on campus. Senator Jones thanked Kelly Cara who assisted with the survey and its submission for IRB approval. This survey seeks a better understanding of who already has the certification, who is interested in taking the examination, and who has maintained their certification. While the survey is voluntary, it needs extensive involvement to help ensure accurate data.

Chair Michael Frizell revisited the subject of workgroup and committee membership, pointing out that workgroups and committees will only be formed if the Senate is interested in their purpose and works to make them happen. If no one participates in them, the workgroup will die. Chair Frizell opened the floor for discussion with the question, "What is the perceived problem with signing up for these committees?"

The question was raised about the nature of the Public Affairs committee, and Chair Frizell responded that part of the job of a committee is to define the role and direction of their group.

Chair-Elect Dixie Williams stated that it is important to look outside one's self. As a senator, we represent job families or categories, and it is important to represent those people and not just one's own interests.

Guest of the Senate Corbin Campbell stated that one of the issues that needed to be overcome in the past was morale.

Secretary Matthew Stublefield pointed out that if there is a particular morale issue, which would be a good opportunity for Staff Senate to intervene and address that issue directly.

Senator Charles Klarr stated that Interim President Clif Smart's statement that part-timers might be all that's needed in certain positions hurts morale, as does outsourcing jobs.

Faculty Senator Cynthia Hail asked if other staff, from outside the senate, can be on a workgroup, to which Chair Michael Frizell responded with a positive. Senator Hail went on to state that if Faculty Senate had to rely just on its members, no work would get done. It is important for senators to know their constituents so they can pull experts from their areas to assist on committees.

Guest of the Senate Kelly Cara stated that she would be interested in working with Public Affairs, but since she is not a senator she would want a senator to chair the committee, preferably someone who had led something like that before.

Guest of the Senate Konya Knackstedt asked if Dale Moore was no longer a member of Staff Senate. She gave the example of the Shared Sick Leave Pool, which seemed to stall out last year though she had hoped it would be discussed in the May Board of Governors meeting.

Senator Holly Robison asked if the Executive Committee could send a list of workgroups to the senate again.

Senator Sandra Arthur asked which group was dropped due to lack of participation, and she also asked what happened to the Course Credit Fee Waiver committee from last year. Secretary Matthew Stublefield explained that the research needed to fulfill the goals of the committee seemed unfeasible at the time, but if senators wanted to take up the subject again, they could do so.

Guest of the Senate Beth Bruner stated that as Staff Senators become more involved with the campus, the validity of Staff Senate is increased.

Guest of the Senate Konya Knackstedt stated that research was performed on course credit fee waivers several years ago, which she can provide. Chair Michael Frizell observed that Staff Senate needs to improve history retention and build a central library of information. Senator Peggy Jones asked if a central common folder could be created, and Secretary Matthew Stublefield stated that a wiki space had been created for the Staff Senate Bylaws Committee, which could be repurposed to serve this need.

Chair Michael Frizell stated that several anonymous people contacted him with concerns about fees for the campus recreation center. While we don't know what the fee will be yet, it appears that it will be around $18 per month. The Campus Recreation Center was paid for with student fees, and Staff Senate put forward a resolution last year advocating that staff pay the same amount monthly that students would for access to the recreation center.

Guest of the Senate Konya Knackstedt stated that Student Government Association is considering $205 per year for faculty and staff to access the Campus Recreation Center.

Guest of the Senate Jeremy Schenk asked why the non-course credit fee waiver could be applied to aerobics classes but not towards the recreation center fee, and Chair Michael Frizell stated that he would ask Interim President Clif Smart about this.

Chair Michael Frizell brought up the subject of wireless Internet access for staff. He has received numerous emails about the subject, and pointed out that this is a committee for which no Staff Senators signed up. He related that there were seven main reasons why all staff are not being granted access to wireless Internet, and that the biggest issue was justifying which people need it and which don't. The current system for staff to obtain wireless takes these seven issues into account and seems to be working well.

Chair Frizell went on to say that staff who teach classes will have access to wireless just as faculty do. These people will be paid for by the Office of the Provost, just as other faculty are.

Regarding staff access to wireless, Guest of the Senate Corbin Campbell gave the example of his office, in which three Electronic Support Specialists have wireless access so they can troubleshoot it.

Senator Scott Fiedler observed that he regularly meets with faculty as part of his job, but he has to pay for wireless access himself. He would like to have a survey conducted of faculty to find out how many use wireless or have a device that can access wireless to ascertain how many people are being paid for but who are not using the service.

Guest of the Senate Corbin Campbell asked if staff could be granted access but have their bandwidth limited. Chair Michael Frizell replied that this adds in management and bureaucracy, making it unlikely to move forward.

Faculty Senator Cynthia Hail stated that when Faculty Senate was working on getting faculty access to wireless, they looked at justifications for it as well as how much it was being used, and felt that giving greater access in that case would increase usage.

Senator Charles Klarr raised the question of the funding model for wireless Internet access at the University. He pointed out the current cost-per-person model and asked if it would be more efficient to give Telecommunication Services a central budget for wireless and not charge fees to departments or users.

Agenda Item: New Business

Senator Scott Fiedler brought the bylaws amendments to the floor. Senator Peggy Jones moved to amend the bylaws per the amendment submitted by the Bylaws Workgroup. There was no discussion and the bylaws amendments were accepted unanimously.