The University of Oklahoma (Norman campus)
Regular session - April 16, 2001 - 3:30 p.m. - Jacobson Faculty Hall 102
office: Jacobson Faculty Hall 206 phone: 325-6789 FAX: 325-6782
e-mail: web site:

The Faculty Senate was called to order by Professor Ruth Okediji, Chair.

PRESENT: Abraham, Bemben, Brown, Cline, Cox, DeBacker, Deming, Dewers, Foster, Gilliland, Gollahalli, Gottesman, Gross, Guzman, Harrison, Hart, Hawthorne, Henderson Hofford, Houser, Hutchison, Kenderdine, Kunesh, Lee, Magid, Maiden, Mau, McInerney, Murphy, Nelson, Newman, Okediji, Ransom, Robertson, Roegiers, Russell, Scherman, Schwarzkopf, Taylor, Trafalis, Vale, Van Gundy, Vernon, Watts, Willinger

Provost's office representative: Mergler
PSA representatives: Hubbard

ABSENT: Blank, Bozorgi, Crawford, Greene, Lakshmivarahan, Robson




Revisions in Student Code
Pre-finals week resolution by Student Congress
Faculty Senate apportionment
Search committee, Human Resources Director

Senate Chair's Report:

Senators who received awards
Birthday celebration for President Boren
Health benefits, regents' action
Discrimination/harassment grievance procedure

Faculty Compensation Committee survey

Preliminary nominations for committee vacancies

Health assessment




The Senate Journal for the regular session of March 12, 2001 was approved.



President Boren approved the revisions in the Academic Appeals section of the Student Code (see 3/01 Senate Journal).

Student Congress approved a resolution February 6, 2001 strongly supporting the passage of Prep Week by the Faculty Senate (see 1/01 Senate Journal) and commending the faculty and students involved in the structuring and passage of Prep Week, which establishes a more conducive environment for students to prepare for final examinations.

The general faculty approved, by mail vote, the Senate's recommendation concerning the Faculty Senate apportionment for 2001-04 by a vote of 195 to 18, with 1 abstention (see 3/01 Senate Journal).

The Senate Executive Committee nominated the following two faculty to serve on the Human Resources Director search: Hugh Benson (Philosophy) and Connie Dillon (Educational Leadership and Policy Studies). Prof. Okediji explained that the Human Resources Director retired last fall, and the search for his replacement would start soon.


SENATE CHAIR'S REPORT, by Prof. Ruth Okediji

Prof. Okediji congratulated the senators who received awards at the faculty tribute April 3.

Prof. Okediji encouraged the senators to attend the birthday party for President Boren on April 20. Fliers were distributed at meeting.

At the last meeting, the Faculty Senate passed a resolution giving the Executive Committee the authority to act on the Senate's behalf with regard to the recommendations on health benefits to be sent to President Boren. The Regents acted on the benefits recommendations at their March 27-28 meeting. Prof. Okediji pointed out that everyone should have received the benefits enrollment package. The Regents approved a $205.20 Sooner credit for the health plans. There is a difference in cost of $7.10 between the Schaller Anderson plan and the Blue Cross plan. Traditionally, the University pays the cost of the lower priced plan--in this case, $201.80 for the Schaller plan--but after discussions with the ad hoc benefits committee, a compromise was reached so that the University will provide a $205.20 credit. The $3.40 excess credit for people who enroll in the Schaller plan can be applied to other benefits. The Regents also approved a $95 payment for those who decline health insurance. Another recommendation of the ad hoc committee, a third insurance plan with less expensive premiums but higher deductibles, also was approved. In last year's benefits survey conducted by the Senate, a significant number of faculty said they wanted an eye care plan. A vision plan is included in the benefits for next year. It is not a great plan, but it is a beginning. The ad hoc committee recommended that the Schaller plan be reviewed this year to see how satisfied the participants are. If all goes well, the logical choice for most would be to switch to the Schaller plan, which has substantially the same coverage, the same network of doctors, and is much better in terms of deductibles and premiums than the Blue Cross/Blue Shield plan. Prof. Okediji asked the senators to find out their constituents' experiences with Schaller during this one-year trial period so that the Senate could make a recommendation to the administration next year. Prof. Cline noted that it was difficult to determine which plan was Schaller and which was Blue Cross on the web. Prof. Okediji said the plans were substantially similar; the primary difference was the cost. Online, plan 1 was Blue Cross, and plan 2 was Schaller. Prof. Gross pointed out that in the case of an appeal of a Schaller decision, the employee would have to deal with a company in Arizona. Prof. Schwarzkopf explained that an appeal would first be to an administrator in Arizona (for Schaller) or Tulsa (for Blue Cross), then to the Human Resources Director in Norman, and then to an appeals committee in Norman. Prof. Okediji said one reason why the Senate Executive Committee wanted to keep Blue Cross as one of the plans was because there were a lot of unknowns with Schaller Anderson. Prof. Van Gundy noted that employees could not actually enroll online. They only could download forms and then mail them in.

