Date: March 17, 2011
Dear Faculty Colleagues:
The following is a summary of issues taken up at the March 3rd Faculty Council meeting.
Invited guest to Faculty Council, Provost Joe Alutto offered some projections about the university’s future in expectation of Governor Kasich’s announced new state budget. Provost Alutto noted that, although the situation in Ohio had changed with the new Kasich administration, he was confident that OSU would weather the economic situation and continue investing in high priority areas. He raised the possibility of OSU becoming a charter university and that, more likely, it would become part of a tiered system. Those at the top of the tier would probably anticipate a waiver of some state regulations while expecting lowered state support. If such were the case, universities would continue, as is OSU’s current practice, to retain control over admissions. As the tiers are worked down in the system, greater state controls would apply (e.g., tuition caps) and the level of relative support would be greater.
Regional campus faculty
Faculty senator, Dawn Kitchen (Mansfield), delivered a presentation on behalf of regional faculty, who have raised concerns about the faculty semester workload on the regional campuses. They requested that Faculty Council support the “regularization” of the Regional Campus Faculty Council (RCFC)a body composed of representatives from each of the Marion, Lima, Mansfield, and Newark campuses, along with the respective university senators and Faculty Assembly chairs. Faculty leaders are coordinating with the Office of Academic Affairs to bring clarity to the concerns raised.
Faculty retirement and separation program
Julie Snyder, Senior Director Office of Human Resources, introduced faculty to the proposed flexible program of voluntary separation incentives. In the interest of workforce planning, the Board of Trustees approved an incentive plan created by the Office of Human Resources to be made available to colleges and VP units. In projecting forward, colleges may take advantage of two forms of incentivized planning: a) phased retirement; b) separation incentives. Phased retirement would be protracted, allowing a faculty member to work 25% less time with full salary and benefits the first year, and 50% less work for 75% of salary the second year, with a fixed date of separation. The separation incentive would be relatively quick, to include a lump sum of up to $75,000; it might also include funding for medical premiums or dependent tuition coverage as set by the college. It must be underscored that the voluntary approach applies to “groups” rather than individuals and that it would be up to colleges to identify the eligible group and the nature of the proposed incentives. Faculty members who would be identified as eligible, would be informed of the criteria in advance, and would have four to eight weeks to decide whether to accept or reject the offer. Money would come from the unit, not from central funds. Faculty separated under the incentive plan would most probably not be eligible for rehire. The offering plan proposed by the college would have to be approved by Office of Academic Affairs, Finance, the Office of Human Resources, and the Office of Legal Affairs.
It must be noted, that phased retirement and separation incentives are not connected to the State Teachers Retirement System (STRS) reform, although the latter would certainly need to be considered by colleges in their projected planning.
Beginning in April 2011, the Office of Human Resources will offer a series of workshops related to retirement, including pension reform. These will be announced as they become available. For more information, go to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ohio Faculty Council STRS Resolution
As reported in the previous newsletter, the proposed changes to STRS will require additional sacrifice of STRS members, particularly on the part of active, contributing faculty. Current pension reform legislation seeks to make STRS solvent without increased employer contributions as mandated by the governor. In a modified solution adopted by the STRS Board on January 27th 2011, employee contributions would rise 1% for each of 3 consecutive years from 10% to 13% of annual gross salary. The proposal also provides for extending the increase to 14% if necessary. Further, after July 1, 2012, the final average salary will be based on five, rather than three years. The reform legislation will also call for a freeze of the Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) for five years after retiring.
The University Senate Committee on Government Affairs consulted with Colleen O’Brien, Assistant Vice President for Government Relations in drafting a resolution supporting the defined benefit package preserved in the STRS proposal. This subsequently was presented to the Ohio Faculty Council (OFC) for endorsement. (The OFC consists of the representatives of state-supported universities. OSU’s representatives are Tim Gerber and Myroslava Mudrak.)
As Gerber explained at Faculty Council, the STRS reform proposal should be kept separate from pending state budget considerations. Acknowledging the “stringent adjustments” and “detrimental” changes that would result from the STRS proposallanguage that is included in the resolutionthe OFC fully endorsed the resolution, registering its support of the “reasonable,” though “painful,” set of recommendations that will come to the legislature. Gerber said that he expected STRS to be as flexible as possible on the COLA and contribution issues should the economy turn better; he reminded senators that STRS was forced to use the preceding fiscal year’s poor investment returns as the basis for the plan. He recommended that faculty members visit the STRS website for current factual information and to read the OFC resolution. An article by Larry Lewellen in the March 17 issue of onCampus contains further details on the subject.
