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Wednesday, November 14, 2018



Chair Justin Daniels called the meeting to order at 1:32 p.m. in the Bartlett Room of the Oklahoma Memorial Union.
Officers present – Justin Daniels, Chair; Sarah Connelly, Chair-Elect; John Bishop, Immediate Past Chair; Ross Mehl, Recording Secretary

Staff present – Melissa Lane, Administrative Coordinator

Representatives present – Hourly Employees Council: Crystal Ary, Cody Jaynes, Cynthia De La Rosa, Julie Hamburger, Kelly Thompson, Tanya Miller Eager, Joanne Braunbeck, David Kizer; Informational Staff Association: Corey Helms, Chris Cook, Rachel Meyer; Organizational Staff Council: Skye Uhlenhake, Shannon Overstreet, Diana Fitzpatrick, Tonya Iman; Administrative Staff Council: Patrick McClain, David Corbly (Proxy)

Representatives absent — Hourly Employees Council: Nick McCracken, Suzie Brewer; Informational Staff Association: Cathy Yeaman, Elaine Bradshaw, Leslie Vennochi; Organizational Staff Council: Salina Wall, Jenny Lang; Administrative Staff Council: Darcy Adams Maelzer

Guests — Robin Stroud, Debra Levy Martinelli, Trisha Cole, Marissa Pierson, Matthew Rom, Marcy Fleming, Lee Camargo Quinn, Leora Kirby, Michelle Meazell, Lori Granec, Adell Hopper, Megan Elwood Madden, Ashley Price, and Jackie Wolf


On motion by Corey Helms the minutes of October 17, 2018 Staff Senate meeting were accepted.


Chair Justin Daniels said a lot has been happening in Staff Senate both out front and behind the scenes over the last month. Starting from our last meeting up until now…my meeting with HSC and OU-Tulsa Staff Senate Chairs was rescheduled due to a last-minute scheduling conflict for one of the other campus chairs. That meeting has been rescheduled for Friday, November 16th in Tulsa. Staff Senate Exec had a great meeting with Faculty Senate Exec. Several items were discussed including the ongoing VP searches, inclusiveness and diversity committees, establishing regular meetings between our groups and regular meetings between the Faculty Senate Chair and myself. Having said that, I also had a follow up meeting with the Faculty Senate Chair where we discussed further how the VP searches were going, meetings we’ve both had with administration, and ways faculty and staff can work together to send strong messages of cohesion. We asked member group Presidents to collect names of individuals that would like to serve on a new ad hoc Inclusiveness and Diversity Committee. The member group Presidents provided us with a list of names and we will be reaching to all of them to organize a meeting and select a chair for the group. Ultimately the plan is for this ad hoc committee to become one of our permanent Standing Committee’s that will work regularly with the Faculty Senate’s Equality, Inclusiveness, and Diversity Committee and the Office of University Community. Lastly, on November 1st the university experienced a reduction in force across several departments. I became aware of the reduction in force the afternoon of October 31st and immediately contacted the Interim Director of Human Resources, Marcy Fleming, for information. We discussed the process, how the decision had been reached to conduct the RIF, and to ensure the policy related to conducting the RIF had been followed. What was presented to me indicated the process for the RIF had been followed in accordance with the policy and that staff were being treated fairly. I asked for further inclusion if additional RIF’s were to occur, so Staff Senate could ensure policy was followed.


Administrative Staff Council:  President Patrick McClain reported that had two representatives from OU’s Institutional Research and Reporting Office give a presentation about the mission and purpose of IRR and all the resources available to staff. You can find more resources and their contact information on their website:? The group also discussed the recent reduction in force at the University. Contrary to some of the reports, the University did follow the Staff Handbook Policy and central HR along with OU Career Services are providing numerous services to the impacted staff to help make their transition easier.

Hourly Employees Council:  President Crystal Ary reported that they discussed the Inclusion + Diversity Committee, they had 4 people volunteer. Ideas for guest speakers or different areas on campus to tour was discussed, an idea that came up was the vegetable garden, “the green truck”.  HEC currently has the Holiday Raffle going on, proceeds will benefit the backpack program. If anyone is interested in purchasing a raffle ticket see Ross. Tickets are $1 each for 6 for $5. The drawing will be done after next month’s Staff Senate meeting.

Informational Staff Association:  President Corey Helms reported that they met and discussed some proposed changes to their constitution and by-laws concerning meeting times/locations to better accommodate scheduling moving forward but were not able to come to an agreement on wording. They will be looking into forming a committee to evaluate the overall constitution and by-laws to see how they can align more closely with those of the Staff Senate. They also provided updates on some of the ongoing executive search committees on campus and discussed members’ ongoing questions, concerns, or ideas. One opportunity identified was looking into ways that staff could vocalize concerns to University Leadership anonymously. They also identified volunteers to serve on the Inclusiveness and Diversity committee.

Organizational Staff Council:  President Skye Uhlenhake reported that they met for their annual Potluck luncheon.  After the usual business items were discussed, they discussed Operation Comfort & Joy notification dates, deadlines, and communications. 


Awards Committee:  By email Chair Liz Cooley reported that they didn’t meet this month.

Communications Committee:  By email Chair Caroline Wertz reported that they met via email to review member group summaries provided by group chairs for the next Staff Senate newsletter. ISA Chair Corey Helms reached out to me and Erin Yarbrough regarding the production of a video featuring interviews with various staff members about their experiences with Staff Senate, member groups and committees. It would be filmed during Staff Week events, hopefully with the possibility of featuring it on social media. Erin is enlisting the help of another department on campus to do videography, and our committee will collaborate with all parties involved on who to feature and what stories we hope to tell. 

