Meeting, April 10, 2008

Meeting, April 10, 2008
Gallagher Business Building, Room 123


Members Present:

B. Allen, E. Ametsbichler, C. Anderson, T. Atkins, L. Barnes, R. Bendick-Kier, N. Bradley-Browning, B. Brown, K. Canty, J. Carter, B. Cochran, A. Delaney,  B. Douma, L. Dybdal, J. Eglin, L. Frey, J. Gannon S. Greymorning, B. Halfpap, L. Hayes, J. Henry, J. Herbold, S. Justman, L. Knott, M. Kupilik, B. Larson, J. Lopach, J. Luckowski, M. Mayer, D. McCrea, M. McHugh, J. McNulty, S. Miller, M. Monsos M. Papanek-Miller, M. Patterson,  D. Potts, L. Putnam, J. Renz, E. Rosenberg, T. Seekins, D. Shively, R. Skelton, D. Spencer, S. Stiff, R. Stubblefield, D. Swibold, K. Uhlenbruck, N. Vonessen, A. Ware                      

Members Excused

F. Cardozo-Palaez, S. Gordon, W. Holben, C. Loisel, S. McCann, C. Nichols, M. Pershouse, B. Reider, D. Six, G. Smith, D. Stolle, H. Thompson, E. Uchimoto

Members Absent

L. Blank, J. Crepeau, L. Eagle Heart-Thomas, D. Erikson, J. Glendening, K. James, P. Silverman, K. Unger

Ex-Officio Present:

President Dennison, Provost Engstrom, Associate Provost Walker-Andrews, Registrar Micus


Chair Hayes called the meeting to order at 3:10 p.m.  

Registrar Micus called role.

The  3/13/08 minutes were amended and approved.


Provost Engstrom
Graduation Candidates
The list of graduation candidates was approved. 

The membership lists for the Academic Planning and Accreditation Steering Committees were posted as information to senators.  Professor Brewer is chairing the Academic Planning Steering Committee and Professor Hirstein is chairing the Accreditation Steering Committee.  They will report to the Senate regularly and there will be a web site with updates.

Board of Regents Items

Provost Engstrom provided updates on the budget initiatives introduced at the last meeting by President Dennison. They are working through initiatives in preparation for next spring's legislative session. A set of initiatives have been submitted to the Board of Regents.  The Governor's Office provided feedback and a revised set of initiatives  submitted and are currently under discussion by the Board.  There are several important initiatives that we hope are successful.

  1. Salary Initiative - adjust salaries closer to market value and addressing inversion and compression issues. This would be in addition to the cost of living increases.
  2. Graduate Education -funding is requested to build graduate programs by increasing graduate stipend levels to be regionally and nationally competitive  and to eliminate non-resident tuition
  3. Strategic Faculty Initiative -funding is requested for new faculty positions
  4. Targeted Financial Aid - money directed to campuses around the state struggling with enrollment
  5. K-12 Alignment Initiative - college preparation pilot program working with K-12 school districts to help students be successful

The Board of Regents is moving forward with common course numbering.  Equivalent course outcomes are established for commonly transferred courses. These courses are also given a common title and course number.  Sixteen Discipline Councils have been meeting to work through the common course issues. The Councils are identifying the common elements, not changing course content.  The Legislature is very interested in this.  It is an important public policy issue.

The Board is also working to improve the status of two-year education within the system. The "Making Opportunity Affordable" proposal will study the MUS two-year programs and put in place strategies to better align them with the four-year programs, and improve attendance and graduation rates.  The Board has also established a Deputy Commissioner for Two-Year Education position to oversee the two-year institutions of the state.

Recruitment Update

A new Equal Opportunity Officer, Lucy France has been hired.
The CAS Dean search continues.  One candidate has visited campus.
Associate Provost for Graduate Studies candidates will be on campus later this month.


Senator Rosenberg: How is MSU able to offer higher teaching assistant stipends particularly in Chemistry and how is this is going to be addressed at UM.  UM's recruiting suffers because of MSU's ability to offer $3- 4 thousand higher stipends.

Provost Engstrom:  The campuses have the ability to set their stipends.  So it is a matter of financial resources.  He does not know specifically how MSU has moved funds around to offer the higher stipends.  The graduate education initiative requests funds to move the doctoral level assistantship to $25,000.

Senator McNulty: Is there a website that has the graduate initiative posted?

Provost Engstrom:  The initiatives are not posted online, but he can provide the draft the Faculty Senate Office to be made available for senators to view.    

Vice President Duringer
The administration is thinking about ways to accomplish the Governors' 20% X 2010 energy consumption reduction initiative.  The administration won't respond to the Governor directly until after the Regents have had a chance to review the items at the May meeting.  

