Transcript Senate Meeting
September 11, 2012
Bill Sauser, chair: Thank you, if we would come to order please. Welcome to the September 11, 2012 meeting of the Auburn University Senate, I’m Bill Sauser, the chair of the Senate. A short review of the rules of the Senate; First is that we want all senators and anyone who is an official substitute for a senator, please sign the roll in the back so we know that you are here. Second, if you’d like to speak about an issue or ask a question of one of the presenters, please go to the microphone located on either aisle, wait to be recognized, and when you are recognized please state your name and indicate whether or not you’re a senator and if so, what unit you represent. Finally the rules of the Senate do require that senators have the opportunity to speak first, then after all comments by Senators on any issue, our guests are welcome to speak as well. So if you are a guest you may address us following any senators who need to speak to an issue.
We have 87 members of the Senate, a quorum requires 44 Senators. We don’t have our clickers today but my rough count indicates that we have a quorum present. Unless there is an objection I will declare a quorum present. Is there an objection? Hearing none, we have a quorum. We don’t have any issues that require a vote today, so I am being a little more casual than usual on that regard. [2:03]
We have an agenda in front of us. This agenda was established by the steering committee and the first item on the agenda is to approve the minutes from the August 21, 2012 meeting. Those minutes have been posted. You’ve had an opportunity to read them and I would appreciate a motion. It has been moved and seconded that those minutes be approved. All those in favor say aye. Opposed nay, ayes have it. Those minutes are approved.
Our first item on the agenda will be remarks and announcements from the Office of the President. Dr. Gogue is here with us.
Dr. Gogue, president: Thank you Bill. I appreciate all of you being here today. I want to mention 4 or 5 different areas that I think you might be interested in, one has to do with the budget, one has to do with our SACS accreditation, one has to do with some of the academic programs, and announcements. Let me start with the budget. As best we can tell there won’t be any proration between now and the end of the year which is good news we did not expect it but it’s getting closer to the date so we do not expect proration this year as we close it out.
Second thing is next Tuesday there is a vote on the trust fund. Bill may want to comment further and he may could do so, but I would encourage you to read and pay attention to that. There are 2 different options, you either vote yes or no on the trust fund question. One of them has less of an impact on Auburn than the other, so at least look at that and use your own judgment in terms of what you think is appropriate.
We will, next Friday, present to the Board of Trustees the budget for 2013 fiscal year. There are a couple of items I think all of you are aware of; number one we do have some permanent salary increase money in the budget this time and that would go into the budget on October 1. And secondly there are some one-time funds being allocated and made available. Those will be allocated on December 1, during the December payroll.
There are 3 items that are on the Board of Trustees agenda that are of an academic nature that have been through the various committees on campus and we’re recommending approval. One is an option in Nutrition and Wellness in the Department of Nutrition, second one is a graduate certificate in Construction Management. As I understand it in reading material the focus on that will be primarily on the corps of engineers, specialized group. Then third, College of Agriculture’s involved in the creation of a Master of Science and a Master of Agriculture in soil, water, and environmental science. That degree, as I understand, and Bill you’re here and correct me if I’m wrong, but it will be offered vis-à-vis a consortia arrangement with a variety of different universities in which expertise from a number of schools will be put together and actually create that degree. Some will be offered by Auburn, I think others will be offered by North Carolina State, Clemson, and some of the other land-grant schools.
Relative to SACS the document was submitted, what we would historically refer to as the self-study document was submitted last week. Drew’s back in the back, I want to complement Drew, but I know that he was the coordinator and an awful lot of people worked very hard. There are 100 plus standards that have to be written up and explained. There are about 4 standards. You can either be in compliance, partial compliance, or non-compliance. And 4 of the standards Auburn had to list partial compliance to, all the rest of them were checked compliant. The 4: two of them dealt with financial issues, and the financial issues are that you basically have to have an externally audited closeout of 2012 as a part of your package. Obviously we haven’t closed the year out to submit the package that will be overcome before the groups actually come to campus. [6:38]
The third item that we were partially compliant on has to do with consortia arrangements, in which as I recall you have to verify the credentials of faculty that are teaching at other institutions that are part of the credit that we offer. Drew shared with us, 10 years ago we listed a very small number of consortia arrangements, this time around it’s over 50 consortia arrangements that the university has relative to academic programs.
The final area was when you have one of these consortia arrangements it’s my understanding that you have to review them on some periodic basis to be sure that they are still compliant with the mission. So those are the 4 areas that are partial compliant, everything else was fully compliant. So, Drew to you and everybody that worked on it, thank you a lot, very good job.
A couple of announcements, I want to first of all thank everybody for your participation in the Korea Center that was announced here a week or so ago. I have to admit the old Foy room that holds 400 people was packed, they were all out in the lobby and it’s really an interesting program and look forward to a strong relationship with our partners from Korea, lot of interest, certainly, from the business community, but certainly in the cultural areas in terms of things that we can do.
The other announcement: About 10 days ago or so, this private group that I had mentioned to you before, the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine, I made an announcement that they had selected Auburn, they will be coming to the Research Park and build a building, about 70,000 square feet. They will begin to take students in 2015 that wish to be in the doctorate of Osteopathic Medicine program.
The final thing I’d mention is that the Provost and I have started our departmental visits. Every few years I like to go out and just spend some time with each of the academic departments. We did one last week. Our goal is to have them all completed by February of this year, I think most of them have been scheduled at this point. We learn an awful lot in that and I appreciate the input of faculty in a variety of areas that we get through those meetings. The final thing I’ll remind you on is we’re still in process of bringing someone from the international diplomatic core to campus almost every week. Some weeks we miss. I think Bob Nix, Monday or Tuesday we have the Counsel General from Russia, that will be with us. So there are a number of them that are coming, there’s a full day of programs. Bob’s our key contact on that. I always learn a lot from being around those people and I encourage you, if you have time, to at least listen to some of their presentations. [9:45] I’d be happy to respond to questions.
