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This month in the senates: February

This is a brief summary of the monthly meetings of Ohio University’s employee senates.

Classified Senate

Executive Vice President and Provost Pam Benoit was the guest speaker, and she talked about the budget. She explained that the $32.6 million budget shortfall for next year includes inflationary costs of about $5.6 million associated with higher health care and utility costs. She said the original estimate of $20-27 million shortfall did not include inflation adjustments.

Benoit continued and said no one knows what the state budget will look like and Gov. Kasich has only said that he wants more technical education and that he expects cuts to higher education to be large. She expects the state budget to be released in mid-March.

About the pending buyouts recently announced, Benoit assured the senate that they are strictly voluntary and will reshape the way the University is constructed if everything goes as planned. She said all departments need to continue to do their part to balance the budget. She added that layoffs might happen in some units, especially if they do not do enough to reduce other costs in their department besides personnel.

Chief Human Resource Officer Linda Lonsinger said job audits for classified employees are being done on a need-to-do basis only. She said the staff’s primary focus is creating a pay plan for administrators.

Chief of Staff and Special Assistant to the President Becky Watts confirmed that, as of the date of the meeting, more than $61,000 has been raised for United Appeal, with more than $4,600 coming from students.

Watts said the government relations job search will be posted until Feb. 28. She said the vice president for advancement job search has a small pool of candidates and the first round of interviews will be coming soon.

She also announced that the Holiday Closure recommendation from a committee appointed by Vice President for Finance and Administration Stephen Golding is due to President Roderick J. McDavis on March 11. She stressed that it is not a furlough.

Faculty Senate
Benoit opened the Faculty Senate meeting reminding the senate members about the upcoming Budget Forums before introducing Director of Benefits Greg Fialko.

Fialko gave a presentation on the Early Retirement Incentive Plans (ERIP) and Voluntary Employment Separation Plans (VESP). He gave detailed information and analysis of the options available to faculty and staff.  He stated that approximately 700 faculty members are eligible to participate, and that the administration is hoping for a 15 to 25 percent participation rate.

Fialko strongly recommended that faculty members eligible for the buyout talk with STRS or their alternative retirement plan provider once the details were approved by the Board of Trustees.

Senators presented concerns about health insurance coverage and costs, the replacement rate of retiring faculty, the teaching loads of the remaining faculty, further cuts, and the feasibility of continuing to fund athletics, among others.

During the Chair’s Report, Faculty Senate Chair Joseph McLaughlin discussed that there will be an extraordinary meeting of the Faculty Senate on April 4, following the announcement of McDavis’ first draft budget recommendations.

Chair of the Professional Relations Committee Sherrie Gradin presented a “Resolution on Early Retirement on Semesters” for a second reading and a vote.

Chair of the Educational Policy and Student Affairs Committee Allyn Reilly presented three resolutions, only one of which was up for a vote. The “Resolution on Adjustment of Catalog Language to Semesters and Catalog of Entry for Summer 2012” passed by a voice vote.

“Resolution to Amend Withdrawal Deadlines under Semesters” and “Resolution on Deadlines for Incomplete Grades” were presented for a first reading and some debate.

Finance and Facilities Chair John Gilliom discussed details of the deficit reduction plan that most-impact faculty. He also presented details on the impact that Ohio Senate Bill 5 would have a major impact on their unionized colleagues and on health care costs.

Administrative Senate

Chief Information Officer Brice Bible was the first presenter to the senate. He shared that the six-year long SIS update would be over in five months, and the update is on schedule and under budget. Likewise, the network update is ahead of schedule and under budget.

He further discussed Blackboard, the e-mail conversation, the helpdesk and support consolidation, the Techguru symbol, and the my.ohio.edu portal.

Senate member Joshua Bodnar gave a parking services update. There was also an update on the Outstanding Administrator Awards, including that they will be held June 1, from 3-5 p.m. in the Baker University Center Ballroom.