Staff Council Minutes for 21 August 2008
Attendees: Sven Aas, Mary Heyer, Jackie Houle, Carmen Jimenez, Jessica Kansas, Fred Kass, Lorraine Lacasse, Steve Parmenter, Theresa Rae, Shelley Richard, Bardee Sadlier, Lori Widmer-Hinckley.
Lorraine Lacasse prepared a draft follow-up sheet for the Council to track the status of issues throughout this upcoming year. There was some discussion to adding our initiatives to the sidebar on Staff Council web page; perhaps creating a new link ‘Initiatives in Progress’.
The main discussion of this meeting was to prepare for our annual meeting with President Creighton on August 28th.
We want it brought it to her attention that according to the Staff Council bylaws we function as a voice of the staff to the president and other College administrators. The past few years we have been steered to reporting to Human Resources. We would like this changed.
We would also like to move our budget and increase our funding. Our budget falls under the Department of Human Resources but we think it should be part of her office. The present budget is $750. Last year this amount did not cover the three coffee breaks we hosted. We would like a small increase in this budget to allow us to do a few things in addition to the coffee breaks. One of the items we are considering is to do something for staff Mountain Day in addition to the ice cream that is provided by Dining Services.
Other ongoing items to discuss are the increase in vacation time for employees with over 20 years of service, new employee orientation, short term disability, tuition reimbursement increase.
We also think that Joanne should know that 26 nominees were discouraged from running for staff council by their supervisors.
There was discussion of preparing a survey and sending it electronically to all staff. Jessica Kansas will check to see if there is one available for our use. Ideas were discussed on what to include on this survey. We agreed that it should list our initiatives, have staff rate our initiatives, and ask for new items to be addressed.
Theresa Rae will find dates and reserve the location for this year’s three coffee breaks. For the first one in October our idea is to introduce the council members; inform staff of what we do, what we have done, and present the results of our survey.
Jackie Houle will prepare a card that lists the staff council members and their contact information. We hope to distribute this soon. We will also send a supply to Human Resources for them to include in any new employee packet they distribute.
Staff Council Minutes for 28 August 2008 meeting with President Creighton
Attendees: President Creighton, Sven Aas, Jackie Houle, Carmen Jimenez, Jessica Kansas, Fred Kass, Lorraine Lacasse, Cindy LePage, Steve Parmenter, Theresa Rae, Shelley Richard, Bardee Sadlier, Lori Widmer-Hinckley.
President Creighton presented copies of the Priorities 2008-2009.
There was an introduction of Staff Council both continuing and new members and years of service.
President Creighton was pleased to learn of the Staff Council accomplishments this past year, in particular the Sick Leave Time Donation Policy.
She asked about the status of the New Employee Orientation. Shelley asked Carmen on any insight; Carmen mentioned the possibility of HR partnering with Admissions. Mary is on the Committee. We will follow up with HR.
We discussed staff demographics, the possibility of recognizing retirees at Winterfest, and the accreditation report showing low staff morale. She asked the Council to be the ears to the ground and let her know if there are any issues that she should know about. She also asked us for ideas for her Community Breakfasts.
We proposed to President Creighton that the Council meet with her regularly instead of running all issues through HR. She agreed to this but will pass along any issues that are HR related.
We asked for an increase in our budget. The President would like a request with “reality” recommendations.
There was discussion on the Common Read. Some faculty think the staff were discriminated upon. They want to buy books for all staff. Fred will look into the amount of books available and how often they are checked out. He will get back to President Creighton with stats so she may get back to the faculty ASAP. She told us the faculty panel is on September 8th and the author will be coming this spring.
We also talked about the day that water was not drinkable in South Hadley. Staff had concerns about obtaining water. President Creighton noted that she would bring that up to the Emergency Preparedness Committee.
Sven reported on the reconsideration on health care.
We also informed her that 26 staff members were discouraged from participating in the SC election. We also told her that staff have been discouraged from attending SC sponsored events (which are FOR staff) and the President’s luncheon.