Bob Locy, senator, biological sciences: Dr. Gogue in your opening remark you said that there were effects of the outcome of the vote on the trust fund. Form what I’ve read in the media and maybe I’m just misinformed or uniformed but it hasn’t been clear that there would be an impact on Auburn University at all. Can you clarify that a little bit.
Dr. Gogue, president: I’ll try. From the best I understand and I too have read, we had a nice briefing by Sherry Fulford on Monday with the Executive Committee or cabinet meeting, as I recall if you vote yes on that bill they are going to take some money out of the trust fund and support the general fund with that. It’s roughly $150 million would come out of that with another $50 million permanent, so roughly $200 million is going in to support the operation of the general fund. That’s if you vote yes. If you vote no on this then my understanding is that you probably will have to get the money from the general fund to support Medicaid, Medicare, prisons, and a number of what are considered essential operations of government. The Educational Trust Fund is probably the only option. That’s my understanding. Bill listened more carefully than I did so he might be able to explain it better, when you give your comments. Thank you, Bob.
Bill Sauser, chair: Thank you Dr. Gogue. Our next speaker is Dr. Tim Boosinger who is representing the Office of the Provost. [11:48]
Dr. Tim Boosinger, provost: I just had 2 things I wanted to talk to you about. One, first and foremost I guess, the Central Classroom Facility Project is moving forward. We had an open forum with about 100 people in attendance this afternoon at 2:00 p.m. It’s the first forum on that topic where we’ve had 30 minutes of discussion between the committee and faculty that were in attendance.
This forum focused on the design of the rooms, not the overall design of the building but how the rooms would look and be configured. There would be a balance between larger lecture halls, the largest is maybe 300 seats, down to smaller rooms that would support problem based learning. Some would be very technology rich, others might be more traditional. That was very helpful for the committee to get that feedback from the faculty that were there today. In October, and there will be announcements coming out reminding you of this, in October there will be another forum where we will begin an open discussion and dialogue about the site selection. The committee working with the architects, have come up with multiple options that will be presented and discussed. I encourage you to attend and like I said we’ll be sending out announcements to let all the faculty know of this opportunity and the Foy ballroom, now lecture hall, still hard for me to get used to, it seats 450 so there will be plenty of room.
Timing wise, this came up today it’s important to put this in context, the goal is to occupy this building in 2015. A building of this size will take 2 years to build, so some time in 2013 this project needs to be approved and there needs to be a ground breaking and we need to move forward, so timing is important and I encourage everybody to pay attention.
That project is a good segue into a discussion about the strategic planning process that we are going to begin this fall. We will begin working together in a very inclusive process to develop the best strategies that we can come up with to support our missions in instruction, research, and outreach. So look for announcements on that process. We’ll staff it out of my office, there will be focus groups and different planning group opportunities for all of you to participate in. Those probably won’t begin given the pressures of the fall, until January or February, but we’re excited to get that process underway.
If there are any questions about either one of those initiatives, I’d be glad to answer them. Thank you, Bill. [14:46]
Bill Sauser, chair: Thank you Tim. I have a few brief announcements of my own if I might. First I did want to acknowledge and thank my fellow officers and they are; immediate past chair, Ann Beth Presley, Ann Beth is not well today and is not able to be with us but she’s a tremendous help; chair-elect, Larry Crowley; secretary, Robin Jaffe; secretary-elect, Judy Sheppard. We also have our parliamentarian, Constance Hendricks is on a study trip today she will be back for our next meeting; and our administrative assistant, Laura Kloberg. I want to invite any of you if you have comments or questions for the Senate to consider, please feel free to contact any one of us. [16:06]
I do want to ask us to pause for a moment to remember what happened on this date 11 years ago. I remember where I was, you perhaps remember where you were. We are aware even now that there are brave families in our entire nation that remain in grief for the victims of those tragic events, so I would like to ask for a pause of rememberance. (pause) and I thank you for that. See it. If you haven’t already visited New York and had the opportunity to see ground zero or the somber monuments that are there now, monuments to the heroes of 9/11 I would invite you, please, to do so, it’s a very moving event. The pools that are there, the lists of all the names of people who were killed throughout the eastern portion of the United States, the names, the museum, the memorial tree, and other items that are there they are very moving reminders and I do invite you to see that. How many of you have visited at one time or another the ground zero or the memorial? I’m sure you share my sentiments.
We do want to welcome to our campus the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine. Please understand this is not a part of Auburn University, not a college of Auburn University, this is a fully accredited college of Osteopathic Medicine. We will be the third location of that particular college, they intend to locate here and cooperate in many ways with the University so we welcome them. It was a very nice ceremony of welcome. And of course we want to welcome the new Koren Center to campus.
A little quick thank you, we want to thank the Provost for hosting the Open Forum for the Central Classroom Facility. I just came from that forum, it was very well attended, many good questions, many good suggestions. And suggestions are certainly welcome. I also want to thank the committee members, those who are working to program and design central classroom facility for the excellent advise that they are providing during the conceptualization of this particular facility. I think it is going to be an academic centerpiece from what I’ve seen. Are there members of the committee here? If so would you please raise your hand so we might recognize you. Thank you very much. I cant’ wait to see the completed project.
A couple of cultural events I want to call your attention to: there is a very exciting exhibit right now at the JCS Museum of Fine Art. I certainly suggest you take a look at it if you have any interest at all in art you will see some parts of the great Auburn collection that was purchased by Art Department faculty who voted to forgo their raises to bid on this artwork. And there are also pieces from two of our sister universities and others of that whole lot of fabulous sale. So I would invite you to come see it an see what American art was like at that time an understand the politics, it’s a very educational exhibit.
Also I want to invite you to come and see the fine work of our theatre students and our faculty during performances of “Nickel and Dimed,” That play is opening on September 20 and has a number of performances scheduled.
We want to comment that the Board of Trustees is going to meet on September 21, that meeting is in the Conference Center in Ballroom “B”. The committee meetings begin at 9:30 in the morning and they follow on roughly on schedule, sometimes a little quicker, sometimes a little slower, but they will start at 9:30. The meetings are open for anyone who wishes to attend. So I do want to invite any of you who would like to see these meetings in action, please come. You are certainly invited to observe and to attend. Of course we don’t vote as a body the Trustees make the decisions, but if you want to see that in action, please do, feel free to come.
