The University of Oklahoma (Norman campus)
Regular session – September 12, 2005 – 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 Roy Knapp, Chair.


PRESENT:       Albert, Apanasov, Badhwar, Benson, Biggerstaff, Blank, Bradford, Brown, Burns, Catlin, Civan, Cramer, Croft, Dewers, Dohrmann, Draheim, Elisens, Fast, Fincke, Forman, Franklin, Frech, Gade, Geletzke, Gutierrez, Hawamdeh, Hobbs, Houser, C. Knapp, R. Knapp, Kolar, Lai, Lewis, Liu, Magnusson, Marcus-Mendoza, Megginson, Pace, Raadschelders, Ransom, Roche, Rugeley, Scamehorn, Schwarzkopf, Sharp, Skeeters, Tabb, Trytten, Warnken, Wei, Wood, Wyckoff

Provost's office representative:  Mergler
ISA representatives:  Hough
UOSA representatives:  Bottoms


ABSENT:         Cintrón






Senate members for 2005-06 and schedule of meetings

Faculty Senate and Regular Faculty parliamentarian

2004-05 annual council reports

Faculty appointments to committees

Disposition by administration of senate actions for 2004-05

Search committee, College of Earth and Energy dean

Renaissance Project

Resources in Faculty Senate office

State of OU-Norman campus address by Senior Vice President and Provost Nancy Mergler

Benefits:  health insurance

Senate Chair's Report: 

Task force on student records

Task force on reducing environmental emissions and conserving fuel

Election, councils, committees, boards

Network policy

Issues for 2005-06

Resolution, undergraduate Chemistry classes







The Faculty Senate Journal for the regular session of May 9, 2005 was approved.





A list of the Faculty Senate members is attached.  The new members were introduced at the meeting.  Prof. Knapp noted that Senator Hawamdeh was the first member of the senate from the Tulsa campus.


The regular meetings of the Faculty Senate for 2005-06 will be held at 3:30 p.m. on the following Mondays in Jacobson Faculty Hall 102: September 12, October 10, November 14, December 12, January 23, February 13, March 20, April 10, and May 8.


The Senate Executive Committee elected Prof. Hugh Benson (Philosophy) as parliamentarian of the Faculty Senate and Regular Faculty.


The compilation of the 2004-05 annual reports of University councils was e-mailed June 29 to the Faculty Senate members and to chairs, directors and deans to make available to the general faculty.  The reports are available online at


The 2005-06 list of faculty appointments to committees is available on the Faculty Senate web site at


The summary record of the disposition by the administration of Faculty Senate actions for September 2004 to August 2005 is attached.


The Faculty Senate Executive Committee nominated two faculty members for the faculty-at-large position on the search committee for the dean of the new College of Earth and Energy.  From these nominations, the administration selected Prof. Musharraf Zaman (Civil Engineering & Environmental Science) to serve.  The OU regents will vote on the membership of the search committee September 13.


The Renaissance Project is a new effort to engage students, faculty, administrators and staff in campus-wide discussion of the important issues and ideas of our time.  The theme for 2005-06 is Religion and Democracy.  For further information, see  Fliers were available at the meeting.


The Chronicle of Higher Education, Academe and the Norman campus budget are available in the Senate office.  Prof. Knapp pointed out that the Almanac issue of the Chronicle has comparative information about higher education institutions. 





Prof. Knapp announced that President Boren was recuperating from back surgery and would not be able to give his annual state of the University address at this meeting.  However, a more than able substitute, Senior Vice President and Provost Nancy Mergler, agreed to talk on the state of the OU-Norman campus.  Provost Mergler said, “President Boren sends his greetings to all of you.  … I assure you that he would have wanted to say to you first of all that he is privileged to be a part of this University and to work with all of you and looks forward to a tremendous, busy year working with our students.”