The campus has been successful in the area of sustainability.  All of the renovation and construction standards have been updated so that buildings will be LEED certified.  He is proposing an Office of Sustainability for the institution.  The Sustainable Campus Committee is currently reviewing the proposal. Since the construction of the Gallagher Business Building all new buildings have been substantially cooled and partially heated with ground water recirculation. This has saved close to 20% in energy costs.  However, the governor's program started January 2008 so these efficiencies are not included. The newer buildings (Skaggs addition, Anderson Hall, Education Building-breaking ground 5/2/080, Native American Center -breaking ground 4/19/08, Interdisciplinary Science Building, and the Law Building) will be able to count towards the initiative.  The reduction realized from these buildings and the other items on the list amount to a reduction between 12-13%. He is interested in any practical ideas related to energy conservation. 

Senator James: How can temperature control be accomplished with the configuration of campus buildings and different heating/cooling systems?

Vice President Duringer:  A lot of the buildings are heated by blunt force steam and the control systems in the buildings are old. So the temperature will not be controlled very easily in some of the buildings. The newer buildings have digital control by zones.  Temperature control in some buildings will depend on voluntary cooperation. Employees will be asked to give up their inefficient space heaters.  Facilities Services is looking at more efficient heating devices.

Senator Spencer: Additional trees on the west side of Rankin Hall will help to shade the building for more comfortable temperatures in the summer.

Senator Greymorning:  Has there been any investigation of wind turbines?

Vice President Duringer:  There is currently a 10 kilowatt wind turbine in Hellgate Canyon.  This generates power when wind is available.  However, there is not enough wind on a regular basis to make much of a difference.  The city was not in favor of the large 100 ft blades turbines.

The state of the equipment in the heating plant:  There are three boilers; two are approximately 50 years old.  There is a new boiler in the long range building plan.  It has been there for 10 years, but has not made it forward.  We are replacing about $10 million dollars of steam line infrastructure on campus.  Once this is done and there is evidence that our steam generation capacity is not in jeopardy, the project will move up on the list of priorities.

Water consumption:  One of the things we are looking at is turning off hot water in some of the buildings.    Public Health is opposed to this and the students in the dorms object because they are paying fees and should be able to have hot showers.  Wells are used for irrigation water. 

UFA President Kupilik
It is time once again to make your ‘choices' with regards to the Health Care Plan. Our medical, dental and pharmacy plans are self-funded. Everyone contributes to the fund.  The fund is invested and used to pay claims.  A third party administrator (Allegiance or Blue Cross, New West, and Peak for managed care) administers the claims. Delta Dental is our dental carrier and the pharmacy benefit manager is now CareMart (CVS).  The plan realized efficiencies through the steerage changes and the reserves have been growing.   Unfortunately our reserves attracted the attention of a few legislators who inquired through the Legislative Audit Committee how much money was needed in reserve.  The MUS hired Northwest Actuaries and used a ‘risk based capital' approach to determine the amount of money needed to cover projected costs. This number is then multiplied by 300% or 3x the amount of risk based capital. In comparison, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Wyoming using the same approach holds reserves at 1,131%; Blue Cross Blue Shield of South Dakota holds reserves at 935%; Blue Cross Blue Shield of Idaho at 786%, Blue Shield Blue Cross of Montana at 616%; and New West Health Services at 528%.

Benefits are non-negotiable. They are required by state law. The Inter-Units Benefits Committee is the overseer of the benefits. Half the members are from labor and half from administration.  Every campus has a representative on the committee.  The Committee's challenge this year is to spend money. There is $2 million in the reserve higher than the 300% of risk based capital.  To spend this down over the next biennium medical will be reduced by an average of 7% and basic dental by 4.8%. In addition there will not be an administrative fee for the flex account. This means that starting 7/1/08 the state contribution to health care will be increased to $626 per month.  If you choose the basic plan the premium would be $539 per month.  So you can choose to put the difference into a flex account.

Senator Halfpap: Do you need to re-elect your choices if nothing has changed?

UFA President Kupilik:  No, it will default to your previous selections.

Senator Putnam:  Is there anything being done to enable employees to rollover flex money?

UFA President Kupilik:  It is not possible.  Flex is governed by federal law.  The money that employees do not spend in their flex accounts is put into the reserve fund.  This was          approximately $140,00 last year. 

You will receive a notice from Human Resource Services regarding benefits meetings.

Senator Eglin: Is the Tiaa-Cref equalization on track for next fall.

