The University of Iowa

FACULTY COUNCIL

Tuesday, January 28, 2003

3:30 PM – 5:15 PM

Penn State Room, 337 Iowa Memorial Union

 

Members Present:  Judith Aikin, Edwin Dove, Ronald Herman, Richard LeBlond, Patrick Lloyd, Chuck Lynch, Teresa Mangum, Kim Marra, Katherine Tachau, Paul Weller, John Westefeld, Jerold Woodhead

 

Members Absent:  Rebecca Hegeman, Mazen Maktabi, Sue Moorhead, Shelton Stromquist

 

Members Excused:  Craig Porter

 

Faculty Senate Officers in Attendance:  Jeffrey Cox, President; Margaret Raymond, Vice President; Amitava Bhattacharjee, Past President

 

Guests:  Tom Walsh (Gazette), Lea Fitzgerald (Daily Iowan), Charlie Drum (University Relations), Jim Andrews (Emeritus Faculty Council), Raul Curto (Liberal Arts & Sciences), Kathryn Wynes (Office of the Provost), Heather Woodward (Press-Citizen), Lee Anna Clark (Office of the Provost), Paul Muhly (Budget Committee), Buzz Orr (Gazette), Jon Whitmore (Office of the Provost), Shelly Kurtz (FRIC Committee), Julie Thatcher (Faculty Senate Office)

 

I.          Call to Order

 

Pres. Cox called the meeting to order at 3:34 p.m.

 

II.         Approvals

 

The agenda, the minutes of the Faculty Council meeting of Dec. 10, 2002, and the proposed agenda for the Faculty Senate meeting Tuesday, February 11, 2003 were approved by acclamation, no objections, changes or additions being raised from the floor.  President Cox announced that President-elect Skorton will address the Senate at its March 4, 2003 meeting.

 

III.       Reports

 

            A.        FRIC Committee, Shelly Kurtz

 

Prof. Sheldon Kurtz attended the meeting on behalf of the FRIC committee to discuss how the University should deal with escalating health care costs and decreasing contributions of the University towards those health care costs for faculty and P&S staff.  Materials were distributed to the Council demonstrating the cost of various categories of health care benefits, the existing flex credits that are available to pay for the benefits, and how the University compares with other Big Ten institutions, with the other Regents institutions, and with the state.   FRIC is of the view that the University should pay for 100% of a CHIP III single person’s policy, and 75% of a CHIP III family policy, in health care flex credits.  Such a proposal would cost approximately $27 million.  Prof. Kurtz stated that FRIC believed that this was important and in addition would help the University compete in hiring. 

 

FRIC made this proposal to the Administration, which did not adopt it.  For calendar year 2003 (health care benefits operate on a calendar, not academic year, basis), the University maintained the percentage that it had contributed to health insurance in the prior year, and will consider proposals to increase the university’s percentage of the cost of health insurance. 

 

Prof. Kurtz noted that this is an ongoing problem, since health care costs will continue to increase.  While FRIC and the Budget Committee both believe this to be important, those views are not universally held.  He noted that at a meeting of the deans, there were a variety of opinions about the desirability of increasing the percentage of health care costs covered by the university, since such costs would compete with other needs of colleges. 

 

Prof. Kurtz further noted that merit employees have 100% of their health care insurance plans paid for as an employee benefit, and that it was an odd feature of the University that faculty and P&S staff have a smaller percentage paid for than merit employees do.  He also noted that FRIC is working to decrease the cost of health care through plan design.

 

Discussion ensued.  Several council members asked informational questions about the function of the plans, the ways in which health care flex credits are determined, and how to evaluate the comparative data provided.

 

Prof. Kurtz pointed out that the legislature rarely provides additional dollars to support benefits costs, so that any funds for benefits must come from the salary pool.  Pres. Coleman rejected the idea of maintaining the percentage of health care benefits paid by the University, preferring to put dollars into salaries.  He also noted that health care costs disproportionately affect lower-earning employees because the cost is a higher percentage of their salary.  In some departments, a faculty member who receives a raise does not receive a sufficient increase in salary to offset the increase in health care cost.   He noted that economic disparity between colleges may affect the discussion.  Pres. Cox agreed with this concern, noting that increasing health care costs created a significant morale problem for lower-paid faculty, and that pay levels of faculty members tended to reflect their area of expertise and their seniority rather than their importance.  That faculty members are lower-paid doesn’t mean they aren’t talented or being recruited by other institutions.

 

Prof. Kurtz ended by making clear that this a national problem, and one that will continue, and by urging the Council to continue to consider this issue.

