University Senate Minutes October 28, 2021


University Senate, October 28, 2021

Approved: February 3, 2022

 

Present: Liz Barton, Allard Jongman, Amanda Mollet (she# her# hers), Andrea Herstowski, Andrew Moore (He/Him/His), Ani Kokobobo (she/her/hers), Barbara Kerr, Bozenna Pasik-Duncan, Brian Moss (he/him), Camden Baxter, Chris Wallace, Corey Maley# Ph.D. (he/him/his), Dan Dixon, Ethan Roark (They/Them/Theirs), Faith Lopez (she/they), Geraldo Sousa, Hollie Hall (she/her), Jena Gunter

Jessica Chilcoat (she/hers), John Bricklemyer, John Hoopes, John Poggio, Justin Blumenstiel (he/him)

Kyle Velte (she/her), Lea Currie, Mahasweta Banerjee, Martin Vazquez, Mary Morrison (She/her)

Matt Deakyne, Maya Stiller, Mizuki Azuma, Monica Bradshaw (She/Her/Ella), Nate Brunsell, Nick Syrett -- he/him, Patricia Gaston, Randall Fuller, Remy Lequesne, Robert Waller, Jeremy Shellhorn, Teri Chambers, Tim Spencer, Todd Carpenter (Todd Carpenter (KUPD))

 

Visitors: Provost, Barbara Bichelmeyer, Alyssa Wingo, UDK, Chris Brown, Jennifer Roberts, Julie Thornton

 

 

University Senate Vice President Hollie Hall opened the meeting by reminding members to raise their hand if they had questions.  All members will have the opportunity to speak before a member speaks a second time.  Hall introduced Provost Barbara Bichelmeyer

 

The Provost opened the meeting by asking for questions.

 

Question:

Staff morale is very low, and staff has borne the brunt of every budget cut. Often people are not replaced. Those that stay are given additional work, with no increase in pay. In the area I work in, three people have left this fall.  A primary concern is the staff members in the in trades.  This group takes care of all buildings on campus. The people in the trades need the institutional knowledge to repair and maintain our campus buildings.  When tradespeople leave, do we ever counteroffer?

 

The tradespeople are working on skeleton crews. The trades are overworked, underpaid, and under poor management. New people get hired at five to ten dollars an hour more than the current staff. The current staff feels very insulted and devalued. What plans are being made to stem the flow of people leaving campus? And that brings me to my question what sort of budget cuts will we face in the next fiscal year?

 

Reply:

You are saying people are burnt out, we have low morale and that particularly, is hitting the trades.  A lot of it has to do with salaries.  We have a lot better idea of future projections this year than we've had previously. We have different types of fiscal reporting as well as fiscal planning. We know and recognize a  resignation is hitting higher education.  We are not alone in this.  We haven't really been future-forward in terms of looking at how do we keep up with inflation and salaries and merit raises and all the things that we're trying to build in now.

 

You made a point about why we did differential cuts last year, the facilities and operations had a zero percent cut was specifically because we are so strapped in the trades at this point in time. We know, our salaries are low across the board, no matter where you go.  when I walked in and before we even understood the scale of our structural deficit, we were saying that the first priority we have to address is growth, we have to get salaries up. That was before we knew we had a $50 million structural deficit and before COVID. Now it's an absolute necessity in order for us to just be able to maintain our personnel and our staff and quality of our operations. Part of the answer to your first question is, yes, there's a salary compression that comes in, but in order to fill positions, we have to provide a higher incoming wage than we have in the past.  That makes salary compression. A situation that is demoralizing to people who have been here for a long time when we're not immediately automatically raised.

How do we start to build in some dollars for to get recognition for people who've been here for a long time and reduce the salary compression? I've asked Jeff DeWitt, Jason Hornberger, Mike Rounds, and Nick Steven to provide data, to start building a salary plan for how we use our dollars to grow our salaries. 

We are getting ready to do budget monitoring in November and getting ready for FY23 financial planning. You'll remember that Jeff DeWitt said that Federal funds from COVID, gave us eighteen months to twenty-four months to try to figure this out.

 

We are going to be talking about some things we're doing to work better together across Lawrence and Edwards and online. We are kicking off a Strategic Enrollment Management Council of the right people in the room to help us make projections. We have potential for growth and transfer students. We have potential for growth on the Edwards campus. We have potential for growth online. We have potential for growth and calling back the new market that is a growth market while undergraduates are declining, which is adult learners. We need plans and we need recruiting strategies, and we need a bunch to bring those people to programs in those formats that feed the entire constellation of campuses. We have got to work better with the Medical Center campus, and we have to look at our opportunities to reduce spending where we have duplication of purchasing and services. The third big one you see that we're searching for a chief procurement officer. We have to do strategic sourcing. And I believe there's millions, if not at least 10 million, somewhere in the mix of the of getting disciplined in our spending and particularly around information systems and IT sourcing, for example.

