Transcript Senate Meeting
November 15, 2016
James Goldstein, chair: Good afternoon, welcome to the 4th meeting of the University Senate 2016, our last meeting of the calendar year. I now call the meeting to order. For those keeping track, I’ve reverted to my original gavel because it was jealous last time.
A few reminders, if you are senator or a substitute for a senator please be sure to sign in. If you are signing as a substitute you need to print your name legibly so we can read it. Senators only need to initial their name on the sign-in sheet. Please do pick up a clicker today because we have one small vote today.
Once again I thank our assistant, Laura Kloberg, who sets up the equipment, prepares the materials for the meeting, carries over the clickers, transcribes the tape, tapes the meeting and does all kinds of things in the background, so we are grateful for all her help.
For new senators and guests, here again are the Senate rules about speaking. If you’d like to speak about an issue or ask a question, please go to the microphones on the aisles, when your recognized, state you name, whether or not you are a senator and the unit you represent. The rules of the Senate require that senators or substitute senators be allowed to speak first, then after senators have had a chance to speak, guests are welcome to speak as well.
The agenda today was set by the Senate Steering Committee and was posted on the Senate Web site in advance and you see it there now. We still do need to establish a quorum, so if you could turn on your clickers and press A. (56 present) A quorum has been established. For the record we need 44.
The first order of business is to approve the minutes of the meeting of October 18. Those have been posted on the Senate Web site. Were there any additions or corrections to the minutes? Do I have a motion to accept the minutes? (moved) Do I hear a second? (second) All in favor please say aye.
James Goldstein, chair: Opposed? The minutes are approved.
President Gogue and Provost Boosinger are both away on business today, so George Flowers, dean of the Graduate School is going to speak to us on behalf of the Provost’s Office and on behalf of the Graduate School. [3:38]
George Flowers, Dean of the Graduate School: Thank you Dr. Goldstein. As an engineer I can’t speak without a PowerPoint presentation, so I’ve prepared a PowerPoint presentation.
The Provost asked me to give the Senate an update on the status of our graduate programs and talk a little bit about some of the activities of the graduate school. I thought I’d give you a short 90 minute or so presentation (laughter) about some of the things we’re doing. I will, in all seriousness, keep it brief.
Just a little bit of an update in terms of the post graduate programs. I say post graduate programs because the graduate school is responsible not just for the traditional master’s, education specialist, PhD programs, but also the professional programs. They also interact with, and at least officially, the graduate school. [4:45] Overall numbers we’ve got 5,637 students and that includes about 119 professional students as well as 4518 PhD plus Master’s and this should also include education specialists. And also some non-degree seeking students, certificate students and so forth.
We have about 160 graduate programs overall. We have students from 76 countries and we have students from 49 states. Any guess as to what state we’re missing?
George Flowers, Dean of the Graduate School: Alaska, no. This year we’re missing North Dakota. Last year we were missing Idaho, so we got a student from Idaho but then we lost one from North Dakota. We are still at 49 states, so if you’ve got students that you want to recruit from North Dakota please help us out.
In terms of overall enrollment over the last decade or so we’ve had some pretty good graduate enrollment. It’s gone up from about 3,170, 3,169 in 2005 up to 4,518 this year. This includes in terms of PhD students, we’ve got about 1,655, about 2,610 Master’s students, the remainder, you add those 2 numbers together you don’t get 4,518, the remainder comes from education specialists as well as non-degree seeking certificate students, but we’ve had a pretty steady increase and we’ve grown the graduate program over the last decade by about 140%. We are about 40% higher than where we were here. The numbers have been moving up in a fairly steady way.
In terms of degrees, if we look at degree numbers, this is a plot of the sum of the Master’s and the PhD, This is the Master’s, this is the PhD and again over the past decade what we see is again a steady growth in terms of degrees awarded. We are bringing them in and we are moving them out. I am particularly proud of the number of PhDs awarded. We are up by over 100 PhDs awarded each year. We are moving in the right direction there.
In terms of the Graduate School we’re not just responsible for graduate student admissions and advising, and that’s what most of the faculty and departments interact with us on is we do that and that is a major part of what we do, but we also are responsible for a number of programs that seek to enhance graduate student experiences. This includes enhancing diversity as part of a strategic plan. A cross-cultural program about 25% of our graduate students are international students. [8:08] And so we make a serious effort to develop cross-cultural programs to provide them opportunities to learn about U.S. culture, to develop friendships here in the U.S. and to assimilate into the Auburn University family.
