The University of Oklahoma (Norman campus)
Regular session – February 14, 2011 – 3:30 p.m. – Jacobson Faculty Hall 102
office: Jacobson Faculty Hall 206   phone: 325-6789
e-mail:   web site:


The Faculty Senate was called to order by Professor LeRoy Blank, Chair.


PRESENT:       Adams, Asojo, Atiquzzaman, Baer, Bergey, Blank, Chapple, Cox-Fuenzalida, Deacon, Devegowda, Dial, Hahn, Kimball, Kosmopoulou, Lauer-Flores, Leseney, Marsh-Matthews, McPherson, Minter, Morrissey, Morvant, Moses, Moxley, Muraleetharan, Natale, Palmer, Park, Ransom, Remling, Sandel, Stock, Strauss, Tabb, Taylor, Vehik, Verma, Weaver, Wyckoff, Xiao, Yi, Zhu

Provost's office representative:  Mergler
Graduate College liaison:  Griffith
ISA representatives:  Cook, Hough
UOSA representatives:  Dean


ABSENT:         Ayres, Bradshaw, Chang, Chiodo, Gramoll, Jean-Marie, Sadler, Williams






New senators

The Big Event

Retirement seminar

Faculty/staff night, men’s basketball game

Senate Chair's Report:

Faculty athletics representative

Defined contribution plan

Pre-finals week

Salary compression

Budget, health insurance cost


Student evaluation of faculty

Long-term disability insurance


Campus closures

Resolution, Roth contribution option

Defined Contribution Plans (retirement fund record keeper)

Committee nominations

Guns on campus






The Faculty Senate Journal for the regular session of January 24, 2011 was approved.





Meijun Zhu (Mathematics) was elected to the Faculty Senate as of February 2011 to complete the 2010‑13 term of Phil Gibson (Zoology), representing the College of Arts & Sciences.

Eric Wydra (Aerospace Studies) was elected to the Faculty Senate as of March 2011 to complete the 2009-12 term of Steve Dial (Naval Science), representing the non-degree-recommending-ROTC units.


The Big Event, a student-run community service effort, will be held on April 2.  Faculty members are encouraged to volunteer as individuals or in groups.  For more information, see 


The faculty is invited to “Worry-Free Investing for Retirement,” the second program on retirement planning offered by the Price College of Business.  Due to last week’s snow storm, the program was postponed from February 4 to Friday, February 18, 1:30-3:00 p.m. in Adams Hall 150.  This program will feature Zvi Bodie, Barron Professor of Management at Boston University, who will describe his investment approach that focuses on market and inflation risks, the major uncertainties associated with saving for retirement.  Dr. Bodie is a renowned investments scholar, author, and consultant who has appeared on Public Radio’s All Things Considered, Here and Now, and The Diane Rehm Show as well as the PBS News Hour, Wall $treet Week,, and Nova.  Further information is at and 


Due to the snow day last week, the faculty/staff night scheduled for the men’s basketball game versus Baylor was cancelled.  It has been rescheduled for the men’s basketball game vs. Nebraska on February 16 (see flyer). 





Prof. Blank said he wanted the Faculty Senate to be aware of some issues that the Faculty Senate Executive Committee has been discussing.  He invited the senators to provide input and to send him any other issues. 


Prof. Connie Dillon, the faculty athletics representative, reported that she spends a lot of time making sure the Athletics Department is in compliance with NCAA rules.  The working capital loan to the Athletics Department from the University will be paid off the end of this year.  Athletics gives money to academics through contributions by some of the coaches, the academic enhancement fee on football tickets, and trademark fees.  We are one of the few universities that do not provide funding to its Athletics Department.  Athletics Director Joe Castiglione has been very transparent about fiscal matters.  He met with the Budget Council in December and was very open about the department’s finances.


The Faculty Senate Executive Committee met with the Retirement Plans Management Committee on February 7 to clean up some remaining issues.  Prof. Blank received 5-6 emails of concern regarding the management of the Defined Contribution Plans, and he forwarded those to the committee.  The committee responded to each of those and can answer any remaining questions at today’s meeting.


