Chair’s Report for April 22, 2003


Senate update

1.        Important links to agendas, minutes, Chair's Reports and other sites of interest are available
on the Senate web site: Senate Chair’s Report will be available on this site by noon on the day of the Senate meeting. NOTE – this is a DIFFERENT URL!

2.        During debates, Senators may speak only twice to any motion or amendment. Each speaking term is limited to 10 minutes. The Chair will add names of those wishing to speak to a speaker's list upon recognition.


Senate Actions signed off by the Chancellor

1.        Changes to UWEC 8 – including nepotism language

2.        General Education policy and criteria


Other Senate Actions

1.        Congressman Ron Kind thanked us for our input on America’s role regarding Iraq. Attached to his letter was a copy of a letter he and other members of congress sent to the President regarding United Nations involvement in post-war Iraq.  Kind’s letter is on file in the Senate office.


Open Forum Items from Senate Executive Committee Meeting Minutes

1.        Rumblings being heard about closing entire UW institution in northwestern Wisconsin stem from suggestion of legislator from southeastern Wisconsin - Do not expect that or other ideas floating around about such things as technical colleges taking over general education courses to go anywhere at state level

2.        Nominating process to be placed on future Executive Committee agenda to look for ways to enhance involvement

3.        Can be many reasons for courses not being offered; if unavailability related to budget reductions, students need to know that and should be encouraged to contact their legislator

4.        One of ideas Katharine Lyall laid out in response to governor’s budget proposal was program consolidation, realignments, and mergers - Are looking at collaborative efforts to offer courses – mostly talking about distance education; Program Review Task Force at UWEC looking for process to gather information about where to put resources to meet needs of student; more long-term issue; Any program consolidation on or among campuses will be reviewed at System and Regents level to clarify state-wide implications

5.        Using up great deal of budget flexibility to fund seats for students next year; long-range plan is to recapture some of that flexibility to take advantage of new initiatives and opportunities - Will probably never be the way it was before, but not without hope for things like matching grants

6.        Senate Executive Committee to be on call this summer (as is always the case) should consultation with the group be necessary for budget or other matters

7.        One-page summary document on where 32.18 positions will be lost is available; details still being worked out, still fluid - Details known to departments/units involved; Will be distributing budget summary across campus near end of next week with open discussion based on those materials to be held on May 5, 2003; Do have reason to be optimistic reductions will not be greater than 5%.


Other Items discussed with the Chair

1.        UWEC Senator concerned about Health Care Coverage plans requested the following be brought to the attention of the faculty and staff.


[From the Governor’s Budget Proposal]


Require the Group Insurance Board to place each of the state's health care coverage plans into one of three tiers established in accordance with standards adopted by the Board. Require that the tiers be separated according to the employee's share of premium costs. Require the state to pay premium costs for eligible employees, regardless of the plan selected by the employee, not less than 80% of the average premium cost of plans offered in the tier with the lowest employee premium cost. This modified state payment requirement would not affect payments required under current collective bargaining agreements for represented state employees and under the current state compensation plan for non represented state employees. Provide that the current prohibition barring the Group Insurance Board from modifying or expanding group insurance coverage in a manner which conflicts with public employee trust fund law or ETF rules, or materially affects the premium level paid by the state or its employees, or the level of benefits under any group insurance coverage, would not be deemed to prohibit the Board from modifying the Standard Plan to establish a more cost effective benefit plan design. Stipulate that these provisions would first apply to premiums paid by state employees for health care coverage for the period that begins on January 1, 2004. No potential state group health insurance cost savings have been recognized in the bill.

Under current law, the state contributes an amount equal to 90% of the monthly premium cost of the Standard Plan or 105% of the premium cost of the lowest cost alternative health care plan (but not more than the total amount of the remaining premium), whichever contribution amount is less. The basis for establishing the amount of the state's contribution for alternative plan coverage is determined by the county in which the employee receives medical care. The basis for establishing the amount of the state's contribution for Standard Plan coverage is determined by the employee's county of residence. Under the bill, these provisions would be eliminated and replaced with the three-tier grouping of all plans and a different required state contribution toward health coverage plan costs. [Bill Sections: 1002, 1009, 1026, and 9316(2)]


Faculty Reps Meeting – April 4th          

1.        Various reps shared ideas for cost-saving measures: system-wide academic calendar (immediately dismissed), system-wide software, consolidating programs, etc.

2.        Margaret Lewis, Associate VP of University Relations, provided a budget update. She stressed that legislators were not hearing from faculty and staff – that we need to communicate that every decision we make is made for the benefit of the students.

3.        Margaret briefly talked about sabbaticals – recently a bill introduced to eliminate all sabbaticals due to big cost (cautioned us not to mention this in letters to legislatures at this time). System is trying to frame sabbaticals as a reassignment, not just ‘not working’ for a year.

4.        Reps shared how Administrators’ performance was evaluated at various campuses. At Parkside, after the makeup of the instrument is discussed with the administrator concerned and then distributed, the results are tabulated and shared with faculty and administrator in question. Milwaukee has a similar process, which works well. Each administrator meets with committee and the administrator picks a ‘faculty group’ to which the results are communicated. The faculty group is usually the executive committee, but can be the full faculty.

