Tuesday, September 19, 2000

Old Capital, Senate Chamber

Members Present:  K. Abdel-Malek, S. Aquilino, S. Armstrong, Z. Ballas, J. Berg, C. Berman, A. Bhattacharjee, D. Bills, F. Boos, D. Brown, M. Browning, J. Carlson, S. Collins, C. Colvin, J. Cox, D. DeJong, K. Ephgrave, V. Grassian, J. Gratama, R. Hohl, R. Hurtig, J. Jew, T. Judge, P. Kutzko, S. Larsen, D. Liddell, C. Lynch, D. Manderscheid, T. Mangum, K. Marra, A.M. McCarthy, J. Menninger, G. Milavetz, R. Miller, S.A. Moorhead, P. Muhly, B. Muller, T. O’Dorisio, G. Parkin, J. Polumbaum, C. Porter, M. Raymond, C. Ringen, J. Ringen, P. Rubenstein, H. Seaba, R. Slayton, C. Sponsler, W. Stanford, L. Troyer, R. Zbiek

 Members Absent:  N. Bauman, J. Bertolatus, J. Cowdery, B. Doebbeling, G. El-Khoury, B. Fallon, L. Geist, L. Hunsicker, M. Klepser, J. Moyers, W. Nixon, I. Nygaard, P. Pomrehn, J. Soloski, C. Stanford, A. Steinberg, J. Tomkovicz, R. Valentine, S. Vincent, E. Wasserman

 Members Excused:  R. Bork, C. Doebbeling, B. Levy, M. Pincus, B. Thompson

 Guests:  Lee Anna Clark, Associate Provost, Office of the Provost; Sharyn Hosemann, Daily Iowan; Shelly Kurtz, College of Law and FRIC; Sara Langenberg, Press-Citizen; Lola Lopez, Associate Provost, Office of the Provost; Steve Morantz, Health Science Relations and University Relations; Beth Pelton, Faculty Welfare Committee; Leslie Sims, Vice Provost, Office of the Provost; Christopher Squier, APHS, Office of the Provost; Jim Torner, Government Relations Committee; Jon Whitmore, Provost, Office of the Provost, and Joyce Crawford, Secretary, Office of the Provost-Faculty Senate

 I.        President Colvin called the meeting to order at 3:35 p.m.

 II.      Approvals

A. There being no objection, the Faculty Senate minutes of Tuesday, April 25, 2000 were approved as distributed.

B. Senate Replacements—Presented by President Colvin.

MOTION: That the Faculty Senate approves the following appointments to the Faculty Senate, as recommended by the Committee on Elections and the Faculty Council:

¨      Ronald Cohen (Art and Art History) to be appointed to the Senate as a representative of Liberal Arts to replace Helena Dettmer (Classics) for the 2000-01 term.

¨      Ab Gratama (Art and Art History) to be appointed to the Senate as a representative of Liberal Arts to replace Jane Desmond (American Studies) 2000-01 term.

¨      Dee Morris (English) to be appointed to the Senate as a representative of Liberal Arts to replace Christopher Roy (Art and Art History) for the 2000-01 term.


Prof. Menninger moved and Prof. Berman seconded the following motion: 

MOTION: The Faculty Senate approves these appointments to the Faculty Senate, as recommended by the Committee on Elections and the Faculty Council.  The motion carried.

C.     Committee Replacements

 MOTION: The Faculty Senate approves the following appointments to University and Senate Committees, as recommended by the Committee on Committees and the Faculty Council.

 Committee on University Libraries: Jonathan Wilcox (English) to be appointed to replace Carin Green (Classics) for the academic year 2000-01.

 Committee on Governmental Relations: Downing Thomas (French and Italian) to be appointed to replace Margaret Mills (Russian) for the academic year 2000-01.

 Research Council: Leslie Schwalm (History) to be appointed to replace Allen Steinberg (History) for fall 2000.

 Committee on Committees: Dee Morris (English) to be appointed to replace Chris Roy (Art and Art History) for the academic year 2000-01.


 Prof. Berman moved and Prof. Lynch seconded the following motion:

MOTION: The Faculty Senate approves these appointments to University and Senate Committees, as recommended by the Committee on Committees and the Faculty Council. The motion carried.

III.    Old Business

A. Committee Reports from Senate Session 1999-2000

 President Colvin called on past President Prof. Carlson, who distributed the committee reports submitted to him at the end of the 1999-2000 session.  These reports are usually presented in the spring but were delayed by Senate business.  Prof. Carlson noted that two reports call for action and several offer recommendations to which the Senate should respond.  These items will appear on the agenda for the next Senate meeting.  No action is required until then.

 IV.    New Business

 A.     Provost’s Annual Report to the Senate—Presented by Provost Jon Whitmore.

 Provost Whitmore surveyed the many contributions of scholars to the local community, the state, and beyond.  He outlined challenges the University faces in the coming year, particularly state budget plans and consequent reallocation of tuition revenues.  As a result, the administration has been forced to scale back on many initiatives.  The Provost then described the efforts he and other campus leaders are making to communicate both to Iowa legislators and to citizens of Iowa the benefits the University offers to our state.  

Provost Whitmore outlined several key initiatives undertaken in the past year:  the completion of major planning for a multi-million dollar funding effort to create endowed chairs and to fund fellowships at all ranks for research and curricular development; new efforts to increase communication with faculty, staff, and students, including regular, informal “Coffee and Conversation” gatherings, campus-wide meetings with DEOs, weekly meetings with officers of the Faculty Senate, lunches with faculty who hold endowed chairs, and daily meetings, along with associate provosts, with faculty across campus.  Among important recent achievements, he noted the establishment of the Center for Human Rights, as well as the launching of interdisciplinary initiative and technological developments that benefit students, such as the new Web Isis system and InfoHawk. 