Then, also professional development. We have a variety of programs that are aimed at professional development for our graduate students. The objective being that this will help them to find jobs and provide them with opportunities to develop their skills whether they are pursuing an academic job or non-academic job. You’ll notice that in general these programs are partnerships. The fair and future faculty program that’s partnering with the Biggio Center. We have the partnerships with some of our professional development with the Miller Writing Center and also with Career Services and the Office of International Programs. We try to leverage the efforts of all of our offices together to get the most bang for the buck.
With regard to the future of…with regard to diversity…our diversity efforts, one we are most proud of is our future scholars summer bridge program. This is an effort led by Dr. Jared Russell. It’s a team effort, it focuses on partnering with HBCUs, I say from around the southeast, but really over a big chunk of the eastern part of the U.S. and as far out west as Oklahoma and Texas. These partnerships help us to identify outstanding prospects for students from underrepresented groups. They are brought to the campus through the summer bridge program, they are exposed to the Auburn campus and the Auburn community. They are allowed opportunities to attend classes, interact in research labs, get to know the campus and then encouragement and support in their graduate studies in applying for graduate programs either here at Auburn or at other places. [10:07]
Our cross-cultural programs: we have a lot of international students; they do a really good job in the labs. Historically they’ve had relatively opportunity to learn about the U.S. and develop relationships and friendships, so we have efforts that do that. This effort is led by Len Vining [10:26]. There is UNIV700 which is a program that is actually a class that he teaches that provides training on U.S. culture, U.S. history, U.S. politics. The experience the students that were here this fall had a particular good experience as far as U.S. politics and how that works, good or bad [10:55] Len also oversees the interconnect program which is really a lot of social activities. It provides students opportunities to get out and interact with people. Café Bazilia, a local business man sponsored and hosted students to go to the Coosa River for kayaking. We’ve had events at Lake Martin and also John Jensen has taken a number of students hiking, so that’s part of the interconnect program. We also work with the Office of Vice President for Research and the Office of International Programs in recognizing our visiting scholars and post docs. We have a lot of visiting scholars and post docs that come here and this seeks to provide them with recognition and some opportunities to interact. The Office of International Programs, the Auburn Family Friends, and the Buddy Program, and one program I want to particularly emphasize at this time of the year is the House Program. This is a program that provides opportunities for students and local people to host a student in their home, particularly during the holiday season. It’s really all year long, but during the holiday season this is particularly important. And Len is always looking for folks that have an interest in interacting with our international students and getting to know some of them. So if you have an interest in hosting part of a progressive dinner program that Len is organizing, please contact Dr. Vining to follow up.
We also have in professional development, Dale Watson oversees this effort, again this is partnerships with the Miller Writing Center, with the Biggio Center, with the Career Center, Dale oversees grads 8100 that provides information about applying for academic jobs as well as interviewing skills. He provides mock interviews, résumé assistance, cover letters that sort of thing. We also have the preparing future faculty program that we partner with the Biggio Center on, and dissertation boot camp and writing assistance through the Miller Writing Center. So there’s lots of activities that are aimed at providing some professional development job skills for our graduate students.
The last thing I wanted to point out to you is a 3-minute thesis competition. How many of you have heard of the 3-minute thesis? A number of you, yes. In the 3-minute thesis competition, the student has 3 minutes and they have one static slide to talk about their thesis or dissertation work. It is meant to provide a focus for a lay person, a non-specialist audience. This is our winner last year. This is a good example of one of the static slides and the final competition, we’ve had our semi-finals, the competition finals are November 18, this Friday at 10 o’clock over at the AU Hotel and Conference Center. So if you have an interest or you have some time, I encourage you to go over and see the finals. Also on our Web site we’ve got videos of past competitors, might be of interest to you. Certainly there is a lot going on at the university and this gives good information about some of the activities, some of the cutting edge research explained in ways that non-specialists can understand.
With that I conclude my update. Any questions? Thank you very much for your time, much appreciated.
