Staff Senate Meeting 11/15/17
Staff Senate Minutes
Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017
Noon - 1:30 p.m.
Malott Room, Kansas Union
Rules of Engagement
Be on time
State your name for the Senate before initiating conversation
Meeting is recorded
Call to Order
President Brian Moss called the meeting to order at 12:01 p.m.
D.A. Graham – University Ombuds presentation
D.A. Graham, the new university ombuds, made a brief presentation about the office and its functions, which was followed by questions and answers. The ombuds office is a neutral office with the aim to benefit faculty, staff and students. The office helps individuals find options, resources and processes and acts as a confidential, informal party. More information can be found at https://ombuds.ku.edu/.
Approval of Minutes – Oct. 18, 2017
Motion: To approve the Oct. 18, 2017 Staff Senate minutes. Motion made by Chris Wallace. Motion seconded by Todd Carptenter. Motion passed.
President – Brian Moss
Moss asked if everyone had a chance to read the Provost’s newsletter from earlier in November, which features staff and its importance. The main message acknowledges staff in general and then a sidebar features employees on an hour-by-hour basis to highlight the varied actions of staff across campus. Michelle Ginavan Hayes, president-elect, and he were on the UPS conference call with peers at other schools, and the group is beginning to think about what to report to the Kansas Board of Regents (KBOR) in January; in general many of the sentiments are similar across schools. KBOR is meeting right now, so there could be information forthcoming for groups to consider. The climate survey data has been released, and Moss wondered if there had been an announcement about it; none seemed to have been made. Moss said he’d found information about the data in the myKU portal. Moss mentioned the upcoming parking meeting and asked if Chris Wallace is still on the parking commission; Wallace is. The parking forum later this week will be livestreamed. If you have concerns or questions about parking this is a good venue. Annette Delaney asked if it was being recorded; Wallace said he was unsure. Wallace emailed the parking department, and they hope to record the forum.
Treasurer – Susan Shaw
The balance is $4,702. Shaw announced a Chancellor allocation for staff professional development of $10,000 from the new Pepsi sponsorship agreement. This $10,000 replaces the previous $2,000. The funding is to be used under the existing professional development fund application and distribution process. Tim Spencer asked if this was ongoing or a one-time; Moss said he would confirm, but the hope was that it would be the standard amount annually going forward. Moss said the Provost had previously indicated she hoped it would be permanent, but he will check during their next meeting.
Diversity and Inclusion – Jeff Severin/Michelle Wilson
Michelle Wilson said the committee met yesterday and Ginavan Hayes attended as well. They looked at the charges and did a revision and started working on listing some priorities for the committee, and then separated into three groups for action planning with timelines and steps moving forward. Those three groups are training for Staff Senate; collaboration with Staff Senate committees; and support for campus-wide initiatives. Severin said a potential name change for the committee came up. They’d like to add the word equity to the committee name. Ginavan Hayes said they looked at what other groups were called on campus for consistency, offices on campus have the word equity. Emily Gullickson said there might be a larger conversation happening at the university and suggested the committee check with Jennifer Hamer, the vice provost for diversity and equity; there is confusion with various offices and committees on campus. Ola Faucher of Human Resources said many Dean’s offices have committees individually so there could be functions within schools with a variety of labels. Severin said the committee would talk to Dr. Hamer about it to see if she could offer any direction to the committee. Moss said Staff Senate would certainly like to be as consistent as possible with other offices and groups on campus.
Elections – Andy Jackson
There are two vacant positions in support and operations; if you know of someone, talk to him or Moss. The chair of the public relations committee remains open. He opened the floor for nominations or self-nominations. Moss said he hoped to nominate two people who are not at the meeting but who have been working on getting a newsletter done; he plans to talk to Debora Deering and Mary Murphy soon to discuss if they’d be interested in being co-chairs. Wallace said there could be an email vote if needed instead of waiting until next Staff Senate meeting.
