Senate Minutes 8/02

University of Alabama at Birmingham
The Faculty Senate

Minutes of the Faculty Senate Meeting of 13 August 2002


Business-Engineering Complex, Room 355


Officers: Dr. Tim Heaven (Chair), Dr. John A. Smith (Chair-Elect), Dr. Marcus Hickson (Past-Chair), Dr. Theodore Benditt (Secretary), Dr. John W. Wittig (Parliamentarian), Dr. Arol Augsburger (Provost)

Senators: Dr. Peter G. Anderson, Dr. Edwin W. Cook, Dr. James Davidson, Dr. Susan L. Davies, Dr. Kurt R. Denninghoff, Dr. Evangelos Eleftherious, Dr. Jeffrey A. Engler, Dr. Daniel A. Givan, Ms. Ellen M. Griffin, Dr. Jeanne S. Hutchison, Dr. Louis B. Justement, Dr. Norman L. Keltner, Dr. Lynn D. Kirkland, Dr. Timothy W. Kraft, Dr. Jack E. Lemons, Dr. George O. Liber, Dr. James C. Martin, Dr. Warren S. Martin, Dr. Bruce T. McComiskey, Dr. Beverly A. Mulvihill, Dr. William K. Ogard, Dr. Linda F. Reed, Dr. Ken B. Waites, Dr. Marie Weaver, Dr. Bettye G. Wilson

Alternate Senators: Dr. Madelyn Coar, Dr. Charles Falany, Dr. David Ku, Dr. Mark E. Lockhart, Ms. Heather Martin, Dr. Pamela S. Murrary, Dr. William G. Ryan, Dr. Jay A. Smith, Dr. Joseph Telfair

Guests: Dr. Rosalia Scripa, Dr. Pat Greenup, Dr. Michael Wyss, S. Gopalsamy


  1. Call to Order

    The chair called the meeting to order at 7:36 a.m.

  2. Recognition of Visitors

    The following visitors were present: Linda Flaherty-Goldsmith, Donna Stone-Reed, Ben Hayley, Roger McCullough and Steve Miller

  3. Adoption of Minutes of June 11, 2002

    The minutes of the meeting of July 9, 2002 were approved as distributed.

  4. New Business

    1. Strategic Enterprise Planning Solution (STEPS Program).

      Linda Flaherty-Goldsmith, Chair of the STEPS Steering Committee, explained the original conception for the new financial and human resources system and the evolution of the concept that has delayed completion and increased costs (currently estimated at $33+ million). In response to a need to upgrade the system, the original idea was to purchase a basic system from Oracle and, with minimum customization, adapt our practices to the system. Over time it became evident that a university functions differently from industry and that we already had more sophistication in some areas (for example, electronic forms) than the new system offered. The result is that extensive customization is required to serve our needs, which will take longer, cost more, and have more risk than anticipated. On a complexity scale ranging from 1 to 10, UAB is a 9. The implementation dates are July 1, 2003 for human resources and October 1, 2003 for financials.

      Ms. Flaherty-Goldsmith indicated that the new system will make data accessible to many more people than previously (about 4,000 people will receive training). This will make it possible for people to have access to more data and to get exactly the information they want. On the other hand, the data will not be fully open-there will be security restrictions. Ms. Flaherty-Goldsmith warned that inevitably there will be problems at the outset, but predicted that within a couple of years, with the problems worked out, we will have a superior system, one that could be a model for higher education.

      Dr. Jay Smith (Business) and Dr. John Smith (chair-elect; Pathology) inquired as to whether UAB is taking steps to protect its intellectual capital in the new system, which might be marketed to other universities. Ms. Flaherty-Goldsmith responded that nothing is being done at present but that it should be looked into. Dr. Heaven (president; Dentistry) asked whether the consultants had signed non-disclosure agreements; Ms. Flaherty-Goldsmith said they have not. Dr. Heaven also asked whether the UAB model is too complicated and expensive. Ms. Flaherty-Goldsmith stated that she was not here before or even at the time the University conducted its pre-implementation review, and therefore can't say for sure whether there was an assessment of this before the fact or not. She is aware that the University spent a great deal of time evaluating vendors. However, the deans had recommended that the new system should have the capabilities of the current systems. She also acknowledged that good business practice includes a thorough review of the organization including attention to elimination of redundancy and simplification of process.

      Dr. Hickson (past-chair; Arts & Humanities) asked whether student data would be on the system. Ms. Flaherty-Goldsmith said not at this time. She said that the student information system would be changed, but that it is unknown at this time what the changes will be.