James Goldstein, chair: Thank you Dr. Flowers. Now for a few announcements from the Senate Chair. [15:07]
The Board of Trustees will be meeting on Thursday and Friday of this week. One of the items on the agenda is the approval of an addition to the Auburn University Mission Statement to affirm the importance of diversity and inclusion. We saw that in the Senate awhile back. As many of you know there has been some unfortunate incidence reported on a few campuses across the nation in the aftermath of last week’s election. Although I am unaware of any such incidence at Auburn, I do know that some students and faculty here have expressed concerns about a climate of intolerance toward some members of the community. I believe that the administration will want to send a message in the near future affirming our commitment to diversity and inclusion.
The nominating committee for Senate officers is still at work. If you or someone you know is interested in running for Senate Chair or Secretary, please contact Laura Plexico, chair of the nomination committee, or one of the current officers who will pass on the name.
Today we will have the first report of the year from a standing committee of the Senate on a mater of importance to the academic mission at Auburn. In future meeting there will be other reports from committees and some action items. Today we have a report from the Academic Standards Committee on their study of a plus/minus grading system. Both the faculty and student bodies, Lisa Kensler and other members of her committee are thanked for their hard work. Although they do not recommend we change our grading system and have brought us no action item, I think has been a useful exercise to pose the question and gather the information included in their report to find out how our grading system compares to that of our peers. Professor Kensler is away at a conference, so in her place we will be hearing from David Held a member of the Academic Standards Committee after we vote on our one action item.
First, are there any questions for the chair?
Okay, we have one vote on a replacement committee member so I’ll turn the microphone over to Xing Ping Hu, Senate Secretary to conduct that vote.
Xing Ping Hu, secretary: Good afternoon. Before you, you have a name of a COSAM representative on the university (Senate) Curriculum Committee. This nominee comes from the Rules Committee which is a Senate standing committee and therefore a second is not needed. This has been posted to the Senate Web site last week and I hope you had a chance to review it. With no further ado, does anybody have any questions about this nomination? Any discussion? No. Now we can get our clickers out and vote. Press A if you approve, otherwise press B. A=56, B=3.
James Goldstein, chair: Now we have our first information item that I was talking about before, the report from the Academic Standards Committee, David Held will be giving that report. We will take questions afterward. [19:19]
David Held, member on Academic Standards Committee: Good afternoon, I am here on behalf of the Academic Standards Committee. I want to give an update on the plus/minus grading with question of modification of Auburn’s grading system.
By the way, if you want to review these slides or our full report they are already available on the Senate Web site, go ahead and find them follow along if you want or access them later.
This was the charge before us: to study whether Auburn should adopt the grading system that includes plus/minus grades. Which is the thought there. The process was to review what peer institutions were doing and also get a review of some of the empirical literature. Some of our committee members were very diligent in finding some literature for us to review. Then we collected faculty and student perceptions via a survey that went out. Many of you may have participated in that or at least saw it. Students certainly participated. Then come up with a recommendation we are bringing today. [20:32]
So, first off is what do the peer institutions do? And sort of a peek into what other SEC schools and others do. We have 25 peer institutions and of the 25, 18 use some kind of plus/minus grading. And that was variable; some were plus only, some used A+, some did not, some used C-, some did not. And then there was also variation as to whether or not and A would be reported as a 4 or above 4 for the GPA.
What does the research say, and this goes back to some of the careful work that some of our committee members did at finding research for us to review. What we have is basically the pro and con. First off there’s very little empirical support for pro or con, so what we’re doing is basically pooling together from the literature what we found. Basically a partitioning into either side pro or con. I am not going to read all of those to you. Some things that came up in our meeting relative to the pros. We had quite a bit of discussion on increasing student motivation. I remember specifically on our committee meeting someone saying, “would a student work a little bit harder for that A+ in the course versus knowing that they already had whatever it took to make an A and basically coasting the rest of the semester. We definitely talked about that. May peruse opportunities employment or grad school. Reduce grade inflation. The grade inflation discussion was another point that came up and was discussed pretty extensively in our committee.
On the con side. There is opposition by students for the plus/minus grading. One of the other points were, when students increase or come up with more challenges for their grades. Like, why am I not getting an A+? Some of us raise questions like would that basically lead to a giant trail of students outside our office for students wanting to know why they missed those few extra points, or could they get those few extra points in order to get the plus and not just an A. It may cause a drop in GPAs associated with the relative plus/minus, so there was some administrative work to modify the grading system. Some of the committee concerns and unintended consequences that were also discussed relative to cons, but also all these were discussed.