Other discussions focused on benefits for domestic partners, the program with Met Life for short-term disability, increase tuition reimbursement from $250, enhanced vacation policy for employees with 20 + years of service, computer access for all staff, and professional development to OPC.
Fred presented the design for our survey on overall staff opinions in order for us to capture and understand what staff wants most.
President Creighton informed us that there are 3 candidates for the Alumnae Director Search and we have 525 incoming students. She also told us that she attended the 3rd international seminar for women’s education in Italy this summer.
President Creighton also mentioned it that in October there will be a celebration for the new dorm and the new track and field.
Staff Council Minutes for 11 September 2008
Sven Aas, Mary Heyer, Jackie Houle, Carmen Jimenez, Jessica Kansas, Fred Kass, Lorraine Lacasse, Cindy LePage, Steve Parmenter, Theresa Rae, Shelley Richard, Bardee Sadlier, Lori Widmer-Hinckley.
The Council will look into increasing the tuition reimbursement benefit which is currently $250/semester. Mary Heyer found current amounts from other schools in the Five Colleges and within the COFHE group. She will connect with Human Resources. We will also bring this to our retreat with Lauren Turner.
Staff Council budget
We requested an increase to our budget during our meeting with President Creighton. She asked us to bring her something to consider. This is what we came up with. Shelley will pass on.
- $ 100 copies
- $ 50 supplies
- $1000 entertainment
- $ 100 Benefits Fair
- $ 100 Mountain Day
- $ 50 miscellaneous
There was much discussion about what we could do for staff on Mountain Day. Dining Services supplies ice cream but Staff Council would like to add to that. We will look into ordering pies or pastry of some type. Theresa Rae will get numbers from Dining Services so we can order the same amount. Stephen is going to contact Dale Hennessey and ask if they could provide something and what the cost to us would be. If Dining Services cannot help us we will come back to this. We may have to shop at local stores.
Carmen and Jessica are going to get prices for Staff Council banners. We can use them on Mountain Day as well as the Benefits Fair. T-shirts will be discussed at our next meeting.
This item will be included in our survey to gauge the interest within the MHC Community.
There is a state- run web site (MassRIDES) that can be passed on to staff that inquire beforehand.
Fred Kass has access to a web survey at no cost to us. Jessica will formulate our questions and pass them around to the group for approval, edits, suggestions, etc. We would like this out soon so we can present the results at our first coffee break.
Lori informed us that Alison Donta (Institutional Research) has offered to help us with the survey. Lori, Jessica, and Mary will discuss this with her once we have the items in place.
We also discussed offering an incentive of some kind to encourage staff to participate. Ideas suggested: ipod, gift certificate, gas card, Rao’s coffee. This will be determined later.
October 23 at 8:30 a.m.
Agenda – an introduction of council members, results of our survey, announce winner of survey incentive, questions. Theresa will contact Dining Services regarding the catering order from a previous SC Coffee Break and review it. We may be able to reduce slightly and save if there was too much ordered in the past.
Retreat with Human Resources
Still working on date for retreat with Lauren Turner. Carmen will see if October 28th works.
New Employee Orientation
Mary Heyer will ask Lauren when her approval might be expected.
Staff Council Minutes for 9 October 2008
Mary Heyer, Jackie Houle, Carmen Jimenez, Jessica Kansas, Cindy LePage, Steve Parmenter, Theresa Rae, Shelley Richard, Bardee Sadlier, Lori Widmer-Hinckley.
The Council was asked to find a replacement on the MCCL Committee. Several suggestions were made; Shelley will contact those to see if there is interest.
A suggestion to the card sent out to staff with the Council’s information was presented. Staff asked that we include the offices for each division.
Most of the meeting was devoted to the results of our first survey and how to present them at the Community Breakfast. Mary Heyer, Shelley Richard will send around a draft early next week.
There was discussion from the survey concerning the lack of communication on campus. Several staff asked about a sick bank. We are concerned that news of this initiative has not reached staff. We feel that HR is too busy to help with our initiatives. Shelly is going to announce the sick bank policy on the Gateway as a completed SC initiative. We are all in agreement that we need to start announcing the initiatives we are working on and those that we have passed – staff needs to know that we are a resource for them.