I do want to comment that we as faculty have representation on some of the committees of the Board of Trustees; first of course, Dr. Ann Beth Presley is our representative to the full Board, I have the honor of representing us to the Academic Affairs Committee; David Weaver to the Agriculture Committee; Beverly Marshal to the Finance Committee; Daniele Marguito to Institutional Advancement Committee; Paul Holley to Property and Facilities Committee; and Sushil Bhavani to our Student Affairs Committee. [21:35] I do want to comment with a little note there, we representatives from the faculty are allowed to sit at the table, participate in the debate, of course we are not trustees so we don’t vote on the motions, but anything that you wish to have said please communicate that to these members of the committees.
Well that concludes my report, I am available if there are any questions. Hearing none, I’d like to move on to the agenda.
The next item on the agenda we have no action items to bring forward today. Actions items are those that are set up for a vote, we will always do those right after the reports so that we will have a full quorum here. We do have as our next item of business an action item pending. An action item pending means that we are going to bring that action to you for review and for information, let you see the motions or actions as they stand currently, listen to any input that you have to make, we may go back and reconsider some of the language of those motions, but they will come forward in the next meeting. So we do have one item today for information and that is an administrator hiring resolution. I just want to make one comment because you say, “Don’t we already have one of those?” Well at some time back, in 2007 this body amended and approved an administrator hiring resolution, that resolution was forwarded to Provost Heilman and in the transition in his Office somehow or another it never made it to the President’s Office and back to us. So it’s been laying in limbo for some years. We have resurrected that particular resolution and some amendments have been proposed by the President and Provost. And so present that amended resolution I am going to call on Larry Crowley. [23:58] Larry is presenting this on behalf of the Steering Committee.
Larry Crowley, chair-elect: Good afternoon. Simple business here which is to give you notice that the next Senate meeting I’ll move on behalf of the Steering committee to amend the administrative hiring resolution previously adopted October 2, 2007 is shown here and there is also a link to the policy in the current agenda. As shown the motion will contain two amended sections. One the preamble would be modified to indicate that the time at the time the present concerns for the Senate about this resolution has passed and now we can refer to it as a practice of the past. Second the administrative hiring guidelines will be narrowed to focus on line authority. Positions rather than providing guidance relating to staff positions above a certain rank. So we are limiting and narrowing the focus and also changing a little of the preamble. [25:15] I will bring that next Senate meeting.
Bill Sauser, chair: If anyone has a comment or a question about this proposed resolution please come to the microphone and state your name and ask your question.
Bob Locy, senator, biological sciences: I’d like to ask what exactly we mean by line authority? Does that mean that associate and assistant deans, associate and assistant provosts are in line authority and fall under the guidelines of this policy or not?
Bill Sauser, chair: I’d like to ask Larry to address that if he would. As chair of the Senate I cannot speak to a motion. [26:10]
Larry Crowley, chair-elect: Bob, I thought you were going to let me sit down. The line authority, line positions would be people actually have control of the business of the organization, associate deans that report to deans and ? positions that report to the people that are reflected in the line positions we feel like lacks the need for search committees.
Bob Locy, senator, biological sciences: I don’t understand why that serves the good of the university to exclude them from this policy. [26:48]
Larry Crowley, chair-elect: You obviously have reasons to support the inclusion of them. We’d love…
Bob Locy, senator, biological sciences: It seems to me that, for example a dean or a provost can decide he wants a certain area handled by a certain person and that may not necessarily be acceptable to the faculty and the purpose of this whole this was to give faculty a voice in choosing administrators. And I don’t understand why we would delegate the responsibility for deciding how to hire associate deans, assistant deans, associate provosts, assistant provosts, why we would give the authority to them to hire people who are hired under this policy without at least giving them some guidelines that would make sure that faculty had input to the hiring in those positions, that they weren’t dean and provost appointments. Now I personally don’t think we have anybody presently in those positions who would make unilateral appointments without consulting the faculty, but it certainly has been done in the past and it certainly sounds to me like an opportunity for a big problem. When this document was originally framed I was a member of the Senate leadership and I believe we clearly had in mind that those people would be a part of said document.
Larry Crowley, chair-elect: I saw where you were the one [28:28] that actually presented it to the Senate. I agree with you. Different times I think the organization can grow and can relax some of it’s vigilance, times change, that’s just an opinion not only of me but of the Steering Committee as well.
Bob Locy, senator, biological sciences: I also believe that we were told at the time of the original resolution that this would have to go to the Board of Trustees.
Larry Crowley, chair-elect: It will not.
Bob Locy, senator, biological sciences: It does not have to go to the Board of Trustees for approval? Okay, if that’s the case, it’s a little less objectionable, but the problem would be that if we put something in place and we let the horses out of the barn, shall we say, it’s going to be real hard to get them back in the barn again. It’s going to be a major bone of contention and why don’t we just draft a more encompassing document right now? [29:29]
Larry Crowley, chair-elect: I understand, you that lead the Senate at that time did a yeoman’s work. We don’t have to be as vigilant, your point is well taken.
Bob Locy, senator, biological sciences: Thank you.
Bill Sauser, chair: I believe you rose next, then the gentleman behind you, and then you, and then you. Yes sir.
Rusty Wright, senator, Fisheries: Under the “be it resolved” section I think it’s line 4. [30:09] This statement seems to be internally inconsistent. “no individual shall serve in an interim position for a period of more than twelve months,” and then “it is preferable that the sitting interim resign especially if they have served more than twelve months.” I don’t think the last clause there is really internally consistent, if no individual can serve more than twelve months then the especially part of it doesn’t apply, so I think that should be stricken from this part of the resolution.
Larry Crowley, chair-elect: The thing that we’re dealing with here on 4 independent of 12 months that we have an interim dean now in the Vet School that is applying for the position and asked to step down. The longer he’s in that position, Rusty, the more comfortable the faculty get with his leadership. That would be contrary to having an open and full search, so that’s why the 12 months is there.