So now we are looking at the survey results that came out. This was fairly informative. Let’s unpack this a little bit. What you are seeing on the left are basically organizations by faculty and student responses by different groups; Liberal Arts, Engineering, COSAM, and Business. Others including Ag where I am. So percent of faculty responded, 620 versus the 2,180 total students that responded. Basically with faculty there was participation, which was pretty good across the board. Again, overall faculty response rate was 50%; overall student response rate was approximately 8%, but they were very strongly opinionated, which you see from the results.
In terms of faculty and student responses. So this is support for modification, basically faculty were split pretty much down the middle, 20 or 17% were neutral in that. Depending on how they asked the question, depended on whether or not we had agreed or strongly agreed with modification of the grading system.
On the student responses it was pretty clear that students were against making any sort of change. This is sort of the same vibe I got when I would informally ask the students before class in my own courses what they thought about it just in passing before the course work started. I actually saw this as well, but they were overwhelmingly against making any sort of change to a plus/minus system.
So this leads to the recommendation compelling reasons to modify our current grading system and this had 100% committee support for this recommendation. So with that, I’d like to take any questions. Or any open discussion if you would like to have it.
Mike Stern, Economics, not a senator: One of the big problems we run into in the grading, not so much at the undergraduate level, but at the graduate level. When we reviewed our faculty transcripts, all but one of our faculty members came from graduate institutions that had plusses and minuses on their transcripts and we’ve had a major problem with the chunkiness in grading at the graduate level and the reason is [26:16] in undergraduates we can sort of use the full 5 categories, A, B, C, D, E, and F, and you see all grades utilized, if you have 5 categories. With graduate students we have the graduate school which maintains that 3.0, the only real grades we can give graduate students without typically getting in a lot of trouble are A and B. The problem is for the disciplines that may teach graduate classes that have a very diverse group of graduate students and may register for them from different programs, they come from different abilities, they may have combined Master’s and PhD and only have the resources to run one class. We really need more than 2 categories that we can grade students. So when I was in graduate school, you got A+, A, A-, B+, or B, 5 categories to grade that wouldn’t automatically cause you to get suspended or in trouble and we used them all. Then if you got a B-, it meant, get out. [27:20] So we have had in cases where in order to properly distinguish between the graduate students who felt they really want to who felt compelled that they get Cs or Ds and this is not comparable to other schools, the graduate transcripts that we saw. [27:35] So we are making some of our graduate students look like much worse students compared to graduate students of other schools, who I know are no better it’s just that they don’t have to go below a B grade, they have 5 categories to distinguish amongst the graduate students that are still being above. So we were sending out some students that had grades that we rarely ever saw in anybody else’s graduate transcripts, but they were still reasonable students, they may just have been Master’s students in another program that can’t necessarily compete with some of the PhD students in the same class, because the performance is quite different between the students but the same class the professors felt compelled to give those very low grades even though our peer institutions would not have. When I originally brought up and issue to a number of administers about those grades it was most notably about grades for the graduate school in graduate courses at this institution. So I am wondering if you guys surveyed the graduate students or just the undergraduates?
David Held, member on Academic Standards Committee: I don’t, again when the survey went out to students, I don’t know if we could mine out if grad students participated or undergraduate students, but I’m sure that we have ways to sort that out, if not, are you suggesting that we poll exclusively the graduate students to find out their take on this?
Mike Stern, Economics, not a senator: Yeah, and I would absolutely be in favor of having plus or minus grades for graduate courses at this institution even if we weren’t going to do it at the undergraduate. In regards to increase in complaints from students, I’ve taught many courses at Indiana University, which was plus and minus grading system, the exact same courses that when I came to Auburn in 2004 I started teaching here my end of semester complaints about grades and wanting a higher grade when up dramatically here at Auburn by comparison, because the boarder lines were so big. So here at Auburn, anybody who was a point short, 100% guaranteed I heard from at the end of the semester. And at IU I heard almost none unless it was a failing grade. The reason is the grade categories were all small, everybody was a point or two short of the grade, so there was no basis or compulsion to whine, so to speak, even if they did the next higher category wasn’t worth that much more because it was a finer grading system. One thing we know in basis finance is all options have positive value. I always went to institutions that had plus/minus grading systems, but it didn’t mean that every professor used them. So I took courses where they didn’t give pluses and minuses because the professor didn’t think it was appropriate. So it’s merely and option, just like I have colleagues here that don’t like to use the D grade and don’t, it’s A, B, C, or Fail, and I have colleagues that do that. All the grades that we have are just options. I’m not sure why those that don’t want to use it and don’t have to use it are able to restrict those who courses would benefit from the use of it.