5.        Regent meeting overview was given. In June, have retirements of Boyle, Smith, and Brandes. New board members will take seats in June. At that point will have a board that looks very different that the one we had before the elections. Also, board will have elections of President.


Board of Regents Meeting – April 10th- 11th

1.        Members of the board urged a system-wide comprehensive study with discussions beginning this summer to consider how the face of the university should look in 2005 and beyond. Along with plans to rethink the UW, Regent Smith urged each campus to develop a small number of quality indicators to keep tracking changes in quality as cuts are being made.

2.        The 2003-2004 budget allocation decision rules were reviewed. Based on UWEC’s share of the System’s 2002-03 GPR/Fee budget excluding debt service, utilities, financial aid and Extension credit programs and based on the Governor’s proposed budget, UWEC’s cuts would be: $1,960,399 ongoing; $980,200 one-time; for a total 2003-04 reduction of $2,940,599 with 32.18 FTE cut. One reduction principle included: institutions should consider eliminating or merging academic programs and majors that have low enrollments or are similar to programs elsewhere in the UW System. Such eliminations should be coordinated across the System so that the same majors are not simultaneously removed everywhere.

3.        Principles for Program Consolidation/Elimination were distributed. They include: (1) The quality of the program in the areas of teaching and learning, and contributions of its faculty in research and creative activity, and service. (2) The contribution of the program to the mission and strategic plan of the institutions, and the needs of the state. (3) Student demand for the program as measured by enrollment, retention and graduation of students. (4) Resource implications of eliminating/consolidating the program, i.e., will it save money, result in the loss of resources from external sources, etc. (5) Uniqueness/ redundancy of the program within the institution and across the system. (6) Opportunities for collaboration with other programs within the institution, or at other institutions. (7) The long term effect of elimination/consolidation on quality, mission, strategic directions, other programs of the institution and system. (8) The impact of program elimination/ consolidation on system program array, and student access to programs. The goal as individual institutions and as a system is to preserve and strengthen, to the extent possible within the current budget reality, a program array that is accessible to Wisconsin residents, meets their needs and the needs of the state, while maintaining and continuing to improve quality.

4.        The Board requested that plans for dealing with budget cuts be brought to the board as early as possible so the members can see how campuses are dealing with the cuts and have time to review the details before the meeting in July.


Legislative Update

1.        Joint Finance Committee executive sessions are currently scheduled to begin Tuesday, April 22 and be completed in late May. According to the Wheeler Report, Majority Republicans are hoping to work out consensus items and schedules for execs before the first exec is held. Members of the committee are working to determine those areas where accord can be easily achieved. Majority members have been told to get their priority items and issues to the finance committee members by the end of this week or early next week [April 14th].

2.        The Joint Finance Committee held an s.1310 hearing Wednesday (April 9) in response to the objection by Sen. Bob Welch to the UW System plan to manage the $8.26 million cut from the 2002-03 budget adjustment bill. Welch authored a modified plan to reallocate budget reductions. The motion did the following:

-          Eliminated the cut to Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory by $19,700.

-          Reduced cut to UW-Madison ($147,300), UW-Stevens Point ($29,000), UW-Stout ($61,680), UW-Superior (53,450), UW-Whitewater ($50,000).

-          Shifted both cuts to UW System Administration.

The motion was adopted 9-7.

YES: Darling, Welch, Fitzgerald, Lazich, Harsdorf, Kanavas, Kaufert, Stone, Meyer.

NO: Decker, Moore, Huebsch, Ward, Rhoades, Coggs, Schooff.

3.        Assembly Committee on Colleges and Universities met on Tuesday (April 8) to take up the following legislation:

AB-208. Appointment of UW Regents from each technical college system region, two student members. In the proposed legislation, the representative from the Wisconsin Technical College System Board was excluded. Some members showed interest in retaining this position, and proposed the number of regents increase from 19 to 20.  In order to avoid tie votes of the regents, some members showed interest in adding what would be a third student. The vote was delayed until May.

AB-207. Bans smoking in and around UW System residence halls and dorms.  The committee voted in favor of the bill 10-2 (Nays: Krawczyk and Towns)

AB-209. Individual income tax deduction for great-grandparent, aunt or uncle to a college savings account or a college tuition and expenses program. The committee voted in favor, 12-0.

4.        April 10th the co-chairs of the Joint Committee on Employment Relations (JCOER) said they will consider the 15 pending contracts for classified state employees if they have assurances from the Governor and the Department of Employment Relations (DER) that there will be changes to state employee health insurance payments.  JCOER rejected the contracts in February, saying the state could not afford them given the $3.2 billion budget deficit.  DER Secretary Karen Timberlake has accepted the co-chairs request to appear before JCOER and provide details about the Governor's plans to address how the state will control health care costs for its employees.  This briefing may occur as early as the end of this month. 

5.        Senate Bill 85 - Regent appointments.  Senator Dale Schultz (R, Richland Center) introduced legislation that changes the Board of Regents' membership by substituting a resident from each of the 16 technical college districts for the current Technical College Board member and the 14 citizen members.  The bill also adds a second student regent who is at least 24 years old.  The bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Higher Education.  It is companion legislation to Assembly Bill 208, which had a hearing on April 8.