As a result of the survey we have decided to change the time of our first coffee break to 9-10 a.m. Theresa will contact the appropriate offices for this.
The results of the survey will be posted on our web site after the upcoming Coffee Break.
Overall we feel that our efforts were appreciated and the day a success. We discussed the plan for next year – possibly moving to the front of Blanchard with a table and banner clearly indicating this is for staff. We will ask Dining Services to go back to distributing the ice cream to students on the patio of Blanchard. We will arrange for our own ice cream hoping this will prevent any confusion or hard feelings.
New Employee Orientation
We discussed the draft sent to us. We felt that there should be more emphasis on the ambassador’s role in the orientation. We also felt that in the first few days the new employee should be trained on all the web processes we use on campus. We also think that the HR web site should be updated as much of the information is outdated, especially the Staff Handbook.
Retiree Health Benefit
Mary Heyer reported on the retiree health benefit info session that she attended. This will be a benefit for both faculty and staff. It will allow retirees to access affordable health care in retirement. Lauren will arrange for information sessions with staff shortly.
Carol Stewart will meet with us at our next meeting.
Bardee reported on the Drug and Alcohol meeting. There will be an alcohol free Vegas night in Kendade at the same time as the Vegas night in Blanchard. This was well received last year so they are trying to expand it.
Shelly reported on the most recent OPC meeting. She shared our initiatives with them and they were all well received.
Winterfest will include recognition of recently retired staff.
The students will hold 2 alternative community breakfasts on October 30 and December 4. The one they held last year was very well received and they are hoping to get the community to come together (faculty, staff, students). More on these will come later.
Staff Council Minutes for 28 October 2008 Retreat with Lauren Turner
Sven Aas, Mary Heyer, Jackie Houle, Carmen Jimenez, Lorraine Lacasse, Jessica Kansas, Fred Kass, Cindy LePage, Steve Parmenter, Theresa Rae, Shelley Richard, Bardee Sadlier, Lori Widmer-Hinckley, and Lauren Turner.
Lauren Turner informed us that she was looking forward to this retreat and apologized for the late date that was finally set. She is feeling energized and acknowledged that the Council is very helpful to Human Resources.
Shelly started the retreat by asking Lauren on the state of our budget request. We requested an increase and the ability to manage the funds. This was approved. She will ask Jan Albano about adding more managers to the account in the future. Notifying report2web about the changes to the council will be added to the agenda for our August meeting.
Lauren will explore further with MetLife. She is confident that this will be available for the Benefits Fair in May. Insurance plans are governed by the Commissioner of Insurance, MA and MetLife needs to send their proposal to the Commissioner. The College will need to market this benefit as a minimum number of participants will be needed.
The idea of doing away with printed pay stubs was suggested on the survey. Lauren was pleased to hear this and reported this will be possible in Datatel and as Massachusetts Law mandates, Human Resources can mandate to do the pay stubs online, but worries about staff without access to computers.
The Council asked about the Five College Credit Union placing an ATM machine in Blanchard. Peoples Bank now charges for the use of their ATM.
We asked Lauren if the restrictions to the Staff Handbook could be lifted to allow staff and prospect hires to view from off campus. She will do this.
Lauren will survey peer institutions this week and get back to us by Wednesday so we can formulate an amount to request.
We inquired as to when we might see this information on the HR web site. Lauren assumed that it was done. This information will be posted immediately.
Health Insurance Assessment
HR will begin process of looking at all providers for next year’s coverage. There will be collaboration with Smith, Amherst and Hampshire Colleges. We may need to go with only one vendor. Chiropractor and acupuncture services may be included next year. Lauren is convening a campus group to oversee this process and needs a rep from Staff Council. Sven Aas has volunteered.