David Held, member on Academic Standards Committee: Can I ask a question before you sit down? The plus/minus system that you mention before where you were not getting a lot of complaints and got a lot more when you came to AU, was that graduate level teaching?
Mike Stern, Economics, not a senator: Undergraduate.
David Held, member on Academic Standards Committee: Undergraduate, okay.
Mike Stern, Economics, not a senator: Oh yea, the problem with the graduate is when you have Cs and Ds they go nuts because it causes them huge problems, but there is a huge variation of performance because we have a big variety of students in the same class, and we cannot afford to have another class, and we’ve got Master’s students, PhD students, students from different programs, and obviously there is going to be a difference in performance but that doesn’t mean the student gets a C or D because they are not compared to the same type of students at other schools that take that class. The other schools are just giving the Bs and B+s instead of the A, A-, and A+s. And we see that on their undergraduate transcript. It creates real difficulties for us in terms of graduate classes.
David Held, member on Academic Standards Committee: Thank you.
Ed Youngblood, senator, Communication and Journalism: I want to make sure I wrap my head around what you just said. You said there are students that earned a B in a class that got a C or a D? Because that’s how that sounded. If they were going to get a B- that would still be passing which means…cause I don’t understand, you deal with percentages, right? I’m just saying 82 is an 82 right?
Mike Stern, Economics, not a senator: No. You will have students, you’ll have groups, typically in graduate school that are graded on a curve, right? So you look for natural breaks in the distribution. So you have 4 groups form. At other institutions you could give the A to the high group, A- to the next group, and so on and so forth, so what I mean is other institutions a comparable class, had that graduate student taken the class at the other institution would have had a much higher grade than the professor who is compelled to give here.
Ed Youngblood: responding on top of …
James Goldstein, chair: I need to, excuse me, I need to interject. The comments should be addressed to the chair
Ed Youngblood: My apologies.
James Goldstein, chair: There is dialogue going amongst (senators).
Ed Youngblood: My apologies. My point is, I do have…never mind, I am just going to step down.
James Goldstein, chair: Thank you very much. Other questions?
Matthew Hoch, senator, Music: I was surprised at how unified the students were when they know there is the opportunity to submit comments when they took the survey. Did you notice a trend as to why they felt so strongly rejecting the plus/minus system?
David Held, member on Academic Standards Committee: I don’t have that off the top of my head. A lot of that is in the reports, and you can pull the comments out. After you review the report if you have questions for us you can e-mail me or Dr. Kensler and we’ll follow up on anything you want us to follow up on.
Matthew Hoch, senator, Music: Thank you.
David Held, member on Academic Standards Committee: Sure. Any other questions or discussion?
James Goldstein, chair: Thank you Dr. Held.
We have one other information item on Pharmacy outreach efforts presented by Dr. Kimberly Braxton-Lloyd from Pharmacy Health Services.
Dr. Kimberly Braxton-Lloyd from Pharmacy Health Services: Good afternoon. It’s a pleasure to be here today. I was invited to give some information about the optional employee benefits that are available through the Pharmacy Health Services program. I am the assistant dean of Health Service with Auburn University Harrison School of Pharmacy and I serve as the Pharmacy Officer with Payroll and Employee Benefits and Human Resources. Also Ann Shore is here with me today and she’s the Executive Director of Payroll and Employee Benefits and Records and we both will take any questions that you have after the presentation.
My objectives today are to describe the health services and resources that are available for Auburn University employees and any insured dependents that are on our health insurance plan. They are offered here on campus and to employees that work away from campus as well. I am going to focus on the AU Employee Pharmacy and our Tiger Meds program that we offer through the AU Employee Pharmacy, the AU Pharmaceutical Care Center was one of the first things we implemented in 2000. The Healthy Tigers Program and different lunch and learn programs, walking at lunch programs and other things we offer through Healthy Tigers, our collaboration with Tiger Fit within Kinesiology and other Pharmacy Health Services, research projects and opportunities for our employees to participate in different initiatives through Pharmacy Health Services. [36:08]
First I was going to define what Pharmacy Health Services is because when I started at Auburn University in September 1998 I was charged with opening the Auburn University Employee Pharmaceutical Care Center (AUPCC) and that was the beginning of Pharmacy Health Services and we evolved into many different services and we had to expand our name. We are now called PHS for Pharmacy Health Services. PHS includes 3 pharmacies, 2 here on campus; the AU Employee pharmacy which is in the Walker Building within the Harrison School of Pharmacy and the AU Student Pharmacy which is over on Lem Morrison Drive within the AU Medical Clinic. The Pharmacy owns and operates both of these pharmacies for the university. Then we have the Auburn University Pharmaceutical Care Clinic or AUPCC which was the original clinic that we opened within the School of Pharmacy to provide medication expertise and services to our employee population right here on campus.
