Staff Senate Minutes - April 17, 2001
Employee of the Month: Rick Robinson, Electrician II, Facilities.
Directors -- Livingston, Roggasch
Managerial/Professional -- Danube, McMullen
Office -- Ellingson, Jones, Mitchell
Service -- Hines, Lange, Wilson
Ex Officio -- Lakey
Absent: Kucera, Roth
- Call to Order
- Adoption of Agenda
- Agenda Adopted (Roggasch/Hines)
- Minutes and Correspondence
- Minutes of the March 20, 2001 meeting were approved as printed. (Danube/McMullen)
- Unfinished Business
- Staff Senate Website
Wilson reported everything is pretty much done. After May 1, the new term dates will need to be added and the revised bylaws. She noted all the links are in place and Staff Senate has been added to the A-Z quick list. Links are also in place for the SAFE Award and Employee of the Month.
- President Smith’s Visit
Livingston stated that President Smith described the historical shortfall of financial support for the university. For the most part, that had to do with tuition and fee shortfalls, rather than state appropriation monies. He also discussed how they determined the level of shortfall. President Smith also explained the ten-percent tuition increase that was approved at the recent Board of Regents meeting. He briefly touched on what they are trying to do on cost avoidance. Smith was very positive about the support from the governor and senators concerning the university’s budget request. He also talked about the decline in student enrollments and about the need for more aggressive recruitment. After his talk, he did open the meeting up for questions. One of the final questions concerned staff salaries. President Smith indicated they ought to match market. However, determining what market should be is different for different groups of people. For instance figures might be used from a national market for one category and from a community market for another category. So basically he stated we need to look at those different pools and provide competitive salaries with what the market is dictating. His final comment was that presumably that is being done. Roggasch stated she appreciated Livingston asking the question about salaries. Roggasch noted that Smith also said that salaries being at market was mandated four years ago. So Roggasch posed the question to Lakey if indeed our salaries – especially office and service - were up to market. Lakey stated that currently most of our salaries are not at market. But the statement about determining what is market is where we are now with our salary studies. Last year UNK was asked to verify where we got our market figures; they want to be sure those are actual, valid market figures. So this year he and Livingston are trying to put validity to the salary studies. It will show from where we recruit employees and where we are losing our employees.
McMullen stated that it used to be that they wanted to get faculty and staff salaries up. Now when you hear about these studies, it is just about faculty salaries. He noted it is like staff has been dropped. Livingston noted that faculty salaries are where the thrust is. She commented that you don’t hear in the newspaper about Business Affairs or University Relations; you only hear about Academic Affairs. It doesn’t mean those divisions are any less important or less critical to the success of the university, but they are not the ones that get the publicity. The same correlation is true between faculty and staff; faculty will always be in the forefront. Another item that has been talked about is what the university did with President Smith’s salary and Perlman’s salary. Employees are wondering why raises do not filter down. Livingston noted that some campuses have done a better job than others for a variety of reasons. But campuses are not all in the same situation with regard to staff salaries. Roggasch stated that if she is correct, once the allocation has been made to each campus, each campus decides how that money is spent/distributed. Lakey stated that salary guidelines are determined each year by the Board of Regents and President Smith as to what percent for salaries are being allocated in the pool. Once it reaches each campus, that particular campus decides how those dollars are spent. Also on the campuses there could be additional funds available if they have done, for instance, any reallocation or have some external funding.
McMullen asked if the big salary increase for the president and the UNL Chancellor was because of peer institution comparisons? McMullen noted when he was reading the article in the newspaper it talked about the ten-percent tuition increase because the budget was in such bad shape and then at the end it mentions the 40-50 thousand dollar raises for Smith and Perlman. Livingston said the studies showed that those salary increases were needed and when they hired Perlman permanently, they had to give him a competitive salary. So in turn, they had to raise President Smith’s salary. Livingston noted they are not out-of-line by any means in comparison to their peer institutions. In fact, they still are a little on the low side.
Livingston stated she felt it was important that Staff Senate got to share in hosting the President’s visit. It was estimated that there were about 60 persons in attendance. Livingston noted staff were well represented at the talk.
Roggasch stated that faculty are represented by a bargaining unit which helps them. She also noted that at UNO there are indications that staff there may try to organize a bargaining unit as well. Roggasch said to help us avoid that at UNK, this group (Staff Senate) needs to help HR in their efforts to get our salaries up to market and to keep the issue in front of the board.
- Tuition Waivers
Lakey stated at the April Board of Regents meeting, the Regents did give final general approval for tuition remission for spouses and dependents of staff. However they are still refining the actual policy and drafting it for approval soon. Until that is done, they can not go forward with any information, but plans are to have it go into effect this fall. Basically it will be equal to 15 hours per year which employees can transfer to their spouse and/or dependents or keep part or all of the hours for themselves. This still will apply only to full-time employees. The question of domestic partners was raised. Lakey stated domestic partners are not eligible-either same sex or opposite sex partners. However if an employee is in a domestic relationship but has dependents from a previous marriage, those dependents are eligible. This is the same approach the board has taken on medical insurance.
