Academic Staff Executive Committee Minutes 09-24-20
1:55 – 4:30 p.m. Thursday, September 24, 2020
Members Present: Donna Cole, Jenny Dahlberg, chair; Tim Dalby; Stephanie Elkins; Mallory Musolf; Leslie Petty; Deb Shapiro; Lindsey Stoddard Cameron; Bill Tishler
Guests: Margaret Bergamini, Diane Blaskowski, Lesley Fisher, Laurent Heller, Alyson Kim, Angela Kita, Beth Meyerand, Karl Scholz, Andrew Turner, Mark Walters
The meeting was called to order at 2:02 p.m.
The minutes of September 10 were approved with corrections.
Guest: Laurent Heller, Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration
Vice Chancellor Heller mentioned the Chancellor’s message to campus that was distributed yesterday. Rates of infection have been pulled down as compared to a couple of weeks ago, and so campus is moving forward with slight modifications to previous plans and cautiously resuming some in-person activities.
How the auxiliaries are doing varies by auxiliary. There is a spectrum of financial impacts. Athletics, the Union, and Housing and Dining have all taken a hit. As of a couple of days ago, there were 550 cancellations of housing contracts, though some of these were no shows, which were higher among international students. Conference Centers and Mail Services from UW Extension have also been majorly impacted but have also helped with isolation and quarantine needs. There have been a number of requests for refunds of segregated fees, but there has also been discussion of how these fees pay for services that are used variably year-over-year and cover necessary infrastructure costs.
The final figures for the second lapse from the state were announced yesterday. The overall lapse increased from $250 million to $300 million. The portion earmarked for the university went down from $69 million to $45 million. Vice Chancellor Heller expressed gratitude to Interim System President Thompson for his advocacy to correct the disproportionate amount of the first lapse that was covered by UW System. UW-Madison’s portion is not clear yet, but historically this has been around 40%. Further budgetary action will likely need to be taken. Tuition figures will come in this week. Auxiliaries are facing significant financial impacts, which are separate from the central campus budget, with the exception of campus’ taxes on those auxiliaries. The outlook appears better than expected in research and giving, and the final tuition figures will help give a better picture.
Guest: Karl Scholz, Provost
Provost Scholz reported that they continue to see no evidence of transmission in a classroom setting, with dorm employees, or with food service employees. The Chancellor’s announcement yesterday indicates that the number of positive cases has gone down over the last two weeks, with 2% positivity rates over the last few days. Going forward, testing will be done differently. Testing will be occurring weekly in the dorms, with roughly a rotating 20% of the dorm population being tested daily. If there is a spike, campus has the flex capacity to do more testing as needed. This capacity does not yet allow for twice-weekly testing of everyone on campus, but it will be able to address hot spots as they occur. There will also be tougher student discipline and a little more de-densifying of the dorms.
On the topic of resuming instruction, the Provost talked about how resumption will work for different courses. For the approximately 250 courses that instructors and schools/colleges in partnership decided to hold in person (e.g. tied to lab equipment, certification, and other needs), those courses will restart as early as Saturday, and instructors and students have been informed. For a small group of classes where instructors are passionate about in-person engagement and pedagogy, there will be some flexibility on the date to restart. There are also courses that are in-person or with a hybrid modality. There is recognition that different sets of stakeholders feel differently about measures to move courses from a remote format back to in-person or vice versa. Campus has arrived at a place of encouraging these courses to incorporate some in-person interaction between now and Thanksgiving, which can take many shapes. As the announcement about resuming instruction went out yesterday, it is too early to say how it will work. For those instructors who have a compelling case to change modality, the same processes will be used as at the beginning of the semester (i.e. departmental and dean approval). Any courses that were delivered in remote format will continue to be delivered remotely.
ASEC asked about how evaluations will be used for instructors. The Provost emphasized that evaluations provide a voice to students and provide important feedback to instructors. For that reason, he will advocate for continuing the practice of evaluations. Recognizing that it has been a difficult start to the semester, he is comfortable urging departments and units to use discretion about how evaluations are used in evaluating performance.
Jenny Dahlberg, ASEC chair, attended the UW System Reps meeting on the 18th. They discussed issues related to COVID on each of the various campuses, as well as non-renewals happening at some of the campuses. Progress on TTC and ATP were also discussed, as well as the possibility of twice-monthly payroll for all employees. Interim System President Thompson expressed willingness to host a governance retreat for faculty and staff groups to discuss issues. At the twice weekly meetings with the Chiefs of Staff, the Chairs, and the Secretaries, topics included the WVDL’s drastically increased capacity for testing, as well as a conversation about emphasizing graduate students as well as undergrads in communications.