After we opened the employee pharmacy and the AUPCC we had some very positive outcomes with the Tiger Meds program during the first year and we saved Auburn University over one million dollars in medication costs. At that time Governor Riley was the governor of Alabama and he asked the School of Pharmacy to come to Montgomery and open a very similar service in Montgomery. So Auburn University also contracts with the state and offers the State Wellness Center services which is on South Union Street right across from the State House and across from the Capitol. We offer a full service pharmacy for employees very similar to the AU Employee Pharmacy and a clinic that offers not only pharmaceutical care services, but also medical services. We have 2 doctors, 2 nurse practitioners, a pharm D and several pharmacy residents and pharmacy students that practice within that clinic.
Today I am going to be focusing on the resources that we have for Auburn University it has grown to include a bigger picture within the State of Alabama. The AU Employee Pharmacy is located within the Walker Building. If you enter the Walker Building from the back, from War Eagle Way, which is between the Pharmacy School and the Business School, you go up the ramp and will come in on the second floor of the building you go around the corner and see the Pharmaceutical Care Center and Pharmacy. It’s a full service Pharmacy and we provide over the counter medications, prescription medications for our Auburn University Family. We do purchase medications on state contract and that’s how we save money for the university and the employees and dependents. Therefore, we cannot dispense the medications to someone from the general public. We have to dispense only to our employees, their dependents, or our retirees. So my question for someone who wants to use the pharmacy is where does your paycheck come from? If your paycheck comes from Auburn University or insured under the insurance plans of someone who is paid by Auburn University then you can definitely use the AU Pharmacy. But if there is someone on campus that contracts with the University, like a Chick-fil-a employee, or the AU Medical Clinic (they are employed by EAMC) then we cannot dispense medications that are purchased on contract to those individuals.
We do serve AU employees, dependents, and retirees and because we are purchasing medications on contract and we’re able to save money for the university and for patients, Dr. Large made the decision that when we implemented the Tiger Meds Program that most of the savings that we realized by these purchasing contracts would be passed on to the employees. That’s why through the Tiger Meds Program we offer free generic medications for tier 1 generics, and the second tier generics are $10 cheaper than the other pharmacy locations. We are a preferred pharmacy on our plan and every year through the savings we provide through Tiger Meds on generic medications we save our employees anywhere from 340 to 450 thousand dollars per year in out of pocket costs that they would have paid at other pharmacies paying the usual copay.
This year there has been a change in our insurance plan and CVS Pharmacy did not sign the contract for renewed reimbursement rates that were agreed to be accepted by other pharmacies, and since they did not negotiate and did not renew the contract they have become a non-preferred pharmacy on our plan. We made a decision that our university employees could still use CVS and Target pharmacies, but they would be a non-preferred pharmacy and therefore the copay for every tier for medications is $10 higher at those pharmacies.
So we have our AU Employee Pharmacy which is preferred and the cheapest pharmacy as far as copays than other pharmacies in the middle and then CVS and Target pharmacies which are more expensive because of the increased cost to the university. [42:10]
The Tiger Meds Program was implemented in 2007 and designed to increase the utilization of generic medications for our employees and their dependents because we had very low utilization of generic medications at the time. Through this program we ask all employees and dependents who participate to transfer all of their prescriptions to the AU Employee Pharmacy, not just the generic medications. We don’t want to fragment the patient’s medication profile, we want to take care of all the medications needs for the patient and their family. There is a decreased copay on 2 tiers of generics; zero, and $10, instead of $10 and $20. And we also offer a free baseline medication checkup with the pharmacist when patients enroll in the Tiger Meds program, through this we look for duplicate medications, medication interactions, and look for opportunities to save money. We often see that patients have been elevated or excellerated to a more expensive medication before trying a cheaper alternative that might be just as effective. We try to help with any type of problems that might be associated with medication taking. Some patients have trouble remembering one dose of their medication through the day and we might be able to change the dosage that is once daily instead of twice daily for instance.
