Academic Staff Executive Committee Minutes 01-07-21
2:00 – 4:30 p.m. Thursday, January 7, 2021
Members Present: Donna Cole; Jenny Dahlberg, chair; Tim Dalby; Stephanie Elkins; Mallory Musolf; Deb Shapiro; Lindsey Stoddard Cameron; Bill Tishler
Guests: Heather Daniels, Lesley Fisher, Brian Fox, Alyson Kim, Lori Reesor, Karl Scholz, Andrew Turner, Becca Raven Uminowicz, Mark Walters
The meeting was called to order at 2:01 p.m.
The minutes of December 10 were approved.
Tim Dalby, ASEC chair, started by thanking Jenny Dahlberg for her service as ASEC Chair during the last 6 months. Tim presented ASEC with a number of ideas for ASEC to consider at a future meeting, including a possible ASEC newsletter, ideas for organizing ASEC orientation materials, as well as how to maintain an online space when resuming in-person meetings. Testing sites are opening next week, and the Safer Badgers app is available through the Apple App Store. Enforcement of testing policies begins on January 25. There will also be a call center with one number for employees to call into with questions on the testing protocols and other issues related to COVID.
Jake Smith, Secretary of the Academic Staff, reported that OHR had asked about ASEC representation on a planning group looking at single payroll and asked ASEC to think about who would like to volunteer. Jake reported on the Fall CASI Session, at which furloughs, budget discussions, and single payroll were all topics of interest. Jake and Bill attended the finalist visits for the Director of Talent Management position in OHR, and the hiring decision should be announced soon.
Deb Shapiro reported that the TTC Shared Governance Advisory Group will resume meeting toward the end of the month.
Donna Cole reported that the SMPH CASI took part in interviewing finalists for the SMPH Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion position.
Jenny Dahlberg reported that she met with CEBC to discuss areas that the committee could work on in the coming semester, including a plain language document on addition of/reclassification of duties.
Lindsey Stoddard Cameron reported that the Committee on Women in the University talked with Stephanie Rytilahti, Jessica Karls-Ruplinger and Kristyn Masters about the Child Care Task Force. Kristyn proposed the creation of a group on COVID impacts on family care and career. The committee voted in December to endorse the creation of this task force. The committee also did a pulse survey of all academic staff, university staff, and faculty. The preliminary data indicates that child care and compensation are key concerns.
Guest: Karl Scholz, Provost
Provost Scholz discussed that Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Lori Reesor and her colleagues have worked hard on personal pronoun guidance. The Provost circulated a 1-page overview on this topic. Work on this issue has proceeded carefully with mindfulness around impacts at other institutions. Vice Chancellor Reesor recognized Gabe Javier, Warren Scherer, and Katherine Charek Briggs who worked hard to make this happen for the spring semester. This will be a 2-part approach. There is the implementation in Canvas first, recognizing the importance of honoring people’s pronouns as soon as possible. Name pronunciation and connection with other systems will come after through a third-party system called NameCoach. There may be unintentional frustration with this approach, but the goal is to have everything consolidated by the fall. There is education that needs to happen around pronoun use, and a period of growth and understanding that is necessary as part of this process.
ASEC asked Vice Chancellor Reesor about mental wellness for students. She reported that while more is being done in some ways, there is still a large gap. Her office is thinking about the lack of a spring break this semester and a possible mental health summit for sometime in the spring, both for students as well as faculty and staff. Many campuses have been doing “Wellness Wednesdays.” RecWell has been doing some work in this space, and there have been discussions about how to broaden that across campus. Sarah Nolan is the new Director of Mental Wellness within UHS. Knowing the difficulty of never having enough counselors on staff, the question is what else can we do to ensure that students have both therapy and support when they need them. Use of counseling stayed steady throughout last semester.
Provost Scholz reported on a new External Discovery website to showcase the work and achievements of UW-Madison researchers. This would be an outward facing site that addresses requests by a number of different external stakeholders, including legislators, to help them better understand the range of work being done at the university, as well as for students to find faculty members with interests similar to their own. ASEC offered feedback that the proposal emphasize the contributions of academic staff researchers and scientists as well as faculty. Provost Scholz also clarified that this site will not replace the Experts database, but it is advantageous in that it will not rely on individuals to update the site themselves.
On the topic of SD/UD grading, ASM has made considerable efforts to alter the grading approach for the fall. This will not happen for three reasons: 1) discussions about this proposal did not happen until the twelfth week of the semester, 2) students had already made decisions (e.g. dropping courses) based on the existing rules, and 3) there are potential downstream effects and disadvantages to students as they progress through the curriculum (e.g. graduate work, future employment). Students who are having trouble can discuss pass/fail grading with their advisors on an individual basis. There may be a task force to look at grading for the semester, and instructional academic staff would be a part of this group. The idea would be for the group to move quickly, so that instructors, advisors, and students are all aware of any policy changes. ASEC also recommended putting info in syllabi, so that instructors are encouraging more dialogue between students and advisors.
