The University of Oklahoma
Regular session - January 13, 2003 - 3:30 p.m. - Jacobson Faculty Hall 102
office: Jacobson Faculty Hall 206 phone: 325-6789
e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org web site: http://www.ou.edu/admin/facsen/
The Faculty Senate was called to order by Professor Ed Cline, Chair.
PRESENT: Abraham, Baldwin, Beach, Bozorgi, Bradford, Brady, Carnevale, Cline, Cuccia, Davis, Devenport, Ferreira, Fincke, Frech, Gensler, Gottesman, Hanson, Hart, Hartel, Havlicek, Henderson, Huseman, Kauffman, Knapp, Lee, London, Magid, Maiden, McInerney, Milton, Newman, Pender, Ransom, Robertson, Rodriguez, Rupp-Serrano, Russell, Scherman, Sievers, Striz, Tarhule, Taylor, Vale, Wieder, Willinger, Wyckoff
ISA representatives: Neal, Lauterbach
ABSENT: Dhall, Madland, Morrissey, Thulasiraman, Watts, Wheeler, Whitely
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Announcement: Spring 2003 schedule of Faculty Senate meetings
Senate Chair's Report: budget
Computer policies -- Security, Acceptable Use
Faculty Compensation Committee report -- Budget Cuts
The Senate Journal for the regular session of December 9, 2002 was approved.
The regular meetings of the Faculty Senate for spring 2003 will be held at 3:30 p.m. in Jacobson 102 on the following Mondays: January 13, February 10, March 10, April 14, and May 5.
Prof. Cline welcomed the guests who would be commenting on the issues under discussion at this meeting. He said one item of business was the financial crisis and the Faculty Compensation Committee recommendations on what to do in the event of furloughs and other financial disasters. Relevant to the recommendations, Prof. Cline asked Provost Mergler before the meeting about the number of open searches and was told that there were 22 on the Norman campus and six on the Tulsa campus.
The proposed computer policies on security and acceptable use were originally brought to the Senate in November. Prof. Cline explained that the latest versions of the policies (attached) had been approved by the Information Technology Council (ITC). He invited Chief Counsel Joe Harroz and ITC Chair Deborah Trytten to the meeting to make comments. In the Acceptable Use document, reference is made to a policy on password sharing, but that policy is not included in the document. Prof. Cline thanked all the people involved in creating these policies.
Mr. Harroz noted that the policies were labeled interim for two reasons. The university needed a policy as soon as possible to protect the computer system and individuals. Also, some areas will need to be looked at again. The idea is to have the policies in place for awhile and revise them as needed. Mr. Harroz said he had discussed these policies with Prof. Trytten as well as a number of deans. The third bullet of the Acceptable Use policy references the policy on password sharing, which has not been developed yet. Everyone should have a unique password that only that individual can use. The technology is not there yet to allow each person to have his own unique password and still share information. Because a password policy will require more than a few lines and will change over time, the collective wisdom was to develop a separate policy on password sharing. One of the goals was that a policy should not be so lengthy that people will not read it. He mentioned that Prof. Gensler had been very helpful and had some thoughts to consider in the final policy.
Prof. Scherman asked about the volume of e-mail coming from Korea. Mr. Harroz said the Information Technology (IT) people were working on some software that would allow us to cull out a lot of that. He said Prof. Trytten had raised the issue of the policy's application to junk mail. Mr. Harroz promised the group that the application would be reasonable. He will talk with various groups about specific examples to make sure people are comfortable with the application of these policies. Prof. Trytten said there also would be another policy coming out concerning e-mail. If we filter e-mail too carefully, we may lose some content. The plan is to give users the control by using rules to filter messages. Mr. Harroz said he thought it would be helpful to have a regular review to see if the actual instances are being handled appropriately.
Prof. Magid asked whether playing a game on a university computer was an example of unacceptable use. Mr. Harroz said none of the policies were aimed at occasional personal use. If someone is using the university system to build a game and sell it, that is a different story. Prof. Kauffman asked whether Mr. Harroz could point out where that is specified in the policy, in particular, in the Enforcement section, which could be interpreted rather broadly. Mr. Harroz said he was open to any wording changes. In the Enforcement section, individuals have the opportunity to file a grievance if they believe the application is unfair or inappropriate.
