Senate Minutes 9/01

University of Alabama at Birmingham
The Faculty Senate
Minutes of the Faculty Senate Meeting of 11 September 2001

The UAB Faculty Senate met on 11 September 2001 in Rooms A and B of the Great Hall of the Hill University Center. The agenda adopted by the executive committee was distributed (Document 1).

Those present were: Officers: Hickson (Chair), Heaven (Chair Elect), Wyss (Past Chair), Schnorrenberg (Secretary). Senators: Anderson, Basilico, Beard, Culver, Eleftheriou, Givan, Greenup, Hutchison, Keltner, Mercado, Mulvihill, Pfeiffer, Reed, Rigney, Sapp, Telfair, Tyson, Waites. Alternates: Alexander (for Weaver), Bodon, Dahle, Givan (for Lemons), Laken (for Hardin), Than (for DeCarlo), Sloan (for Liber), Martin. Ex officio: Augsburger (Provost), Wittig (Parliamentarian). Guests: Virginia Gauld, Thomas Jannett, Susan McKinnon, Rose Scripa, Thomas Spencer, Terry Tatum.

The Chair of the Faculty called the meeting to order at 7:37 a.m. He asked if there were corrections to the minutes of the senate meeting of 10 August 2001 as these had been distributed (Document 2). Hearing none, he ordered the minutes approved as distributed.

The chair made his report. He said that it is true that the four officers of the faculty, the Chair of the Faculty, the Chair Elect of the faculty, the Past Chair of the Faculty, and the Secretary of the Faculty had signed a letter of support for President Reynolds, which was sent to the Board of Trustees. This letter was not an action of the senate and did not say that it was, nor did it suggest that the senate had taken any action by resolution. The letter was meant to be a response to a series of crises at UAB in the last several years. Among these have been the status of the hospital as part of the university, health care benefits for faculty and staff, changes in leadership within the institution, not all of them fruitful, and complaints about salaries and health care. If President Reynolds now leaves, what kind or person can UAB expect to find to replace her? Surely there are few national figures who will be interested.

The chair added that there would be further opportunity to discuss the officers' letter during the open forum.

The chair reported the growth in credit hour production form last year to this:

Fall 2000 -- 109,266 credit hours
Fall 2001 -- 148,820 credit hours

The chair recognized Senator Reed to give the report of the Finance Committee. She distributed a table about costs of the four health care plans, which are to become available to employees in 2002 (Document 3). She pointed out that there are now four plans instead of the previous three and that the cost to the employee of all the continuing plans has increased.

The chair announced that Wayne Echols could not come to speak about the proposed state budget and Blazer Pac. Ken Jackson had agreed to take his place in speaking about Blazer Pac. Mr. Jackson told the senate that he is an alumnus of UAB, B.S., 1971; M.B.A., 1972, a charter member of the UAB Alumni Association, has endowed a scholarship in the School of Business, was the UAB Distinguished Alumnus for 1996, and serves as Chair of the Board of Directors of Blazer Pac. He said that UAB needs to be able to support its supporters who hold or seek to hold public office. UAB needs financial influence. It needs to have a Blazer Pac that is effective because it has money to distribute and effective because it has a large number of contributing members. Blazer Pac had appealed to the staff of the Health Services Foundation to give to Blazer Pac. Many agreed to a monthly payroll deduction. A one-time check is also a fine gift. The important thing is to give something. Blazer Pac will support those who support UAB. Those who want further information may telephone him at 621-7217.

The chair recognized Susan McKinnon, Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs for Enrollment Management to report on enrollment at the outset of the new semester system. Ms. McKinnon distributed a copy of her report (Document 4). She said that the university had achieved good communication with new and returning students. UAB had hoped to increase enrollment by 50% above last fall. It did not achieve that, but it did achieve a 36.2% increase in credit hour production. She pointed out that the composition of the student body is changing. There has been a 14% increase in the age group who are 19 and younger. Forty-seven per cent of the students are 21 and younger. This fall is the largest entering freshman class in the history of UAB. There was a decline in returning students, 7,260 in 2001; 7,678 in 2000, but transfer students increased from 771 to 778.

