October 2002 Minutes


Meeting Minutes
Wednesday, October 2, 2002
11:30 a.m. - OMU President's Room

Informational Staff Association President, Connie Smith, called the business meeting to order.

Members present: Anthony Barrens, Pamela Boatright, Grettie Bondy, Debbie Copp, Joan Goth, Dan Hough, Anna Love, Debra Levy Martinelli, Sophia Morren, Dawna Nelson, Marilyn Nicely, Annette Schwiebert, Marko Sherbon, Tanya Stewart and Connie Smith. Guests: Cerry Leffler, SPD Travel Fund Committee chair and Barbara Perry, Staff Senate Office.

1. Introduction of members and guests - Connie provided cookies for all those present and Tanya took member pictures for the web site.

2. With a motion by Annette and second by Debra, the August minutes were accepted by unanimous vote as presented.

3. President's remarks -
Connie welcomed everyone present and stated "this is your group so any issues that you want addressed or questions that you have, please let us know."
Meeting location discussion. There was a question about moving the meeting location back to the stadium, now that the renovation of the meeting room is complete. The primary advantage of the athletic meeting room is the large size, which would allow the ISA to accommodate big groups, especially for meetings with high-interest speakers. After January, parking will be available in the new parking facility and until then other parking is readily available at 11:30. Grettie moved on the issue. Debbie will verify room availability.
The newsletter committee will meet in the next month. Members include Annette, Marko and Connie. Tanya volunteered to join the committee, as well.
A treasurer's report should be available next month.

4. Reports -
Staff Senate, by Connie Smith. - Several guest speakers addressed Staff Senate, including:
(1) Theta Dempsey, Director of Parking & Transit - The Asp Parking Facility (next to the stadium) will open in January with 5 levels of parking (750 spaces) and a first floor bookstore and athletic ticket office. In addition, 90 faculty/staff spaces will be added south of SEC. Next summer, the gravel lot east of the stadium with the potential of 200+ spaces will be paved. This will help with the loss of parking in April when the construction of the College of Journalism and College of Business expansion being.

Recent rate increases in parking permits have been used to retire the debt on parking garage bonds. Funds for the garage construction have also come from parking tickets and football parking.

(2) Julius Hilburn, Director of Human Resources - OU's newest director, Julius is a native to Oklahoma (Chickasha) and recently retired from Kerr McGee. Julius stated that he is excited about being on campus, despite current challenges of the budget and PeopleSoft conversion.

Julius is familiar with PeopleSoft and explained how training (going on now) is an important component of OU's conversion process to the software.

Concerning the budget, Julius commented that OU is not under a hiring freeze, although "needs would be scrutinized before filling vacant positions" (Staff senate minutes). Benefits are also being closely examined since medical costs are not expected to decrease and university funds are unavailable to cover additional costs. OU is working with networks and providers to negotiate better deals for health care services.

(3) Nick Kelly, Administrator for Benefits - Nick explained that short-term disability is now called extended sick leave to avoid confusion with the new short-term disability insurance that he hopes will be offered next year. Employees hired after 1995 were not provided with short-term disability hours, as earlier employees had been. Thus, half of all OU employees have no safety-net for extended illnesses.

Nick explained that the purpose of the consulting firm hired to examine OU's retirement program is to simplify the program. A major question is whether or not OU should remain in the OTRS. Other questions concerning benefits from the senate included clarification on the 90-day supply for 60-day price on prescriptions. This year, the OU plan changed to a 90 day for 75-day price. Nick indicated that this had been approved by the Employment Benefits Committee, and only applies to maintenance drugs eligible for the program.

There was quite a bit of discussion about the retiree benefits issue. It was concluded that rumors about the cost of retire health insurance probably originated with news about the Retirement Benefits Committee being formed to look at simplifying the retirement program. Debbie and Connie pointed out that it should be the mission of staff groups like ISA to dispel rumors on campus by providing staff with accurate information.

Tonya brought up the issue that all OU employees are yearly contract employees, hence the reason for yearly employment letters from the President's Office. She also provided positive comments about the OTRS. It was noted that if OU left the OTRS, state legislative approval would be required.

Anthony provided a copy of the most recent Benefits Newsletter, which contained incorrect information about the 90/75 prescription program.

To view the entire minutes from the Staff Senate Meeting, please see http://www.ou.edu/staff_senate/minutes.html

Faculty Senate, no report at this time. For the Faculty Senate minutes, see http://www.ou.edu/admin/facsen/minutes/502jrn.htm

5. Old Business
Constitutional Review Committee report. The constitution was been located and therefore, revision work will begin in the near future.

6. New Business
Staff Professional Development Travel Fund Committee chair, Cerry Leffler, gave an update about the program, which was funded by the President's Office. The committee must submit a report to request funds for each year (does not require Staff Senate vote). This year, only $10,000 of the allotted $20,000 was awarded to staff for professional development because the program was only in operation for 6 months. Two ISA members present at the meeting, Grettie and Dawna, were recipients of funds from this program.

The committee has requested two program changes, which do require a vote of Staff Senate. The first is that the word 'travel' be removed from the program title. Secondly, grant funded staff (16% of OU staff) have been exempted from the program. The committee feels that grant staff are seldom allowed professional development in grant funding packages and should be eligible to participate in the Staff Professional Development Travel Fund. After discussion, Debbie moved that the ISA recommend approval of the requested program changes. Grettie seconded the motion and it passed unanimously.

The newest committee member to the Staff Professional Development Travel Fund committee is Cindy Adams from HEC. Dan pointed out that the committee has no representation from ISA. The committee will sit on this issue for a year. Next year, Anthony Barrens will be Staff Senate chair and will be in the position to appoint new committee members. Additionally, ISA made comments on how to increase publicity for the program and will aid the cause by addressing the issue in an upcoming ISA newletter.

Project Ideas. Debbie recommended "adopting" needy children for the holiday season. Last year PSA was successful in participating in this project, donating two car loads full of presents. Details will be presented at a future meeting.

Meeting adjourned at 12:55 PM.

Respectfully submitted,
Sophia Morren, ISA Secretary

NEXT MEETING: Wednesday, November 6, 2002 at 11:30 AM in the OMU President's Room.