The University of Oklahoma (Norman campus)
Regular session – September 14, 2009 – 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 Aimee Franklin, Chair.


PRESENT:       Ahmed, Apanasov, Asojo, Atiquzzaman, Baer, Blank, Bradshaw, Buckley, Conlon, Eodice, Franklin, Grasse, Hahn, Jean-Marie, Kent, Keppel, Lauer-Flores, Lifschitz, McDonald, Miller, Milton, Morrissey, Moses, Moxley, Muraleetharan, Palmer, Reeder, Rogers, Sadler, J. Schmidt, R. Schmidt, Strauss, Tabb, Taylor, Trafalis, Vehik, Verma, Weaver, Williams

Provost's office representative:  Mergler
ISA representatives:  Crites, Hough, Smith
UOSA representatives:  Johnson


ABSENT:         Bass, Cox-Fuenzalida, Deacon, Dial, Kershen, Kimball, Russell, Wallach, Wyckoff, Yi






Senate members for 2009-10 and schedule of meetings

Faculty Senate and Regular Faculty parliamentarian

2008-09 annual council reports

Faculty membership on committees

Disposition by administration of Senate actions for 2008-09

Resources in Faculty Senate office

Wellness screenings

Search committee, Law dean

OZONE implementation

University Women’s Association event

2009-10 Welcome

UOSA database of tutoring services


Senate Chair's Report:

Desire2Learn roster

iThink photo roster

Book recycling

NCAA principles

Baseball scoreboard

Flu procedures

Emergency procedures

Retired faculty death


Joint meeting with UOSA and Staff Senate

Faculty salaries on federal grants


Issues for 2009-10






A list of the Faculty Senate members is attached. 


The regular meetings of the Faculty Senate for 2009-10 will be held at 3:30 p.m. on the following Mondays in Jacobson Faculty Hall 102: September 14, October 12, November 9, December 14, February 8, March 8, April 12, and May 10.


The Senate Executive Committee elected Prof. W. Murray Tabb (Law) as parliamentarian of the Faculty Senate and Regular Faculty.


The compilation of the 2008-09 annual reports of University councils was e-mailed July 31 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 2009-10 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 2008 to August 2009 is attached.


The Chronicle of Higher Education, Academe, and the Norman campus budget are available through the Senate office.


Wellness screenings will be held in October for the Norman campus faculty.  Breion Rollins, health and wellness coordinator, will send further information, or visit 


The Faculty Senate Executive Committee nominated two faculty members for the faculty-at-large position on the search committee for the dean of the College of Law.  From these nominations, the administration selected Prof. Patricia Gilman (Anthropology) to serve. 


The next implementation of oZONE (Banner) will take place in late September.  For more information, see for the archived alerts and for FAQs targeted to faculty and staff.


The University Women’s Association registration event will be held on September 20, 2:00 p.m., in Wagner Hall.  Female faculty members or spouses of faculty members are welcome to attend.





Prof. Franklin explained that the Faculty Senate serves as a conduit of information, bringing information from colleagues but also conveying information to the people who will be impacted.  The Faculty Senate reviews the various functions of the University and any matter affecting the welfare of the University.  Subjects for review or legislation can come from any member of the University community.  The senate has four standing committees:  Executive Committee, Committee on Committees, Faculty Compensation Committee, and Faculty Welfare Committee. 


The Faculty Senate office created a listserv of the Big XII senate/council chairs so Prof. Franklin is in communication with her counterparts to find out their issues and share information.  The senate Executive Committee meets monthly with the President and Provost and also meets with the UOSA and Staff Senate leadership as well as the committee’s counterparts at the OU Health Sciences Center and Oklahoma State University.


Prof. Franklin introduced the new members of the Faculty Senate, the staff representatives from the Informational Staff Association – Margaret Smith, Sue Crites, and Dan Hough – and Zekiel Johnson, representing UOSA. 





Mr. Zekiel Johnson, coordinator for graduation and retention with UOSA, announced that one of UOSA’s initiatives this year is to put together a database of all the tutoring services that are available to students.  He asked the faculty to send the names of tutors or tutoring services to Taylor Huff, UOSA’s director of Academics, at, so they can be included in the database.





Human Resources Director Julius Hilburn and Assistant Director Nick Kelly provided an update on various benefits issues:  the status of the 2010 health insurance renewal, retiree medical options, and the administration of the defined contribution plans.