The question was raised about graduate hours again. Lakey noted that basically what has been approved at this point is what the bargaining unit had agreed on for faculty – which did not include graduate hours for spouses and/or dependents and was only for full-time students. Lakey noted there are still a lot of decisions to be made, but whatever they do, he hopes everything is the same whether you are faculty or staff. He doesn’t want to be administering several different plans.
As to employees who are eligible under the KSC program, they will have to make a decision, probably this summer, as to which program they want to be in. Once the decision is made, they will not be able to change it. Livingston commented it doesn’t make sense to have to make a one-time decision as to which plan you want to go with if there is a possibility that the new plan could get changed down the road. Lakey stated any changes will have to be made now before employees have to make their choices. Lakey stated the only change he could see that might come later is if they decide to add part-time students. Wilson asked what the major difference is now between the two plans. Lakey stated the KSC plan gives you unlimited hours, but only on the UNK campus. This would be extremely beneficial if you would have two or three dependents going to school at the same time. The new plan only allows 15 hours, but those can be used on any of the university campuses. However, there are some restrictions on health-related programs.
Plans are to have a website so when an employee decides to give those hours to someone, they can just go on line and make that indication of who will be receiving those hours and how many.
- Performance Evaluation Training
Lakey thanked members for attending the evaluation trainings. He noted they have done these sessions before, but have not gone into such detail before as to how the monies can be allocated. Lakey stated the first two sessions were designed for supervisors, but he stated the discussion was really not that much different at the sessions for regular employees. Lakey stated he was interested in hearing what members thought/heard. Livingston stated she was going to write comments/concerns on a flip chart since we will want to compile ideas to share and then decide who Staff Senate wants to share them with and in what format. Comments put on the list included:
- the need for better communication between the supervisor and the employee
- how to deal with the extra load of outside functions on campus
- the importance of documentation – both negative and positive
- the problem of new employees receiving a starting wage equal to employees who have been here for some time
- employees were appreciative that someone (Staff Senate) is at least looking into the salary problems
- most thought merit pay didn’t work (Comments included merit pay is only given to people the supervisor like, and there aren’t sufficient funds to do it anyway. In general employees felt it caused hard feelings between employees)
- no reward for years of service.
In addition there was a discussion of how employees felt about a cost of living raise (like 3%) with the rest awarded as merit or would employees prefer all the money go to bringing salaries up to market. The question was also raised about the morale factor. If an employee’s evaluation is listed as average – then they are just going to perform average and if given a below average evaluation, will they perform below average in the future. One supervisor figured merit pay would only make a difference of about $10 extra per month in the employee’s paycheck and it just wasn’t worth the effort. Also someone else would have to go with less and it could cause a morale problem. A comment was made that even though we are loosing employees to better salaries elsewhere, we could be losing more if it was not for other factors – for instance our benefits (pension, health insurance, tuition remission, etc.). Lakey asked if anyone got a feel for how employees felt about incentive pay (a one-time reward). Comments were that since it didn’t increase your base pay, you would be back to square one the next time. You need to have your base pay increased. It could be a problem as far as taxes for the one-time payment. It also does not increase your retirement contribution from the university. It is better to get a small increase that increases your base pay. If your base does not increase, you are farther back from market. Employees would need to know, if given incentive pay, just for what they are being recognized and who determines that. The question was raised concerning a cost-of-living increase – why not a dollar amount instead of a percentage. Ellingson noted she didn’t like a percentage of your salary increase because the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. She preferred everyone get the same dollar amount for cost of living. Lakey noted that this year faculty will be getting a $350 increase across the board, but the $350 comes out of their 6.8% increase – which is average increase.
The issue of communication was brought up again. The general feeling was that although it does differ from department to department, lack of communication is a problem. Livingston asked if there is anything Staff Senate can do about the problem since we are supposed to be a communication link. She noted that there were a lot of supervisors and employees who did not attend the training sessions. Roggasch noted maybe there is a need for a stronger supervisor training program – not just for new supervisors, but for all supervisors. The supervisors have a lot of responsibilities; they have to document all year long both positive and negative performances so that they are prepared to distribute salary based merit pay. Right now many are put in a supervisory position without any training or even a manual to follow. The training could cover a different topic every other month. Supervisors should be expected to go to training and then be evaluated themselves as to how well they have implemented what they have been taught. However that means upper management has to get involved in the process. There are a lot of issues that supervisors could be helped with besides performance evaluations. Many individuals go from being a faculty member to being department chair without any assistance or training. Jones noted that there is always lots of concerns for staff when the department chair changes as to how they perceive what the office staff does. An employee could go from outstanding to just satisfactory with a new supervisor doing the evaluation even though the staff has done nothing different; the supervisor may just look at things differently. Lakey noted he would love to see a formal program put in place for training department chairs. The suggestion was made to try and at least meet with the Council of Chairs once a year and have a training session.