Prof. Okediji met with Mr. Jerry Jensen, the Equal Employment Opportunity/Affirmative Action Officer, to discuss the comments she received about the proposed revisions in the grievance policy. Mr. Jensen made some changes based on the comments, but had not finalized the document yet. The policy is scheduled to be on the June Regents' agenda, and Prof. Okediji hopes to give an update at the May Senate meeting.



Prof. Okediji explained that the Faculty Compensation Committee had conducted an online survey of faculty concerning salaries last month. The results of the survey, excluding the open-ended comments, were distributed at the meeting (attached). Prof. Terry Pace (Educational Psychology), Chair of the committee, presented the survey results. He said the survey simply asked, "How do you feel you are you doing as a faculty member," and in the open-ended comments, "tell us anything else you would like to say about salary issues." The committee also looked at comparative data. Over the last six years, OU faculty members have had a 24 percent cumulative increase, which averages out to a four percent average annual raise. Adjusted for inflation of 15 percent, the faculty has had a nine percent increase over six years or a 1.5 percent average annual raise. According to the 1999-2000 data provided by Institutional Research, OU ranked 9th in the Big 12 in terms of average salary and ranked below all the schools in the Big 10. When benefits were added in, OU went up to 6th in the Big 12. The new 2000-01 data from the AAUP, just published in the Chronicle of Higher Education, shows that average salaries for full professors at OU are 8th in the Big 12; associate and assistant professors are 12th. [Later, Prof. Pace reported that OU is 10th overall in the Big 12.] Nationally, in doctoral category I, full professors at OU are at the 42nd percentile, associates are at the 19th, and assistants are at the 15th.

Prof. Pace said he thought the survey response rate of 25 percent was fairly good. Fifty-two units responded, and each faculty rank was well represented. The faculty who responded indicated they were dissatisfied with current salary, the raises received over the past five years, and the amount of across-the-board raises and merit raises in the past five years. They were split about non-salary compensation or benefits. They were dissatisfied with combined compensation, disagreed that cost of living made up for lower salaries, thought raises first should be across the board to keep up with inflation before being used for merit or compression, and agreed that there had not been enough money to do what needed to be done. The faculty was split on whether salary was a motivator but agreed that continued improvement in salary was needed. Half have seriously considered leaving OU due to low salary, and significantly more associate professors have thought about leaving. That question (#12) was the only one that had a significant difference between ranks. The point at which it is realistic to consider a breakdown among across the board, merit, and compression is at about four percent. In the open-ended responses, people thought we needed 6-8 percent to really break down raises among those needs. A significant number of open-ended responses were submitted. Compression seems to be a very serious concern around campus.

Prof. Van Gundy pointed out that the data were subjective and the responses were not broken down by rank, so there really was no way to infer that compression was a problem. He asked whether the comments would be included in the final report and whether the responses would be quantified. Prof. Pace said the comments were sent to the Provost, Budget Council Chair, and Faculty Senate Chair. He said the committee had not quantified the data but could do that. Provost Merger mentioned that the Budget Council had already sent a letter to the President concerning budget recommendations for next year. Prof. Magid, a member of the Budget Council, said the council had recommended a mixed salary program, so it was not contradictory to the wishes of the faculty. He asked whether people who favored a cost of living increase meant the actual increase in the cost of living, or that some component should be across the board. Prof. Pace said he could not tell precisely from the data, but thought people wanted to keep up with inflation as a minimum. Prof. Magid noted that the Faculty Compensation Committee had done a similar survey about three or four years ago (see 3/97 Senate Journal).

