Wright State University Staff Council Minutes

Wednesday, March 11, 2009 

 

The WSU Staff Council met on Wednesday, March 11, 2009, at 2:30 pm, in Room 267 University Hall.

 

Present:  Council Members:  Rob Boley, George Collins, Mary Healea, Joanie Hendricks, Carol Jones (Lake Campus), Fran Keeley, Curt Pederson, Vickie Slone, Michael Sullivan, and Chris Wydman; Convener, Bill Rickert, and Staff Liaison, Albert Bondurant

Guests:  David Hopkins, President; Steven Angle, Provost; Buddy Berry, Director, Employee and Labor Relations and Compensation and Benefits, Human Resources 

1.  Budget

 

President Hopkins said that Wright State University is not immune to Ohio budget problems.  The new Governor and Chancellor are very supportive of higher education, but cuts will be made.  State agencies have had 15-20% cutbacks which led to layoffs.  Ohio’s budget was sent forward to the House, but it cannot be predicted one or even two years ahead.  It protects core funding and SSI, but some line items were totally eliminated. 

 

The Federal Stimulus Package is to provide $8B to Ohio, which is less than the Governor had expected.  WSU receives 30% of its budget from the state.  It will be cut at least 5% or $11-12M.  The full extent of cuts will not be known until June 2009.  The tuition has also been frozen for 2009. 

 

The Provost is working with the VPs and Deans on WSU’s strategy, which includes the following:

 

a.  Tighten Belt

 

The VPs and Deans offices are being cut 1 ½%.  WSU must focus on its core mission of academics by continuing the pursuit of student success and producing graduates.  State allocations are based on number of graduates.  The university must continue to garner external funds.  It also must continue to follow the five goals of the new Strategic Plan.

 

b.  Consider Targeted Reductions

 

The university should find more efficiencies and eliminate duplication of efforts.  There could be reductions in people in targeted units.  Final decisions will not be made until consulting with people in these units.  The administration will protect people if possible.

 

Suggestions are welcome from the staff for savings.  CSAC had sent some suggestions.

c.  Salary Increases

 

The university’s goal is to do its best to give a very moderate salary increase to its employees.  Dr. Hopkins said that Wright State is in the best position among other state universities in Ohio.  It has kept a lower tuition and has learned to do more with less over the years.  It also has the lowest debt of the state universities.  So it is in a position to weather the crisis better than others.

 

Provost Angle mentioned that he, the President, the VPs and Deans are giving up their salary increases this year, and the amount will go to need-based student aid.

 

The administration will be cutting out the coffee service at meetings, including Council of Deans meetings; approving less travel for conferences, etc.; and administrative overhead.  Cutting people’s jobs will be the last thing looked at.

 

Dr. Hopkins said that WSU has vacancies and doesn’t say “freeze” on positions.  The university will maintain flexibility and is still hiring necessary people.  Enrollment is up 5-8%.  Research and contracts are $12M ahead.  WSU is part of the solution of providing graduates to help grow Ohio businesses.  He said we’ll get through this and to be positive.

 

Vickie Slone asked if the targeted positions being eliminated will lead to the bumping of classified employees.  Dr. Angle said this will be managed over time by filling vacancies with eliminated staff and by moving internal applicants into vacancies.  The same process can be used for unclassified positions.

 

Vickie said that promotions from within were not the norm for classified positions. Positions are usually posted and internal staff may apply.  Dr. Angle said there is an Internal Promotion Policy, and he does encourage internal promotions.

 

Joanie Hendricks asked if the Fordham Health Sciences Library is closing.  Dr. Angle said Stephen Foster, University Librarian, had told him the Boonshoft School of Medicine was withdrawing funding for the Fordham Library and possibly combining the two libraries. 

       

Dr. Foster had said to USAC that the Fordham Library will be closing and staff reductions were possible.  Dr. Hopkins stated that these decisions had not been made, and the units being affected will be talked to first.