Jake Smith, Secretary of the Academic Staff, welcomed Lesley Fisher as the new Deputy Secretary of the Academic Staff. This year’s letter supporting shared governance should be distributed within the next couple of weeks. Jake met with the developers of the new districting site, and it is expected that the site will go live sometime in October. He reported that the Faculty Senate voted to adjust the academic calendar for Spring 2021 by extending the end of winter break and eliminating spring break, with no classes held on March 27 or April 2-3. The Academic Staff PD Grants competition is live, and applications are due on October 23.
Stephanie Elkins reported that the Communications Committee is hard at work on revamping the academic staff website in conjunction with the Secretary’s Office. They are also working on a new newsletter for academic staff. The WPM CASI also had its latest meeting and discussed WPM’s code of ethics policy.
Deb Shapiro attended the Librarians Assembly business meeting on Monday and provided a report on recent ASEC activities.
Donna Cole reported that the SMPH CASI met with Dean Golden last week. The CASI discussed how important staff are to SMPH and how they can play a part in school policies and activities.
· October Assembly Agenda
ASEC reviewed a draft of the October Assembly agenda, which will be voted on at the next meeting.
· Topics for Guests
Chancellor: budgetary issues and how to ensure equitable budget cuts among employee categories; questions about Spring 2021 and how instruction will proceed; how she sees the pandemic shaping the future of higher ed in general
Guest: Beth Meyerand, Vice Provost for Faculty and Staff Affairs
Vice Provost Meyerand has been meeting with Interim Chief Diversity Officer Cheryl Gittens and working on a charge for a committee whose role would be to outline educational materials for campus on diversity, equity, and inclusion. This comes from a meeting Vice Provost Meyerand had with Provost Scholz shortly after she started in her new role. These materials would be used in training that would occur at or near the time of hire for new employees. She also recognizes that there is value in training that is sequential and instead of “one and done,” in that ongoing training will encourage a deeper understanding of these issues to campus and allow employees to gain more expertise in these areas. The committee will create the outlines of the training, and a second committee populated by experts in DEI curriculum will actually develop the training itself. ASEC expressed support for this graduated approach. The Provost needs to approve this charge, but Vice Provost Meyerand will be requesting names for this committee from ASEC. Members of the committee will need experience with diversity, equity, and inclusion issues. There will also be a number of people from DDEEA on the committee, as well as a member of WISELI and a member of the CDCC.
On the subject of faculty and academic staff protections for those wanting to shift modalities in instruction, Vice Provost Meyerand has not yet received any specific concerns from academic staff instructors but would recommend working with HR and the Associate Deans to address any concerns. Instructors should engage the Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning and the Vice Provost for Faculty and Staff Affairs as well if necessary.
Guest: Mark Walters, Chief Human Resources Officer, and Diane Blaskowski, Director of Talent Rewards, Office of Human Resources
Mark indicated that OHR is still triaging a number of issues supporting return to onsite work. OHR continues to build out resources like the caregiver website. On flexibilities around performance management, there haven’t been any changes announced to the process, but since performance management is all about dialogue, the hope is that supervisors are having that dialogue with their teams. OHR is also putting calls out to get individuals reassigned to various roles, including contact tracing, call center help, testing center help, and a variety of other areas.
Diane provided an update on TTC. The exact implementation date is still unclear, but it will be sometime in 2021. This has to do with the direction COVID takes as well as with the financial impact from the pandemic. The TTC team continues to move forward on refining the job library and TTC 2.0 projects, such as automating the appeals process for title disagreements, the development of a career progression framework—with knowledge, skills, and abilities clearly spelled out—aligning and connecting the performance management system with the title structure and the standard job descriptions. There is another QA process evaluating employees mapped to a title that would change their FLSA status, and the EID team is also undertaking a comprehensive review of the titles and descriptions for any systemic bias. OHR is evaluating salary ranges and a long-term compensation strategy. New training modules are being developed for the HR community, and there will be a campus forum in November with a likely follow-up in February. Before COVID hit, the job library was locked down. After COVID, they made the decision to allow requests for new SJDs and other possible changes. Requests for new titles with supporting documentation will go through the same process as before, and new SJDs are anticipated. Verbiage changes won’t be looked at unless there are significant impacts to the meaning of the SJD. They have also had a few requests for subgroup changes, which they are open to, and they are happy to look at any remapping as needed.
Mark announced that Diane Blaskowski and Don Schutt will be retiring soon and thanked them for their service. Postings for these positions are currently up. He also commented on the status of the employee payroll tax deferral, which is a presidential order allowing employers to let employees defer FICA tax for the fourth quarter for employees making less than $104,000. A joint decision not to do this has been made by UW-Madison, UW System, and the state, as the deferral could create even larger burdens for employees later. This decision was also made at the Big 10 level, and there will be a Working at UW article on this topic coming soon.
Meeting adjourned at 4:40 p.m.
Minutes submitted by Jake Smith, Secretary of the Academic Staff