Rusty Wright, senator, Fisheries: I agree with that, it’s the last part of that doesn’t seem to be even needed really. I understand where in a particular situation, that particular situation, but it seems to be inconsistent to have one part of the resolution that says no one should serve more than 12 months in an interim position, which I fully support and understand exactly what you said that people that serve for long periods of time, there’s lots of reasons why that can get into problems, but then to say especially if you served more than 12 months; the language doesn’t seem to match up.
Larry Crowley, chair-elect: As I understand your comment is the language can be cleaned up, you don’t object to the terms.
Rusty Wright, senator, Fisheries: No, I don’t object to the terms, I object to the language as it is written. It needs to be cleaned up.
Larry Crowley, chair-elect: I’m an engineer, by the way, so English doesn’t flow from me, but we do have people who are skilled in that and we’ll take a look at it.
Mike Stern, senator, economics: A couple of things. Let me agree with what Bob Locy said, I see no reason why this shouldn’t apply to associate deans and whatnot. The nature of this appears to be with respect to the interim; that is having people in positions of authority being able to eventually apply for a position in question and having influence in that regard. I’m not sure, I’ve seen a number of terms to describe people supposedly temporarily in a position, I’ve seen for instance “acting” used before. If there is no definition or restriction on these titles in the Faculty Handbook or whatever about what is an interim and what titles we use…for instance, our unit was once put under somebody who was referred to as an “acting” chair for 5 years. They didn’t use the term interim they used the term acting. So we’ve seen different adjectives put in front of these things where none of them are defined, though I ‘m not sure what the definition of interim vs acting or something else. We’ve also seen positions redefined that are essentially very similar to a position that somebody already holds. So suppose I’m director of some position of something and it’s changed slightly, something’s added in, but I’m still currently the one with power with respect to that position, I then am the applicant for the new position and then magically receive that position, let’s say again, and again, and again over a 15 year period. So we’ve seen that kind of stuff before as well.
So if the goal is to prevent those who are really in a position in some form or capacity when there is going to be a search for that position for leveraging that value, so to speak, to their current authority it seems to me that we should have more broad policy than this is written. Also you say it’s not going to go before the Board of Trustees, yet in red there it refers to the position of the president. Well the Board of Trustees is the one that is essentially in charge of who the president is. So if the Board is not going to have to pass this and thus agree to restrict itself, then I don’t see how this policy can refer to the position of the president. So it says hiring administrators inclusive of the president, well obviously the Board is in charge of the search for the president. So if this is going to have meaning with respect to that position which it appears that we intend it to, which I think it should, then the Board should have to pass this policy since it will thus apply to them.
Bill Sauser, chair: Thank you. Thank you for your comments Michael. I am not the expert in what the Board should do, so we’ll take those comments under advisement.
Mike Stern, senator, economics: One more item if I would. In number 6, I’ve seen this before in some context as well, saying that you can violate the policy essentially as long as you tell everybody you’re going to violate it, implies that there is no policy at all. I would prefer 6 actually mention what the consequences are for violating policy rather than telling you how you can get out of following it.
Bill Sauser, chair: Thank you again for that comment. Yes sir?
Paul Brown, senator, Cooperative Extension System: I would suggest that when we look at line authority we also include the term or title director. We have a director. We could actually go back through past history where this policy might have prevented a situation, without going into that now, but this policy should be inclusive to include that line that goes right to the president.
Bill Sauser, chair: Again another consideration, thank you very much. Do you want to respond to that Dr. Boosinger?
Dr. Boosinger, provost: I just wanted to clarify a couple of things [36:54] so people didn’t leave here with a misunderstanding. For associate positions, associate provost and associate deans and those that don’t fit into that line authority, we are doing searches, some of those colleges are allowed to search for an associate dean, they can make a decision whether to go outside or search inside, so Bob I want to be clear that we are not hiring any of those people directly. Searches are being done.
My thought on this was let’s not make this anymore complicated than it needs to be because of the clause, if we are going to ask somebody that’s interim that’s doing a great job that wants to be a candidate, we’re going to ask them to step down and somebody else has to step in for a few months, that adds a level of operational complexity that we need to think about very carefully.
The other point, my general understanding of the definition of and acting appointment is someone that’s in place serving while the original person is gone and coming back. So if the administrator is going to return to that position, it would be acting; if somebody leaves or retires and a person steps in as an interim then the original person they replace is not coming back. That’s how I would define it and operationally that’s how it has worked, maybe not everywhere, but that might be helpful to define those terms.
Bill Sauser, chair: Thank you for those clarifications. Yes, sir your comment or question.
Guy Rohrbaugh, senator, philosophy: Two quick points, I was relieved to see the exception for chair in number 6, but I will say it was not immediately obvious to me that the head shouldn’t be exempted in the same position. I’ve never been a dean but I would imagine that sometimes it would be appropriate to run a big national search and sometimes it would be appropriate to pick someone from the faculty you’ve got. Mandating the one seems like maybe that would not always be what was necessary.
Not a lot of response is required but the second point was just that I am not immediately agreeing with Bob Locy’s point, I guess I imagine I see these deans and provosts sometimes being in charge of who’s going to work in their office and if they make bad choices then you rethink who’s in charge there. But running a couple of different searches and sticking them together sounds like back when the Vice Presidential was a separate election and they stuck them together in the White House, that didn’t always work out so well.
Bill Sauser, chair: Thank you and I believe Bob Locy wishes to speak again.
Bob Locy, senator, biological sciences: I’d like to address a couple of things that were said when Michael was objecting I believe to item 6 in the provision. Maybe we didn’t get it down in the right words, but the intent was to put a procedure in place that would be widely used and in response to what Dr. Boosinger said, I’d reiterate again I don’t know that there are major travesties that have occurred, but the intent was to make sure that when there were hires made whether they were interim hires or permanent hires that there was faculty input and the faculty had the input for those decisions. Certainly in an instance where there was the need for someone to temporarily fill in until we could get even an interim in place by this process provided that that temporary person were not going to be a candidate for the permanent position I would think that that would be the perfect thing that we had in mind when we wrote number 6. That is to say look, we realize that the president and vice presidents and the deans and the department chairs have the authority and right to hire their own staff, just ask us before you do it. [41:37] That’s what we tried to commit to a policy was the opportunity to be asked what we thought should be done rather than just unilaterally doing it. Construct it however you want, if taking that out is important so be it but that was the intent of what item 6 was all about that you don’t have to stick to these as rigid hard and fast rules which you must follow under all circumstances. Let’s have rules that we would like to have followed down and certainly if you ask us and it’s a reasonable argument we’re going to say yea, sure, go ahead. Like I said, maybe we haven’t written the right document. Thank you.
