Summary of Senate Meeting, December 10, 2002

Greater Birmingham Convention and Visitors Bureau. E. Alun Harris and April Deal made a presentation on the services provided by the Greater Birmingham Convention and Visitors Bureau, encouraging UAB faculty and staff to bring meetings and conventions to Birmingham.

Graduate Student Government Association. Tim Phillips, president of the Graduate Student Government Association (as well as of the council of the eight student government associations at UAB), spoke about the services and funding provided by Graduate SGA. These include travel grants, planning and sponsoring of social events, support of Graduate Student Research Day and UAB Industry Roundtable’s Career Day, emergency loans, thesis and dissertation copying, and graduate student orientation. GSA maintains a website at http://www.uab.edu/gsa.

Benefits. Michael Boyd (Manager, Benefits) gave a presentation on UAB’s benefits programs, focusing on the variety of programs and the numbers of faculty and staff served by the Benefits Office. Among the programs highlighted were the Educational Assistance Program, the health care programs, and long term care. Mr. Boyd said that the debit cards for the flexible spending plan will be mailed by the end of the year.

Academic calendar. Senator Charles Falany (Pharmacology; Chair, Curriculum and Research Committee) briefly discussed the issue of the timing of spring break. Nothing can be done about the schedule for spring, 2003. Efforts will be made to align UAB’s break with local school systems in the future. However, UAB’s calendar is planned two years in advance, whereas the school systems make their plans later than that. Further, there are multiple school systems and they do not have the same spring breaks. Senator Falany also provided data on the length of the semesters at a number of universities. The data indicate that UAB’s semester, at 75 class meeting days (Mondays through Fridays) in the fall semester, is among the longest (there is none that is longer). The main reason for this is that other universities are scheduling fall breaks and reading periods, and often do not have classes on the Wednesday prior to Thanksgiving. Considerable discussion followed the presentation, raising questions about semester length and the length of classes.

Policy changes. The revised Information and Confidentiality Policy was given its second consideration. A major alteration is that it covers privacy of electronic as well as paper files. It was approved unanimously. Revisions of the Family and Medical Leave of Absence Policy were brought forward for their first consideration; the revisions reflect changes approved over the past few years. Many questions were raised; it will not be sent back to the Faculty Policy and Procedures Committee until there is opportunity for further consideration.

For a more complete report see the Senate website: www.uab.edu/fsenate/home.html