Academic Staff Executive Committee Minutes 02-09-23
2:00 – 4:30 p.m. Thursday, February 9, 2023
Members Present: Donna Cole; Tim Dalby; Stephanie Elkins; Julie Hunt Johnson; Stephanie Jones; Albert Muniz; Mallory Musolf, chair; Lindsey Stoddard Cameron
Guests: Steve Ackerman, Lesley Fisher, Beth Meyerand, Scott Wildman
The meeting was called to order at 2:02 p.m.
The minutes of February 2 were approved.
Mallory Musolf, ASEC Chair, reported on the recent announcement of the Rebecca M. Blank Center for Public History. She brought up the possibility of a letter or a resolution thanking the Chancellor for the establishment of the center and the continuation of the Public History Project’s work. ASEC agreed that a letter would be appropriate.
Jake Smith, Secretary of the Academic Staff, reported on a recent meeting with the Personnel Policies and Procedures Committee. The committee is looking at better alignment between ASPP Ch. 11 and the OHR personnel file policy. The SOAS office sent out a call for nominees for the Vice Chancellor for Strategic Communications Search and Screen Committee. ASEC will vote on nominees on February 23. There are dates for shared governance sessions with finalists for Dean of the International Division. ASEC approved sending one ASEC member and one International Division CASI member as its representatives to these sessions. The semi-annual CASI session will be held on February 10. Jake and Heather Daniels met with Nick Tincher and Kelly Gauthier to talk about ATP and engagement with shared governance. It is anticipated that monthly meetings with ASEC on ATP issues will begin in March. PROFS and ASPRO are co-sponsoring a forum on campus speech that will take place on February 22. That same day and February 23, there will be West Campus District Planning Open Houses, where employees and community members can give feedback on the planning process for this project.
Guest: Steve Ackerman, Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education
Vice Chancellor Ackerman reported that Research and Sponsored Programs (RSP) has made considerable headway in its backlog. They were able to hire consultants to pick up much of the work, and there are still improvements to be made. Contracts for those consultants have been extended from March to June to stay on schedule. All incoming awards and modifications are now logged the same day they arrive, and the number of new awards and modifications in the queue continues to drop. Sub-award invoice processing has also seen substantial improvement. RSP still has permanent positions to fill due to attrition, retirements, and promotions. They are in the process of interviewing people for 6 positions and hope to have those filled and trained soon. OVCRGE is also bringing in consultants to look at RSP’s processes and compare them to other universities to see what process improvements could be made. Since Huron currently provides consultants in RSP, a different consulting firm will provide this evaluation. The Institutional Review Board (IRB) recently hired Lisa Wilson as the permanent director after serving in the interim position. She previously worked in the Office of Legal Affairs.
Vice Chancellor Ackerman reported that UW-Madison remains eighth in the Higher Education Research and Development (HERD) Survey rankings. We just finished submitting numbers for this year, and we have seen an 8.1% increase in funding, which is twice what we saw pre-pandemic. We are up double digits in all areas of federal funding except for the Department of Energy. Industry funding is up 20%, though we still have significant improvement to make in this area. When compared to our peers, we are lower in industry funding and Department of Defense funding. We saw a $77 million total increase, with $1.49 billion in research expenditures.
Vice Chancellor Ackerman also discussed his work with Vice Provost for Libraries Lisa Carter on a project related to complying with federal agency mandates for public access to research publications and data. A committee of faculty and academic staff has been tasked with providing recommendations to him and Vice Provost Carter by the end of March. They are also working with DoIT on data storage and accessibility.
Vice Chancellor Ackerman talked about the implementation of the Research Administration Modernization Project (RAMP). He has been hearing concerns from research administrators, and Vice Chancellor Cramer has been adding employees to help with the transition. Vice Chancellor Ackerman has confidence in the team but acknowledges the anxiety around the transition in conjunction with federal grant deadlines.
Vice Chancellor Ackerman reported that, to his knowledge, the Graduate School hasn’t seen a significant increase in cases of hostile and intimidating behavior connected to mentors. ASEC was thinking about this issue as a result of its discussion with the Ombuds at a recent meeting and expressed concerns about power differentials making reporting difficult. Vice Chancellor Ackerman recommended that grad students experiencing this behavior go to the Graduate School for support and resources, and he will ask Dean Karpus to look to see if there has been a similar dip in cases with graduate students as there has been with staff during the pandemic.
Guest: Beth Meyerand, Vice Provost for Faculty and Staff Affairs
ASEC continued the conversation about graduate students struggling with HIB with their mentors. Vice Provost Meyerand has also served as a resource in her graduate programs as well. OHR is working on training for principal investigators around cultivating professional and collegial lab environments. Vice Provost Meyerand will also meet with Dean Karpus to discuss possibilities for additional resources for graduate students, and emphasized the importance of associate deans and graduate program managers in addressing situations as well.
The HIB working group met yesterday and is working on creating a process flow and additional tools for individuals who are the target of hostile and intimidating behavior or other broader bad behavior. The idea is to create documents that will help lay out pathways for individuals to address issues on their own and with others, potentially in a mediated fashion. Director of Workforce Relations Megan Dzyuba will be attending the March meeting to discuss what updates can be made to the OHR website on HIB. The group will also be taking a deeper dive into investigation processes, including communications to all involved parties and the mechanics of those investigations.
Vice Provost Meyerand addressed questions around difficulties that staff feel in bringing HIB concerns forward. NIH has had success in anonymous reporting, and there are advantages and disadvantages to that process. It provides a mechanism for people who might have difficulty coming forward, but also provides an opportunity for the process to be weaponized.
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 (Cole). Seconded. Approved.
- Nominating Committee Slate – for vote
Motion to approve the Nominating Committee slate (Cole). Seconded. Approved.
- February Assembly Meeting Agenda Prep
Albert volunteered to introduce the resolution for a first reading. ASEC discussed potential additional edits based on feedback from Assembly representatives thus far, as well as potential additions related to addressing HIB.
- March Assembly Meeting Agenda
Vice Chancellor Ackerman and Graduate School Dean Bill Karpus will present at the March Assembly meeting. The resolution on academic staff morale is slated to be up for a vote, and standing committee election slates are scheduled to be presented. ASEC will vote to approve the agenda at the March 2 meeting.
- Topics for Guests
Provost – plans for COVID testing/protocol with the public health emergency ending, update on free speech survey results, Bucky’s Pell Pathway, grad student HIB conversation, communication to deans on how local issues from climate survey are being dealt with
VCFA – RAMP and feedback from others on campus and his thoughts on the timeline, what are the potential issues that delay causes, presentations on finance and capital expenses at the Board of Regents meeting; outlook on flexibility for spending autonomy; updates on closures/construction in the next 6 months
OHR – concrete strategies for dealing with isolation as a component of employee well-being, general strategy for benefits (parental leave, integrated strategy with ATP, other pieces actively exploring); update on salary data accessibility; update on progression, paid family leave, communication on new SJDs being added and supervisors not receiving those communication; transparency around who is in OHR and how they serve as resources and vision for how information moves from OHR to the divisions; thoughts on HR areas of focus on moral resolution
Meeting adjourned at 4:24 p.m.
Minutes submitted by Jake Smith, Secretary of the Academic Staff