 

Joanie also asked if there was a possibility that the university will close on Fridays during the summer.  Lake Campus and the Ellis Human Development Institute may try closing on Fridays this summer, but not the main campus.

Vickie mentioned that Miami University had offered 1 ½ years of tuition fee remission to those who were laid off.  It also offered $10,000 for voluntary retirements by July 1, 2009.

 

Dr. Hopkins will continue to work with the state legislators on budget issues and will keep us informed.  He and Provost Angle then left the meeting.

 

Bill Rickert welcomed Carol Jones, the rep from the Lake Campus, to the meeting.  She said that Lake Campus has its own staff council.

 

2.  Organizational Charts

 

Joanie said that some staff members have asked for organizational charts of some offices like the Bursar, Registrar, Payroll, and Human Resources.  What they need is a functional chart that shows them who to contact about various issues. 

3.  Human Resources FAQs

 

Buddy mentioned concerns about how to create the HR FAQs and how to update it.  Bill said that the online HR FAQ‘s purpose right now should be to help staff members find the right person to help with a certain issue or function. 

 

Vickie suggested looking at different department websites to see which seem the most helpful and functional.  Bill gave the Staff Council an assignment of looking for the best department websites and to provide input to him by April 1st.  After finding a good model website, others may follow.

 

The HR FAQs will be on Human Resources’ main webpage, with alphabetical categories that will show answers to various questions.  Bill Suggested that Staff Council give Buddy the authority to create and put the FAQs online by the end of April.  The Council agreed.

 

4.  Vacation and Sick Leave Policy Changes

 

Buddy said he would give the draft vacation and sick leave policy with changes to Bill within a week.  The Wright Way Policy was sent to Staff Council, and they will receive a final draft with changes.  The policy may go to the Board of Trustees at their June meeting or be sent to Robert Sweeney, Executive Vice President for Planning and Secretary to Board of Trustees, for approval.

 

5.  Voluntary FTE Reduction

 

This is a completely voluntary program in which employees can choose to work at 75% FTE instead of 100% FTE for either one year or permanently.  Bill Rickert has talked with Gwen Mattison, WSU General Counsel, about whether 75% employees are considered part-time, which will put them in a position to get bumped before full-time employees.  The university is working on protecting seniority for employees who choose a reduction of hours to 75%. 

 

There may be incentives for employees to leave early and for others to move up.  Bill Rickert and Human Resources are working with a consultant on these issues.  There will be a 45-day period for employee to make a decision on the FTD reduction.  They will meet with a counselor who will outline the process.

 

Bill said the university will make an effort to emphasize to supervisors that this is an absolutely voluntary program and cannot be forced on employees.  Albert Bondurant said there should be consequences for supervisors who try to force staff to cut their hours.  It is against federal regulations, as is forcing employees to work overtime and not paying them for it.  The employee should contact Albert if they need help in these matters.   

6.  High Deductible Healthcare Program (HDHP)

 

Human Resources will have input from those employees who enrolled in HDHP for this year, and hopes to track satisfaction with this plan.  Buddy is interested in how the vendors are serving the participants.  He said for next year the HDHP should be offered to employees six months in advance to allow more time to make a decision. 

 

The Human Resources Committee can discuss questions like, should the HDHP be offered again?  Can it be modified?  Will a starter amount be given again? 

7.  WSU Staff Council

 

Bill Rickert asked the Council if Albert Bondurant, as staff liaison, should be the convener of future Staff Council meetings.  Bill suggested that he would still attend the meetings, and Linda Stutler will still take the minutes.  CSAC and USAC chairs will still set the agendas for the meetings.  Albert will bring in knowledgeable guests to speak at meetings.

 

Bill suggested that Albert will be the convener at the next Council meeting on

June 3.  That meeting should be about the WSU budget, but other agenda items may be added by Joanie Hendricks and Chris Wydman.

 

The meeting was adjourned at 4:25 pm.  The next meeting of the WSU Staff Council will be on Wednesday, June 3, 2009.