On a final note, Larry Lewellen, former Vice-President of Human Resources, will continue to represent the university on the pension reform bill. On March 1st, Lewellen became the Vice-President of Care Coordination and Health Promotion at The Ohio State Medical Center.
Semester rule changes
Jim Cogdell, co-chair of the Committee on Academic Affairs (CAA), on behalf of T.K.Daniel, Chair of Rules, presented proposed semester rule changes that would take effect in the summer of 2012. The proposed changes were introduced and vetted over the past months by the Committee on Enrollment and Student Progress (CESP), chaired by Nath Rao (Newark), by CAA and the quarter-to-semester conversion subcommittee. A working group led by David Stetson (CESP), appointed to shepherd the process, completed a final review of the proposed changes, which included routine substitutions of “semester, session, and term” for “quarter” and five rules with substantive changes:
Rule 3335-3-34: to strike the requirement that units teach a minimum of 1000 credit hours per quarter;
Rule 3335-8-06: to eliminate the minimum of 15 credit hours of free electives for students;
Rule 3335-8-35: to define the university year as Autumn and Spring semesters of sixteen weeks and a Summer session of thirteen weeks, including a four-week May session.
Rule 3335-9-02: to allow admission for all students at any time.
Rule 3335-5-07: to alter the definition of regular faculty duties and responsibilities from three quarters to Autumn and Spring semesters and the May session.
All of the rules were approved by Steering, and adopted at Senate (March 10th), with the exception of the last rule (3335-5-07) regarding faculty duties and responsibilities. It was sent back to Rules by Faculty Council for another review to ensure that the inclusion of the May session is not inconsistent with other rules.
OSU response to the GI Promise directives
Wayne Carlson, Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies and Dean of Undergraduate Education, summarized the OSU response to two directives drafted by the Board of Regents in conjunction with the Ohio GI Promise. The GI Promise is an executive order from Gov. Strickland that allows veterans and their dependents in-state tuition, whether or not they are Ohio residents. Carlson sought to disassociate the two directives from the merits of the GI Promise Bill, which went into effect in 2008. Essentially, the first directive would expand state public institutions’ acceptance of courses under the College‐Level Examination Program (CLEP); the second would seek to align military experience with academic credit.
After extensive consultation with faculty, Carlson drafted a response that summarized significant faculty concern about the attempt to align mission-directed military experiences with academic courses. Moreover, faculty members were concerned about the expanded list of CLEP courses that OSU would be required to accept (OSU currently allows fourteen examinations for credit; the list could potentially be expanded to three dozen), and worry about the consequences of a decrease in the acceptable score on a CLEP exam (some minimum scores decrease from a current level of 58 to 60 down to 50, which is deemed roughly equivalent to a C). OSU’s response to the Board of Regents acknowledges that required data collection (an unfunded mandate) will be important as a follow-up, which OSU is prepared to do. The letter also encourages the Board of Regents to be guided by transfer expectations established by the Transfer and Articulation Guidelines (TAG) and the Ohio Transfer Module, rather than relying on American Council on Education recommendations for course equivalency. As part of the required data collection and analysis, OSU will track all CLEP and AP-Score 3 students to assess success.
Joint resolution of OSU and Columbus State Community College (“Preferred Pathway”)
Wayne Carlson presented a draft of a joint Board of Trustees resolution which, in effect, affirms a joint commitment of Ohio State and Columbus State Community College to a continuation of policies already in place: (1) guaranteed OSU admission for CSCC Associate of Arts or Associate of Science recipients; (2) curricular alignment in lower-division degree coursework at CSCC to assure preparedness for OSU baccalaureate programs; (3) shared advising resources; (4) connection of CSCC students to OSU student services that may include an extended orientation program, involvement with aspects of the OSU First Year Experience and appropriate Student Life and acclimation programs; (5) expanded data sharing; and (6) stewardship of joint resources.
OSU has already closed OSU Marion’s Delaware Center and has partnered with CSCC’s newly opened Delaware campus to provide class space for some students in a few upper-division courses. There is ongoing discussion on course alignment and 2 + 2 programs with CSCC. Campus cluster deans on the regional campuses have been informed of discussions around this initiative and support the effort. OSU President Gee and CSCC President Harrison will publicly announce the resolution on August 5, 2011, and will thereafter take it to the respective Boards of Trustees.
Best wishes for productive and relaxing spring break!
Myroslava M. Mudrak, Chair, Faculty Council
James Rathman, Vice-Chair, Faculty Council
Richard Gunther, Chair, Steering Committee
Christian Zacher, Secretary of the Senate