At its meeting Dec. 12 and in light of UofL’s new probationary status from its accrediting body SACS, UofL’s Staff Senate reaffirmed its statement originally approved in October. The reaffirmation statement is online and was approved. It will be sent to Board of Trustees Chair Larry Benz, Acting President Neville Pinto, Acting Provost Dale Billingsley and the Faculty Senate, Staff Senate and Student Government Association members.

There are two ad hoc committees being formed, one to discuss qualities ideal for the university’s next president and another to propose strategic planning and vision statements for  the staff senate. Chairman Will Armstrong encouraged senators to get involved in these committees.

Armstrong then reiterated the purpose of the executive committee, which is outlined in detail online

Committee reports were introduced by Vice Chair Vickie Tencer and included:

Credentials and Nominations: There are six committee spots open. Staff are encouraged to apply via unit calls

Policy, Economics and Development: The committee is close to finalizing a RIF recommendation and hopes to present it for a final vote at the next senate meeting. Members also continue to discuss plans concerning staff development as it aligns with the 21st Century initiatives. The December report is available online

Services and Facilities: Did not meet

Grievance: The Staff Grievance Committee finalized a document that outlines the grievance process. Senator John Smith said many staff members are not aware of this process. They anticipate an increase in grievances filed during the performance appraisal period. It was discussed whether or not the new FLSA process moving some employees from exempt to non-exempt status qualifies as a grievance. It does not.

SHARE: No applications were received for SHARE in this last time period. The committee is increasing its fundraising and marketing efforts, including with advancement to ensure SHARE is on the list of donation options for that department’s UofL Cares and CARDS All In campaigns. The committee report is available online

Staff Morale and Community Outreach: The committee report is available online. The committee finished its service project with the Ronald McDonald House Adopt-a-Meal, raising more than $275 worth of food and contributing more than 50 service hours. The committee is also working on a new Staff Senate brochure. 

Treasurer’s Report: The budget for Staff Senate has been approved and includes officer x-pay, money for a senator refresher, network-based infrastructure, a gift for the outgoing president, name tags, a holiday reception, a brochure (new this year), Day of Service t-shirts, meet your senator events on each campus, and $150 for each committee to support out-reach, staff interaction, or programming that benefits staff.

The total budget is $23,543, not including the $2,500 technology fund. The balance for December is $13,189.96. The balance for SHARE in December is $12,632.80. The balance of the technology fund is $1,674.

Lauren Greenwell provided a report from the Student Government Association and thanked the senators for supporting the students, especially during the accreditation news. The SGA has been mobilizing students to contact the Governor’s office and express their concerns about this new probationary status, and the SGA has also received support from WKU, UK and Murray State.

In January, the SGA is starting a lobbying group called Cards in Action. Students will lobby for higher education in Frankfort. Chair Will Armstrong applauded the students for their advocacy.

Report: Patty Payette provided an update on the university’s Quality Enhancement Plan. The focus of this project is to enhance student learning and the student learning environment. It is part of the accreditation process.

“SACS asked us to improve something our student data has told us to improve. It is supposed to be innovative and that makes it exciting,” Payette said.

The committee to achieve this goal was formed two years ago and included constituents from across campus. The focus will be on students in their second year of college. Patty said the committee noticed a drop off of students from their second year to their third year, particularly among pre-unit students and undecided students.

The proposal is to launch a seminar-like pilot course for second year students. It will be named “Find Your Fit in the Second Year.”

“We’ve never focused on second-year students before,” Payette said. “That’s the innovative part.”

She asked senators to provide feedback on the program, which will be piloted in the spring of 2018. The launch is expected to take five years.

Report: Jeanell Hughes, Executive Director, HR, provided a handful of updates, including:

  • Dependent Verification Audit. The audit has wrapped up, though a small group of employees did not complete the audit and some have put forth an appeal through Aon Hewitt, the third party company conducting the audit.
  • FLSA changes took effect 1. About 700-plus employees were converted from exempt to non-exempt status. While some have requested re-evaluation or a change in job duty, most of the original determinations remained unchanged.
  • Staff Equity adjustments will be made in January. The university will use $1 million to advance positions closer to market pay. Not all positions will be affected by this allocation.
  • Hughes will be the Associate Vice President of HR starting in Jan. 1. In her new role, she plans to set some expectations for the first 100 days, including six focus areas such as whether or not HR is aligned strategically with the 21st Century initiative, if HR is adding value to the university, and using best practices and effectively delivering its services. As HR assesses these areas, Hughes will be pulling people into groups and conducting surveys to create a roadmap that will be relevant for the next 3 to 4 years.

Report: Lee Smith, AVP for Process Improvement and Business Analytics, provided an update from his department, including self-service direct deposit, which is set to launch Jan. 12. His team is working on some changes with the core functionality of the system to avoid the possibility of any minor mistakes affecting pay.

  • In March/April, the travel and expense process will be updated to be more robust, streamlined and mobile-friendly.
  • Two-step authentication is also close to launch, which requires a second authentication beyond user name and password before accessing sensitive data. This extra step was added to keep data and financial information more secure.
  • Smith’s office is working with the SGA to develop a better mobile app. Right now, he said, there are three or four different apps that students use and they’re hoping to make this process more streamlined, including the incorporation of RAVE alerts.
  • The new web-based time keeping solution is live. More information is available online

Report: Harlan Sands, SVP for Finance and Administration/COO, thanked senators for their work. Sands will be leaving UofL in January for a job at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.

Report: Dr. Bob Staat provided an update from the Faculty Senate meeting, held Dec. 4. A recap is available online

Report: Will Armstrong’s Chair’s Report is available online.

Report: Linda Leake provided an update from the Academic Technology Committee, which is available online. The committee has held discussions about spaces around campus that could be refurbished to be more modern. Funding is in place to name a new vendor for Lecture Capture. There have been a couple of virus attacks reported on campus, and IT is working on investigating these attacks in cooperation with the police, FBI and Microsoft. 

Report: Cynthia Jeffery’s UPAC Committee report is available online. There are police officer vacancies on campus. The Police Department has also received positive feedback on its shuttle service, transporting 909 students in the past month, which is an increase.

The Staff Senate does not meet in January. The next meeting is Feb. 13 at 2:30 p.m. in the Chao Auditorium of Ekstrom Library.

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Alicia Kelso
Alicia Kelso is editor of UofLNews and UofL Today. She joined UofL in 2015 as communications director of the Brandeis School of Law. Prior, she was the editorial director of foodservice media for Networld Media Group, where her work was featured in publications around the world, including NPR, Bloomberg, The Seattle Times, Good Morning America and Franchise Asia Magazine. She continues to serve as a contributor for many publications, including QSRweb.com, FastCasual.com and Innovation Leader.