Legislative Affairs – Robert Waller
The committee continues to work on tuition assistance; they looked at other Regents institutions and what their policies looked like. Everyone looks at the idea of a waiver a bit differently (i.e. Kansas State University budgets for it, but it is called a waiver, though really it’s an unlimited budget.) Pittsburg State taxes a portion. KU doesn’t tax tuition assistance currently but the university could effectively say that because it benefits individuals it could be taxed. Waller mentioned the tax policy recommended by the Trump administration, which does appear to tax tuition assistance. The committee has decided to eliminate the idea of bumping (having someone sit in an empty seat, and then they could be bumped by a tuition-paying student). Instead, they will take a budget proposal forward. There are challenges in extrapolating how many spouses and dependents of KU staff might want to take advantage of tuition assistance (which would be essentially one course per term). They would propose a budget amount and ask administration if they are going to support staff through the funding of that budget line item. Waller said at a meeting he asked the Chancellor about where staff ranks; Dr. Girod said without staff the university doesn’t function. Kim Spencer asked if the Trump budget goes forward, do we know what the tax rate would be? It isn’t immediately clear what that might be or how KU would handle it. It also affects graduate students who receive tuition benefits. David Day said he understood the tax proposal was for GTA, GRAs and GAs, and wondered if it related to tuition assistance as well? Yes, the group indicated it was also related to graduate tuition assistance. There were additional questions from Keah Cunningham about if undergraduate tuition assistance would be taxed; Waller said he didn’t think so, but that none of us is tax attorneys or experts, and much could change. Melody Henning asked if dependents were still going to be included in the plan the committee was working on. Waller said staff is certainly already included but that the proposal they would carry forward would include dependents and spouses. The committee is looking at one 3- to 5-hour class per staff, dependent and spouse per semester and asking administration to budget for that and stand behind statements that staff is important. Gullickson asked for clarification on tracking of staff dependents. Waller said it wasn’t yet determined if there was an existing systems mechanism for linking dependents and staff and enrollment. Tim Spencer asked for clarification if the funding was separate by staff and dependents and spouses, or if it was all combined; Waller said the working model was that it would be one bucket of money for all. The committee will need to begin working through other questions and details now that the bumping idea has been eliminated. The committee has not yet started the work to define any specifics related to exactly how money could, would or should be divided or allocated. Do we want a staff member to have to compete with someone else’s spouse or kids, for example? Delaney asked if it was first come, first served? Waller said KSU said it budgets $1.5 million and if it goes over it just covers it. Waller said he hasn’t found any code that is limiting funds, but if you ask for funds and qualify, you get it and any overage is covered by the institution. The committee would need all of Staff Senate to then be advocates for their ultimate suggestion. His estimation of the amount for KU would be $2 million, above what’s currently budgeted for staff tuition assistance.
Personnel Affairs – Annette Delaney
The committee’s efforts have been the virtual handbook which has morphed into looking at the KU search engine; the goal is for anyone to be able to put what they need in a KU search engine and have what they need come up. She spoke with the director of KU Info and the associate director of KU IT for client development and application services and they are both on board with the committee talking to and making contact with departments on campus for them to look at their own websites return searches, but then compare those to the main ku.edu search and the KU Info search. Department page searches, the main KU page search and KU Info page searches can all return different results. If searches don’t reconcile, submit that and the searches will be tweaked to be more consistent across all three. The virtual handbook will now be turned into working to enhance the KU search overall, but Delaney asked the Staff Senate to share any confusing search results. KUInfo@ku.edu, email@example.com can be emailed with any discrepancies and they’ll work to clean things up.
Professional Development – Abby Ehling
The deadline for the first round of applications for professional development funding is closed; there were around 20 applications and all were complete. The committee will begin reviewing soon and hopes to have awards out by early December. Right now the award is up to $300 but it’s possible a next round might go up to $500 with the additional funds mentioned earlier. Waller asked if the money was split between two rounds? Ehling said they’d look at fall applicants vs. spring applicants to determine just what budget money was available. Ginavan Hayes said in the past funds also came from the Staff Senate general fund as needed in a pinch but we’ve never had this much money to work with. Gullickson asked about when a second round would go out? Ehling said she hoped for January, with travel into/through summer. They hope Fall awards will go by early December; Ellen Slikker in governance is uploading applications to Blackboard and then the committee will be able to review them. Moss asked if Ehling had everything from the Staff Senate email, Ehling said yes.
Public Relations – position vacant
Moss said there were two people working on the newsletter (Debora Deering and Mary Murphy). If there’s anything anyone would like to contribute, please provide it to them or to Moss. He will write a President’s Message. The duo is working with Governance to make sure there are hard copies available to staff who don’t have email. Ginavan Hayes said the two wondered about a holiday greeting from Staff Senate included in the newsletter, but it’s not clear. Moss said we’ll need to buy paper. Chris Wallace moves we buy the paper we need, a came second from Adam Braun, none were opposed. Moss said it should be a small amount.