First, Provost Mergler discussed the general University budget and state allocations.  Higher education as a percentage of the total state budget has hovered around 15 percent the past ten years.  Common education, prisons, roads, and other important initiatives for the state comprise the other part of the state budget.  The state appropriation as a percentage of the overall operating budget has been declining and is at about 20 percent this year.  In the late 1980s, the state appropriation was a third, the students paid a third, and the rest was made up in other kinds of budget.  The allocation from the state to the Health Science Center has declined to 13.7 percent, which suggests that their campus really is partially state subsidized rather than state supported.  We do not see any change in the trend.  The continued growth in the University’s endowment funds has helped buffer the Norman campus against bad budget years.  A substantial portion of those funds goes into salaries and student support.  The number of individuals contributing to private giving has grown.  It is the donor base that best predicts the long-term health of private giving to the University.  Research expenditures – the grants and contracts obtained – have been growing steadily.  We need to continue to provide the kinds of research infrastructure that will allow further growth.  The National Weather Center, Stephenson Research and Technology Center, and the proposed chemistry building will address some of the space concerns.  The growing research expenditures are the faculty’s contribution to the budget, represent a tremendous amount of effort, and are appreciated. 


Total headcount enrollment of our student body will be down slightly, which gives us the ability to adjust faculty resources to students.  The quality of the direct-from-high school-freshman class has substantially increased.  The average ACT composite, one indicator of academic preparedness, is expected to be at 25.8 again this year. The headcount will be down around 3250.  We seek to maintain about 20 percent diversity in the freshman class; this year, the prediction is about 22 percent will claim a minority status.  The projection is for declining numbers of high school graduates throughout the Midwest.  Currently, there are about the same number of high school graduates as there were in 1998-99.  Typically, 6-7 percent of Oklahoma graduates come to OU.  It is important to understand that all public universities in the Midwest will get more aggressive in their recruitment of undergraduates.  Our task force on retention and graduation rates is aspiring to improve our freshman retention rate and our six-year graduation rate.  Six years is a national index that institutional research offices use to compare universities across the country.  We want to get our graduation rate up to 62 percent.  We do not have the numbers yet for students who came to OU in 1999, but the rate should be above 57 percent.  The six-year graduation rate for women is 61.9%.  Provost Mergler said it was a consistent 10-point gender difference across all levels of the ACT and across freshmen through the senior year.  We need to find out what kind of support services would improve the male graduation rate. 


Because of the demographics, we have an opportunity to make progress on our student/faculty ratio.  The ratio was 18 to 1 about four years ago; now it is about 21 to 1.  We are at an all time high in the number of instructional faculty, regular faculty, and teaching assistants.  We want to continue to grow the regular faculty over the next five year, as we stabilize student enrollment, in areas of strategic research initiatives, in areas of Arts and Sciences with enrollment pressures, and areas of presidential initiatives, such as International and Area Studies and Liberal Studies.  In order to recruit and retain our faculty, we must continue to pay attention to faculty compensation.  We are tied with Missouri at seventh in the Big 12 in average faculty salaries.  In total compensation (including benefits), we are tied with Kansas at sixth.  Adjusted for cost of living, we are third.  The average faculty raise for 2004-05 is estimated to be about 5.2 percent.  Even in dry years, the provost has tried to protect promotion raises.  We have made some progress in faculty salaries, but we still have a ways to go.  Salary compensation continues to be the number one priority for the next fiscal year.  Regular raises, addressing areas of severe disciplinary compression, and reviewing benefits are all components of the process to achieve faculty salaries that recruit and retain our faculty resources. 


One criterion for assessing the quality of a research university is the quality of the library, both the holdings and the service it provides.  Library funding has grown over the last ten years.  Based on the ranking system of the Association of Research Libraries, we are fourth among the ten ARL members in the Big 12 in overall quality, second in volumes held, and eighth in professional staff FTE.  We have focused on library acquisition; now we need to focus on the number of library staff and faculty.  As libraries move into an era of more complicated electronic holdings, the library staff numbers will need to grow.


