Staff Senate met virtually on May 11 via Microsoft Teams and they were joined by President Neeli Bendapudi. Senators were informed on plans to restore retirement benefits, as well as the release of the new Remote Work Policy.
Bendapudi informed senators that the university recently received positive ratings by Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s. These credit rating agencies evaluate several different industries, including higher education institutions.
“We were downgraded by these agencies for a couple of years, but this year, they took notice of the fact that we have stabilized our finances. We took some important corrective measures that we needed to, and I am pleased to tell you that both of them changed the outlook of the university from negative to stable,” Bendapudi said.
Bendapudi also provided senators with preliminary information on budgeting priorities. She asserted that her highest priority will be the restoration of retirement benefits, pending approval from the Board of Trustees. If passed, retirement benefits will be restored to 7.5% effective July 1.
Bendapudi also addressed her priority on employee healthcare, stating “we are making a commitment that there will not be any health care cost increases. Last year, we felt that given everything going on, the university would absorb those additional costs and not pass it on to our employees. So, I am pleased to tell you that for a second year in a row, the university will absorb those increases.”
Mary Elizabeth Miles, vice president for Human Resources, informed senators about upcoming training sessions for the Remote Work Policy. The policy was developed over the past year with the assistance and feedback of several members of the university community, including the Policy and Economic Development Committee of the Staff Senate.
Referencing the May 5 communication from President Bendapudi and Provost Gonzalez, Miles stated, “department leaders may offer flexible work options to employees as long as a strong presence is in our classrooms and student-service areas are maintained and the overall operations of our schools, colleges and departments are continued without compromising the quality or productivity.”
The new Remote Work Policy and the Remote Work Agreement will be released on June 1. At that time, employees wishing to work from home may submit the Remote Work Agreements to their first- and second-line supervisors. Any denials will be directed to the department head for final review and determination.
In response to feedback from staff and faculty members, HR will be providing a series of supervisor and employee HRtalks training sessions to review the Remote Work Policy and Remote Work Agreement. All faculty and staff were encouraged to attend the upcoming trainings, which can be accessed from the HRtalks webpage.
Executive Vice President and University Provost Lori Gonzalez announced that her office is interviewing for a chief of staff to the provost. Gonzalez stated that the position will increase the responsiveness of the Office of the Provost. Four candidates were interviewed for the Dean of the College of Education and Human Development, and Gonzalez announced that a decision should be expected in the near future.