Executive Committee Minutes - January 12, 2005




Present:          Beck, Bolin, Bradford, Flowers, Hoffman, Peterson, Scholz, Shea, Signal, Stock


Absent:           Alexander, Fech


Date:               Wednesday, January 12, 2005


Location:        Academic Senate Office, 420 University Terrace


Note:   These are not verbatim minutes.  They are a summary of the discussions at the Executive Committee meeting as corrected by those participating.


1.0       Call to Order

Peterson called the meeting to order at 3:01 p.m.


2.0       Bruce Currin, Assistant Vice Chancellor, Human Resources and Russell Bartholow, President, UAAD

            2.1       Division of Business & Finance Service Performance

Currin stated that he and Bartholow were representing Business & Finance which is seeking to conduct interviews on the services provided by the many units that fall under Business and Finance.  Currin stated that the interviews are being conducted across the campus and are helpful in planning for the needs of the university in the future.  He stated that he is interested in hearing whether the campus services are meeting the needs of the campus and he welcomed any suggestions, ideas, or comments. 


Peterson noted that the Executive Committee has received a number of complaints from faculty members regarding restrictions on purchasing equipment, particularly computer equipment, from a source other than the university’s.  He pointed out that faculty members have stated that they can often purchase a computer with greater capabilities from the web cheaper than buying one with fewer capabilities from the university.  Flowers noted that the same is often true for airfare.  Signal stated that there is little flexibility for faculty members in purchasing less expensive items.  She pointed out that faculty members cannot take advantage of cheaper rates because the process of getting something less expensive is so arduous. 


Flowers suggested that Business & Finance should hold a forum where discussion could be held on the concerns of the university services.  He stated that another example of a problem is parking for visitors.  He pointed out that the Psychology department often uses members from the public to participate in studies and it is difficult to provide parking for these people.  He stated that he believed some of the university services could be done more efficiently and cost effectively.


Scholz pointed out that everyone is aware of the budget cuts and the impacts that they have had on campus but he has heard numerous complaints regarding custodial services.  He noted that custodial services are very minimal and many faculty and staff members are taking their own trash out.  


Bradford stated that the effort to put more university forms on line should be encouraged to eliminate paperwork although he pointed out that this cannot be done with all forms.  He asked if it would be possible to coordinate the Benefits department with Mutual of Omaha so that health reimbursement accounts can be credited more quickly.  Currin stated that this was a good suggestion and should be considered.


Bradford suggested that the fixed contract with Travel and Transport be eliminated because there does not seem to be much benefit in keeping the contract.  Shea asked if the contract provides some benefit to the university.  Currin stated that the contract does benefit the university.  He noted that while there may be cheaper airfare rates for some trips, on the whole the university does benefit from the contract because it gets kickback from Travel and Transport.  Shea stated that the question needs to be asked how much of a kickback is being received.  He pointed out that faculty members are no longer getting good prices from Travel & Transport.  Beck noted that a faculty member has to get permission in order to buy a cheaper airfare elsewhere or the faculty member will not get reimbursed.  Bradford pointed out that the savings that can be made through cheaper airfares might be better than the amount received from the kickbacks.   Currin asked how much can typically be saved on cheaper airfares.  Signal stated that sometimes it can be as much as $100 - $150.  Beck questioned where the kickbacks go. 


Peterson asked what the experiences have been for units that have gone to business centers.  Currin stated that there has been mixed feelings about business centers.  He noted that East Campus was in the forefront of creating the centers and it was done to pool personnel resources for small units.  He pointed out that some colleges have not created business centers.  He stated that some centers are struggling with workload and workforce issues while other centers function well.  Peterson noted that before the business centers were created there was a sense of loyalty from the staff to the department but now the centers are seen as a separate unit and there seems to be a loss of loyalty.  Shea stated that he has had no problem with the School of Natural Resources business center.  He pointed out that administratively the university has changed with the business aspect of the university becoming separate from academics. 


Signal noted that the College of Journalism and Mass Communications is located on the very edge of campus in the downtown area and they get a lot of traffic from the general public.  She stated that people in the college struggle to determine whether the Lincoln police or the UNL police have responsibility for patrolling the area.  She asked how the relationship between the two law enforcement agencies is progressing.  Currin stated that there is a formal relationship between the UNL and Lincoln police departments.  He noted that Vice Chancellor Jackson meets with members of the city government periodically to discuss issues that arise.  He stated that she then meets with the appropriate campus people to resolve these issues.  Currin stated that the university has a good relationship with the Lincoln police.  He noted that the UNL police can respond to 911 calls off campus depending on where the location of the emergency is.  He stated that he appreciated the comments and stated that communication was very important, particularly from those people in buildings on the periphery of campus. 