The chair recognized Virginia Gauld, Vice President for Student Affairs. She continued the report on enrollment. She pointed out that enrollment had increased in many schools. The small undergraduate increase in nursing was significant, after some years of decreases, and is surely a response to the increasing shortage of nurse. The only large decline is in the School of Education. In response to a question from a senator Dr. Gauld said that the drop in undergraduate enrollment in the School of Medicine was because a program was being phased out. Senator Hutchison asked whether admissions standards were the same in Fall 2000 and Fall 2001. Dr. Gauld said that they were the same and that these were the standards set in 1996. Senator Sloan asked whether there was an upward trend in FTEs. Dr. Gauld replied that UAB does not plan to trim back on the part time student, the working adult. Senator Tyson asked why graduate student enrollment has increased. Dr.Gauld said that she believed that these increases might be because of the present state of the economy.

Dr. Gauld said that our enrollment of graduates from the Birmingham city schools was particularly good.

A senator said that we need e-mail addresses in the STARS system for schools and for prospective students. Dr. Gauld said that the STARS system is antiquated and that UAB does not yet require UAB students to have a UAB e-mail address.

The chair called for new business. There was none. The chair announced the open forum.

Senator Sloan opened a discussion on the letter about President Reynolds written to the Board of Trustees by the officers of the faculty. He asked what are the norms for such communications. The chair said that immediate comment seemed necessary if any response could influence the board. The secretary said that he was one of the group of faculty who had drafted the constitution and by laws for the faculty and the senate, which the faculty had adopted. The signers of the letter were all officers elected by the faculty as a whole to represent them. Senator Sapp said that the letter seemed to him to express the views of just four senators when the senate should have considered a resolution. Senate leadership should represent the views of the faculty. How could this be done? A senator said that the chair can always call a meeting of the senate. The secretary said that calling such a meeting would require at least three days.

Dr. Jannett said that the officers of the faculty can write a letter to the board if they want to. Any faculty may write the board. The Executive Committee of the Senate can also be called into session by the Chair of the Faculty and can act in the name of the senate if it thinks that quick action is essential. A senator asked why the officers signed the letter as officers of the senate, instead of just as faculty members. Senator Wittig said that he thought the officers must have the flexibility to respond with speed. Of course, any person was free to write in his or her own name. Senator reed said that she did not think the action of the officers inappropriate. The trustees do not have a history of having UAB's best interests at heart. We should be opposed to the manner in which their action about the president was taken.

Senator Tyson said that he could see the difficulty in calling a special session of the senate. However, we should have a mechanism for calling such a session. We need to look for a means to do this. Senator Alexander said that we have such a mechanism.

Dr. Jannett said that faculty needs representation on committees concerned with faculty issues. Faculty are paying more and more of the cost of their fringe benefits. Senator Reed said that there is no longer a fringe benefits committee. There was an ad hoc committee on health benefits. Its work is done. There is not now a representative from the faculty on any benefits committee. Senator Alexander said that health benefits costs are up. Employee contribution for United Health Care has tripled. Many object to having to use the university plan. Senator Reed said that the only input the ad hoc committee had was in its four meetings. She brought forward the points just raised. We are forced into VIVA UAB. The decisions were made by President Reynolds, Associate Vice President Susan McWilliams, and Vice President Richard Margison.

Senator Reed said that she had recommended that the Fringe Benefits committee be continued and that it carry forward the study of health plans and other benefits. No amount of money has been defined as what should be spent for health care. Vice President Margison says that there is no goal for such an amount. The chair pointed out that the decision on what to spend has to be made in July or August when the full cost of the year is not yet known.

A senator asked whether VIVA is capitated. If it loses money UAB pays UAB. Another senator answered that VIVA broke even two years ago and made money last year. I enrollments in the VIVA plan increases, then it gets better. Senator Wyss observed that capitation causes some medical departments to suffer. We have asked that UAB seek to divest itself of VIVA. Dr. Jannett asked that the rates for the different plans be put on the senate listserv. Senator Reed said that it is easy to get information about Blue Cross/Blue Shield. A senator asked how health care benefits at UAT and UAH compared to UAB. Another senator answered that UAB has higher costs because Birmingham is a major medical center and so costs are higher. Senator Reed pointed out that UAT has one plan, not three or four. Also subsidies are higher there.

There being no further business the chair declared the meeting adjourned at 9:17 a.m.

Respectfully submitted,

John M. Schnorrenberg
Secretary of the Faculty

NOTE: Persons who wish to have a copy of an attached document referred to in the minutes should e-mail a request to Stephanie Belcher. Please specify the date of the Senate and the number of the document you desire. Attached documents exist only as hard copy. They will be sent by campus mail.