Larry Crowley, chair-elect: Bob, I read the debate that you all had and I think it was really well done. One of things that I’d like to point out from the original policy and there is no intent to make it different now, these are going to be guidelines, this is not intended to be a policy. And I think that was the discussion during your original debate, that this is not going to be a policy this is going to be guidelines suggested by the Senate. We don’t have an intent to change that, they will continue to be guidelines.
Bill Sauser, chair: Dr. Stern, you wish to speak?
Michael Stern, senator, economics: Bob is of course correct although I think he’s talking about something a little bit different. The issue of faculty input in searches is a separate mater from how you are handling a situation where you have somebody in a position relevant to a search that you are conducting. So I read this policy it doesn’t really address what faculty input and processes we have, when you are having a search what do you do with somebody who is in a position relevant to that search? [43:36] The idea is that the search would be unduly potentially influenced by the fact that somebody is in a position of power with respect to what your doing, and thus exert influence. So if you already have somebody in that position because that position bestows certain assets on people by virtue of decisions they make then their ability to make those decisions during the process of course could taint the process, or somebody has undue leverage and advantage because of that. It’s about having a fair search when you have somebody and that’s what I read about talking about interim.
So I just read this policy about dealing with when you have somebody in a position that’s why I think associate deans too, I don’t, if somebody wants to have an internal search only for some position, and even if they don’t want to get faculty input or x ,y, or z, when they declare what the process is going to be then you want the process to have integrity. So if you are having a search whether it be for an associate dean position, a dean position, a chair position, a vice president, or whatever, if you are having a search how do you deal with somebody that’s in that position? This doesn’t really say about whether you should or should not have, how you should compose search committees and all these other kinds of things that you might want to get into in terms of faculty governance. After all you don’t talk about how you need to have an election for a department chair or something like that in this document, right? So that seems like a separate issue as opposed to just dealing with when you have somebody in a position already related to a search that you want to run and how you handle that.
Bill Sauser, chair: Thanks for your comments, are there other comments? Thank you Dr. Crowley.
I want to comment for those of you who are new to the Senate. You have seen the purpose for having these pending action items come forward. We want to hear comments from all who wish to comment, questions such that we can then go back and seek to perfect if necessary any motion that comes before you on the next month. You will be seeing this motion or a perfected version of this motion to vote on next month. You can take that back to your departmental faculty and share that with them. The final version that we will be proposing will be found in the agenda for the next meeting. Thank you.
We’re now going to move to some information items. The first is going to be shared with us by Rusty Weldon, who is Assistant Director of the Auburn University Bookstore. Rusty has for us some information about a new online textbook ordering system. Rusty?
Rusty Weldon, Assistant Director of the Auburn University Bookstore: Good afternoon. I do have to start off by saying my name is Rusty Weldon and I order your textbooks. [46:45] And there’s no object to being thrown so we’re starting off on a good way this afternoon.
I want to express my thanks to Dr. Winn and the Senate board for giving me this opportunity to talk to you a little bit about the new way that we are changing online ordering for your textbooks. I think everybody understands that in a good relationship you have great communications, I think that’s one thing that’s been severely lacking in the textbook order process, especially from our end. We’ve identified a new system that will take away some of the clunkyness that you are experiencing now with how you turn in your textbook orders that I’d like to introduce to you this afternoon.
Some of the things that we commonly heard as complaints with the old system was that I give my departmental secretary a form and I never here another thing from it. What we’re going to do is move to a new system that will be e-mail based and come from the registrar’s office system. What ever classes that you’ve identified as teaching for the next term, you’re going to get an e-mail specifically tailored to you and the classes that you are teaching. [47:46] So that’s going to come in an e-mail form, you won’t ever see a piece of paper form the Bookstore again, it will all be based online electronically.
We have a great need in the Bookstore, we’re doing a lot of things to make textbooks less expensive. All of you in this room know that’s tougher and tougher every day, but in order for us to do that we have to have the time with the order to make that magic happen. What we’d like to see out of this whole process is improved rates getting you book orders back in on time, but we’d like to offer you more services as well. How many times have you wished that you knew that your departmental secretary got the order and the Bookstore got the order? Most of you have never gotten that confirmation, with this online system you are going to see when you turn it in, your going to see when your departmental secretary turns it into us, and then you’re going to see when we post it at the Bookstore. So you are going to know without a doubt your book order is in the right time and that we are taking care of it for you.
A second thing that we’ve heard very commonly is the paper forms only showed one semester. The new system that we are going to offer you, right now we’ve loaded all the way back to fall 2010, so if you’ve taught that book anytime in the last 2 calendar years, you can go back that far and choose the books that you’d like to teach from. [49:04]
One tool I think is extremely powerful in this new system is it has Google Books at it’s command, so especially if you are in a Liberal Arts genre, any book that is scanned in in Google books you’re going to get the opportunity to scan from front cover to end cover to see if that’s the right book for you. So not longer is there getting a desk copy is there searching through Amazon for resources; we are going to present this as a resource tool built-in where you are picking your adoption information.
Then finally it replaces the paper that so very easily gets lost in transmission in either coming to you because the departmental secretary doesn’t get it to you, it gets sent to the wrong office, or it gets lost coming back to us. We are going to do away with that inefficiency, because that has been very inefficient in the way we have been operating.
What I’d like to do with the next slide is show a video that will introduce you; each faculty member is going to have an e-mail link that is sent to them, and this video shows you what you are going to do when you go in to select your course material.