Prof. Russell said he would expect more negative response than positive to the question of whether people are happy with their level of pay. It might have been helpful to compare this organization's feelings with some other standard or control organization. The strongest argument for faculty compensation is OU's comparative rank in the Big 12 and Big 10. Referring to the question about the people who had considered leaving, Prof. Roegiers asked whether there was information on how many people had left. Provost Mergler answered that in the past five years, OU has had about 7-8 percent faculty attrition per year among tenured, tenure-track, and renewable term faculty. The average in the Big 12 has been 10-11 percent per year. Salary does not seem to be the predominant reason for resignations, but it is in the mix.

Prof. Deming commented that people always say they are not paid enough. Prof. Gross mentioned the negative effect on morale of the endowed chairs program, especially in some of the poorer Arts and Sciences units. Large compensation packages at the top are often out of line with the general salaries in a department and inflate the salary statistics for everyone. Salaries really are worse than they appear at the associate and non-endowed full professor level. Prof. Pace said he had asked Institutional Research for a report with the salaries of the endowed positions excluded. Prof. Hart said the Senate should be careful about judging the negativity of the comments about salary because that was a natural response. It is the real comparative data that is demoralizing and the reason for the negativity. Prof. Deming remarked that part of the salary inequity was due to the market demand. He said he could not understand why cost-of-living raises were given as a percentage across the board. That makes the lower-paid person fall farther behind.

Prof. Kenderdine said he thought the most interesting paradox was that almost half were satisfied with the current non-salary compensation or benefits, yet only 18% were satisfied with total combined compensation. Something is motivating the faculty, but we have not put our finger on what it is. Prof. Hutchison said he thought the double retirement system of OTRS and TIAA-CREF was one of the few positives if someone makes a career here. Prof. McInerney agreed that the fact that OU pays all of an individual's TIAA-CREF was a big recruitment tool. Prof. Magid commented that the fraction of one's salary that is replaced by retirement benefits is a high percentage.

Prof. Okediji explained that the Budget Council's charge was to make recommendations to the President about how to allocate any new money, and the council recommended, in an ideal salary program, a strong merit component as well as cost of living and equity. The Faculty Compensation Committee's charge is to report to the Faculty Senate. The Senate Executive Committee will discuss the Faculty Compensation Committee report and Budget Council recommendation with the President in a few weeks. President Boren has indicated a real commitment to work with faculty priorities and meet some of these concerns. Provost Mergler has been trying to provide money to departments that are below 85 percent of their peers nationally.

Prof. Gross said usually there were reports by now on how things were looking in the legislature. Prof. Okediji said she hoped to have some information by the next meeting. For political reasons, the higher education appropriation has been moved to the end of the legislative session. Provost Mergler announced that there was some possibility that the legislature would allow higher education to set tuition rates for a five-year period. She said the administration wants to give faculty raises in a way that keeps people happy the longest and provides the most benefit.

Prof. Van Gundy asked whether the Budget Council had considered a study of compression. Prof. Magid said the Faculty Compensation Committee had done a study on compression (see 3/98 Senate Journal). Prof. Okediji said there was a tension between compression, cost of living, and merit, and it varies from department to department. The Faculty Senate will continue to advise the administration on faculty sentiment.



A preliminary list of Committee on Committees' nominations for end-of-the-year vacancies on university and campus councils, committees, and boards was distributed at the meeting and will be voted on at the May meeting. Nominations can be made from the floor with the permission of the nominee.



At the May meeting, Prof. Okediji hopes to have some information about the health assessment work done by Prof. Hofford. Some plans are being discussed that would respond to the concerns about a fitness facility for faculty.



The meeting adjourned at 4:30 p.m. The next regular session of the Senate will be held at 3:30 p.m. on Monday, May 7, 2001, in Jacobson Faculty Hall 102.

Sonya Fallgatter, Administrative Coordinator

Valerie Watts, Secretary