Mr. Hilburn reminded the group that we changed from Aetna to BlueCross Blue Shield health insurance in January 2009, after going through a bidding process.  As part of the agreement, we negotiated that the rate increase in the second year could not exceed 10 percent for the PPO and 12 percent for the HMO.  Based on preliminary discussions, it appears the rate increases will be right up to the cap.  Our actuaries are making sure the data support that type of increase and are trying to find efficiencies that would support something below the cap.  The timeline for finalizing the rates will be delayed a couple of months for two reasons.  We have been with BlueCross Blue Shield just since January, so we do not have a lot of data in terms of how much OU has utilized services.  The hope is a couple more months of claims data will help us get a better rate.  Another reason to delay is we do not know how potential state budget reductions might affect the resources available for health care premiums.  If the increases are at the caps, the projected total increase would be about $6.5 million, with about 83 percent of the increase borne by the University and about $1.1 million borne by employees.  What we are experiencing is impacting employers and employees across the country.  In calendar year 2005, OU spent about $32 million for active employees’ medical and dental coverage.  For this year, it is expected to be $59 million, and for next year $65 million.  Retiree medical costs are expected to grow from $4.2 million in 2005 to $9.6 million in 2010.  Retirees, being an older group, utilize health care more often, and we have a growing number of retirees.  Overall, for both groups, the cost has doubled in five years.  Healthcare costs compete with other potential uses of the University’s budget.  The dilemma is how to provide affordable, quality, accessible healthcare for our employees, while making sure it is something we can afford within the University’s budget.  The Employment Benefits Committee is actively involved in the review of insurance options for 2010.  The committee will make its final recommendations to President Boren on October 15, and those recommendations will be on the November regents’ agenda.  Enrollment will be held November 13-22, and the benefits will be effective January 1, 2010.   


A committee was formed in 2007 to look at active employee insurance issues and later at retiree medical issues.  The committee has reached some consensus concerning retiree medical and will issue a final report by the end of September.  President Boren will provide an opportunity for further campus comment, and a recommendation will go to the regents, at the earliest in November.  The committee issued a preliminary report in November 2008, invited campus feedback, and received some thoughtful suggestions.  After evaluating the suggestions, the committee made a series of recommendations that provide the best balance and allow OU to continue to offer a valuable retiree medical program that can be sustained. 


Over a year ago, President Boren appointed a committee to look at how to streamline our defined contribution retirement plans and make them a more valuable benefit.  The committee is chaired by Chris Kuwitzky, Norman campus chief financial officer, and includes Terry Henson, HSC chief financial officer; Ken Evans, Business College dean; Guy Patton, OU Foundation president, and Julius Hilburn.  A request for proposal was issued a year ago, and the committee has been negotiating with various companies to serve as an administrator for the defined contribution plans.  One of the goals is to improve participant experience and education.  For some employees, all of the options are overwhelming, and they do not make choices or informed choices.  Changing the administration probably will allow us to add some plan features, such as loan provisions and hardship withdrawals.  We have to make sure our plans comply with an increased regulatory oversight, and we want to get the best value for plan participants and the University.  Given the size of the plans’ assets, we should be able to get some reductions in the cost of the services provided by the companies.  The committee expects to make a recommendation in October/November to President Boren and share the recommendation with the University community before it goes to the regents.  Implementation is most likely April to June 2010.  Details will be available as the final vendors are identified. 


Prof. Moses said he appreciated the work the committee had done on the retiree medical benefit.  Assuming the final report would be along the same lines as the preliminary report, he had two concerns.  First, the proposed plan uses two pieces of data that he cannot change – his age and the date he came to OU – which put him in what he calls a caste that he is a member of until he dies.  Second, the sharing of sacrifice is very unequally distributed among the different groups.  As a member of group 4, he will have to pay about 80 percent of his retiree medical costs.  If he had joined one or two years earlier, his cost would be significantly lower.  A method of rewarding years of service, in addition to other factors, would be a fairer system.  Mr. Hilburn said the committee examined and modeled several alternative approaches, for instance, using service only, using formulas, and smoothing the difference from one group to the other.  The final report will reflect how the committee tried to balance those compromises.  There is no perfect way to do it.  The fact that the committee took almost another year indicates the members seriously explored other alternatives.  Some changes were made based on the feedback.  With the growth in expense that we are facing, there is no way to preserve everybody and have a benefit the university can afford.  There will be opportunities to comment before the recommendations go to the regents. 


Prof. Muraleetharan asked whether the vendor for the defined contribution plan administration would be selected before a recommendation is made to the OU community.  Mr. Hilburn said the committee will identify a recommended record keeper and the structure of the new program and then seek feedback from the University community.  Prof. Muraleetharan pointed out that the vendor that is chosen might not be able to commit to some valuable suggestions that the community proposes.  Mr. Hilburn said it would be difficult to get feedback without having a definite plan design and vendor relationship in mind.  He said he would come back to share additional details when some of the programs are finalized. 