Video–“Welcome to your bookstore’s course materials adoption platform…” [50:16 to 53:38]
Hope that that look a lot better for those of you familiar with turning in books every semester. I’m excited because it allows so much more communication directly between the faculty member and the Bookstore. I think that’s one step in the process that’s been severely lacking.
To introduce this to campus we are going to have a series of webinars starting next Monday. Those will be announced to you by e-mail. So if you watch you e-mail we’ll announce the several different dates and times that are available. This video tutorial will always be on the faculty home page, so when you get the e-mail link to go to your courses this video is always going to be right there on your home page.
Then finally, spring 2013 orders are going to be due on the 15th of October. So we hope to roll this out to you sometime in the next week and a half so that you have a full 4 weeks to use it to its fullest extent and decide what you need for spring semester.
Several goals and outcomes that we have with improving this system are; we want Auburn to comply fully with Federal law and make students aware of textbook cost as they register for classes. In July 2010, the Higher Education Opportunity Act was passed by Congress. This law says to the best of its ability each campus/college needs to make students aware at the time of registration what the cost for that class is going to be. We know that things are going to happen, we know that you’re not going to get assigned every class that you will have potentially next semester, but if you have been assigned we would like to ask that you really help us out by submitting your adoption before that date. The Department of Education is actually going to do audits of this and they are going to be spot audits to see how colleges and universities are complying with this law and we really want Auburn to come through with flying colors on this. So if you can help us comply with this law and be in good standing, and it also helps our students be aware of how much their next semester is going to cost not only when the register but they can see the cost of those books as well is we know what they are.
To give parents and students complete textbook information. I know you saw in there where there is a simple button that says that if you don’t have a book for this course click this button. If you are going to use something like resources on campus or you are going to send your students to another source, we still like to know what that information is. We’ve had a lot of parents, and I know this shocks most of you, that called in August wanting to know “what does my child need for the first day of class?” Up until this point the bookstore has been good at getting information, we had a responsibility to carry that, we’d like to be able to tell them even if we are not going to carry it, where they need to go to get it. So if you can cooperate and help us out by saying “I’m going to use resources on campus.” We can actually tell that parent on the phone, you are not going to have to buy a book you are going to be directed to do that when you get to class. [56:35]
And then the traditional things we actually rented over 1,300 titles in the Bookstore this fall. We need your course information to have time to submit those for rental consideration. So if you get your order to us on time I can almost guarantee you that we are going to rent that book to your students, which can be a savings of about half off. Then we’re still finding the traditional use copies of books and then we are buying books back from your students at the end of the semesters. So all of this is with an end goal to make an Auburn education more affordable from a course materials standpoint. When we get that information we can do our jobs to the best of our ability and get that book on the shelf as cheap as we can get it.
This will be rolling out in the next two weeks. My contact information is here, we’d love to hear from you and we’re absolutely keen on listening to you if there are any hiccups in the process. But we’re excited to roll out something I think answers a lot of issues and worries that faculty have had from this process and we really do hope that it makes a difference in how convenient it is to get us information. Thank you.
Bill Sauser, chair: Questions or comments for Rusty? If not then thank you so much Rusty, we appreciate that. I think this is a great modernization of the book ordering process and appreciate that very much.
Our second information item today comes to us from Karla McCormick, who is the Executive Director of Payroll and Employment Benefits. Karla is going to tell us about some changes that are upcoming in employee benefits and us a general update on the benefit process. Karla McCormick, thank you Karla.
Karla McCormick, Executive Director of Payroll and Employment Benefits: Good afternoon. [58:31] To follow up with what Rusty said, I don’t order your textbooks but I do make sure you get paychecks. That’s one of the popular things that we do. We also administer your employee benefits. I want to talk with you today a little bit about some changes and some programs that are coming about related to your benefit plans.
First and foremost we want to let you know about some changes that our State government has passed, about some laws that our State government has passed in the last few months that are going to be relevant to you. The first is SB 388 and this part of the law will create a second tier within our mandatory retirement plan, our state retirement. This is going to create a second tier for any employee that joins the program after January 1, 2013. Because you’re sitting in this room, you are a current Auburn employee and currently a member of teacher’s retirement, you will be considered a tier 1 employee, but anyone who joins the program after January will be tier 2. That doesn’t necessarily means everybody hired after January will be tier 2, because they may be hired to Auburn as of January 1 but they may already be members of the teacher’s retirement system. They may have worked somewhere else, they may have worked here before and they are already members so they would also considered tier 1. I’m going to tell you more about what it means to be a tier 2 employee in just a second.
The second piece of legislation that has passed that is going to affect us is HB255. HB255 is going to allow retirement contributions on overtime pay with a cap of 120% of base pay for all of our members. This was effected in July after the governor signed it. We’re in the process right now of trying to fully understand how to comply and I’ll tell you a little bit more about that as well as we move forward.
Let’s talk about tier 1 and tier 2, I told you I’d tell you a little bit more about that. I hope you can read that in the back and if you can’t we’ll put some of this information out on the Payroll and Employee Benefits Web site so that you will have access to see it.
Tier 1, again, is where all of us fall, we are already employees, we’re tier 1 employees and as of January, down the left side tells you what’s going to be relevant to you. We already knew that effective October 1 our teacher’s retirement contribution was going to go up to 7.5%, that’s still going to happen, that’s not changing. Our retirement eligibility, we’re eligible to retire after 25 years of service at any age and after 10 years of service at age 60. The retirement factor you can see that is included in the formula that they use based on your final salary and years of service and that factor will determine exactly what your retirement benefit per month would be. That factor for us will not be changing. The average final salary is taken into consideration and that formula is the average of the highest 3 of the last 10 years of service. The contribution on overtime pay is something that’s going to change and I’ll tell you about that in a second. And the sick leave conversion we are able to convert our sick leave toward service years towards our retirement.
