Minerva

Staff Senate met virtually May 12 via Microsoft Teams and were joined by Chief of Staff and External Affairs Michael Wade Smith, and Executive Vice President and University Provost Beth Boehm, for university updates.

Boehm opened her report by describing the multiple planning committees that have formed and are chaired by respective senior leadership members to ensure students, faculty and staff are brought back to campus safely in the fall. 

“These are works in progress and we are running fast at a moving target,” Boehm said. A detailed description of these committees can be found here.  

Senators requested clarification about the furloughs that affected employees with salaries lower than $58,000. 

“Those below $58,000 in salary [who are furloughed] have an opportunity to recoup more money through the federal CARES Act, the extra $600 a month in unemployment and the expanded unemployment insurance in the state of Kentucky,” Smith said. “So, it is not a perfect solution. There are absolutely situations where individuals are negatively impacted. But we worked with the Board of Trustees and other donors to make sure the Staff Senate SHARE fund was properly funded (so) that we can intervene in situations where that’s necessary.”

SHARE Committee Chair Sally Molsberger, reported that the SHARE program has only received two financial assistance requests thus far for the month of May. She encouraged senators to remind their constituents about the SHARE program. SHARE awards are considered gifts to the recipients and not taxed. 

Senators also asked about the state of the current remote work policy. Smith and Boehm both confirmed that it will be extended. 

“UofL will be doing a phased reopening over the next several months, and right now our recommendation is still remote work. Starting on June 1, the recommendation in most units is still going to be remote work. And that’ll probably be true for the next month or so. That’ll look different in each unit. And deans, vice presidents, vice provosts are going to be working on individual plans that make sense for their work,” Smith said. 

A university communication is forthcoming regarding details on the remote work policy extension and how certain units with critical on-campus work will have the option to start returning slowly.  

A discussion followed about the level of sanitation and personal protective equipment (PPE) that will be provided by the university.

“Centrally and at the unit level there will be investment in PPE and sanitation,” Smith said.

He also asserted that UofL will clean to the level that is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the university will continue to meet its obligation to provide a safe workplace. 

A senator requested clarification on the process for how leaders were supposed to inform their employees about being furloughed, due to concerns about several employees feeling they were not told appropriately. 

Smith explained that all deans, vice presidents and vice provosts were instructed to work directly with their units and inform their furloughed individuals.   

“Official notice was coming from an HR email to employees, but ideally those employees would have heard from their senior most supervisors before, that they were going to be furloughed for some period of time. It would be inappropriate for employees to find out for the first time in a public [Microsoft] Teams meeting,” Smith said.  

Boehm added that some supervisors may have chosen to inform their furloughed employees together as a group in a Teams meeting, but that would not be considered a public meeting.  

Committee reports and a full video recording of the virtual meeting can be found on the Staff Senate meetings webpage.  

The next Staff Senate meeting will be held June 9 via Microsoft Teams.