UFA President Kupilik: The Union has to go back to the Legislature to change the law.  Last biennium the union was successful with its request for 1%.  It will lobby again this biennium for another 1%.


Carol Brewer, Chair, Academic Strategic Planning Committee
Professor Brewer reviewed the context for the committee.   The committee will identify key issues and opportunities to guide priorities and decision making. The timeline and major steps were reviewed.  There will be a website, regular communications with the Faculty Senate and Open Forums.  Task forces will address strategic issues.  Please consider serving on these. 

Chair's Report:

The results of the elections were available. The process is somewhat dysfunctional. ECOS has discussed this and has proposed alternatives later in the agenda.

ECOS is working on the results of the evaluation of the administration.  They will be posted to Blackboard prior to the next meeting.

The Director of Human Resource Services, Betsy Hawkins met with ECOS to request support in the upcoming Chronicle Great Colleges Survey. The survey consists of 70 questions. It will be used to benchmark data about industry trends and quality of workplace practices.  One hundred percent participation is needed of a 65% random sampling. 


Committee Reports:

ASCRC Chair-elect G.G. Weix
The curriculum consent agenda, service learning courses, and NC grading catalog language were approved.  It was clarified that credit is not given towards graduation for developmental courses.


Graduate Council Chair Erickson
A summary of the three credit continuous registration analysis was reported as information. He and professors Fiore, McNulty, Philip Madison (student) and Tony Tomsu and Susan Wallwork from the Office of Planning, Budgeting and Analysis worked very hard on the analysis. The workgroup looked at the institutional research data on time to graduation, number of students taking fewer than three credits and the responses to graduate student and graduate director surveys.  Eighty percent of graduate directors responded to the survey and 25% of graduate students.  The workgroup made several recommendations in lieu of the three credit continuous registration policy. The Provost is considering these along with the detailed report.


Faculty Library Committee Chair-Elect Vonessen
Senator Vonessen presented the resolution amended by the Faculty Library Committee.  He identified the changes made by the Committee.  The resolution is now from the Faculty Senate, if adopted. The request for an ex-officio library member on ASCRC and Graduate Council has been withdrawn. It was clarified that the library has a process for evaluating the collection needs. The committee does not do this. The current instructions for level II proposals do not include a review of library resources.  These should be  updated so that departments are aware of the expectation.

Provost Engstrom: proposals are designed to inform the Board of Regents that the campus has determined that the program has what is needed to be successful.  The Regents themselves are not aware of the necessary components of a successful program.

The resolution was approved without objection



Unfinished Business:

Three-Year Interim Assessment of New Academic Programs
The procedure for the assessment was added to the proposal by ECOS.  The item passed with 38 senators in favor and 3 opposed.

Advanced Placement Credit Policy
Although concerns were expressed that additional information was needed in terms of students performance linked to AP scores.  This data was not available because Admissions does not track AP scores.  It records whether credit was given.  Data was received on students given AP credit and their subsequent grades, but it was not summarized.  A score of a 3 on most of the exams is not equivalent to college level work. The revised policy will give departments the option to accept lower or higher than a 4.  The Senate unanimously approved the policy because it was better than what is currently in place.

The policy will be implemented for students admitted to the University under the catalog that includes the revised language. The number of credits will be determined by course equivalency.

New Business

Center Review
The recommendation to continue the Montana Forest and Conservation Experimental Station was approved.

General Education Criteria and Outcomes

The draft was sent out to all faculty.  There will be an open forum next week on Wednesday 4/16/08 from 3:10 -5:00 in GBB 123.  General Education Chair Weix reminded the Senate that it approved the framework in October and it included the requirement that general education courses be introductory and foundational.

Statement of Ethical Principles
After considering the recommendations of the Joint Ethics Committee, ECOS revised the Statement.  It will be considered by ASUM and Staff Senate as well.

Senate Departmental Representation Options
ECOS has considered alternatives to the current election process.  There is very poor participation in the elections both in terms of faculty opting-in to be placed on the ballot and actual votes.  The goal is to make the system representative of something and to increase participation.  

Senator Putnam: Her dean requires senators to report on the business of the Faculty Senate.

Senator Vonessen is in favor of the current system that allows voting for faculty in other departments.  Improvements could be made to the current process.  He suggests a three week period for faculty to respond to the opt-in/out with two reminder messages which include a current list of faculty members willing to serve on the senate.

Senator McCrea:  The opt-in/out message is confusing for new faculty.  There could be a better introduction to the message. 

Good and Welfare:

Senator Frey requested that ECOS report back to the Senate on the numbers of credits accepted for AP and Clep.

The meeting was adjourned at 5:00 pm.