Discussing short-term planning for the next fiscal year, Provost Mergler said we will need to watch utility costs and the impact from the Gulf Coast hurricane on other costs.  We will be doing enrollment projections, including demographic trends, to stabilize the undergraduate student body.  The enrollment bubble from a couple of years ago is causing pressure in our upper division courses.  We need to consider the impact of tuition and fee revenue as the enrollment figures right size.  The new College of Earth and Energy will be launched in the middle of the academic year.  The colleges with interim deans will be assisted during the transition period to make sure everything continues smoothly.  Long-term planning includes a student to faculty ratio of 18 to 1, which would require the addition of 100 new regular faculty over the next five years.  We will seek to stabilize the size of the undergraduate student body, sustaining its quality and diversity.  President Boren is working on a $5 million endowment campaign to assist with recruitment.  We want to improve the undergraduate six-year graduation rate to 62 percent.  We want to continue and build strategic research initiatives.  We want to provide competitive graduate assistant stipends to recruit outstanding graduate students who can assist with our research initiatives.  We want to continue to move faculty salaries forward aggressively to keep us competitive.  Finally, we want to stabilize the presidential programs that contribute to the intellectual community, including expository writing, religious studies, dream courses, retired faculty, and adopt-a-professor.  Besides the $50 million for scholarships, the President will try to raise $250 million during the next five years for scholarships, professorships, and programmatic support, which includes expanding presidential professors by 30 slots and increasing the number of students who study abroad.  Provost Mergler concluded by saying, “I feel confident that with your collective help and assistance, we can reach these goals.”


Prof. Raadschelders asked whether it would be possible to make the slides available to the senate.  Provost Mergler said she would give them to Ms. Fallgatter.  Prof. Knapp said the senate office would put them on the web (see 


Prof. Forman commented that given the declining number of high school students, another way to obtain the desired student/faculty ratio would be to take fewer students but keep the quality at the same level.  Provost Mergler said it was important politically to continue serving 6-7 percent of Oklahoma high school graduates.  The President wants to stabilize the size of the student body and keep the entire OU enrollment at 29,000-30,000. 


Prof. Schwarzkopf asked whether some of our mission would move toward adult education.  Provost Mergler said the state regents have several initiatives to convert adults to college graduates in Oklahoma because our state is behind in the percentage of college graduates.  However, the President still wants to go after the 6-7 percent direct-from-high school freshmen.  We have not seen the trend of increasing age in our student body that has been seen across the country. 


Prof. Hobbs asked whether the University had any funds to bring top faculty affected by the Gulf Coast hurricane here for special courses.  Provost Mergler said the initial focus was on students enrolled in institutions in the impacted region.  We have 30 enrolled on the Norman campus.  The second concern was with current OU students with permanent addresses in the region.  About 25 have been identified.  They have been contacted to see if they need any resources, financial aid adjustment, a place to stay over holidays, or counseling services.  The third concern was the 40 students who were called up for National Guard or Reserve service.  Inquiries from faculty who are seeking to visit are being left to the discretion of the departments.  We have differing abilities to accommodate them.  The HSC has several projects under way to work with refugee families and assist with planning in the region.  We are trying to be helpful without hampering our ability to do business for our students. 


Prof. Raadschelders asked how many foreign students were here.  Provost Mergler answered that we have three international students who were at campuses affected by the hurricane.  Prof. Raadschelders asked whether foreign students were included in the demographics of the student population.  Provost Mergler said the headcount includes everyone who is enrolled.  Prof. Dauffenbach asked about the percentage of students who come from Texas.  Provost Mergler replied that it was our largest group of out-of-state students.  South Texas high schools will buck the trend of declining high school graduates, but we do not get a lot of students from southern Texas.  There will be an increase in the number of Latino and Hispanic high school graduates in Tulsa in about five years.  Our recruitment literature has been translated into Spanish. 