We also offer free on campus medication delivery. When we had our Insurance and Benefits Committee meeting some representatives of that committee did not realize that we also deliver to AUM. We have a currier that runs between here and AUM twice weekly and provide delivery of medications to offices at AUM and stop at the Research Station in between the 2 campuses. If an employee does not work in Auburn or AUM and lives within 50 miles of campus and they do not come to campus for business then we will mail the medications to the employee within the state of Alabama. We have free mail delivery and we do phone consultations with patients that need the mail delivery. [44:46]
There are some restrictions, we cannot mail refrigerated specialty medications, so there are a few restrictions on mailing and we ask that we coordinate the mailing so that we are sending (we have had at times when we would mail something and then 2 days later there would be another medication that was needed) so we try to sync the medications so that we are not mailing too often to save on mailing cost. Also we do not mail over-the-counter items unless they are prescribed by a physician. If you physician prescribed asprin or ibuprofen and we were filling it through the dispensing system we would mail it, but we got in a situation where we were sending a lot of over-the-counter toothpaste and things like that which would not be cost effective for the university, so we had to set up some rules for what we would mail. [45:46]
Also, I realized during the Insurance and Benefits Committee, some of our employees do not realize that we are a specialty pharmacy that’s approved for utilization on our Auburn Plan and when we do purchase specialty medications on contract we do get them cheaper for the university than other places. On some medications it is an opportunity for us to save money, but the good thing about this for the employees is that you can have a local resource for your specialty medications and you can pick them up or have them delivered to your office. We work with you when you fill the medications through the employee pharmacy to identify any coupon programs that might save you out-of-pocket money, so you can decrease the copay and what you have to pay out-of-pocket. We also provide education training on a lot of the specialty medications are injectibles and special dosage forms. We monitor for efficacy and safety and communicate with the presciber, for instance some of the specialty medications are immuno-supressants and when you are sick and running a fever or have a cold you are not supposed to take that as it takes you longer to get over the infection. So we work with you and your physician to suspend your specialty medications during that time so you can get better, faster and back to work and productive and feeling better.
Another thing the Insurance and Benefits Committee told me about to share with you guys, is we really do try to capture the home town pharmacy experience within the AU Employee Pharmacy, part of this is we have an on-call pharmacist that is available 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. The number is published on our Web site and if you call our voice mail after hours it is published on our voice mail. If you had a situation in the middle of the night that you did not know how to handle or needed a medication urgently your or your doctor could call this number and ask for information and we would come by to meet you to get you a medication that you need. With Tiger Meds you can go to other pharmacies and get your first fill, if it was an emergency and need a pain medicine or antibiotic you could always go to another pharmacy and get your medication filled, but if you were urgently in need of a medication then I would even come out myself and take it to a patient’s home. You really have access to a group of pharmacists that are willing and eager to help our Auburn University employees and have that family experience, that home town experience. Some of the 24 hour pharmacies are closing or going to restricted hours, so this is very valuable for our employees.
The Pharmacy office offers free drug information services and medication and monitoring services. One issue with the employee pharmacy is access because we are in the middle of campus. We are strategically trying to locate ourselves to be convenient for our employee population, but we do have reserve parking on War Eagle Way, just behind the Walker Building and on the side of Miller Hall. There’s probably around 10 parking spaces and it says “Client Parking Only”, and you turn on your flashers when you come into the pharmacy and we give you a parking pass to go back and put in your car window. So you do have that reserve parking available to make it convenient.
Through the AU Employee Pharmacy and the AUPCC we have a “be wise” program and offer a number of adult vacinations including flu; pneumonia shots, pneumovax; and zostavax for shingles and Tdap. In fact zostavax is not available in any other physician or pharmacy for patients who are between the ages of 50 and 59 except for the AUPCC. We approved that when the FDA approved the zostavax for the age range, but it is only available here where we get the discount on the vaccine. We also offer Tdap. We have three to five pharmacy students, who are seniors (P4s) and one to three postdoctoral residents training in the AU Employee Pharmacy and AUPCC at all times, who are eager to learn and practice and interact and share information with you all. You contribute to the education and professional development of these students and residents.
