Meeting 2 May 17, 2006
Central Missouri State University
Faculty Senate Minutes
The Faculty Senate meeting was called to order at 3:03 p.m. in Union 237A with President Odin Jurkowski presiding.
ROLL CALL: In addition to FS President Jurkowski, the following sixteen senators and one alternate were present: Ciafullo, Ely, Geiger, Koehn, Liu, Mandali, McKee, Miller, Popejoy, Robins, Rogers, Staab, Swanson, Thomas, Williamson, Zelazek and Lurker (alternate for Callahan). Also present were President Aaron Podolefsky, Provost George Wilson and Parliamentarian Cheryl Riley.
MINUTES: A motion was made by Senator Rogers, seconded by Senator Swanson and passed unanimously to approve the minutes of meeting 14 of the 2005-2006 Faculty Senate held on April 26, 2006. A motion was then made by Senator Rogers, seconded by Senator Swanson and passed with a vote of 16 in favor, 0 opposed and 1 abstention to approve the minutes of meeting 1 of the 2006-2007 Faculty Senate held on April 26, 2006.
President Podolefsky briefly discussed the recent graduation ceremonies and said he felt that several small changes made to the ceremony helped to improve the event. He said he was pleased with the ceremony and thought it went well.
Provost Wilson said he did not have any announcements but would be happy to answer questions.
Concerning the recent acknowledgment on the CMSU website regarding a review of the university by the Princeton Review, Senator Zelazek asked how this acknowledgment was acquired and whether or not CMSU paid for the review. Wilson said that CMSU did not pay for the review. Podolefsky said that the Princeton Review is an independent organization who ranked CMSU as one of the best values in higher education in the Midwest by naming it to the magazine’s “Best Midwestern Colleges” list based on their organization’s criteria. In response to another question from Zelazek, Podolefsky said that there was no connection between this acknowledgment and a news release regarding a program sponsored by the Princeton Review that has ties to the Kauffman Foundation, and that the timing of the two announcements was purely coincidental.
Senator Geiger asked for an update on the search for a new provost. Podolefsky responded that the search committee provided him with four names. He stated that he has done additional background checks on two of the four candidates, with multiple additional background checks on one of those two candidates. Upon completion of these background checks, Podolefsky said he has talked with one of the candidates and is now waiting for a response, and that until a decision has been finalized, he does not feel it is appropriate to release the name of the candidate. He indicated that because all four of the candidates are presently employed, the process often takes longer.
Jurkowski announced that at the last FS Executive Committee meeting that Senator Geiger has agreed to chair the ad hoc committee that will study the issue of possibly changing the grading system at CMSU to some form of the plus-minus system. He said that Geiger plans to do some research over the summer months in an effort to gather ideas for this committee, and that the committee will be formed and will begin meeting in the fall.
Regarding the SPRC, Senator Koehn advised that Senator Staab will continue to serve as the FS representative to the SPRC until the end of May and asked Staab to report on the last SPRC meeting. Staab advised that the SPRC met on April 27, and that both he and Koehn attended that meeting and that he introduced her as the next FS representative. He advised that the next SPRC meeting will be on May 25. Staab said that Dean Wheeless reported on the progress of the subcommittee for strategic directions and goals and that this subcommittee has decided to use the vision statement as a vehicle for determining the strategic directions. Staab also said that he gave a brief report to the SPRC from name change subcommittee regarding the white paper that is being prepared. He said that feedback can be submitted to the name change subcommittee until May 31 and that the subcommittee will then meet on June 6 to discuss their findings and prepare a report to be submitted to President Podolefsky. Regarding space allocation, Staab said that due to renovations that are going to be made on campus, the second floor of the Humphreys building has been identified as a temporary place to locate faculty and staff during the renovations. Koehn added that the SPRC is planning a summer retreat in July and that the SPRC has tentatively agreed to meet on a reduced, as needed basis during the summer.