Human Resources Director Julius Hilburn said he wanted to discuss the health insurance renewal process and the status of our retirement plans.  Mr. Hilburn explained that effective January 2005, we went from the state’s HealthChoice plan to Aetna.  The Human Resources (HR) office is evaluating Aetna’s proposal for health insurance for 2006.  Aetna has proposed increases in premium costs for 2006:  an increase in OU cost of almost seven percent and in employee cost of about 13.3 percent (see  Thus, University costs will increase around $2.3 million, and employee costs will increase about $1.4 million.  There will be no significant changes in the benefit design for 2006.  The same options will be available.  A minor change was made to add smoking cessation benefits.  Rates are driven by the experience or utilization of the people enrolled in the plan.  The first five months of actual OU experience with the Aetna plan established what the rates would be.  That gave us a better result than using last year’s experience.  Mr. Hilburn explained that the University employs an actuary to make sure the numbers are consistent with our agreement with Aetna and are actuarially sound.  Costs have increased every year.  National increases in health plan rates are expected to be 10 to 13 percent, with HMOs experiencing a higher trend than PPOs.  Aetna offers a better overall value to our employees.  For 2006, it will be about $1.8 million less expensive than it would have been had we stayed in the state plan.  HR frequently compares our plan with the rest of the Big 12 and shares that information with the Employment Benefits Committee and Faculty Welfare Committee.  Our plan is in line with what the other Big 12 institutions offer in terms of plan design and overall costs.  Where we are different is our contribution strategy.  OU has a history of paying 100 percent of the premium for the employee only.  In the Big 12, only OU and OSU have that contribution strategy.  Almost all of the other universities require some contribution from employees, and they provide some contribution for dependent coverage.  Most of our employees are in a PPO option, which is very similar in plan design to the state’s.  Aetna’s advantages are lower maximum out-of-pocket costs, lower family deductible, and a national network that is responsive to employees who live or travel outside Oklahoma. 


Comparing the current Aetna rates with those proposed for 2006 and with the state’s rates, the premiums for the PPO will increase 6.1 percent for employee only coverage (paid by the University) and will actually be more expensive than the state’s rate.  Increases in other categories range from 8.1 percent to 12.3 percent.  However, in all those categories, the Aetna plan will be marginally less than the state’s.  The state chose to keep rates even for 2006 by using some reserves to buy down the rates.  The state changed benefits in several of its HMO options and expanded the number of options.  When we compare our HMO low and high options to the state’s, our benefits are better, and our costs are generally lower.  Aetna was added as one of the state’s HMO providers.  As Aetna gets more business in central Oklahoma, the company will be able to negotiate better deals with local health care providers.  About 2400 or one-third of OU employees are enrolled in the low option HMO.  Aetna’s rates are 11 to 44 percent lower than a similar program offered by the state.  For the HMO high option, where we have 375 participants, the state’s premium is lower, but the plan has reduced benefits and some higher out-of-pocket costs. 


Prof. Megginson asked why the premiums for children were increasing so much.  Mr. Hilburn answered that the rates were based on our utilization for the first 5 months.  Aetna’s rates required a bigger adjustment for children than for adults, in part because there are more adults (employee-only people) in the program.  After reviewing Aetna’s renewal proposal and discussing it with the Employment Benefits Committee, the administration is recommending to the regents that Aetna be renewed.  The proposal is consistent with our contract agreement and is actuarially sound.  There are always complaints about particular insurance programs.  The Human Resources staff listens to employees and tries to make sure we get what we contracted for.  HR plans to start negotiating our rate proposal for 2007.  Part of the negotiation will be to make sure Aetna manages the plan in a way that is competitive with and actuarially equivalent to the state’s plan.  Mr. Hilburn said he wanted the senate to be aware of our experience with Aetna and the level of service we get.  In the first 6 months, Aetna handled 7500 customer service calls and processed 20,000 claims; 80 percent of the claims were handled within five days.  Aetna is meeting the criteria we established for processing speed, accuracy, and customer service responsiveness.  Mr. Hilburn said he wished he could say costs were going down and benefits were going up, but the reality of health care was quite the contrary.  Mr. Nick Kelly, Assistant Director, responsible for employee benefits, was present to answer questions.