 Looking ahead, Provost Whitmore outlined upcoming projects: forming a task force to explore future developments in informatics, conducting a national search for the combined position of associate provost of graduate studies and dean of the graduate school, hiring new library staff, and improving student retention and graduation rates.  Provost Whitmore closed by inviting everyone to read the extensive report he distributed describing last year’s accomplishments in detail.  He also welcomes suggestions regarding projects set in motion this year. 

Pres. Colvin urged senators to share the Provost’s report with their colleagues.  She also reminded senators how important it is to encourage fellow faculty members to attend upcoming Coffee and Conversation gatherings so that they can share questions and suggestions with Provost Whitmore.

 B.      Report from FRIC (Funded Retirement and Insurance Committee)—Presented by Prof. Shelly Kurtz.

 The FRIC committee is chaired by Prof. Kurtz.  The committee consists of seven faculty members and seven staff members.  This group offers advice to the associate provost for financial services and to President Coleman.  Last year they successfully spearheaded passage of the option to cash out all of one’s accrued money at retirement and convinced the Regents to give gay colleagues the same rights to benefits and health insurance as those received by married heterosexuals.

Prof. Kurtz prefaced his remarks by pressing senators to share information about FRIC’s work with colleagues.  He also welcomed senators and their colleagues to e-mail questions and concerns to the committee. 

To begin, Prof. Kurtz explained how health benefits work at the University.  We have a health care plan (rather than insurance).  The plan is administered by Wellmark.  We collect 34 million dollars from covered employees at UI, in other words, from faculty and Professional and Scientific staff.  (Merit employees are part of the state system.)  In most cases, the flex credits we receive do not cover the cost of the health plan.  We pay the difference in pretax contributions.  This money is put into a University savings account, and employees who incur health care costs submit bills to Wellmark for the contracted partial payment.  The plan banks upon our hope that members will collect more in premiums than the account will need to pay out in claims.  The UI offers five health care plans, including the Chip Plans (a fee for service plan), UI Select, and UICare managed care plan (similar to an HMO).  

 With this background, Prof. Kurtz then discussed recent and impending increases in the cost of University health care plans.  In the coming year, the single plan will increase a modest $19.00.  However, costs will likely jump in the near future.

 Prof. Kurtz also reviewed a number of anomalies among the policies.  These anomalies increase the burden of some contributors while benefiting others, depending on one’s spousal and dependents situation.  In addition, the committee is considering a second disparity, asking how rising percentage rates will differently affect members depending on what each participant earns.  The Committee reminds participants, also, to be aware of the University’s continuing decision to set health rates so that no group pays more than 30%, a policy which involves income distribution.  Any change made to ease the burden on one group requires that all participants be willing to share that burden in order to secure health costs at a reasonable price whatever a participant’s income, partner, or family needs. 

The report prompted a volley of questions.  In responding, Prof. Kurtz noted that debts from previous years linger.  Whenever there is a deficit, the health care fund must borrow from the University or from Wellmark.  The current debt is $5.9 million.  This year the difference between claims and collection is $1.7 million.  In answer to Prof. Collins’ query whether the legislature assists with rising costs, Prof. Kurtz observed that in recent years the legislature has not been willing to contribute significantly to health benefit costs despite the fact that a good benefits package is necessary if we wish to recruit top faculty and staff.  Prof. Lynch asked whether the committee planned to continue to support all five plans; Prof. Kurtz replied that Chip I seemed the most expensive and therefore least desirable.  He added that he hopes the committee will investigate ways to fund “wellness” or preventive health care.  Recently, the federal government has mandated coverage for mental health.  In addition, health care plans will now pay for birth control.  Both will boost costs somewhat.  Prof. Cox asked whether studies comparing health benefits with other universities exist, but Prof. Kurtz regretted that the discrepancies are so great that such comparisons have little meaning.  In response to Prof. Berman’s query about the charge of the FRIC committee, Prof. Kurtz explained that the committee advises the administration about retirement, TIAA-CREF, health care, disability, life insurance, and phased retirement.  The committee reports to President Coleman, who makes decisions about these matters.  Her decisions must be approved by the Regents.  Prof. Kurtz noted that paying for benefits remains one of President Coleman’s top priorities.

 C.      Report from the Senate Governmental Relations Committee—Presented by Prof. Jim Torner, Chair of Senate Governmental Relations Committee.

 This committee’s charge is to facilitate communication with all levels of government.  Committee members meet with the governor twice a year (along with Faculty Council).  They also meet with alumni groups and attend legislative activities in Johnson County.  In the coming year, the committee plans to be very proactive in convincing the governor, the legislators, and the citizens of Iowa that the University is a great asset of the state.  Prof. Torner will collaborate with Mark Braun and Derek Willard of the Office of Government Relations to forge stronger connections with government leaders.  In particular, the committee will focus on three issues of concern to the governor: K-12 education, convincing students to seek employment in Iowa, and the environment.  Prof. Torner appealed to all faculty members to educate the public about the importance of the University to the well-being of the state.  Faculty members can contribute to this effort, for example, by meeting with state-wide alumni organizations and other groups.  Prof. Torner also urged faculty members to attend to bills under discussion in the legislature and to communicate regularly with their representatives.  He invites faculty members to send him suggestions for issues the committee should bring to the attention of legislators.  Prof. Torner closed by encouraging senators and other faculty members to report their achievements to appropriate news venues across the state, yet another way of reminding fellow citizens of the commitment of the University to the state of Iowa.

 V.      The first meeting of the 2000-2001 Faculty Senate adjourned at 5:10 p.m.

 Respectfully submitted,

 Teresa Mangum, Secretary of the Faculty Senate