Auburn University
Steering Committee Meeting Minutes
Aug. 15, 2013

206 Samford Hall

Present: Dr. Larry Crowley, Chair; Dr. Patricia Duffy, Chair-Elect; Dr. Gisela Buschle-Diller, Secretary-Elect; Dr. Larry Teeter, Steering Committee; Dr. Don Mulvaney, Steering Committee; Dr. George Flowers, Dean, AU Graduate School; Dr. Brian Parr, chair, Academic Standards Committee; Dr. Chris Newland, Chair, Faculty Research Committee; Dr. Embry Burris of the Faculty Benefits and Welfare Committee; Mr. C.J. Hincy, Higher Education Partnership; Professor Judy Sheppard, Secretary.

1. Meeting convened by Dr. Crowley at 3:30 p.m.

2. Minutes approved on motion by Dr. Teeter and second by Professor Sheppard, with a correction by Dr. Teeter: the cap on retired faculty salaries is $23,000, not $24,000.

3. Presentation by Mr. C.J. Hincy, director of the AU Center for Governmental Studies. His main focus was how to increase faculty membership in the Higher Education Partnership (HEP), in which the major Alabama universities collectively join so as to have a solid unified voice on legislative issues.. An example of this offered by Mr. Hincy is its help in resolving the past PACT funding crisis. Dr. Crowley noted that the HEP offers a three-tier fee-based insurance policy.

Dr. Teeter suggested Mr. Hincy focus on the “ag side” of the campus, particularly by demonstrating the connection between the Extension Service Experiment Stations and the AU budget and therefore the importance of the HEP to those employees. Their concerns about funding are unique to Auburn.

Mr. Hincy also noted that he’d heard some discussion on the “return to work” policies, which allow retired employees to return to work after one month and can make up to $23,000 a year without affecting retirement benefits. A bill proposing that retirees can’t go back to the department they retired from has come to the Legislature; the Alabama Retirement System is looking into that, he said.

Dr. Duffy suggested to Mr. Hincy that the state re-examine the threshold at which faculty members must file state ethics forms, since this now requires almost all faculty to file them.

4. Brian Parr of the Academic Standards Committee previewed the presentation of the new class attendance/make-up policy that the Senate will vote on at its Aug. 27 meeting.

The Senate asked after it was first presented in May that the ASC review the policy and bring it back for a vote; Dr. Parr said the policy had been unchanged. Dr. Parr said that committee concerns were that the proposed policy would obligate professors to allow make-up assignments at almost any time on any graded work or be unable to allow the missed work to count against the student’s grade. Several steering committee members noted that in large sections, this policy would be particularly difficult, and inability to comply with it could lead to students filing more grievances.

5. Embry Burris of the Faculty Benefits and Welfare Committee spoke about the committee’s efforts to compare AU’s total compensation with other universities. AU ranks low on a table of 23 SRB institutions which had been culled from the Chronicle of Higher Education, although some of those schools’ rankings may be skewed because they have medical or law schools. However, she said the committee is frustrated by its inability to get information about 403B plans and health and retirement benefits. Larry Crowley said he would forward names of people at the university who collect such data and that, since the AU Strategic Plan is interested in improving faculty vitality, this is an important issue.

The steering committee agreed that the presentation should be delayed until the Senate’s Sept. 17 meeting to allow the committee to collect information.

6. Chris Newland discussed the presentation for Aug. 27 on the new policy on charging graduate research assistants’ tuition on contracts and grants.  The senate had passed a motion to impose a a moratorium on instituting the policy so that the committee could examine it and raise its concerns before bringing it back as an information item. Concerns included negative effect on the university’s competitiveness for grants and the recruitment of good graduate students, the “selective impact” that research-intensive areas of study might suffer, and the fear that the 10 percent waiver reduction would creep up to 40 percent.

The FRC recommended: making the policy explicit about conditions under which 10 percent can lead to 40 percent; placing some funds into graduate student support; make all this information public on the website; and revisiting the policy in three years.

Dean Flowers said AU’s policy is still “pretty generous” compared to other universities and that 40 percent was still conservative and defensible. It will also allow the university to deal with cost sharing in a rational way.

Dr. Newland said he would draw up a PowerPoint for use in the Aug. 27 meeting and forward it to Professor Sheppard for posting on the agenda.

7. The Steering Committee assigned faculty representatives to each of the administrative evaluation committees for those administrators who are completing a three-year term.

1. Everett Davis Martin, Edu, Special Edu, Rehab, and Counseling, 2008 – Fall 2013: Robin Jaffe
2. Jeff Suhling, Eng, Mechanical, 2008 – Fall 2013: Judy Sheppard
3. Avery Abernethy, Business, Marketing, 2011—Fall 2013: Bob Nelson
4. DeWayne Searcy, Business, Accountancy, 2011—Fall 2013: Ann Beth Presley
5. George Flowers, Graduate School, 2008-2013: Gisela Buschle-Diller
6. John Mason, Vice President, Research, 2008-2013: Bill Sauser

Later evaluations will include:
Mark Nelms, Eng, Electrical and Computer, 2009—Spring 2014:  Larry Teeter
Sara Lynn Baird, CLA, Music, 2009—Spring 2014: Bob Locy
Michael Watkins, CLA, Philosophy, 2009—Spring 2014: Conner Bailey
Martin O¹Neill, CHS, Nutrition, Dietetics, and Hospitality, 2009—Spring 2014: Dale Monks

8. The committee discussed whether a 3-minute rule should be applied to senator communications, but made no decision.

9. The committee agreed on the agenda for Aug. 27.

Meeting adjourned at 4:48 p.m.