Prof. Burns said he and a lot of other people thought the service from Aetna was nonexistent and led to a lot of wasted time.  He said he wondered how many of the calls got a response from a person who was knowledgeable and helpful.  The step therapy requirement puts the onus on the patient to prove certain medications did not work before s/he could be prescribed the desired drug.  The situation could be obviated if certain drugs were placed on the preferred list of medications.  Mr. Hilburn replied that most of the complaints were about pre-certification and step therapy for certain prescription drugs, particularly when we first changed to Aetna.  The reason for step therapy is that the provider is trying to manage the drug program in a way that gets the most value while still meeting the members’ needs.  Patients have to go through a process of working up to the most expensive therapies.  Initially, we received a lot of responses to the Faculty Welfare Committee survey that had to do with the step-therapy program.  If a patient was already prescribed a drug, going back and getting certification could be a nuisance.  If step-therapy is done when the prescription is initially written, the process works a lot smoother.  Prof. Burns answered that people have no recourse except to go back time after time to get stepped up, and that costs time and money.  People may have to go to a physician 2-3 times, which may save money in column A, but costs more in column B.  The burden of proof is put on the patient, and there is no appeal outside of Aetna.  Mr. Hilburn explained that the majority of the problems are resolved when the doctor provides the medical support to Aetna to explain why a certain drug is prescribed.  The overriding issue is to manage the program that helps control our costs.  If we did not have any medical review, the rates for next year would be even larger.  Prof. Dauffenbach, chair of the Faculty Welfare Committee, said it behooves us to look into these issues and continue with the effort to have faculty send in complaints.  One option is to sample some physicians around town. 


Prof. Schwarzkopf asked about the role of the Human Resources office in discussing employee problems with Aetna.  Mr. Hilburn said HR had taken an active role.  Mr. Kelly added that the HR office had talked to Aetna about many issues and would continue to do that.  We have a fully insured contract.  Insurance covers some things and not others, so there are instances where the University may not be able to help.  There are other cases where there is room for interpretation.  HR is doing its best to get the service contracted for its members.  To summarize, Mr. Hilburn said if we have members who have problems, Human Resources contacts Aetna on behalf of the members.  HR also gets input from the Faculty Welfare Committee survey.  If trends emerge, HR tries to clarify the benefit more fully to employees or makes sure Aetna understands our expectations.  Prof. Knapp suggested that the discussion of retirement benefits be deferred, in the interest of time.





Prof. Knapp reported that two task forces were being formed, one having to do with the student information system and one on reducing environmental emissions and conserving fuel.  He asked the senators to send him names of faculty who would be interested in serving on the latter task force. 





The Faculty Senate approved the Committee on Committees’ nomination of Fran Ayres (Accounting) to complete Pat Weaver-Meyers’ 2004-08 term on the Employment Benefits Committee and 2003-06 term on the Senate’s Faculty Welfare Committee.





Due to time constraints, the discussion of the Network policy proposed by the Information Technology Council (attached) was deferred until the next meeting.  Prof. Trytten pointed out that there was some urgency in getting the policy in place. 



ISSUES FOR 2005-06


Prof. Knapp said he would delay the discussion of issues for 2005-06 (attached).  The Executive Committee and new senators had suggested some additional issues: tenure-track teaching specialists, streamlined compliance procedures, and parking issues (on game days, availability of handicap spaces, during Fine Arts performances).  He urged senators to submit other issues.





Prof. Scamehorn moved that the Faculty Senate approve the following resolution concerning the proposed chemistry building.  The motion to table the resolution was approved.


To maintain the University of Oklahoma as a campus that allows all OU undergraduate students to walk to their classes,

To not increase the amount of non-renewable fuels for transporting OU undergraduate students to chemistry classes,

To allow the large number of OU undergraduate students taking chemistry classes from many different departments to be able to walk to or from their chemistry classes and other classes within the current 10 minute interval,

To maintain OU as a superior university for the highest caliber students seeking science and engineering education,

The OU Faculty Senate is in favor of all future OU undergraduate chemistry classes continuing to be taught on OU’s main campus, and none of them being taught on the south campus near the intersection of Jenkins Street and Highway 9 in the contemplated new chemistry building.





The meeting adjourned at 5:05 p.m.  The next regular session of the Faculty Senate will be held at 3:30 p.m. on Monday, October 10, 2005, in Jacobson Faculty Hall 102.


Sonya Fallgatter, Administrative Coordinator


A. Steve Bradford, Secretary