 

Part of the mix is thinking about the quality of work-life, not just salary.  Some of it is related to DEIB, but our staff are overwhelmed and overworked. 

 

Question:

My question is regarding the area study centers. I'm not sure if everybody's aware, but the director for the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies resigned their position late last week because of a lack of institutional support. I was wondering if the university is going to speak on this, or if you could speak to the importance of the area study centers at KU and offer some support and maybe demonstrate that we aren't trying to remove area studies from the university, if that's the fact.

 

Reply:

First, I want to recognize and say that I value greatly the area of study centers. On the one hand, there's a lot of disconnection because we're having this conversation about the area of study centers. We are part of the American Council on Educations (ACE) Internationalization Lab.   KU will be building a strategy for internationalization goals.   The area study centers received a cut last year from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and the college has completely funded the area study centers. Prior to this point in time, as I understand it, it had to do with the organization in the administration of the area, study centers, and the college, and the fact that the college took a significant cut last year.

There has been a lot of conversation about the centers.  I have asked to meet with the directors.  In the meantime, I've asked Jennifer Roberts and Charlie Bankart to do some research.  How do they fit in the larger constellation, the campus and how do they fit with the internationalization plan? And then let's look at where we are there and see what we're going to do.   It continues to be addressed and we don't have the answer yet, but we should by December.

 

 

Question:
I just wanted to ask about the protests that were happening earlier in the semester and especially last month. I think that there was a lot of student organizations kind of coming together and really showing their support, ensuring that the students knew that they were showing up and advocating for survivors across campus.  Do you plan on attending future protests?

 

Reply:
I would like to point out there have been a lot of protests legitimately, and there have been a range of protests that I have been present at and where administration has been present. I think you're talking primarily about sexual violence as a protest. We are working with students, recognizing the concerns and what are the risks.   There was a lot of dialogue and there was a framing of a small group of students who could represent leadership and try to determine what the asks were. 

 

 

Question:

My question is specific to the changes we've made to the university vaccine mandate. The university under Labor guidance, has decided to follow through with President Biden's vaccine mandate for federal contractors.  It has included all faculty, staff, and students (working), this is a direct contradiction with the state law regarding.  Part two of my question: Why are we not simply following through with a vaccine mandate for the entire university?  

 

What is general counsel is looking forward to engage in the mandate without threatening the state funding from the Legislature?

 

Reply:

My short answer would be that we have been very lockstep together with K-State and Wichita State to say to state leadership, we know that state law is antithetical to federal law, and we are greatly appreciative of the state appropriations we receive.  If we did not follow Biden's requirement, we could lose federal funding.   If we don't comply with the federal executive order, we are at risk of losing something. If we are complying with the federal executive order, then the state is we're at risk with our state appropriations and we're at risk.

 

Reply
It is an advantage that the KBOR are supporting and giving KU guidance regarding the federal mandate.  The KBOR, will have a discussion with the legislature as to the risks and why it is important. 

 

Question:

As you know members of  SenEx meet with the KBOR last week.  After the meeting, we wanted to tell faculty and staff what had happened at that meeting. A communication was written, and when we tried to send it, we were told today by Joe Monaco and the Office of Public Affairs that it could not be sent out because it was not a business communication or an issue of broad interest to the campus. I would argue that faculty representing faculty, students representing students, and staff representing staff that has broad an interest as you're going to get, especially in the wake of renewed interest in the role of the KBOR in our lives. Given what they offered to the university last year in the sort of suspension of tenure, policy, and so forth, I think it's a great interest. I'm asking less of a question and more of a request to see if you might be our advocate here in trying to allow us to communicate with our constituents from every once in a while.

 

Reply:

Thank you for sharing that with me, I would be most happy to look into what that's all about and the rationale I think I have been pretty straightforward with, with people I talk to about my understanding that we have challenges in communication from Strong Hall. Without knowing the exact details of why it was denied, I couldn’t reply. If you would send me the.  I will look into it and I'll get back to your executive leadership about.

