UofL’s Staff Senate met Sept. 12 at the U Club after a retreat. The meeting was called to order by new chairman, Will Armstrong and July’s minutes were approved as the first line of business.
Senators welcomed Dale Billingsley, acting provost, who said he is optimistic about the university’s 21st Century agenda.
“Our lives are going on. We are working with our students and our colleagues and the business of the university is moving ahead,” he said.
Currently, the administration is working on new curriculum, requiring each student to meet 34 to 37 hours to graduate. Billingsley said UofL is the last university in the state to revise its requirements.
“Most major departments need more hours to get outcomes,” he said. “These (curricula) first came out in 1991 and were revised in 2002. That’s 25 years of having the same program. So we’re weeding out the courses that are no longer applicable and adding new courses starting in the fall next year.”
Billingsley also discussed how the university is improving student experiences by enhancing the spaces in which they live and work. This includes a $40 million to the SAC and a new classroom building slated to open in fall 2018, as well as expanding housing options.
“We’ve tripled the amount of beds on campus in the past 20 years,” he said. “We now have 6,000 students who live on campus and our goal is 7,500-plus for 2020.”
Billingsley also addressed the objective to increase campus safety, equity and the overall campus climate.
“I hope Staff Senate continues to be a principled speaker on matters of campus climate,” he said.
Billingsley closed his talk by noting that the administration continues to focus on diversity issues and enrollment expansion.
“There are many temporary distractions in front of us. These are things we’re going to get over. Everybody involved in discussions about university governance has a sense that what they’re doing is what’s best for the university,” he said. “In the meantime, we must continue to do what we’ve been doing so well for so long.”
Vice Chair: Vickie Tencer reported that there are two candidates finalized for the controller position and told senators that attendance is welcomed in committee meetings even if they’re not committee members.
Credentials and Nominations: The executive committee submitted three names for the committee: Laura McKinney, Marian Vasser and Erika DeSha. There are 19 open constituencies. A call has been put out to all units to help fill these spots.
Policy, Economics and Development: Committee members were introduced to the Senate body. The committee will meet every third Thursday of the month. In its first meeting, it identified goals and objectives for the next year.
Services & Facilities: The committee is looking into new traffic options for the Chestnut Street garage, which has congestion issues. It is also researching solar-powered study tables for campus.
Staff Grievance Committee: Training is available for anyone interested in the grievance process. The goal is to find alternatives to “step one” of the process, which is to report the grievance to your immediate supervisor. Alternatives are being sought because most grievances are actually about immediate supervisors. The suggestion is to report these grievances to your Staff Senate representative or to the university’s ombudsman.
SHARE: The committee discussed goals and objectives for this year.
Staff Moral and Community Outreach: The committee is focused on increasing communication between Senators and constituents, and has presented a variety of techniques and recommended standardizations of contact.
Secretary/Treasurer Sabrina Haug provided the following report:
- Operating account has a $20,196.60 balance
- Tech account has a $1,613 balance
- SHARE has a $11,574.45 balance
Jeanell Hughes, interim executive director of HR, provided updates to the Staff Senate, including the implementation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) new overtime rule, which will go into effect Dec. 1.
Basically the FLSA determines whether a position is eligible for overtime pay. Positions are either exempt (not eligible) or non-exempt (eligible for overtime pay at time-and-a-half for hours worked over 40/week).
Hundreds of UofL employees will be affected by this new rule. Exempt staff are in a job code that has a pay range minimum that is below the threshold of $47,476.
All impacted positions have been reviewed. To ensure compliance with the new federal mandate, some positions will transition from exempt to non-exempt. Employees who will be affected will be informed via a letter by the end of September. All UofL professional and administrative employees, whether they are affected by this rule or not, will receive a letter at the end of September communicating their status.
Those who do become eligible for overtime will not see changes in their leave accruals, benefits or job status.
Information will be updated on the HR website. There will also be information sessions on the Belknap and HSC campuses later this month. Training sessions will be provided to managers of employees that are changing to non-exempt.
A number of senators asked questions, many pertaining to how this new rule affects comp time. Comp time is not permissible under Kentucky statutes. Hughes also mentioned they’re working on a solution for timesheets to be available online.
The transition is expected to happen by the end of October.
Hughes also mentioned that open enrollment for insurance starts Oct. 17 and UofL will have two, possibly three, new vendors – for dental and vision and potentially life and long-term disability.
She concluded by reporting there are three AVP positions vacant at UofL currently, for finance and controller, enterprise risk management, and HR.
Lee Smith, associate vice president of performance improvement and business analytics, provided updates on Business Operations’ transition to shared services and other initiatives. The effort to reduce paper checks, for example, has yielded an 80-percent decrease in paper checks. The university is piloting a solution to transition special checks to electronic, which would bump that number up to 100 percent.
Steps are in place to keep sensitive data secure, Smith said, and the university is adding additional measures for authentication. He added that we are “very close” to having direct deposit accessible via a self-service functionality.
The Business Operations Center has taken care of more than 600 tickets since it went live in July, which has saved about 20,000 sheets of paper. Smith anticipates more than 100,000 sheets of paper savings after the first full year.
More processes will be added this year, including travel and expense. The goal, he said, is to make business transactions on campus “Amazon-esque,” or intuitive enough that little to no training is necessary.
Ginger Brown provided an update on the recent Faculty Senate meeting. Faculty senators discussed attributes they’re looking for in a 21st century president, including advocating the university as a public good. More information is available online.
Lauren Greenwell, the services vice president for the Student Government Association, provided an update. The student group was able to secure longer hours at the library, to 2 a.m. from midnight.
The SGA also drafted a resolution for Governor Bevin asking him to promptly appoint the appropriate board makeup so that the university can move forward. More information is available online.
A discussion was brought up as to whether or not the Staff Senate should draft a resolution similar to that of the SGA’s.
“We’ve been given the privilege to be a governing body, we should take advantage of that,” one senator noted.
The discussion has been referred to the Staff Senate Executive Committee for its consideration on September 26, at its next meeting.
The next Staff Senate meeting is Oct. 10 in Room 124 of the Dental School on the HSC Campus.