Vicki L. Tate
USA Faculty Senate Chair’s Report
For Feb. 20, 2008 Faculty Senate Meeting


Fringe Benefits Committee, Jan. 29, 2008
The year-end financial statement for 2007 was presented.  Revenue for the past year increased by 4.3%, while expenses increased by 5%.  $1,341,835 was taken from the Reserves to make a payment towards a payoff of a special deposit from General Fund of $5,586,916 that was made back in 2001 to the Reserves fund.  [There is a requirement that 3 months premiums need to be kept in the Reserve fund and in 2001 the Health Plan was short.]  There are currently 2,058 single membership and 2,012 family memberships in the USA Health & Dental Plan.  There will be no change to the employee cost sharing amounts for 2008.

There were two major topics of discussion (both brought forward by Jean Irion, chair of Faculty Salaries & Fringe Benefits Committee):  1) tiered premium rates and 2) consideration of enhanced coverage for Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART).  Currently the USA Health Plan uses a 2-tiered rate—single and family.  Other tiered options are available.  The request from the Faculty Senate F&S committee was to look at a third option:  employee plus one.  Ed Kahalley explained that the assumption that more individuals covered (i.e., family) have a greater cost is not true since the health risk is greater for older individuals than younger.  For example, the health cost of older couples would, on average, be greater than for a young couple with three children.  The report looked at health plans from UAB with a 3-tiered rate structure and the one from Auburn, which is based on salary.  It was decided that USA’s current plan offers a reasonable and equitable employee cost sharing amount.

Ed Kahalley also presented a detailed report regarding infertility treatments, specifically Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART).  Whereas some states mandate some level of coverage for infertility treatments, Alabama does not.  The USA Health Plan provides standard benefits covering the infertility diagnosis and related office visits, but excludes ART.  Adding this coverage could possibly increase membership rates by $3/month.  At this time, it was decided that including this type of coverage is not in the best interest of the health plan, though this could change if technology improves and the costs for such treatments decrease.


Faculty Senate Executive Committee, Feb. 6, 2008
The question about the replacement for Dr. Covey as V.P. for Academic Affairs came up.  This will be brought up at the next meeting with Pres. Moulton.  Another agenda item for that meeting will be student evaluations of faculty.  We will bring forward some of the questions that Senator Crumb presented at the last faculty senate meeting.  So far, we have received sample questionnaires only from Nursing.  Chair Tate will follow-up with emails to caucus leaders for other examples of student evaluation forms.  In other new business, there is the question of the role of instructors on non-tenure track lines.  Should they be restricted to teaching-only, or should there be some flexibility given to those lines to allow research and/or service components to be a part of the position?  The issue has been referred to the Academic Policy & Faculty Handbook committee to pursue. 


University Planning Workshop, Feb. 18, 2008
Senior university administrators, faculty senate executive committee representatives and university board of trustee members meet to discuss changes to the university mission statement and goals for the next five years.  The university will be moving away from the rather lengthy mission statement we currently have to something more succinct. The current 7 goals will be re-phased and new objectives and action plans were suggested.  Bob Shearer will be gathering the suggestions from the break-out sessions and will submit them to the group for additional review.


Executive Committee meeting with President Moulton, Feb. 18, 2008
The committee asked the status of filling the position of VP for Academic Affairs, once Dr. Covey retires.  Pres. Moulton will be forming a search committee and there will be an interim person in the position until it is filled, but there is no decision of who it will be.

The question regarding student evaluations was brought up.  It is an university requirement that students in every course in every college, every semester, should fill out a student evaluation.  How this is accomplished is up to individual colleges.  The problems that were discussed should be addressed at the college level.  Dr. Covey will request that the deans look into the issue for their colleges.

Pres. Moulton was asked if he had any information regarding next year’s budget.  The prospect looks grim.  The governor has announced that there will be a $400 million-dollar reduction, half of which will be coming out of the 4-year colleges; the other half will be split between K-12 and 2-year colleges.  This will take the university back to our FY 2007 budget with a reduction of about $19 million.  He could not specify how this deficit would be addressed, but would wait and see how the situation plays out.

Dr. Covey announced that there is a new dean for CIS.  Also she is working with the USA Foundation to increase the graduate assistant stipends to at least 2/3 the national average.  Currently, USA funds over $2 million for graduate assistantships.


Higher Education Day Rally, Montgomery, March 6, 2008
As indicated in the Governmental Relations Update email (2/8/08), the Governor’s budget for FY 2009 will receive a $380 million cut in the education budget.  The majority of the cut ($186 million) comes at the expense of four-year colleges and universities.  This translates into a 13.3% cut for universities, bringing funding back to the FY 2007 funding levels.  In comparison, K-12 will receive 2.6% cut, while two-year colleges will be cut by 10%.

It is important to make legislators aware that funding higher education should continue to be a priority for the state’s budget.  To show support for this, we encourage all faculty to participate in the Higher Education Day Rally in Montgomery.  This annual event is our way of letting legislators know that we have a strong advocacy for improved university funding and that we are a large unified and involved voting bloc.

If you are interested in joining the rally, please contact Marsha Butler at 460-7277 for reservations for the USA bus to Montgomery.  We will leave Thursday morning, March 6th from UCOM parking at 8 am sharp.  A picnic will be provided after the rally.  We will return by 5 pm.


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