Prof. Hanson wanted to know whether the university had taken any position on encrypting e-mail or data. Prof. Trytten replied that she did not think it was appropriate in an academic environment to forbid or require people to encrypt their e-mail, so the policy is silent on that issue. Mr. Harroz said he had not been involved in any discussions about encryption. Prof. Tarhule asked whether there was any policy on using software to erase one's track on the Internet. Prof. Trytten said that was an individual decision, and she did not think there should be a university policy. Everyone should be aware that erasing something from a computer is very difficult to do completely.
Prof. Wieder asked about the circumstances in which the university would open its system to federal and local agencies; in other words, what claims would have to be made before Legal Counsel would give a response. Mr. Harroz responded that he would require a subpoena for any documents. Prof. Wieder commented that during times of protests, federal agencies have become interested in the activities of university faculty. Mr. Harroz said the political atmosphere after 9-11 was not unlike what Prof. Wieder was describing, and he required a subpoena then. If we changed our approach, which he did not foresee happening, he would consult with the Faculty Senate.
Prof. Magid said he thought the server named faculty-staff was not an official university server and therefore was a system for which the university claimed no responsibility. Mr. Harroz said the general disclaimer language was included because of the free speech issue, to make it clear that a lot of the content on our server is not necessarily the views of the university. Prof. Taylor asked whether Prof. Magid's question had to do with whether the policies applied to the faculty and staff web pages on that server. Prof. Magid said he thought that server had been set up so that the university was not liable for anything that might be placed there. Mr. Harroz said he would ask IT for the answer.
Prof. Rodriguez asked for more information about monitoring. Mr. Harroz said there was general monitoring to make sure the system was running and there was access for users. In certain instances, there would be a specific monitoring and heightened level of approval. The idea is to have a tiered system for approvals. Prof. Trytten said the intention was to have IT give a summary to the Faculty Senate and the ITC once a year on the monitoring that is occurring. The kind of monitoring they want to do, for example, is if a computer suddenly takes up 70 percent of the bandwidth of the university, which could be an indication of a virus and could choke the system. Mr. Harroz said the key element was that individuals have the right to appeal. There will be communication with the Faculty Senate about how cases are being handled.
Prof. Cline asked the senators to let him know as soon as possible if they had suggestions for modifications. He would like to bring the policies to a vote at the next meeting.
Prof. Cline said he had invited Staff Senate Chair Jackie Farley and Human Resources Director Julius Hilburn to represent their opinions on the Faculty Compensation Committee (FCC) report concerning budget cuts (attached).
FCC Chair Fred Striz reported that the FCC had revised its report since the last meeting, taking into consideration the comments from senators and other people. A preamble was added that states we all must share in the pain but that we do not approve of retrenchment or think it is desirable. The committee looked at the amounts of money coming in from tuition and fees versus research. They are about the same order of magnitude. If we increase teaching, it will probably decrease the amount of research funding since faculty cannot work that many more hours. This semester, the FCC will discuss a suggestion about different ways of phased retirement. If furloughs become necessary, the FCC recommends that open searches should be closed first. One year of salary plus start-up amount to about $90,000, so filling the current open faculty searches would cost about $2.2 million. Another option to furloughs is to take the cut out of the defined contribution. The FCC concluded that compression and inversion should not be addressed in a bad budget situation but when we have extra money. Another area the committee looked at was student headcount and faculty headcount around the time of the 1984 furloughs (attached). Between 1982 and 1986, we lost about 16 percent of the faculty. That is a considerable drop and impacts programs and the number of courses taught. Furloughs are really detrimental to the university and should be avoided if at all possible. We got lucky back then because the student count dropped too.
Prof. Scherman said he would be interested in knowing the faculty headcount in the last decade. Prof. Striz said the period 1980-90 was chosen to show the short-term effect of furloughs but that he could extend the data. Prof. Knapp noted that the committee focused on the decade of the 1980s, the last time we had a recession, to find out whether speculations as to what happened were true. Prof. Striz said he had received suggestions from faculty to look at combining colleges to cut administrative overhead and to be careful about adding new programs. Originally, the FCC had concluded that a good time to take furloughs would be Spring Break; however, that is a week when many faculty do research. Another idea was pre-finals week, when faculty are not supposed to give exams, and students are getting ready for finals. The drawback to that is that is when Staff Week is held. It is possible, though, that faculty and staff would not have to be at work at the same time. Furloughs should be as flexible as possible, within the confines of PeopleSoft.