- Committee and Search Reports
- Election Committee – no report
- Employee Recognition
Hines mentioned that she had gotten a note from the Staff Appreciation Committee at UNO. They had seen our webpage about our recognition program. UNO is trying to implement a Department of the Month and asked Hines how we do it here. Hines felt this was a real complement for UNK. Hines also stated the committee has chosen the next Employee of the Month and the Department of the Month. She also thanked Jones for sending out the monthly anniversaries.
- Performance Management – no report
- Procedures Committee
McMullen stated he would bring copies of the revised bylaws to the May meeting. Since there are no outstanding issues at the moment, they did not meet this month.
- Professional Development Committee
Ellingson stated they meet right after Staff Senate so their meeting was March 21st. Ellingson stated that Randy Haack provided funding to purchase the new Advanced Connections video and workbooks. She stated the committee meets again tomorrow and will view the video and then make decisions as to how to format the sessions, etc. and decide on how to get the trainers trained. Once that is accomplished, plans are to have at least one session in the summer and three in the fall. Ellingson noted “Let’s Have Lunch” continues and noted there has been good attendance at the special events. The next special event is June 13th at Mona for a quilt and basket display. Then on August 8th, Randy Haack will talk about our Campus Vision. At the meeting, Ron Roth reported on the “Drop in the Bucket” recognition program developed by Gallup. Although it is a great promotion, it is too expensive. Roth and Kucera will now try to develop something similar called “Loper Tracks”. When asked about the recognition program, Ellingson noted this is a one-on-one recognition. You do not submit an application for recognition for someone, but instead just provide recognition individually. This recognition could be done by faculty, staff, or students. Ellingson noted this could be a real morale boost for individuals who don’t feel they get any recognition. Ellingson stated she gave a brief report to the committee on how the mentoring program is progressing.
- Office/Service Dependent Scholarship Committee
Lakey stated they received a list from Financial Aid of 15 individuals who had applied; however only five qualified. Lakey stated he did convey to Mary Sommers that they are to award a maximum of $1,000 among the recipients.
- Making a Difference Subcommittee
Ellingson reported the committee met on March 25th. The next meeting will not be until May 27th since there is a lot individuals have to do in the mean time. Jan Mitchell was elected chair and will be reporting in the future. Brenda Jochum was elected vice chair. At the meeting, members discussed what topics they would like to cover this year. Lots of ideas were presented – everything from diversity to investments, aging parents, first aid, health issues, etc. Individuals were assigned to look into those ideas and make contacts to see if individuals are available to do sessions. The same way for a guest speaker; contacts will be made as to who is available and what they charge. There are lots of speakers out there if you can afford them, but on our budget, there are not a lot of choices. Plans are to do the half-day format again so that we do not have to deal with lunch issues. Members were asked to mark the date, October 23rd, on their calendars. It will be held at the Fine Arts Building.
- Mentoring Subcommittee
Ellingson reported the committee met March 21st. A report was given on the current status of mentor matches. A discussion was held as to how things are going, if there are any problems arising and if so how to solve the problem. She noted anytime you have a new program there are bound to be a few bumps in the road. However, there have been very few but a discussion was held as to what to do if you have an employee who signed up to take part and then never shows up for the scheduled meetings. Originally we thought it would be nice if the individuals matched were in the same building. In some cases, that has been a little too convenient. The mentor is to advise, but not train, the individual. We do want to be there when they need help, but the mentor can’t do their job for them. So we are rethinking a few things. There are plans for a mentoring reception for June 14th at 3 p.m. Weather permitting it will be held outdoors at the gazebo at the Frank House. If the weather is bad, it will be held in the Cedar Room. Invitations will be sent to all mentors, new hires who are in the program, Staff Senate, the Mentoring Committee, supervisors of both the mentors and mentees, and administration. The event is meant to be a social one, but it is hoped during the conversation, we will hear comments about what people liked, or didn’t like, about the program. As to funding, members of the committee are providing the refreshments. Ellingson stated the committee wondered if mentors and mentees could be recognized at the July celebration. Lakey stated that the HR director from UNO called him and asked about our mentoring program and asked for some material. Lakey forwarded that to him and he called back and stated he was very impressed and noted it must have taken a lot of time to develop.
- Information Technology
Livingston stated much of the focus of the last meeting centered around the change in UNK’s home page and whether people liked it or not. General consensus was that they liked it. There was brief discussion concerning the portal application they are looking at in IT this summer. Basically it is an interface you can log into.
- Strategic Planning
Livingston reported there was more discussion on prioritization and the feedback they had received from the forums.
- Learning Center
Mitchell reported they had completed their final recommendations. She didn’t know if the Chancellor had received it yet. Mitchell noted she hopes she can share those recommendations with Staff Senate later.
- Search – Vice Chancellor Student Life and
Search – Dean Business and Technology
Livingston noted this is the last time these will be on the agenda. The committees have done their work, interviews have been held, and recommendations have been forwarded to the Chancellor.
- New Business
- Next Meeting – May 15, 2001 in the Cedar Room
- Recognition Luncheon/Reception - April 23rd at HPER
The meeting was adjourned (Wilson/Lange) at 11:55 a.m.