November 2002 Minutes


Meeting Minutes
Wednesday, November 6, 2002
11:30 a.m. - Athletic Department Conference Room 3695

Informational Staff Association Vice President/President Elect, Annette Schwiebert, called the business meeting to order.

Members present: Lenore Arlee, Grettie Bondy, Jim Cox, Chris Fiebrich, Dan Hough, Celia Jones, Masood Khan, Susan Lauterbach, Anna Love, Janet Martinez, Sophia Morren, Johnnie-Margaret McConnell, Bill Moakley, Dawna Nelson, Annette Schwiebert, Marko Sherbon, Calvin Weeks. Guests: Jackie Farley, Staff Senate Chair Chris McNabb, OSC President, and Barbara Perry, Staff Senate Office.

Introduction of Guest Speaker, Nick Hathaway, Vice President for Administrative and Executive Affairs. Nick grew up in Parsippany, N.J., and holds a bachelor's degree from Tulane, and an MBA from OU. Like many of us, he worked and went to school to get this degree. He came to OU in 1994, after having worked in then-Senator Boren's office in Washington, D. C. Nick's former role as vice president for executive affairs was combined with administrative affairs in August 2002. In a recent issue of OU People, he described his duties as follows:
"I will assume all of the duties of the vice president for administrative affairs, while maintaining my role as vice president for executive affairs. As vice president for executive affairs, I try to ensure that all of the president's programs, initiatives and projects are proceeding in the way that he would want them to. I also have daily contact with deans, directors and vice presidents at the university, and they keep me abreast of activities in their areas so that I can keep the president informed. As the vice president for administrative affairs, I will oversee the financial affairs of the University and also serve as the chief operating officer for the service units of the institution."

Comments by Nick - Despite the absence of Connie Smith and Debbie Copp, Nick was happy to report to ISA that his daughter Grace, now 6 months old, is doing great. Nick enjoys "going home to smiles" each day, especially with the challenges of his expanded position.

Not sure whether to start with good news or bad news, Nick went ahead and jumped into a discussion of budget cuts. OU has sustained three cuts already ($13M), with an additional cut likely to occur. This cut is estimated to be 2-3% or 3.5 million dollars and was delayed probably due to the recent election cycle. Oklahoma's economy is unpredictable, but not expected to increase in the near future since we have been experiencing double digit declines in state revenues. President Boren hopes that the future cut will be covered by one-time monies, as a portion of the past cuts have been, as well.

What to do about the budget situation? Because OU ranks last in the Big 12 in student fee and tuition costs, the administration has recommended increasing student costs. OU offers a higher quality of education than many of the other Big 12 institutions and in order to continue to offer an excellent educational environment, prices need to match the level of service provided. Fee increases are seen as an insurance policy for avoiding a decline in the advances achieved during the past several years. Unfortunately, it is difficult to convince the legislature of the need for tuition adjustments, even though OU would remain the best buy (lowest cost) in the Big 12. Legislators must understand; however, that OU administration has cut costs as much as possible and if funds are not increased, academic budgets will decline. Administrators have been asked if increased costs will decrease student demand for an OU education. The answer is no because of the reality that of the 20,000 Oklahoma students eligible for OU, only 4000 attend each year.

OU and other Oklahoma institutions are not alone in experiencing budget cuts. Many institutions across the country are in the same situation, including some cut drastically enough to require the elimination of faculty positions. Fortunately, OU did not fall so far down a budget hole that when funding improves, we should quickly bounce back to a good place.

As most staff are aware, in addition to facing additional budget cuts OU has been feeling the crunch of increasing health care costs. Last year health care expenses were $37 million and are expected to increase by 17% or $6 million, next year. Cutting benefits does not decrease costs so the university continues to work on securing reasonable network pricing. The policy of no referrals for visits to specialists is one reason for the increase in costs. Any future changes in health care to manage costs will be submitted to all appropriate staff member groups for consultation. A RFP is currently out for future health care services.

On to the good news, Mercer Consulting has been retained to study the OU retirement system and to determine if the system can be simplified in order to make it easier to administer and understand. This is not intended to be a cost savings measure or ploy to abandon OTRS, although future employees may be able to opt-out of this program.

OU continues to be viewed as a support for economic development in the state. We are still an engine for economic growth, as evidenced by the groundbreaking for the National Weather Center last week (Norman has a cluster of 600 weather employees). In addition to the weather industry, OU has other niches with potential for future investment, including energy and the genome project.

People Soft, which has been a big project, went live on Monday.

Nick addressed the following questions from ISA members:

Dan Hough
Q: Outsourcing on campus, especially for the Motor Pool (and removal of the Motor Pool facilities)?