Prof. Milton wondered whether furloughs during class time would violate the state regents' rule about the number of class periods. Prof. Magid said the decision should be made at the unit level or by the individual faculty member. Prof. Striz said the logical solution was to spread out any salary reduction so we would not have a whole week’s salary taken out of one month. Prof. Rupp-Serrano remarked that if a majority could not be here a certain day, that would make a statement.
Ms. Jackie Farley commented that these were difficult times for faculty and staff. Staff took extra vacation days over the holidays. Most thought that was an excellent way to participate in a difficult situation without a lot of impact on them. Staff would be severely impacted if they had to take more than one day a month as a salary reduction. Her position is to reduce the impact on staff as much as possible. Prof. Taylor said she thought the provost expected faculty to be on campus and do the same work if we had furloughs. Prof. Cline said that was still her position as of today. There was some discussion as to whether furlough meant days off or whether this actually would be a reduction in pay. Prof. Knapp said he thought the appointment letters indicated that the board of regents had an opportunity to change one's salary. Prof. Striz added that the Faculty Handbook contains a financial exigency policy.
Prof. Lee said he and his colleagues would be more comfortable if the document included a strenuous statement of opposition to furloughs. Prof. Frech suggested that perhaps there were places other than faculty and staff salaries where cuts could be made. For example, faculty teaching salaries total about $68 million, while scholarships and fellowships total $15 million. If we are furloughed, is $15 million an appropriate number? Prof. Carnevale pointed out that there are maintenance, operation, and staffing costs associated with all of the new buildings. The pain is coming principally out of the educational mission. Other areas, such as campus beautification and athletic activities, could be deferred. Cost reductions should not come just out of personnel line items. Prof. Striz pointed out that the document stated clearly that furloughs should apply to the whole university, including auxiliary services. Prof. Hart said he would want to make sure the administration also was included in furloughs. He said he would rather use a different word in the document if furlough really meant taking a cut in pay and not getting a day off. Prof. Knapp replied that nothing in the document presumed this was the only set of budget reductions that would take place. It is just the Faculty Senate position on various options. Presumably this is not the only group trying to address this problem. Other areas also will have to pay a price. In some sense, students will pay a price if we have fewer class sections offered.
Prof. Taylor said the term "salary reduction" should be used if employees are expected to continue working their established work loads. She said she would like the document to include a plan for how the money will be repaid once the budget situation is rectified. Prof. Striz said the FCC thought a temporary salary reduction could very easily be made permanent, whereas a furlough was something temporary. Prof. Magid said the Budget Council had preferred "temporary salary reduction" so that auxiliary and service units would take the same reduction in compensation. Now the Budget Council has begun to use “furlough” because it implies a temporary salary reduction and gives the employee an opportunity to vent the anger that builds up. In the 1980s, we saw an accumulation of resentment. Referring to Prof. Taylor's suggestion, Prof. Striz noted that we could only get the lost salary back if we worked that day. Prof. Vale explained that in some areas, like Dance, it is not possible to take furloughs. Prof. Davis said this would amount to a reduction in pay because faculty members would still do their work. Prof. Tarhule asked for more information about the budget situation. Prof. Cline said the Norman Transcript had reported that the state would not increase the budget cuts at this time. While we do not know the probability of a further reduction, Prof. Cline said he thought we should plan for it.
Mr. Julius Hilburn said it had been helpful to listen to the discussion. At this point, no firm decision has been made. Some contingency planning is being done to make sure we consider a range of options. He talked with Ms. Farley and Prof. Cline about different approaches. The administration also is looking at the best way to manage things. Some basic concepts from a Human Resources perspective are to spread any actions over the entire university community and spread the impact over time so we do not have a significant impact on people’s take home pay. Another idea is to set up a tiered program to lessen the impact on lower paid staff and faculty. Much of the discussion has to do with trying to make sure we maintain the educational mission and some minimal level of service. No final decision has been made about the kind of cost savings we need. The administration is trying to consider other ideas in order to avoid an impact on take home pay or vacant positions. A whole range of items should be looked at in combination, as opposed to just one item such as furloughs. Furloughs would get the most attention but also the most reaction from our employees. He would like to harvest ideas and try to understand the options and trade-offs so we can get to some good decisions.