      Presentations were made by members of the project team on various aspects of the STEPS program. Mr. Ben Hayley (Financials Team Lead) discussed the financial functionality that will be built into the system, including accounts payable and receivable, grants accounting, ledger accounting, and purchasing. Dr. Joseph Telfair (Public Health) pointed out that there is a problem regarding the time lag between the award of a grant and UAB creating an account number so that the investigator can use grant funds. Mr. Hayley said he has heard this problem raised before but said it is not an issue for system design. He also said that a group like the Senate could make suggestions.

      Mr. Roger McCullough (Human Resources Lead) discussed the human resources modules that will be part of the system. An important feature of the system, he said, is "employee self service"-employees will maintain their own information on the system, including address, bank(s), withholding status, and others. Social security numbers will no longer be used to identify employees, partly out of concern for identity theft problems). Employees will have new seven-digit IDs (called "Blazer ID"). Dr. Heaven asked whether, in light of the need for all employees to interact with the system to maintain their own data, the budget includes funds for the additional hardware that will be needed. Mr. McCullough said that such funds are not included.

      Ms. Donna Stone-Reed (Director, Change Management) discussed some of the changes that the new system will require in the way we do things and preparations being made to educate employees about this. There is information on the web (, which can be reached from UAB's home page (click on Information Technology, then on Strategic Enterprise Planning Solution (STEPS)).

    2. Tuscaloosa Report

      Dr. Steve Miller, chair of the UA-Tuscaloosa Faculty Senate, reported on issues of particular interest to the UA faculty. One issue is salaries, particularly problems of equity and compression. Compression is an especially significant problem at the associate professor level.

      Another issue has to do with the strategic planning document initiated by former chancellor Meredith on the relations of the three campuses. This was delayed so that a review could be done but is coming back again. Dr. Miller said that all faculty should look at the document and the issue.

      Another issue is administrative reviews. Dr. Miller observed that the only review of administrators at UA is the official five-year review and that faculty have no other opportunity to give input regarding the way an administrator is performing. He said that deans at UA are very strong and do not welcome additional review.

      Dr. Miller observed that there is particular concern at UA about the general tone of the campus and about what kind of institution UA is. This concern shows up in various issues ranging from the character of the Greek system to the extent to which UA is a research institution.

      Other issues of concern to the faculty at UA are employee health care plans and the ombudsman program for faculty problems.

  5. Health Care

    Dr. Linda Reed (Nursing), committee chair, reported that the Fringe Benefits Committee has recommended increases in healthcare rates for next year. It has also recommended dropping United Health Care as an option for employees. Dr. Reed's report is appended to the minutes.

    Dr. Mark Hickson (past chair; Arts & Humanities) asked how the decision was made to drop United Health. Dr. Reed answered that some felt there had been problems dealing with United Health, and that a vote was taken to drop its plan.

    Professor Marie Weaver asked whether there couldn't be another category in the health care plans other than single and family-a category for single and spouse. Dr. Reed said that this has been discussed and rejected for the present.

    Dr. John Smith (Pathology) reported that faculty will soon be receiving information from the Kirklin Clinic and from VIVA about solutions to problems and answers to persistent questions about the delivery of health care. The communications will seek to dispel the myth that the Kirklin Clinic is not interested in VIVA UAB patients. It will inform members of VIVA UAB that when they cannot get appointments within the system within a reasonable time, access outside the system will be permitted. It will assure employees that VIVA UAB does provide coverage when they are away from Birmingham, though the plan is not designed for people who travel extensively. It will indicate that the Kirklin Clinic has primary care physicians for UAB employees both on campus and especially in the outlying clinics. Finally, it will indicate that there will be improvements in the scheduling of appointments in certain areas such as screening mammography, gastroenterology, neurology, and dermatology.

  6. Faculty Affairs Committee Report

    Dr. Pam Murray (Social and Behavioral Sciences), filling in for chair Dr. Joseph Telfair (Public Health), reported on the progress of the Faculty Affairs Committee in reviewing proposed revisions of section 2 (and related appendices) of the Faculty Handbook dealing with faculty appointments, promotions, tenure, resignation, termination, and grievance. The committee is about half finished with its review and has set a target date of October, 2002 for completing the review process and sending forward its recommendations.

  7. Open Forum

    Dr. Murray (Social and Behavioral Sciences) raised a general question about the kinds of reports that are made to the Senate and the apportioning of time between various parts of the agenda.

    Dr. Charles Falany (Joint Health Sciences) said that under the Patriots Act passed by Congress, the university will have to report on its inventory of toxic agents; this will require the completion of various forms by investigators.

  8. Adjournment

    The meeting was adjourned at 9:47 a.m. (following two extensions of the time allotted for the meeting).


Theodore M. Benditt, Secretary of the Faculty

NOTE: Documents referred to in the text of the minutes are attached to the original of these minutes. If you wish to have a copy of an attached document, e-mail your request to Stephanie Belcher. Please specify the date of the Senate meeting and the number of the document you desire. They will be sent by campus mail.