A discussion concerning the action by the Board of Governors regarding health care benefits for early retirees then ensued. Jurkowski said that the Board of Governors has postponed making a decision on this issue until their June meeting. He stated that numerous concerns have been voiced on campus regarding the Board of Governor’s plan to change how this issue is handled in the future, with the two primary concerns being that (1) this issue was not discussed with any of the governance groups on campus, and (2) that the Board indicated that they plan to implement the new plan immediately, without allowing time for anyone impacted by the changes to adjust their plans. Jurkowski said that last week he met with the president of the Support Staff Council and the president of the Professional Staff Council to discuss this issue, and that President Podolefsky then met with Rhonda McKee and with the presidents of the Support Staff Council and the Professional Staff Council in an attempt to come up with ideas to resolve this issue so that he can make a recommendation to the Board of Governors. Podolefsky explained that one problem is that health care costs continue to rise at a rate faster than the budget, and the cost to continue covering early retirees continues to eat more deeply into funds that could otherwise be spent for employees presently working at CMSU. He said he believes the Board of Governors is trying in good faith to respond to this problem. He explained that during 2000, the ERIP (Early Retirement Incentive Program) enrolled about seventy –eight people at a cost of approximately $211,000. Comparatively, in 2006, there are over one hundred twenty people enrolled in this program at a budgeted cost of approximately $1.2 million. He said that next year, about $805 per month, or almost $10,000 per year, will be spent for each person that retires early. Podolefsky said that he had received numerous requests to benchmark this benefit, but that after checking with other Missouri institutions, he believes only one other Missouri school provides an early retirement benefit similar to CMSU’s current benefit, and that they are in the process of changing this benefit. Therefore, he does not believe that benchmarking justifies CMSU’s current policy concerning health insurance for early retirees. Podolefsky then briefly explained the history of this policy and said that prior to 1987, there was no ERIP. In 1987, a policy was created under which only faculty members could apply for ERIP, and the policy at that time clearly stated that the decision to grant early retirement to any faculty member would be based on departmental needs. He said that in 1997, a policy with exactly the same wording became effective for all non-tenure track employees, including the professional and support staff. In 2002, the prior policies were replaced with a new policy that stated that all employees eligible for early retirement would receive this benefit, thereby making the early retirement option an entitlement for the first time. Podolefsky said that when this issue was discussed by the Health Care Alternatives Committee in 2004, they suggested that any changes that were made to the early retirement policy should be implemented slowly, possibly over a period of ten years. In considering this issue, Podolefsky said that he felt that the “Rule of 80” criteria should remain in place, and additionally, that those people who retire early from CMSU and then work elsewhere for other employers where they are eligible to receive benefits should no longer be eligible for this benefit at CMSU. Enforcement of this was discussed and Ciafullo questioned how this would impact an early retiree who then came back to teach one or two classes. Podolefsky responded that he feels retirees in that situation should be considered eligible for benefits. He further explained that in 2004, the Health Care Alternatives Committee recommended establishing a minimum age limit of 57 for this benefit. However, in addition to the “Rule of 80” criteria, he believes that rather than using an age-based criteria, it would give employees greater flexibility if the benefit is limited to a maximum number of five years in the plan. He also indicated that he agreed with the 2004 recommendation made by the Health Care Alternatives Committee that the years of service (at CMSU) requirement for the early retirement benefit should be changed from 13 years to 20 years. He indicated that there were various ways to phase out this program for those employees in the future who want to retire early and suggested that one way this could be handled would be for the university to pay a specific amount for health insurance premiums for each early retiree for a period of five years. If the health insurance premiums increase above that amount after the first year, the early retiree would be responsible for the difference between the amount paid by the university and the amount of the increase. Podolefsky suggested that another way to reduce costs and phase out the program over a ten-year period would be for the university to provide each early retiree a fixed dollar limited contribution