Prof. Carnevale said there should be a clear agreement that the next pay raise will replace any pay cut. The various groups ought to work together to invent options for mutual gain. A salary cut is a cleaner concept than a furlough. He would not mind giving up a day’s pay to help make this place work, but he would like to see the whole budget looked at. Mr. Hilburn said he was committed to having discussions and sharing information with the faculty and staff senates. Prof. Tarhule asked whether the Faculty Senate would have input on the final options. Mr. Hilburn said there would be opportunities to provide input before the final recommendation but he was not sure whether the final decision would be brought to the senate for ratification or approval. He will make sure the senates and their leadership are not surprised. If the recommendation is inconsistent with the thinking of the Faculty Senate, there ought to be a chance for input. As to the question of whether PeopleSoft could handle solutions to this budget situation, he said PeopleSoft would not deter us from coming to a conclusion that made business sense for the university. Any work that needed to be done on PeopleSoft would not be a major expense.
Prof. Rupp-Serrano proposed that the senate make some concrete suggestions for changes so that the body could vote at the next meeting and get the document in the hands of the president sooner rather than later. Summarizing the comments that had been made, she said the Preamble should include another statement that salaries are just part of the solution. Prof. Cline said his sense was if faculty and staff were the only ones taking the cuts, then they had the right to ask the administration to see what cuts could be made in other areas. Continuing, Prof. Rupp-Serrano said a point should be included about a plan to pay back any lost salary. The paragraph on furloughs should be revised if the term "salary reduction" is used. Prof. Gottesman suggested substituting a term like "deferred salary." Prof. Cline said a suggestion had been made to regard a salary reduction as a gift to the university so it would be tax deductible. Mr. Hilburn asked whether the proposal to take reductions in non-OTRS retirement contributions would be optional. Prof. Striz said the idea was that people would have a choice. Referring to the comment about the scholarship budget, he noted that a large portion of the funding comes from the state regents, not OU, and that most students had already received letters about their award. Prof. Frech said the point was to look at the entire budget. Prof. Cline pointed out that if faculty worked fewer days doing research, the university would lose money in indirect costs. Prof. Striz asked whether the Budget Council was looking at the overall budget. Prof. Magid said it was. Prof. Vale mentioned that some units get no money for recruiting, while others do. Prof. Hart asked whether PeopleSoft could handle the choice between salary and defined contribution. Mr. Hilburn said giving an option would be more complicated than picking one. People who opted for a reduction in the university's pension contribution could retain those dollars in retirement by making a contribution to a 403b or 457b plan.
Prof. Cuccia said he would e-mail some specific suggestions to Prof. Striz, but he was confused as to whether the recommendations were intended to address this year's budget shortfall or were long term. Prof. Striz said he could break the recommendations into immediate and long term. Prof. Carnevale remarked that some faculty lines were critical to the operation of certain departments and needed to be filled. In a big place like this, there are things that can be done to stretch the budget and soften the impact. Prof. Milton said he would be opposed to furloughs that were progressive with income if it meant a higher percentage cut for senior faculty.
Prof. Vale asked for a projection on the long-term situation. Prof. Striz said the budget problem in the mid 1980s lasted four or five years, but that was energy specific. Prof. Hart asked whether there was a hiring freeze now across the board. Mr. Hilburn said units had to get vice presidential approval before they could fill a vacant position. Prof. Hart asked about the energy savings over the winter break and suggested that additional energy savings could replace a day off. Prof. Lee said he thought this body’s mission was to be a faculty advocate but that the document was negotiating from a position of weakness and was doing the administration’s hard decision making for them. He cautioned against the general erosion of faculty sovereignty and power. He encouraged the group to re-write the document to make it clear that furloughs were not okay and to get a promise that any sort of cuts would be addressed when the good times return. This faculty already is underpaid by national standards.
The meeting adjourned at 5:10 p.m. The next regular session of the Senate will be held at 3:30 p.m. on Monday, February 10, 2003, in Jacobson Faculty Hall 102.
Sonya Fallgatter, Administrative Coordinator
Valerie Watts Secretary