The Faculty Senate Journal for the regular session of May 11, 2009 was approved.



SENATE CHAIR'S REPORT, by Prof. Aimee Franklin


The roster function of Desire2Learn, the online course management system, is automatically available as the default to instructional faculty as well as to students.  IT staff can change the setting so that just the instructor and teaching assistants have access but the students do not.


As part of the oZONE changes, the iThink photo rosters will not be available in the spring but will be back in the fall.  Due to a technical implementation problem moving from one system to another, the roster will be down for one semester.  Further information is available at  One of the advantages to oZONE is faculty will be able to upload grades in the new system.


Grettie Bondy, a member of the Informational Staff Association, announced last May that the OU English Club was going to have a book drive.  The donations went to a second use or were recycled.  Over the summer, 1,227 books were collected.  The English Club will use the proceeds for local literacy projects. 


Prof. Connie Dillon, OU’s Faculty Athletics Representative to the NCAA, sent a letter to faculty to remind them about the NCAA principles.  Faculty members are not expected to make any kind of special accommodations for student-athletes beyond what the Athletics Department officially sanctions.


A question was raised in the May meeting about possible grammatical errors on the baseball scoreboard related to the song, “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”  Prof. Dillon did some research and found that the lyrics, “I don’t care if I never get back,” are historically accurate.  However, “cracker jacks” should be changed to “cracker jack.” 


Provost Mergler sent information to faculty about CDC guidelines and how to handle cases of the H1N1 virus in the classroom.  The key is to self isolate.  Instructors should ask students to stay home if they are ill, and they should not require a doctor’s note.  Faculty members are asked to try to make accommodations and to use Desire2Learn for communicating course content (see  Prof. Keppel asked for clarification about the doctor’s excuse.  Provost Mergler said she did not want instructors to require a doctor’s excuse this semester.  The health department is not differentiating between various types of flu, so a student will not know if s/he has H1N1 or not.  Because of the volume, no doctors’ excuses will be required for this semester and possibly for the spring.  Prof. Franklin said her understanding is we do not want to compel students to go to the doctor.  Provost Mergler added that the CDC does not want people to go to the doctor if they have standard flu symptoms; otherwise the health care system would be flooded with people.


Provost Mergler has a link on her web page about emergency procedures, which includes information on what to do about disruptive students (see  Faculty members have received information from President Boren about students who are in need of assistance.  A brochure called “Helping Students in Distress: Tips for Faculty & Staff” is available from Counseling and Testing Services.  Instructors are asked to be sensitive to students who are in need and to be aware of the emergency procedures.


In August, Prof. Bruce Granger passed away.  He was on the faculty with the English department 1953-83 and was chair of the Faculty Senate 1962-63.  We remember him.


Because of state revenue shortfalls, the University was asked in August to reduce its budget by $1 million.  That did not result in any immediate problems because the administration had set aside some money.  President Boren said he could handle further revenue shortfalls, provided they are not dramatic.  The legislature is considering whether to call a special session and whether to tap the Rainy Day fund.  Natural gas revenues are below the projections, and the state is heavily dependent on natural gas revenues.  The administration is monitoring the situation very closely and developing strategies.  Furloughs do not look likely for this year. 


In discussions with UOSA and Staff Senate, UOSA identified academic misconduct practices and policies as a potential issue on which the UOSA and Faculty Senate could partner.  The Staff Senate and UOSA are interested in working with the Faculty Senate on green issues.  The Staff Senate also is very concerned about the impact of budget reductions and changes to the health insurance benefits for active employees as well as retirees. 


Some changes in federal funding may make it possible to modify the compensation that professors receive on federal grants.  We might want to ask the research cabinet and Faculty Compensation Committee to explore what possibilities exist but try not to create disparities.


Another issue that the Faculty Senate might want to address is research on campus.  An external review team was on campus recently and made some suggestions about best practices with regard to research.  Vice President for Research Lee Williams has been invited to come to the December senate meeting to talk about research and the responsible conduct of research training.  Several concerns have been raised about the content, cost, and requirements of the training. 


Other issues can be submitted to the Faculty Senate office.  The senate Executive Committee will discuss the issues in October and prioritize those that the senate will work on this year.





The meeting adjourned at 4:37 p.m.  The next regular session of the Faculty Senate will be held at 3:30 p.m. on Monday, October 12, 2009, in Jacobson Faculty Hall 102.


Sonya Fallgatter, Administrative Coordinator


Amy Bradshaw, Faculty Secretary