Staff Initiatives Committee:  Chair Marissa Pierson reported that they meet next week.

Staff Week Committee:  Chair Trisha Cole reported that Staff Week IS happening!  Help spread the word.  There is a lot of talk that we may not have Staff Week, but we ARE! Schedule is still a little tentative.  They are hoping by next meeting they will have the week a little more set in place.  They discussed and voted against selling t-shirts this year for Staff Week.  Sales have gone down every year.  The Craft Fair will be in the Ballroom of the Union.  Vendors will be able to park in the garage.  Won’t have to worry about weather. The Staff Week theme this year is – OU Staff:  The Heart of the University


Inclusion and Diversity Ad Hoc Committee:  Chair Justin Daniels reported that there were 13 people that volunteered to serve on the committee.  He is going to call the committee together for their first meeting and select a chair.


Employee Benefits Committee:    Matthew Rom reported:

HR Communication Update

  • Lots of communications going out in anticipation of open enrollment (9 to date).
  • Held two kick-off events with approximately 400 employees attending
  • 34 more communications left before the end of the open enrollment period
  • Benefit fairs on the 29th and 30th of October (one on the main campus and one on south campus)
  • Beneficiaries for all programs can be changed during open enrollment

Retirement Update

  • Beneficiary campaign starting soon to ensure everything is current and up to date
  • Fidelity will reach out to employees who are no longer with the University to remind them to update their beneficiary
  • Fidelity will be at the benefits fair as well as the social security administration

Wellness Update

  • Did not have a fun run this year but partnered with Stephenson on their run
  • Naturally slim results show substantial weight loss


The following reports were linked to the November agenda:

Staff Senate Foundation account report

Minutes of Employment Benefits Committee meeting for September 2018


New Ideas for Staff Senate Involvement: Corey Helms reported that he is working to get everyone together in the same room so that they can finalize some ideas and plans.


Staff Senate Merit Awards: Chair Justin Daniels handed out a proposal from the Executive Committee, he asked that everyone look over the document and provide any feedback they might have to their member group President, Staff Senate office or to Justin directly.

Anonymous Presidential Feedback:  Corey Helms reported that in the ISA meeting a question was brought up if staff have an anonymous way to voice concerns to the President.  After discussion the group found out that the President’s Hotline is still active and can be used.  Marcy Fleming also said that people can use Ethics Point as a reporting mechanism.

Reduction in Force: Marcy Flemingreported the following:

Leadership within colleges and departments were asked to present cost savings proposals focused on more efficient ways of running each area. Cost savings are primarily focused on areas that do not directly impact the academic mission.
The Reduction in Force (RIF) is one result of proposals submitted by colleges and department leadership who were asked to present plans for cost savings and efficiencies in their areas. Proposals to date total more than $20 million in annual savings. Leadership identified much of the savings by cutting third-party services and purchases, but some of the cost savings require a RIF.
The first phase of these plans result in a reduction of approximately 50 staff positions. The affected employees have been notified.

  • Leadership within colleges and departments were asked to present cost savings proposals focused on more efficient ways of running each area. Cost savings are primarily focused on areas that do not directly impact the academic mission.
  • Some of the cost savings proposals require a reduction in workforce.
  • The first phase of these plans meant a reduction of approximately 50 staff positions. The affected employees have been notified. 
  • Moving toward a balanced budget is essential in order to control tuition costs for our students, afford employee raises to ensure competitive salaries, and be prudent stewards of taxpayer and donor funds.
  • The Reduction in Force followed the Staff Handbook Section 3.7:
  • Affected employees were given 60 days of paid notice and a severance package based on their years of service.
  • This is the first phase of layoffs and we do not anticipate any further layoffs before the end of the year. However, as current efficiency proposals are refined and new proposals identified there may be further layoffs next year. The extent of such layoffs is not currently known as many groups have not yet submitted proposals.
  • Because this will be a constant process of evaluating efficiencies within the university, there is not a timeline for layoffs. These very difficult decisions are made as part of recommendations and proposals from area leadership based on finding new efficiencies.


Executive Searches:  Marcy Flemingreported the following:

We expect that selections for the Senior Vice President CFO, Chief Audit Executive, and Executive Director for Government Affairs will be included on the December Board of Regents Agenda.

Searches for the following executives are underway.

We expect these VPs to be selected before the Winter Break or immediately following.

  • VP for Marketing & Communications
  • VP for Human Resources
  • VP for Student Affairs
  • VP for Operations

Searches for these positions will continue into the first quarter of 2019.

  • Senior Associate VP, CIO
  • VP for Advancement
  • VP for Research
  • Senior Associate VP for University Community


Sarah Connelly said that the Graduate College is changing the tuition and fee structure for graduate students. Over the next 5 years they are gradually reducing the Graduate Academic Excellence Fee and increasing graduate tuition (to keep the total cost the same). This will increase the benefit of the Staff Tuition Waiver for staff members who are pursuing graduate degrees. For example, next year the Graduate Academic Excellence Fee will decrease by $712 and graduate tuition will increase by $712. For staff in graduate programs, they will see their fees go down by $712, but their tuition will not go up this full amount because staff receive a 50% discount on tuition, therefore, their overall balance will go down. If staff have questions, they can contact Sarah Connelly at or 325-3921.


As there was no further business, the meeting adjourned at 2:48 p.m.

NEXT REGULAR MEETING:  December 12, 2018

Respectfully submitted,
Melissa Lane
Administrative Coordinator

Ross Mehl
Recording Secretary

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