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Wednesday March 18, 2015



Chair John Bishop called the meeting to order at 1:35 p.m. in the Regents and Associates Room of the Oklahoma Memorial Union.
Officers present – John Bishop, Chair; Debbie Copp, Chair-Elect; Cecilia McEwen, Recording Secretary;

Officers absent – Chris Cook, Immediate Past Chair

Staff present – Melissa Lane, Administrative Coordinator

Representatives present – Hourly Employees Council: Karen Stark, Cecilia Holmes, Ross Mehl, Brandie Wright, Carolyn Irons; Informational Staff Association: Dan Hough, Corey Helms, Richard Snelling, Gordan Carrie, Sarah Connelly, Priscilla Crawford; Organizational Staff Council: Justin Daniels, Deborah Skeel, Julia Rouse

Representatives absent — Hourly Employees Council: Eric Grubbs, Suzie Brewer, Kim Haddad, Synthia Petross, Jake Wetherington, Julie Hamburger, David Kizer; Organizational Staff Council: Matt Rom, Kristi Wright; Administrative Staff Council: Michael Giesecke, Paul Arcaroli

Guests present — Donna Dye and Matthew Wallace


On motion by Dan Hough, the minutes of February 18, 2015 Staff Senate meeting were accepted with corrections.


The past month has brought OU into the national spotlight for the bigoted chant that was immortalized on video for the world to see.  President Boren and the University were quick to act on the incident and have set the “Oklahoma Standard for a response to incidents of a similar nature.  We (the University) will be the focus of the national media spotlight for the next several months, maybe years. We (the University Staff) are the “Real Sooners”.  United, we stand with the Administration, Faculty, Students and Alumni in shock of our students reprehensible actions and hateful, bigoted demeanor.  

President Boren released the following statement: 
TO: All Students, Faculty, and Staff

To those who have misused their free speech in such a reprehensible way, I have a message for you.  You are disgraceful.  You have violated all that we stand for.  You should not have the privilege of calling yourselves "Sooners."  Real Sooners are not racist.  Real Sooners are not bigots.  Real Sooners believe in equal opportunity.  Real Sooners treat all people with respect.  Real Sooners love each other and take care of each other like family members.

Effective immediately, all ties and affiliations between this University and the local SAE chapter are hereby severed.  I direct that the house be closed and that members will remove their personal belongings from the house by midnight tomorrow. Those needing to make special arrangements for positions shall contact the Dean of Students.

All of us will redouble our efforts to create the strongest sense of family and community. We vow that we will be an example to the entire country of how to deal with this issue.  There must be zero tolerance for racism everywhere in our nation.

The OU Faculty Senate made the following statement:


The Faculty Senate stands united against racial injustice. We support the recent actions of President Boren connected with closing the SAE House and marching with students to protest a video that became public yesterday. The words and actions in the video are abhorrent. We reaffirm our shared commitment to fostering a campus culture of inclusiveness, equal opportunity, respect, and caring for others, and we stand together with our students and administration in seeking to protect and strengthen these values at OU. The Faculty Senate will recommend concrete actions to promote lasting improvements to diversity and inclusion on this campus.

The Faculty Senate statement does not mention OU Staff in its address to the Faculty.  We feel that the OU Staff Senate needs to make a statement about the incident to show support. 

Chair Elect Debbie Copp has made a draft statement that we will read in New Business. 

We will present ourselves as part of a family, the Real Sooners, the University of Oklahoma Staff.

Administrative Staff Council:  By email President Michael Giesecke said that they met on February 25th and Vice President Danny Hilliard was the guest speaker. He shared with them current legislation effecting the University. ASC will meet again on March 24 and hear from Associate Vice President Erin Yarbrough about upcoming changes from the Web Communications Department. The meeting was originally scheduled for March 25, but we had to move it due to the Arbor Day Picnic.  Talks are still ongoing with the Development Office and Fidelity Investments.

Hourly Employees Council:  By email President Eric Grubbs reported that they updated the members on the planning for the Staff Week Ice Cream social.  They received a report from our Awards Committee regarding the Staff Awards that they selected.  They had 43 nominations that they had to choose from and have notified all winners.  They selected a replacement member for group 2, Emilie Bozek.

Informational Staff Association:  President Debbie Copp reported that they did not meet.

Organizational Staff Council:  President Justin Daniels reported that they decided to call their staff assistance fund the OU Staff Assistance Fund.  Again, all proceeds will go towards helping staff during the holidays and any other time there is a significant need.  Next month they will be having a luncheon for all those nominated for awards (they had 30 people nominated).  The luncheon is tentatively set for Couch – Davenports.


Awards Committee:  By email Chair Liz Cooley reported that they did not meet.

Communications Committee:  By email Chair Gina Powell reported that the committee met by email due to Campus closure for weather.  They are currently working on the newsletter from Staff Week chair, Paige Smith, inviting staff to attend Staff Week.