Guest: Brian Fox, Associate Vice Chancellor for Research Policy and Integrity
Brian shared a draft of the Conflict of Commitment Policy, which impacts both faculty and academic staff at the institution. The request to write this policy came from the Provost’s Office and the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education. UWS Chapter 8’s code of ethics applies to all faculty and academic staff with a 50% or more appointment, and it describes potential conflicts with the university’s responsibilities of teaching, research, and service. In the mid-1990s, there were greater concerns at the federal level about conflicts related to federally funded research. A conflict of interest committee was formed in the Graduate School to address these concerns. These data come through the annual outside activities report that is required of faculty and academic staff. We do very well on compliance in this space, but that only addresses financial conflicts. UWS also calls out time commitment, and this relates more to 101 funding. This policy specifically addresses time commitment to the university relative to what might be considered outside activities while being paid by the state. It clarifies expectations around the number of days someone who is paid by the university can participate in outside activities related to their professional activities but aren’t specifically called out in their job description. The general perception is that one day per week as a minimum standard was too much. After looking at other peer institutions, the decision was that two days per month would be the standard without the need to engage with the university. If the amount of time was greater, the policy asks the individual to report that time to the dean’s office as the responsibly party, so that a review and assessment can be done. The policy is not a prohibition on outside activities, and there are less than 5% of individuals reporting outside activities that would be greater than the amount set forth in the policy.
Guests: Mark Walters, Chief Human Resources Officer
Mark commented on the implementation of a more robust testing protocol for the spring semester, including requirements for employees to be tested on a regular basis if they are coming to campus. The policy will be that employees must have a valid negative test within 8 days of being on campus. Communications are starting to roll out. The Safer Badgers app is already in the App Store as of Tuesday night, and it will be in the Google Play Store soon. OHR is in the process of hiring individuals to staff testing centers (110 individuals in 14 testing centers). They are looking at doing thousands of tests per day. They are also hiring Badger wellness ambassadors to ensure individuals have been tested. There is a soft rollout on Monday of the testing facilities, and all provisions should be in place by January 25. The university is also standing up a COVID-19 info line, primarily focused on new protocols staffed by a variety of individuals, including OHR. There will be robust FAQs, and employees will get a live person who can either address their questions or route them to someone who can. Vaccinations are also rolling out. UW has been approved to administer the vaccine, and the first shipment was received on Monday. Approximately 1600 employees have been identified in Tier 1A, including those who are working with COVID patients or COVID samples. Discussions are still occurring on the 1B group, and guidance provided by the state informs the rollout on campus. OHR is tweaking the workplace safety policy for mask and testing requirements. Employees who receive a positive test result won’t have to test again within 90 days.
ASEC raised a question concerning an addendum to the sick leave policy about using up vacation before sick leave. There has been a concern about use of sick leave in areas that don’t involve illness. The university wanted to provide flexibility, but sick leave would be the last leave option. The addendum to the policy expires on March 1, but it will likely be extended based on where we are with the pandemic. OHR will revisit the policy and discuss further with ASEC and the Workforce Relations team.
There haven’t been any decisions made regarding extra leave for those who have issues/symptoms as a result of the vaccine or receiving it, but certainly there are existing leave options. There is the question of whether there should be additional leave, and OHR will need to monitor this as more of us get the vaccination, as there should not be any disincentive to get vaccinated.
On the ALRA proposal, leadership discussed this more yesterday. UW System will need to be engaged on this issue, and Mark is hopeful that there will be something more on this next week.
ASEC recessed at 4:05 pm.
ASEC reconvened at 4:10pm.
Motion to Convene in Closed Session Pursuant to Wis. Stats. 19.85(1)(c) and (f) to Discuss the Nominating Committee Slate (Stoddard Cameron). Seconded. Approved.
Motion to Reconvene in Open Session (Stoddard Cameron). Seconded. Approved.
· February Assembly Agenda
ASEC reviewed an initial draft of the February Assembly agenda.
· Athletic Board Selection Discussion
ASEC discussed the possibility of a mid-term appointment to the Athletic Board. ASEC reaffirmed its decision to have an open call for the vacant seat.
· Topics for Guests
Provost: question of whether those teaching in the classroom will be designated as essential for vaccination
Office of Sustainability: divestment resolution, anything further academic staff can do to support sustainability
OHR: TTC, telecommuting policy
Meeting adjourned at 4:55 p.m.
Minutes submitted by Jake Smith, Secretary of the Academic Staff