HRM – Ola Faucher
The federal tax laws are being considered, a House version and a Senate version, both are harmful to higher education. In addition to graduate education it negatively impacts endowment funds. Many organizations are trying to counter, including the Association of American Universities (AAU) and other professional organizations from higher education. A new website regarding winter recess is in the works with the Provost’s office that will replace the previous numerous email communications that go about winter recess. Moss said the winter recess topic came up in the UPS call, where some institution representatives said some people don’t like having to take vacation time if their department closes down over recess and they’re forced to take vacation time. Faucher said there is KU provision that says if departments can’t relocate someone that HR will, but it can be difficult to find places. If you don’t want to be forced to take vacation HR will help find a place for you (though the home department will still need to pay you.)
Faculty – Kirk McClure
The debate over conceal carry continues and nothing has been taken to administration. The report for resources and planning regarding the air fleet and the consultants is still being discussed. No response from administration has come regarding questions about the air fleet report. The response to questions about the consultant report was that there has been a “huge savings” but that savings wasn’t qualified, so more information has been requested. Moss said lots of time recently in University Senate has been spent on time management at various Senates.
Student – Kevin Farrell
Farrell was absent; Ginavan Hayes said his schedule is changing in the Spring and he might have to resign and we’d get a new student representative.
Regarding a potential name change for the for Diversity & Inclusion committee: Waller said he would put with the committee’s position to put an agenda item on to begin the work to revise code as needed.
Delaney said she forgot to mention that KU IT said to be sure to purge old content on websites because that will interfere with solid returns.
Moss asked Faucher how the central approval by HR of time reported late or not approved by supervisors on time no longer happening went during the last pay period? Faucher said 137 supervisors failed to approve time, HR visited with them directly and they were remorseful. It was a good learning experience and staff did not lose any pay this time as HR intervened, but HR will not do that again. It is hoped everyone is well aware of their roles. Moss said thanks for helping those affected. Moss mentioned the accelerated time approval process; please pay attention to deadlines.
Moss had previously mentioned a Provost gathering in the Spring, perhaps with the Chancellor at The Outlook. Moss said one idea from Executive Council was to move the March Staff Senate meeting back a week as the Chancellor might be more available. Moss asked Jackson if for elections purposes he thought we should still have a March meeting and then also do a separate event at The Outlook. Ginavan Hayes said it was always difficult to find a time that works for everyone, and that there are frequently conflicts for staff at the end of the day or evening, but asked if an event were at 3:30 to 5 if that was more workable? Wallace said he didn’t think the end of the day worked well. Moss said he thought perhaps noon would work better. At the next Provost meeting Moss and Ginavan Hayes will see what the alternate Thursday might look like for a gathering.
Moss reminded the group of the TGIT at the Alumni Center on Thursday night.
Moss said the Provost is always looking for ways to thank staff; Moss went to his first women’s basketball game and wondered if staff could get tickets to those games, and he was going to run that by the Provost as an idea. Any ideas are welcome for him to share. Gullickson mentioned the football tickets that are done as staff appreciation; Waller said maybe go directly to Athletics. Wallace said there used to be a ticket discount but it had to be covered by the Provost’s office so the discount went away. There could also be tax implications.
Gullickson works in the Office of Multicultural Affairs and said the application for the 2018 social justice fellows is open and was featured in KU Today; she will send it to Moss to send out. There are lots of previous fellows on Staff Senate and any would likely be happy to answer questions. Gullickson runs the program with Cody Charles and there have been to date about 35 social justice fellows. It is a semester-long self-work program and there is a small program fee this year of $50. There will be 8 sessions in the Spring semester every other Friday. Apply if you’re interested. They can advocate on the behalf of anyone who would like to participate but doesn’t have a supportive supervisor.
Call to Adjourn
Motion: To adjourn, at 1:30 p.m. Motion made by Chris Wallace. Motion seconded by Robert Waller. Motion passed.
Wednesday, Dec. 13, Noon - 1:30 p.m., Alcove G, Kansas Union
Wednesday, Dec. 20, Noon – 1:30 p.m., Malott Room, Kansas Union
****Reminder: The next TGIT for Faculty and Staff at the Adams Alumni Center is from 4 to 6 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 16. The reception includes drink specials, snacks and giveaways. A full schedule is at http://www.kualumni.org/tgit/.****