based on their retirement date. As an example, he explained that if CMSU’s contribution was initially $805 per month, the university would pay $805 per month for each early retiree for 2007, but that the amount would be reduced by 10% of the $805 for each subsequent year (i.e., for someone retiring in 2007, CMSU would pay $805 per month; for someone retiring in 2008, CMSU would pay $725 per month; for someone retiring in 2009, CMSU would pay $653 per month towards their health care premium, etc.). If this method is used, he said that CMSU will be “out of the early retirement business” in ten years. Podolefsky said he believes this program would allow those employees contemplating early retirement time to adjust their plans, and that this plan would not have nearly as negative an impact as the plan originally proposed by the Board. Geiger asked if those who have already taken early retirement and are now working elsewhere and receiving benefits would be impacted by the proposed plan. Podolefsky responded that since it would only impact approximately 120 people, he would prefer to buy them out. In further discussing his proposed plan, he said it is not strictly about money, and it is not a matter of not caring about CMSU’s employees, but that it is more a matter of which employees should be given the most consideration – current employees or early retirees. Ciafullo said that concerns he has heard from constituents have been two-fold. He said that one concern is obviously about the issue of health insurance itself for early retirees. However, he stated that the main concern voiced to him was the process in which this issue was handled by the Board of Governors. He further stated that constituents have indicated that there is a perception that the Board’s approach on this issue has been arbitrary, capricious, autocratic, below board, heavy handed and in bad faith. Podolefsky responded that he suspects that such feelings exist, and said he is hopeful that if the proposal he has discussed today is presented to the Board, it would be more acceptable to the majority of employees. Podolefsky asked Ciafullo if he thought the proposed plan discussed today would be more acceptable to his constituents and Ciafullo replied that he believes it would. Both Ciafullo and Geiger stated that they believe that if most constituents understand the process and understand why a change is necessary, most employees will have a better feeling about changes made in the manner suggested by Podolefsky today. McKee stated she felt the plan discussed today would be much more acceptable, but voiced concern about the way the Board attempted to handle this issue and asked what assurance employees have that the Board will not handle future issues in that same way. Podolefsky suggested that one action that might prove helpful would be for everyone to let the Board know that their reconsideration of this issue is appreciated. He said that since coming to CMSU, he has repeatedly heard about “shared governance”, but until this issue arose, he has not seem much evidence of it, and that voicing appreciation for the Board’s willingness to reconsider this issue would be an appropriate action. Zelazak asked if consideration was given to plans other than the ten-year plan discussed today and Podolefsky responded that he chose the ten-year plan because he felt that with the increase in insurance premiums, in addition to the reduction of the amount the university will contribute for health insurance premiums for early retirees, those planning to take early retirement in the next year or two would not be as negatively impacted as they would be if the current plan was phased out over a shorter period of time or implemented immediately. He also emphasized that the plan he discussed today is strictly a proposal that he is considering and that this plan has not been presented to the Board. He requested that the FS discuss his proposed plan and advise him whether or not they can support this plan. He then excused himself from the meeting so that the issue could be freely discussed. After a very brief discussion, an unofficial vote was taken which reflected unanimous support by the Faculty Senate for the plan proposed by Podolefsky.
Jurkowski then requested that each table proceed with the Planning Session and suggested that a good starting point would be to review motions addressed by the 2005-2006 FS. He pointed out that copies of relevant 05-06 motions had been placed on each table, along with a summary of those motions and a copy of the charges for all FS committees. He asked that one senator at each table serve as a note taker, and that the notes from each table be turned in at the end of the meeting. Additionally, he requested that each table agree on 1-3 ideas or issues that they would like for the FS to address this year.
At 4:58 p.m., Jurkowski thanked everyone for their input and requested that all notes from each table be turned in. He also reminded members of the FS Executive Committee that an EC meeting would be held tomorrow at 2:00 p.m. in Union 308. The meeting was then adjourned.
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