 

 

Question:

Raising the question about the protests regarding sexual violence.   This has been something that's been on my mind in relation to institutional response. I think it's valuable that we listen to students have student input and student engagement.  Research also talks about the ways that students having to engage the labor of advocacy negatively influences their academic success and other outcomes during higher education. I’m concerned about the continual focus on requiring that students engage the labor on this and other topics.  I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about what the administration is doing. We have folks on campus who are experts at researching sexual violence, experts to responding to sexual violence. Why are we requiring the students to be the ones who come up with the solutions as opposed to potentially coming forward with ideas or engaging the people we have on campus? And again, not saying that CPAC isn't doing great work because they're also outstanding, and I think we have phenomenal programs through them. But just trying to think about the positioning of labor and hoping you can speak about what's happening from an administrative side.

 

 

Reply: I appreciate the question and recognizing that the most important things that students are doing while they're here are being engaged in the classroom and co-create curricular activities and in the healthy connections that advance health and wellness.   There will be a broader announcement about this across campus in the soon.  You may be aware that the AAU has been focusing on this topic for the last several years.  Our chancellor was a co-chair on a task force for the AAU.  There was a broader announcement released about the expectations from the AAU in preventing sexual harassment and sexual violence on campus and the principals are already out there.  We have some work that’s beginning.  More information will be sent out. 

 

 

Question:

Is anything being done right now to increase housing accessibility for trans students? And are there talks going on right now about gender-inclusive housing for queer and transgender students? 

 

Reply:
We are preparing our plans for housing for next year and there is a fair amount of build-up maintenance and repair in our housing generally. This year we are at a little over 90 percent capacity.  Some of this is influenced by the fact that we have Oliver Hall that's going to be that is taken offline and it needs to be demolished because the cost of repairs that are needed are simply impossible to make it financially viable to repair.  Niya and Ethan have done a good job of bringing this in front of us. I have asked Tamara and Sarah to look into what can we do in our space about improving the amount of gender-inclusive housing, particularly for queer and trans.  I've asked the question and there's a need to look at this and come up with a plan for as we move forward in housing accessibility.

 

If you are asking about ADA, this had to be built in with maintenance and repair costs.  One of our challenges with housing and funding is that by state statute or KBOR regulation, our funds for housing are truly in housing and we can't support that with other funds and housing fund can't be used for anything else. It is its own source of money.  starting down the process. But I don't have a specific answer for queer and trans and a large enough pool to give them a feeling of home and safety in space.

 

Question:

I wanted to circle back the advocacy aspect,  Not just with sexual violence on campus, though that is an issue that needs to be addressed immediately.   Overall, what can students or faculty do to ensure that there is some presence by either you or the chancellor, specifically when we have various protests? Is there a certain time frame?  I think that it is really important because a lot of the students don't quite know who you are. They know the title, but they don't know exactly where your office is, or what you look like.  There is not a presence within the key student community.  Is there anything specifically for the students or for the faculty and staff when protesting that we can let you be aware of to make sure that your attendance is there?

 

Reply:

When it comes to students, they need to speak to Tamara Durham and say we'd like to make a specific request to have the chancellor or provost present.  For faculty, Chris [Brown] or Jen [Roberts] are the communications point to say, here's something that's going on, and we'd like to request that the Provost or chancellor is present.  I can’t speak for the chancellor there.

It's helpful if the starting point is to ask the person who's responsible for the day-to-day operations in that area and for students, it would be Tamara. Hope that helps, but I'm very happy to be out and about when I am asked to be out and about.

 

 

Question:

I was going to inquire and we've asked you this before, could give a little bit of an update on recent and any upcoming administrative searches. We had the college dean search town hall a little while ago, and I was also wondering if you could talk about a timeline on the DEIB, vice provost search because that's another interim position. Could just talk in general about those searches or if you can give an update, that'd be great.

 

 

Reply:
Committees should be formed and charged by the end of this semester, and the searches will run in earnest in the spring with an expectation that the next person will be in the position for the over the summer.

 

Reply:

Two comments in chat, cost of living increase.  That is part of future-forward budgeting and trying to have a five-year financial plan.  One of the things that Jeff DeWitt is working on is how those things become part of our budget planning for future years out and how we account for that as we build budget so. While I didn't speak about that in terms of getting to adjustments on salaries, it's because there's a baseline expectation that we will be trying to make those things work.

 

I know there are ongoing issues with the ability to reach out and do communications.  I will continue to do my part to try to get that solved. I've said last my first year was a lot about getting some baseline and transparency around data and finance, which I think we've made good progress towards this year. We are going to make improvements on communications from the provost office and internal to the campus, as well as make progress on human resources, support, and development.

 

Hall thanked the Provost, and the meeting was adjourned.