Staff Initiatives Committee:  Chair Kristi Wright reported by email that they continued their discussion about tuition waivers and are hoping to put forth a proposal to Staff Senate in the next couple of months. Under new business they had a committee member bring up bereavement leave and asked if this would be beneficial to separate it out but the committee feels they should not separate leave. Also the previous topic led a committee member to ask about the shared leave program and how it works. So discussion was held and they are going to request further information but feel it probably falls under the employee benefits committee.
Staff Week Committee:  Chair Paige Smith reported by email that they went over items needed from facilities management (with Syndy and Sue-Ann) at each event. They voted on giveaway items for Wednesday and chose hot and cold compresses that will be red with white writing on them and a hand sanitizer that will be red as well. Thursday they chose burgundy bags with a white staff week logo. Friday item was not chosen yet, still tbd via email this week. The One U store will have the hopper stored there for the week of staff week.


Employee Benefits Committee:  Debbie Copp reported the following: I. Enrollment Update; Working on detailed final analysis. Early numbers show that PPO went up 39% and HMO went down 34%. Dependent numbers are holding steady. Working on a more detailed report and may work up a survey to try to better understand what info people use for decision making. “What drives you from one plan to another?” Will share more numbers in the future. II. Consulting Services; Have decided to hold off on this for one year. Our contact is new to Segal and he previously served as the director of benefits for the University of Michigan. Have also asked for Norm to be returned to our account. Will see how this works this year then make further decisions about consultant and an RFP.  III. Long Term Care Insurance; Have been notified by vendor that no new enrollees will be allowed after February 2016. Other changes are being made by the company so we are looking at an RFP. Need to find a way to protect all the people who are currently in the plan as some of the changes will make the plan we currently have much less attractive while having an option for new employees.  IV. Retirement Update; Planning for Retirement Expos to be held in March on all three campuses. Want to make sure employees understand all of the benefits they are offered as OU retirees, including those by campus departments. Plan to spend time this year educating employees on the voluntary accounts we can contribute to with Fidelity. Currently have a very low percentage of people using this option. They will be targeting people based on length of service and those who get promotions with raises. One consideration is to change it to a percentage of income vs. a flat dollar amount. That way the contribution would go up whenever salary went up without the employee having to do anything. Watch for more information on this upcoming. V. Dependent Tuition Fee Waiver; Anticipate it will begin in summer of 2015. Administrative guidelines are being prepared and will be distributed in the week ahead. Questions about this program will ultimately go to the Bursar’s Office and not HR. It will be for the first bachelor’s degree. VI. Wellness Update; Offering a Full Plate online course and 81 people have signed up and paid their money. Must complete entire course before they can get a refund. Working on other options going forward as this seems to be a popular option. Standing desk program is going to happen and will roll out sometime this spring. V. Updates from the Director; Benefit priorities in 2015: ACA IRS reporting requirements; Review self insurance; Review telemedicine options; Compliance with HIPPA, ACA and tax issues; Value based plans; Wellness; Cost-saving strategies; Contribution strategies; Continued review of the “Cadillac” tax that kicks goes into effect in 2018; Watching the private exchanges.

Health Insurance Working Committee:  By email Sue Anna Miller reported that they have not met.


The following reports were linked to the March agenda:

Staff Senate Foundation account report

Minutes of Employment Benefits Committee meeting for November 2014



Statement on Recent Events on the Norman Campus: On motion from Corey Helms with unanimous support the Staff Senate will release the following statement:
We, the elected officers and representatives of the Staff Senate on the Norman campus, applaud and commend President David L. Boren and others for the leadership they have provided in the wake of recent events that have left so many angry, stunned and shaken. We are proud to say we work somewhere where the phrase “Not on Our Campus” is more than a slogan, it truly is a what we hold true. We appreciate that those involved are being held accountable for their actions that upset so many and we appreciate the significant dialogue that continues.

We pledge our efforts to continue to bring more inclusion to our campus through the actions of students, staff, faculty and other members of the Sooner Family. We welcome the opportunity to be part of that dialogue and part of the solution as we move forward. We are committed to making our campus one where differences are celebrated as we explore the many ways we are similar rather than focus on that which separates us.

We truly believe that the Sooner Family will emerge stronger than before. We are willing to do what we can as staff members to make OU a national example of a place where there is a commitment to equality and nonviolence. We welcome all initiatives that make “Live on University” an attainable goal with all members of the Sooner Family working together. 



As there was no further business, the meeting adjourned at 2:30 p.m.


Respectfully submitted,

Melissa Lane
Administrative Coordinator

Cecilia McEwen
Recording Secretary

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The University of Oklahoma Staff Senate, Norman Campus, 905 Asp, Norman, OK 73019 (405) 325-4672  | 
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