Some Student Congress representatives are concerned about dead (pre-finals) week (see 12/10 Senate Journal).  Sometimes it is intimidating for students to bring complaints to chairs, directors, or deans when there is a violation of the pre-finals week policy.  Following discussion among the Faculty Senate Executive Committee and with Provost Mergler, the Provost said she is willing to have students come directly to her office, where they could meet with Greg Heiser or Joyce Allman, depending on the nature of the issue.  This will provide another alternative if students have complaints about dead week violations or academic issues in general.


During discussion of phased retirement, which is being considered at Oklahoma State University and the University of Nebraska-Omaha, the Faculty Senate Executive Committee raised the concern about our ongoing salary compression and intends to bring these issues up again with President Boren.


Governor Mary Fallin has said higher education will be taking a 2-3 percent cut this year, which is less than what other agencies will experience, but will nevertheless be a major issue for us.  In addition, the health plan next year will likely increase the amount that faculty and staff will have to pay.


The University’s accreditation process is starting to warm up.  Faculty will have input on academic and other issues in the near future through the various committees that have been formed.


Several faculty members have expressed concern about the low response rates from students now that we have gone to web-based course evaluations.  A low response rate does not give a good evaluation of the instructor and could have implications on issues such as tenure.  The Provost said she would look into ways we might get a better response rate from students in the future.  Prof. Strauss said he did an informal poll of his class and discovered that students who never come to class fill out a course evaluation, now that the evaluations are online.  Not only do we get lower response rates, but we also get evaluations from disgruntled students, so they really are not a fair evaluation of what an instructor is doing.  Prof. Blank said a wide variety of issues come into play. 


Recently, a faculty member had to access long-term disability insurance, and there was some discrepancy between the individual’s expectations and reality.  The Faculty Welfare Committee, working with the Employment Benefits Committee and Human Resources, would like to create a short summary document that clarifies what employees can expect under this program.


About a year ago, Tulsa Community College wrote a program called Text2Trade, which was funded by the state regents and intended for use by all colleges and universities in the state.  It is a cross between eBay and Craigslist and would enable students to buy, sell, and trade textbooks among themselves.  Prof. Blank is working with the Information Technology office to make the program available to OU students.


There were several concerns about the university closings due to the snow storms.  The administration’s number one priority is safety.  Instructors are encouraged to use electronic media, such as D2L (Learn), to communicate with their students.  Instructors can have optional classes when the University reopens, but they cannot make students attend a class that is outside the normal class time.  Prof. Atiquzzaman asked if instructors could hold additional classes because of closures if the students agree.  Prof. Blank said instructors could have extra classes, but they have to be clear that the classes are optional, and students cannot be required to attend.  Prof. Griffith asked if it is an optional class, whether the content had to be optional.  Prof. Blank said he would consider those classes to be equivalent to a help session.  Prof. Moses said he posts his lecture notes on Learn, and that content is required.  He uses Doodle to schedule an optional session at a time that works best for most of the students.  The students who come to the class will probably learn the material better.  Prof. Palmer noted that instructors could pick up the pace in their regular class to catch up, and a help session would be useful for repeating the material that the instructor went over more quickly.  Prof. Devegowda said he uses a system called Tegrity to record an actual video of his lecture.  If he misses classes because of travel or university closings, he has his students watch the video. It is an online learning tool that he uses to supplement his teaching in the classroom.  He said he was not sure if the system was available university wide.  The School of Petroleum & Geological Engineering has purchased a few licenses.  The School of Meteorology uses another system, Echo360.  The idea is these systems capture what is going on on the instructor’s screen and on the blackboard.  Prof. Blank said the College of Arts & Sciences has something similar but it is not widespread.





The Faculty Welfare Committee presented a resolution requesting that a Roth contribution opportunity be made available for 403(b) and 457(b) plans.  It would be an after-tax contribution that would have tax-free withdrawals. 


Whereas:     The University of Oklahoma offers two voluntary retirement savings plans for employees, namely the 403(b) and 457(b) plans, hereafter referred to as VRSPs, and;


Whereas:     Contributions to VRSPs historically have only been allowed to be made using pre-tax dollars and therefore withdrawals are treated as taxable income, and;


Whereas:     A Roth contribution option to VRSPs is now permitted by law and allows employees to make contributions with after-tax dollars and thereby withdraw earnings tax-free at retirement (subject to rules on qualified distributions), and;


Whereas:     Adding a Roth contribution option to VRSPs allows employees to increase the diversification of the taxability of their retirement income, and;


Whereas:     A Roth contribution option to VRSPs would make Roth accounts available to employees who otherwise are ineligible to contribute to Roth IRAs due to income limitations;


NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Faculty Senate of The University of Oklahoma hereby requests that The University of Oklahoma provide a Roth contribution option for 403(b) and 457(b) voluntary retirement savings plans beginning no later than January 2012.