Going forward everyone who’s considered a tier 2 employee, again this is someone who joins after January 1, their employee contribution is going to be 6% compared to our 7.5%. the other side of that is that their benefit at the end when they retire is going to be less. They have no chance for that 25 year retirement unless they are age 62. Anyone hired or joining after January must be age 62 in order to retire. They will be able to retire after 10 years of service as long as they are age 62. Their retirement factor is going to be 1.65% that’s what’s included in that formula when they are determining how much a retiree will draw on a monthly benefit. Their average final salary is going to change from the average of the highest 3 to the average of the highest 5 of the last 10 years of service. They are going to have a benefit cap. Their benefit will be capped at 80% of their average final salary. For us there is no cap. Their earnable compensation when we are talking about overtime pay can’t exceed 125% of their base. I will explain more about that in just a second. They will not be able to convert their sick leave towards years of credit for retirement.
What does this mean for us? There are some challenges for us in terms of implementation, the first thing is trying to determine exactly what the State meant in some of these words and terms that they were using in the legislation, the first thing was earnable compensation, exactly what does that mean? Essentially for Auburn it means any form of compensation from which we are going to take your retirement earnings. I’m going to define that or show you a chart in a few minutes that’s going to explain that a little bit better.
Base pay, what exactly does that mean? Base pay is going to be when we are talking about that 120 or 125% limit on overtime pay, we are going to be limiting overtime contributions based on your base pay. I’ll show you a chart again that will explain how the difference between earnable comp and base pay. [1:03:40]
And then overtime, in our environment it’s hard to imagine or understand exactly what they meant by overtime pay. When this legislation was passed they were not passing it taking into consideration of Higher Ed and the fact that traditional overtime doesn’t apply to most of our employees. So we were trying to understand exactly what they meant by overtime. We did send some people down, Marcie Smith and I went down along with some other members from Auburn, University of Alabama, UAB, and UAH went to Montgomery and met with members of the Teacher’s Retirement staff to try to understand what they meant by some of these terms, also to kind of present to them some of the unique factors of compensation that apply to Higher Ed that they probably had not taken into consideration. And we wanted to make sure that we were getting them to include as much of what we consider our compensation into that base pay definition so that it would not be limited when you are looking at what’s going to be taken for retirement.
Our next step then was to try to figure out exactly how our definitions on compensation were going to apply with what the State considered those definitions to mean. And that has been somewhat of a challenge we have been working with the Provost’s Office to try to make sure that we understand some of the different elements of compensation for our academic employees so that we could make sure we were treating it correctly within these new definitions. We are reviewing the compensation data in Banner making sure things are classified correctly. Some of you may hear a little bit about that as we move forward. We want to make sure that if it shouldn’t be subject to the cap that it’s not. Then we are going to work on programming Banner to try to make these changes.
Here’s what I was talking about in helping you to understand the elements of compensation. What’s considered earnable compensation and what would be included in base pay. Again you may not be able to see this in the back and if you can’t we will put this out on our Web site so that you could see it. The one-time salary supplement that will be paid in December will be considered earnable compensation. Teacher’s Retirement contributions will be coming out of that and it will be included in the base pay, so it will not be subject to that cap for overtime. Leave pay and shift differential pay which probably will not apply to your employees is earnable comp and it’s included in base pay. Overtime, overload, and Z jobs this is earnable compensation, contributions come out of that but it is not included in base. This is the element of compensation that the law was actually passed to affect.
Out-of-class pay is earnable comp and it’s included in base, not subject to the cap. Professorships is earnable comp and included in base. Bonuses, I know we don’t use the word bonus here a lot unless we are talking about athletics. If it’s included in a contract then it is considered earnable comp but no bonuses would ever be included in base pay.
Awards and scholarly incentive plans are not included in earnable coma and not included in the base. That’s pretty much it related to Teacher’s Retirement. If you have any questions about that later you are always welcome to come and visit us or call us about it and we will be happy to answer any questions that you’ve got.
The other thing that I wanted to talk to you about, you may have received an orange postcard in the mail a couple of months ago announcing that Auburn was going to be conducting a dependant audit. We had planned to do that at the start of the fall semester and we changed our mind and decided that we are going to wait until after the first of the year for several reasons. One was that we wanted to use this opportunity to try to educate everybody on why we’re doing this and exactly what a dependant audit entails. The other was we wanted to use the open enrollment period as an opportunity for anyone who knows they have an ineligible dependant to use that time to remove them from the plan. So we probably are going to conduct this audit right after the first of the year.
Why are we doing this? One of the things that a lot of people don’t understand about our health insurance plan is that it is self-funded. What that means is that every dime, every penny that’s paid for your health insurance coverage that you don’t pay out of your pocket for your premiums that are coming out of your pay checks, through your co-pays, your deductibles, and your co-insurance, is paid by Auburn University. [1:08:02] it’s not paid by Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Alabama. So it’s not the big bad insurance company who’s going to pay our bills, it’s Auburn. And a lot of employees don’t understand that. We have a vested interest in controlling how much we spend in our health plan so that we can make sure that Auburn can maintain the benefits that we offer and also do that at a price that’s not too high for you.
In our plan for the experience June 1, 2011 through May 31, 2012 Auburn and all of you if you are in our health insurance plan, our claims cost us $39,000,628. That’s a large figure. That is money paid for by you and paid by Auburn University. And what we’re trying to do at this point with the dependant audit is to find a way to control our costs so that we don’t have to eliminate benefits within our health plan to you and so that we don’t have to raise the cost of something that makes it unaffordable to you. A dependant audit was one of the ways that we decided to do that.
Paying claims for our ineligible participants does raise the cost for everybody. The national average is that about 3 to 7 percent of dependants who are covered under health insurance plans in the U. S. are truly ineligible, 3 to 7 percent. For us, we have 6,200 dependants on our plan and Auburn’s number, it costs us $3,500 on average for each dependant or each member that we have covered under our health insurance. So when you think about the fact that we could have 3 to 7% of those 6,200 people covered under our plan and incurring claims that you and I are helping to fund, you can see the potential for savings for us by removing them from the plan so that they are not incurring those claims. For Auburn it could be anywhere from half a million dollars to a million and a half. We thought that that was a pretty significant figure. If we can save our plan around a million dollars it keeps us from having to look at some other cost saving measures within our health plan.