A: There is talk about rental car companies offering services to OU, but not a total outsourcing of the Motor Pool. Nick has not heard any discussion about the Motor Pool facilities but will check into the issue and get back with ISA. On a related note, Nick indicated that no further consolidation of services between OUHSC and the Norman campus are planned.

Susan Lauterbach
Q: Has wellness programming been considered for reducing health care costs?

A: In addition to wellness services already offered by the university, Nick is aware of other programs and future health care plans will include these types of measures. Nick thinks that is important to involve patients in making health care decisions through understanding of costs for services.

Dan Hough
Q: As part of the stadium expansion, will a workout facility for faculty/staff be provided?

A: There has been talk of such a facility, but if provided it will be small and access will be limited. It is up to the President to resolve this issue. Nick is concerned that currently many faculty and staff work-out in areas scattered all over, many of which are unsafe settings.

Anna Love
Q: Is the Bursar's Office moving from Administrative Affairs?

A: There has been discussion about moving all student services to one area but no decisions have been made at this point.

Nick asked if the staff present had heard any rumors that needed to be addressed.
Sophia Morren
R: Despite the administration's assurance that no lay-offs would occur due to budget cuts, rumor has it that jobs in the College of Fine Arts have been eliminated.

A: Each college dean was given total discretion on how to handle budget cuts and in this college only, some cuts did occur. On a related note, some other personnel changes have occurred on campus, but these were planned even before the budget cuts.

1. Introduction of members and guests - Because of the number of new members present, each person was asked to introduce themselves, their department and number of years employed at the university. Several of the staff present have been with the university more than 25 years.

2. With a motion by Johnnie-Margaret and second by Marko, the October minutes were accepted by unanimous vote as presented.

3. President's remarks -
Annette filled in for Connie, who was absent because of a dedication ceremony that required her presence.
Annette thanked Marko for his outstanding work on the first addition of the electronic ISA newsletter.

4. Reports -
Staff Senate, Annette Schwiebert.
(1) The date of Staff Week has been moved to accommodate the schedules of the President and OMU Ballroom, primarily for the Awards Ceremony. Staff week will be held the week of April 28 to May 2.

(2) Linda Warner was added to the Committee on Discrimination and Harassment to fill a vacant position.

(3) The recommendations from the Staff Professional Development Travel Committee (SPD) were passed, which include: 1. requesting $20,000 for FY03, 2. removing the word "travel" from the name of the fund, and 3. allowing grant/contract funded staff to be eligible for SPD funds. The SPD chair, Cerry Leffler also asked that staff become familiar with the program requirements before applying because many ineligible staff have been requesting funds, unnecessarily increasing the workload of the committee.

To view the entire minutes from the Staff Senate Meeting, please see

Faculty Senate, Susan Lauterbach. Discussion at the Faculty Senate meeting included the possibility of a faculty workout facility in the stadium, compliance and research, and the move of Environmental Safety to OUHSC. The senate approved revisions to the nepotism policy. For the Faculty Senate minutes, see

5. New Business
ISA Staff Week Event. Chris McNabb, former PSA Chair, presented a history of the PSA Staff Week Art Show. The show has been held for the past 9 or 10 years in the University Club. Artwork is solicited from staff for a judged show with 1st, 2nd, & 3rd places with 6 honorable mentions and a peoples' choice selected from the opening reception. Cash awards, ribbons, and other prizes were given to the winning artists. The number of entries has ranged from ten to thirty. This is usually the least attended staff week event, but as Lenore chimed in, "a different event with a good following."

The opening reception for the Art Show usually included food and entertainment. One factor to consider is that the University Club pricing for the event will increase this year. The decision to continue this event rests with the ISA. One idea mentioned, that has been done in the past, is to hold a talent show. Lenore recommended continuing with the Art Show. With a motion by Susan and second by Marko, the continuation passed by unanimous vote.

Volunteers for the Art Show committee included Lenore, Anna, Marko, Susan and Sophia. Marko moved the nominations and Grettie provided a second.

Information Technology Council (ITC) Information Systems Security Policy, Dan Hough. The original policy was disliked by Dean's Council and therefore was submitted to the ITC for input. The ITC will be requesting recommendations on the policy in the November Staff Senate meeting and thus the need for ISA feedback now. The policy was initially 5 or six pages, now only three. After comments from Marko and Susan on the policy, Dan clarified that this policy would not preempt stricter departmental policies, such as those at OCCE.

6. Miscellaneous
Barbara Perry displayed red OU fleece lap blankets being sold by the Staff Week committee to raise funds. Input on pricing was solicited from the group. Also to raise staff week funding, the Awards Committee will be auctioning lithographs. Staff Week budgets are due December 1.

Meeting adjourned.

Respectfully submitted,
Sophia Morren, ISA Secretary

NEXT MEETING: Wednesday, December 4, 2002 at 11:30 AM, location to be announced.