Bolin stated that the way keys are distributed at UNL is somewhat strange.  She stated that at other institutions the department secretary is responsible for distributing keys.  She noted that at UNL a person is required to go to a secured building and give information such as your social security number before you can get a key.  Beck stated that the department secretary in Animal Science distributes the keys but she is aware that most people have to go to the key department to get keys for their building and office.


Bolin stated that she had to wait nearly a month before she could get an email account.  Currin was surprised to hear this.  He stated that usually email accounts can be obtained before people arrive on campus.  Members of the Committee suggested that the delay may have been created in the department rather than with Information Services because most people have experienced quick processing on creating an email account.


Griffin stated that the quick pay process is missed.  She pointed out that they were quick and efficient and helpful to units that did not often purchase items outside the university.  Currin stated that he believed the purchasing card is meant to replace the quick pay.  Griffin pointed out that she was informed that the purchasing credit card would be reflected on the person’s personal credit record which she objects to.  Currin stated that he was not aware of that and would check this out. 


Peterson stated that the Committee appreciated the opportunity to voice their concerns.  Currin stated that the comments were very helpful.  He noted that the interviewing teams are at the end of the process of collecting information.  He stated that Business & Finance will then look at the comments to see if revisions or changes need to be made.  He stated that the intent is to give feedback to those who participated in the interviews. 


Signal asked if there were any recurring comments that were made.  Currin noted that between 60-70 interviews have been conducted.  He stated that from his perspective there is a need for better communication between Business & Finance units and the departments, faculty and staff.  He thanked the Committee for their time and stated that he would get back in touch with feedback.


3.0       Announcements

            3.1       Martin Luther King Breakfast

Griffin reminded the Committee that the annual Martin Luther King breakfast was being held on Friday, January 14th at 7:30 a.m. at the Embassy Suites.  She distributed remaining tickets to Committee members.


3.2       Recruiting Material

Peterson stated that he spoke with Dean Cerveny, Admissions, who stated that he has created an information sheet based on suggestions made by the Executive Committee.  Peterson stated that this sheet will be distributed to the campus sometime in the near future.


            3.3       Deans and Directors Meeting

Peterson reported that he will serve on the committee to review the proposals for the Initiative for Teaching & Learning Excellence programs.  He stated that there is $640,000 to be distributed and proposals are due on January 14th. 


Peterson reported that a presentation was given at the meeting on unifying the look for the University.  He noted that initial efforts to accomplish this will be on recruiting information that is distributed to prospective students. 


Peterson stated that Linda Crump, Assistant to the Chancellor, Equity, Access & Diversity, spoke regarding problems with search committees.   Crump stated in the meeting that there is a statute in Nebraska that requires all records on final candidates be made public if requested.  Beck asked if Crump’s discussion was precipitated by recent problems with search committees.  Peterson stated that he was not sure if Crump’s comments were a result of a recent problem.  He noted that Crump indicated at the meeting that confusion seems to occur with people following department bylaws instead of the university bylaws and requirements in conducting search committees. 


Beck stated that it would be helpful to have on-line training available for search committee members.  She suggested that the university should see what other institutions have with respect to on-line training for searches.  Peterson suggested that this should be discussed with the administration. 


3.4       Retirement Cap Bill

Peterson reported that a legislative bill will be introduced by Senator Stuhr to raise the current cap on retirement benefits.  He pointed out that this refers to the percentage that the university can contribute to employees’ retirement benefits.  Peterson noted that the cap is currently at 8%.  He pointed out that state employees are not subjected to a retirement cap.  He stated that the university is not at the 8% yet but the bill will address future needs.  He pointed out that Past President Bryant has been working on getting a bill written and introduced for years but it was delayed because of the budget crisis.  Peterson stated that he has spoken with the Senate Presidents from the other campuses and they support the effort to remove the cap. 


3.5       Parking Fees for Garages

Peterson stated that Past President Bryant has raised concerns over the increase in fees to use the parking garages.   Bryant raised the point that when the first garage was proposed at 17th and R Streets the faculty and staff agreed to the increase in fees with the understanding that people with area 10 permits would be able to use the garage.  Bryant pointed out that the administration has reneged on their agreement by increasing fees for access to the garage. 