Has it worked for others? It absolutely has. If you go onto PEEHIPs Web site you will find some information about the audit they went through, they just completed it. At the conclusion of their audit they removed 4,996 ineligible participants from their plan and they estimate it’s going to save them about 14 million dollars per year by not having those people covered on their plan. [1:10:30]
There are a lot of other universities that have done this as well. It’s not something that Auburn has just decided to do. It has kind of become an industry norm. The University of Alabama, the University of Georgia, and you can see all the other universities that are listed there have done this as well, and the city of Montgomery has actually done this, everyone has realized cost savings as a result. Continuous Health is the company we have chosen. We chose them for 2 primary reasons. The first was that they seem to understand our culture, they listened to what we said about the types of employees we have, the variety of employees, the diversity that we have here and our culture and they seem to understand that and respected it. The second reason we chose Continuous Health to do this audit was that they offer what’s called a soft-landing program. For anyone that we find is not eligible for our plan, Continuous Health will help them find alternative coverage. And that was important to us, we wanted to make sure that if there was someone that we had to remove from our plan because they were not eligible that we could help them in some way to find some other coverage that would be affordable to them.
In order to comply you are going to receive packets of information within the next few months, probably closer to the end of the year and January. It will come to your home address from Continuous Health. It will contain all of the information that you need to know about the audit. It will include information about what it takes to be eligible for our plans, information about the types of documents that you will need to provide to prove that your dependants are truly eligible for our plan, and they will explain to you exactly how you go about complying.
Some of the types of documents that you would have to provide as part of this effort; if you are married and you are covering a spouse within the plan you will be required to show a marriage certificate and another document such as a joint household bill, a joint lease or mortgage, a joint tax return with all of the private information blacked out, they don’t care about seeing that and we don’t either. They just want, we just need to confirm that you are married to that person and that it is a current marriage. I’m divorced, I can provide a marriage certificate, but I’ve been divorced for 5 years. I could have my ex-husband covered under our plan, so we are asking for that second document that’s a recent document to support the fact that you are still married to that person.
For children it’s going to be birth certificates primarily, if it’s a child who is over a certain age and is a student there may be an adult child affidavit that would have to be provided to support why that person is still eligible for our dental plan and if there are step children you will have to show that you are in fact married to the mother of that child.
How do I know my data is secure? We’re going to provide you with a lot of information from Continuous Health about how they secure your data. They are a HIPPA compliant company, they do destroy the documentation at the end of the audit, about 45 days out. They do certify that it has been destroyed, they use a clean room environment, it takes 2 keys to get into the room where all the documentation is stored. It is a very secure facility and they are very privacy oriented. So we will be able to provide you with additional information about that if that is a concern.
Talked a little bit about the soft landing, again we just want to be sure employees could find coverage that would be relevant to them. The amnesty period will be during open enrollment, so we are going to announce during open enrollment that we will be conducting the audit and it will give everyone the chance to remove any ineligible dependants without brining attention to the fact that that is what they are doing, a very easy way to do that, again we are going to conduct the audit probably after the first of the year. You will start to receive information towards the end of the year or in early January.
My contact information is here if you have any questions, please get in touch with us. We are going to put a lot of this information out on our Web site so that if you have any questions or want to read more about it you will be able to do that. The dependant audit information is not out there at this time, but we’re hoping that it will be within the next 2 weeks.
Bill Sauser, chair: Thank you Karla, I did want to comment if you have any personal questions about your benefits and information of course contact Karla privately. But if there are any questions for Karla based on her presentatin I’d be glad to entertain them now. Yes sir.
Robin Jaffe, secretary, Senate: University of Alabama has this sponsored adult dependant availability benefit concerning domestic partner medical benefits, does Auburn have such a benefit and if now will we have one in the future?
Karla McCormick: We’ve actually been discussing this, we have and Insurance and Benefits Committee meeting coming out within the next couple of weeks and this will be one of the items that we will be talking about,
Shelly McKee, senator, poultry science: I was one of the lucky ones that got one of the little orange postcards and it didn’t make me too happy at the time that there was no information that preceded that card. In the audit is this everyone?
Karla McCormick: We are going to include everyone in the audit who is a participant in our health or our dental insurance plans and has dependants covered. If you don’t have dependants covered under our health or our dental insurance this audit will not apply to you.
Mike Stern, senator, economics: A quick question, retirement income limitations when you talk about the base pay, how do we treat the summer salary of 9-month faculty, is that a part of base pay?
Karla McCormick: Summer salary is and that is one of the questions we have for teacher’s retirement. Essentially they are going to look at your 9-month salary we are going to multiply it by a factor , I believe, of 1.333 to determine what your annual salary would be if you paid on a 12-month basis and then that will be what is included in your earnable compensation in your base pay.
Mike Stern, senator, economics: Okay, so anything beyond that is considered overtime? One concern I have about that is the retirement years don’t correspond to the way our summers work in the sense that the retirement years end right in the middle of our summer. So sometimes people are teaching summer 2 one year and then summer 1 the next, so we end up with like 2 summers being on the same actual retirement year sometimes. And then sometimes missing it, the retirement years don’t correspond to our budget years or academic calendar in a strong way, it ends right in the middle of our summer and the middle of an academic year.
Karla McCormick: I mentioned that we were having some challenges at this point determining exactly how to comply with these laws, this is one of the things we are in the process of trying to understand. We’ve asked for some clarification from the State as to exactly how we handle some of the timing issues. For an example, if you have someone when we talk about base pay, if they hit that 120% maximum on their overtime do we stop all contributions at that point or do we continue to take contributions out for the whole 12-months on what we consider to be their base pay? There’s a lot of those types of questions we don’t have answers to yet, and your question is a good one and one that we do not have an answer for right now.
Bill Sauser, chair: Thank you Karla. Are there any other questions? Thank you very much Karla. This was as we heard sprung on Karla and her staff about the same time it was sprung on us. It’s in effect and they’re struggling with how to implement it and I appreciate them bringing this information to us today.
I’d like to ask if there is any unfinished business to come before the Senate? Hearing none, is there any new business to come before the Senate? Hearing none, I declare the meeting adjourned. [1:19:04]