 

            B.         Elections Committee, Julie Thatcher

 

Pres. Cox announced that a search has been conducted for a permanent administrative assistant for the Senate and that Julie Thatcher has been hired to fill the permanent position.  He invited her to address the Council about new election procedures.  Julie Thatcher described the new voting system, which has been developed through her work along with Connie Berman, chair of the Elections Committee, and with the help of ITS.  Under the new three-stage system, lists of faculty eligible for election to the Senate are posted on-line and the faculty is invited to review and correct the lists for their colleges.  Once the Senate approves the up-to-date list, an on-line nominations process will begin.  Faculty will be able to log on using their HawkID and nominate faculty for the Senate.  The nominations process is tentatively scheduled for February 14-21.  There will then be a similar process for voting for Senate.  This process will mirror that currently being used in the College of Liberal Arts to elect members of the Faculty Assembly.  It is hoped that this process will increase participation in the election process, currently at about 20%, and will significantly decrease wasted paper.  Ms. Thatcher urged Councilors to encourage their colleagues to participate in the nomination and election processes.  Pres. Cox thanked Ms. Thatcher for her extensive work on this project and noted his expectation that in the future the process of committee volunteering will also move on-line.

 

C.         Budget Committee, Paul Muhly

 

Pres. Cox invited Prof. Paul Muhly, chair of the Faculty Senate Budget Planning Committee, to update the Council on the current budget situation.  Prof. Muhly informed the Council that the good news is that unless the situation changes, there is unlikely to be a midyear reversion this fiscal year.  For the next fiscal year, however, the state is facing a “$450 million problem”-- that is the difference between what the state needs to spend and what it anticipates will come in.  Last year $250 million of that amount was paid in non-recurring funds, and there is no place else to get that money in 2004. 

 

Prof. Muhly explained the several components that make up the university’s general fund.  The state contributes approximately 52% of that fund and makes additional contributions to capital expenditures, which come from other funds rather than tax revenue.  Tuition makes up 38-39% of the general education fund, and indirect costs account for 8.8% of the general education fund. 

 

There are also some existing commitments, including an increase in fringe benefits.   Prof. Muhly also noted that salaries are unknown, though a few collective bargaining units have settled for 2% increases.  The good news, Prof. Muhly noted, is that it isn’t zero. 

 

Prof. Muhly emphasized the importance of pointing out the effects that the budget situation is having on the University, recognizing at the same time the need to sustain services to students in order to protect tuition income.

 

Provost Whitmore added that the Governor’s budget was scheduled to come out on Friday, January 31.

 

D.        Faculty Senate President, Jeff Cox

 

Pres. Cox announced that he had attended a meeting of BiCOA in December.  There is a perception that the faculty is “picking on” athletics.  His discussion there was productive.  The Faculty Senate has set aside $5000 from its budget to support outreach efforts.  Pres. Cox attended the annual banquet of the Iowa Federation of Labor, where he won the door prize.

 

Pres. Cox announced that the Senate is co-sponsoring, with the Governmental Relations Committee, a forum with local legislators on Saturday, February 22, at 9:30 a.m. at the Iowa City Civic Center.  These forums are a regular event and this particular one will be co-sponsored by the Governmental Relations Committee and the League of Women Voters.  He encouraged Council members to attend and let legislators hear from them, particularly since faculty participation in similar legislative forums has historically been weak.  He also noted that the Chamber of Commerce has included general support for the University of Iowa in its legislative agenda.  Pres. Cox urged all councilors to vote in the local bond issue election. 

 

Pres. Cox also announced that several committees were in process.  The review of the Office of the President was underway when the new president was appointed.  Pres. Cox reported that Pres.-elect Skorton would like the committee to continue its work and will consult with the committee.  Two additional ad hoc committees are being formed, one to review policies on decanal reviews, and one to conduct a review of the new promotion and tenure guidelines, now in their fourth year of operation. The latter committee will be chaired by Prof. Betsy Altmaier.  He also announced that the review of the Office of the Provost would be available shortly.  

 

 

IV.       Unfinished Business

 

            A.        Athletic resolutions currently under consideration by the Faculty Senate

 

This item was a series of resolutions, all tabled, that had come before the Faculty Senate at its Dec. 3 meeting.  The resolutions proposed public statements on behalf of the Senate with regard to the Pierre Pierce matter.  Prof. Cox solicited the Council’s views as to how the Senate might best proceed as a faculty governance body on this issue.  Prof. LeBlond’s view was that it would be best to take the resolutions off the table and await the reports of the various committees considering the matter.  Prof. Lynch suggested that comments on such reports, once they are released, would be appropriate.  Prof. Mangum commented that she regretted that the Senate did not take an earlier position but is of the view that these motions are now belated and should not be acted upon.  Prof. Dove wondered whether the reports of the various committees would be available to the Senate.  Prof. Lynch said that any report delivered at a meeting of BiCOA would be public.  There was a consensus that such reports should be public, and should be made available to, and reviewed and considered by, the Senate.

 

It was moved by Prof. LeBlond and seconded by Prof. Mangum that the Council respectfully request that, at a minimum, officers of the Faculty Senate be involved in addressing these committee reports and that to the extent possible, recognizing issues of privacy, such committee reports be made available for faculty discussion. 

 

The motion passed, with one abstention. 

 

V.        Announcements

 

Councilors were encouraged to volunteer for committee service and to encourage their colleagues to do so; to reserve May 29, 2003, the date of the annual faculty and administrative retreat; and to propose nominations for the Brody award.

 

VI.       Adjournment

 

The meeting adjourned at 4:56 p.m.

 

Respectfully submitted,

Margaret Raymond

Secretary Pro Tem (in absence of Craig Porter)