Summary of Senate Meeting, October 8, 2002

Issues relating to health care. Susan McWilliams (Assoc. VP, Human Resource Management) discussed improvements in Flexible Spending Accounts for health care and dependent care, the most important of which is that employees will be able to pay for services using debit cards rather than having to pay in cash and file for reimbursement. She also discussed proposals to enhance communication between faculty and the benefits department and reviewed existing communication sources, particularly emphasizing the effectiveness of the HRM Website (http://www.hrm.uab.edu) and the email address (benefits@uab.edu). Finally, Ms. McWilliams reviewed issues with United Health Care that led to the decision to drop that plan. In response to a question Ms. McWilliams indicated that for two years she has recommended a tiered system for health care coverage; President Garrison indicated that she favors such an approach.

Mr. Brad Rollow (CEO, VIVA Health) reviewed the history of managed care at UAB, the ownership and control of VIVA, and its current level of activity. It is, he said, in good shape financially and expect to finish paying off its debt to UAB Hospital and UAB by 2006. Mr. Rollow acknowledged that changes in Washington, particularly a drug plan, would make a difference financially for HMOs. David Hoidal (COO, UAB Health System) addressed improvements in access at Kirklin Clinic and said that standards for reasonable wait times are being developed within each specialty.

Faculty Salaries. Dr. John Lyons (VP, Planning and information Management) said that if salaries are to be improved, there needs to be better understanding of sources of funding. He explained that the funding formula places heavy emphasis on (unweighted) credit hour production and therefore that teaching productivity and internal reallocation will be critical in addressing salary issues. He maintained that faculty need to be engaged on this issue. In response to questions Dr. Lyons agreed that the allocation of resources such as teaching space is relevant to the issue of productivity.

Huntsville Report. Dr. Stephen Waring (UAH Senate Chair) addressed the senate on faculty issues at UAH. UAH is experimenting with a supplementary pay plan that allows faculty to earn bonuses for teaching large or extra sections; the senate is watching this closely. Another issue is the “no credit” grading system under which a student not earning at least a D is given “no credit” for a course (rather than an F); problems have emerged with students accumulating large numbers of these. A third issue is academic misconduct; UAH is looking at software that detects plagiarism. Other issues are improvement of annual faculty evaluation forms, establishment of a women’s resource center, reduction in the number of committees, and support of higher education PACs.

Resolutions. The Senate adopted resolutions thanking Dr. Malcolm Portera and Dr. Arol Augsburger for the contributions to UAB.

Committee Reports. Senate President Tim Heaven (Dentistry) indicated that revisions of the faculty handbook are progressing, and Dr. Charles Falany (Pharmacology; Chair, Curriculum and Research Committee) said that the official headcount report is now available.

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