The AUPCC is located adjacent to the AU Employee Pharmacy in the same space and this is a picture of the parking available on War Eagle Way. There is handicap parking there as well. There are 2 handicap parking spaces here where the silver car is and at the end of the walkway as well. In the AUPCC if we have a problem with medication use within the AU Employee Pharmacy (AUEP) that takes more intense management and evaluation we refer the patient over to the AUPCC. So for instance if you came in with a prescription for a medication that was very expensive and the doctor wrote it without knowing that it was excluded from our formulary, then the pharmacist can call the doctor and exchange it in 3-5 minutes, we would do that in the AUEP. If you came in with asthma and we noticed that you were using your rescue inhaler 3 times as often, refilling 3 times as often as you usually do, and you had trouble with asthma control we would refer you to our clinical pharmacist in the AUPCC so they could do more in-depth evaluation of your asthma and talk to your physician on your disease state.
Also in the AUPCC we monitor medications that have neuro-therapeutic index, medications like Coumadin, which is a blood thinner. Often when you are on Coumadin you have to go every week when you are being stabilized and every 4 weeks after you are stabilized to get you blood tested. And you have to go to the lab or doctor’s office and you have to be away from work, so you can come to the AUPCC and get your INR monitored and you don’t have to leave campus, and we can communicate with your physician. We also do hemoglobin A1C monitoring for patients with diabetes; blood pressure monitoring for patients with hypertension. We have several disease state management programs that we offer and very highly supported by local physicians. We work in concert with your physicians to achieve the therapeutic goals that the physician desires. We have a pre-diabetes screening program, a diabetes program for patients that already have a diagnosis of diabetes, we have a “Breathe Easy” asthma and COPD program, and we have a War Eagle Women’s Health Program where we do breast cancer risk assessment and self-exam education. We do ultra sound for osteoporosis risk and cardiovascular risk assessment using cholesterol, body weight, blood pressure and we can do hormone therapy consultations and recommendations during peri-menopause and menopause. [53:22]
Our Wellness programs include the Healthy Tigers Program where you can get your biometric data measured and save $25 per month on the health insurance premiums. We have a Pack it Up smoking cessation program that we offer especially for patients employees and dependents that smoke and have to pay the smoking surcharge can go through the smoking cessation program. If you attend 4 of the visits then you meet the criteria for the second surcharge. We have the immunization services that I already covered. An osteoporosis screening program and a healthy habits weight management program. We have a nutritionist who works with us through the AUPCC [54:09]
Collaboration with Tiger Fit and with Kinesiology we do referrals for their fitness assessment program and we have walk at lunch programs and lunch and learns that are very inter-professional and integrated within campus and we partner with campus dining to provide these lunch and learns. We serve healthy meals and give information about nutrition information about the meals that we serve.
Within the AUPCC we have collaborative care and our faculty include HSOP faculty, pharmasists, and residents that are pharmacy practitioners. We also have a Pharm.D. from VCOM that I trained as a resident and we conduct collaborative research together and she’s a practitioner within the clinic. We have a PhD registered dietician from VCOM who also practices within the clinic and we collaborate as well. And we have kinesiology faculty relationships in collaborations.
The students within the AUPCC are P4 student pharmacists on their experiential training rotations, kinesiology interns that are doing their 3-month training rotations, and VCOM students that are learning about inter-professional education and practice and about clinical research.
My last slide is that we are doing some collaborative research projects that are completely voluntary and we advertise the criteria for the studies and if anyone is interested in participating, then we invite them to talk to the investigator to get more information. Currently we are doing a pre-diabetes study that is funded by the ? TS and was approved by NIH. We are looking at student empathy studies for pharmacy students that are providing patient care. We’ve done medication compliance studies looking at devises to improve medication compliance. We’ve done several behavioral economic studies to look at guaranteed payout for versus lottery on patient incentives for behavioral change. We’re doing a medication-induced secondary osteoporosis study, and we’ve done wellness challenge study in academic environment and looked at the outcomes of having a wellness challenge.
So, we are always looking for opportunities to collaborate with departments on campus and having interdisciplinary projects that are ongoing for PHS, so you will hopefully see information that is shared from the AUPCC and AU Employee Pharmacy about these opportunities. Any Questions? Thank you for letting me be here today.
James Goldstein, chair: Thank you very much for that informative presentation. I take it that everyone’s questions were already answered.
That concludes our regular business for today. Is there any unfinished business? Is there any new business? In that case we are adjourned until January. [57:39]