Flowers asked if there was printed documentation regarding the agreement.  Griffin stated that she will check the files.  Peterson stated that this is an issue that needs to be kept on the agenda.


4.0       Approval of 12/15/04 Minutes

Flowers moved and Stock seconded approval of the minutes as amended.  Motion approved.


5.0       Coalition on Intercollegiate Athletics

Peterson stated that the Coalition on Intercollegiate Athletics recently held a conference at Vanderbilt University.  He noted that Professor Logan-Peters was the faculty representative from UNL.  He stated that the COIA drafted a policy on academic integrity which he has forwarded to the Executive Committee.  He noted that the COIA will be asking the campuses to endorse the policy.  He stated that Professor Logan-Peters indicated that the conference went well and he suggested that she be invited to speak to the Executive Committee about it.  


6.0       Report on Business and Finance Symposium (Shea)

Shea stated that the symposium was conducted by Greg Gunderson, Director, Fiscal Affairs, and Anne Embree, Business Center Manager, University Services.  Shea stated that the symposium was a review of the university budgeting structure process. 


Shea stated that the base budget for last year was $262 million.  He noted that increases are allocated but budget cuts are made at the same time when the money is distributed.  He stated that information was given on the revenue generated from tuition but the net amount of tuition needs to be considered when looking at the budget figures. 


Shea reported that information regarding the difference between revolving and non-revolving accounts was presented.  He noted that non-revolving budget figures must be disclosed and that these funds must be used within the fiscal year. 


Shea stated that the presentation indicated that tuition has slowly been replacing the state aid that the university receives. 


Shea reported that the budget is primarily used for salary.  He stated that 80% of the university’s budget is slated for personnel but only 60% is actually used for salaries. 


Shea reported that the university is looking to replace the budgeting program called PSL which is the Personnel Services Ledger.  He stated that the program is so old that a mouse cannot be used with it and it is not compatible with SAP.  He reported that problems about SAP were discussed and it was reported that modifications will be made to the program.  


Shea stated that during the presentation Gunderson and Embree stated that units have more control and flexibility over their budgets than they realize.  He stated that they are interested in communicating this to departments and units. 


Shea reported that Fiscal Affairs wants to look more closely at how funds from vacant lines are being used.  Griffin pointed out that during the recent budget crisis the administration took control over funds from vacant lines and departments had no control over this money. 


Shea stated that Fiscal Affairs indicated that there is a data warehouse available at the university and that they want to help units access this information. 


Shea reported that during the presentation it was stated that in the past funds relating to Programs of Excellence were not kept clearly separated from department budgets.  He stated that Fiscal Affairs wants this money kept separate so there can be better tracking of the expenses. 


Shea stated that the symposium was informative and very useful.  He noted that there will be more symposiums in the future and that members of the Committee may want to attend. 


7.0       Unfinished Business

No unfinished business was discussed.


8.0       New Business

            8.1       Distinguished Educational Service Award Committee

Peterson reported that it has been requested that a member of the Senate serve on this committee.  Shea volunteered to serve.


8.2       Discussion on the January 11th Senate Meeting

Bradford reported that he has been corresponding with Professor Reichenbach on the recall motions.  Bradford stated that the motions need to include language that specifies the number of votes needed to recall an officer or Executive Committee member. 


The Committee discussed when it will be possible to have the teleconferencing presentation on collective bargaining.  The Committee agreed to try to set the presentation up for the March Senate meeting.  Bradford stated that he would like to see both sides represented at the presentation.  Peterson suggested that it might be better to have the collective bargaining presentation at one meeting and the opposing view at the next meeting due to time constraints. 


The Committee discussed the conflict of interest policy and whether the Committee should send its concerns to Vice Chancellor Paul. 


8.3       Revisit Executive Committee Goals

Signal suggested that the Committee review its goals at an upcoming meeting.  Peterson agreed and stated that it will be on an upcoming agenda.


The meeting was adjourned at 4:49 p.m.  The next meeting of the Executive Committee will be on Wednesday, January 19th at 3:00 pm.  The meeting will be held in 201 Canfield Administration Building.  The minutes are respectfully submitted by Karen Griffin, Coordinator and Pat Shea, Secretary.