Prof. Moses, chair of the Faculty Welfare Committee, moved that the Faculty Senate consider the resolution and vote at this meeting.  The resolution was approved on a voice vote, with one abstention. 



DEFINED CONTRIBUTION PLANS (Retirement Fund Record Keeper)


Prof. Blank encouraged the senators to bring up any remaining questions about the retirement fund management at this time.  (See 1/11 Senate Journal for background information.)  Mr. Chris Kuwitzky, chair of the Retirement Plans Management Committee (RPMC) introduced other members of the RPMC who were present:  Julius Hilburn, K.K. Muraleetharan and support staff Nick Kelly and R.V. Kuhns representative Charlie Waibel.  He explained that since the last meeting on January 24, the RPMC has been responding to specific questions that have been presented.  Many of the questions were related to TIAA-CREF and the options that will continue to exist.  Other questions had to do with whether this was some veiled effort to redirect saving or reduce the University’s contribution to the Defined Contribution Plans.  The University cannot legally retain any savings as a result of this program, nor is this process an effort to reduce the contributions the University is making to the retirement plan.  Additional questions were raised about why Fidelity was chosen as the record keeper, whether we could have multiple record keepers, and what the advantage was of a single record keeper.


The RPMC is supportive of the resolution that was adopted at this meeting that would add a Roth option.  The committee intends to follow up with Fidelity.  Any changes to the plan will require a change in the plan documents and be subject to approval by the OU regents.  The RPMC will make a presentation on February 16 to the Staff Senate.  The committee is working on additions to its web site so there will be a single place for documents.  The web site will have a high-level overview as well as detailed explanations.  A campus-wide communication will be done in mid-May.  The feedback from the faculty has been instrumental in making several revisions to the recommendations.  The expectation is two recommendations will be brought to the OU regents in March.  The first recommendation would be to appoint Fidelity as the record keeper, and the second would be to adopt the charter that governs the RPMC.


Prof. Hofford encouraged the RPMC to have additional faculty representation on the committee and incorporate that in the charter.  Mr. Kuwitzky said the charter does not specify the number of committee members and, going forward, the RPMC could visit with the President about changes in membership.  Prof. Adams asked whether the charter was the document that explained all of the information that is being presented to the Faculty Senate.  Mr. Kuwitzky said the charter lays out the framework under which the RPMC works.  Prof. Strauss said his colleagues had a question about the traditional TIAA account.  Mr. Kuwitzky said the annuity product that employees have today will not be available in the new lineup, but there will be a new TIAA traditional annuity product called Retirement Choice that has similar historical returns.  The proposed product has a shorter liquidity period (6 years and a day compared to 10 years).  Further questions may be sent to Prof. Blank, who will forward them to the RPMC.   





Prof. Blank announced that the call for faculty nominations for University and campus councils and committees had gone out.  The committees serve some very important functions.  He encouraged the senators to consider nominating themselves or colleagues to serve.  Nominations are due March 11.





Prof. Sandel said he had seen the article in today’s newspaper about a bill in the state legislature that could allow guns on campus.  The article said President Boren and others are strongly opposed.  He asked if there was any possibility of the Faculty Senate making a statement opposing such legislation.  Prof. Blank said the Faculty Senate had passed a resolution ( on this issue last March and purposely made it very broad ranging.  Prof. Blank said he would give a copy of the resolution to the state regents to use in communicating with the legislature.  He serves on the Faculty Advisory Council to the State Regents.  He said he did not think it would be necessary to bring the resolution back to the Faculty Senate to consider again.  Prof. Sandel pointed out that there is a new legislature and a new governor.  Prof. Blank noted that everybody is paying attention to the news, and we are all concerned.





The meeting adjourned at 4:05 p.m.  The next regular session of the Faculty Senate will be held at 3:30 p.m. on Monday, March 21, 2011, in Jacobson Faculty Hall 102.


Sonya Fallgatter, Administrative Coordinator


Amy Bradshaw, Faculty Secretary