Vacation increase for employees with 20+ years of service
Lauren suggests we submit a recommendation. Lauren is not confident that this will pass as it is a budget item. She also considers it lost productivity. She hears that most people struggle to take the time they have accrued. She would rather see a reward for quality not length of service. There was a suggestion to look into the Staff Excellence program other colleges have. The Council will do this.
Lauren will survey the peer group with regards to their time-off policies.
After the Coffee Break there was a discussion with some staff from Facilities Management inquiring as to why the College does not reimburse the managers at the IRS mileage rate when using their vehicles. Lauren was surprised at this and will look into it.
They also brought to us a proposal (phase-out). This would allow a FM employee nearing retirement to work on a reduced schedule while training a new person for 12-24 months. Lauren informed us that her office is working with John Bryant on this idea.
A group of OPC members are looking into this initiative. Lorraine Lacasse, Jessica Kansas, and Mary Heyer will be the SC representatives.
Retirement Health Issues
Lauren explained that there are 2 pieces to this – availability to plans and an employer subsidy savings account.
This will be discussed at the next Faculty Meeting. The College needs to decide if there is an interest, a need, and is it an institutional priority. This is in the discussion stages – more to follow.
Staff Council elections
We shared with Lauren that we had 34 nominees this year to run for the Council. Of those 34, 26 were discouraged from running. It was decided that we will remind Lauren and President Creighton of our timeline so they can remind managers to encourage staff to run.
OPC has convened a group to look at this issue as well. SC will send a representative.
We were unable to discuss the survey results so it was decided that we would meet again soon.
Staff Council Minutes for 10 November 2008 Retreat with Lauren Turner
Sven Aas, Mary Heyer, Jackie Houle, Carmen Jimenez, Lorraine Lacasse, Jessica Kansas, Fred Kass, Steve Parmenter, Theresa Rae, Shelley Richard, Bardee Sadlier, Lori Widmer-Hinckley, and Lauren Turner.
We re-convened with Lauren Turner to discuss in more detail the results of the survey and other items we were unable to cover at our retreat in October.
Lauren promised to send us the results of her surveying peer institutions on vacation time and tuition reimbursement by Wednesday in time for our next meeting.
Staff demographics - Lauren needs to run another report to capture the accurate information for benefited staff only for the updated demographics. It will be updated and posted in the Affirmative Action section of the HR web site.
Lauren reported to the Council on the discussion at the last Faculty Meeting regarding the retiree health insurance benefit proposal. It is time for this information to get out to staff for their consideration. It was decided upon that our next coffee break will cover this initiative, retirement information in general, with an emphasis on how all this will affect salaries. We also agreed that this might be a good time to ask Mary Jo to speak at the breakfast on the budget. Staff are concerned. The Council will prepare a ‘save the date’ card to be passed out at Winterfest. We will also prepare a slide with the announcement. We also want to have a Staff Council table to share this information as well as possible ideas for ride share.
Shelley will forward our proposed budget to Lauren for her consideration and approval. We would like to have a SC banner available for Winterfest.
At our last meeting, following up on a suggestion from the survey, we decided to put a suggestion box in Blanchard. We agreed to do this but ask for innovative, cost-effective initiatives on how we can do business differently. An example - mandatory direct deposit.
We spent a fair amount of time discussing the survey results in regards to professional development and training. LITS has a problem with attendance at training offered. We think the reason might be communication, the overall staff workload as well as lack of support from managers. This led to a broader discussion on how information reaches staff. It was decided upon that the SC will use the staff-l maillist for all announcements. We will send monthly notices highlighting pertinent information using a similar format to the MHC Now.
We also agreed that there should be a unified training site. Sven will look into this. Once in place we can link to it from the HR home page as well as the SC page.
There was discussion on having OPC members submit a yearly report on the training, conference attendance, etc. that staff in their areas participated in. Lauren would like to see a culture where this is expected.
Lauren informed us that this year she has seen an increase in the number of staff participating in the Five College Training confirming that this is something needed and wanted. She told us that she has Five College funding available to her that she is willing to give us. We brainstormed on a few ideas as to what we can offer the community based on suggestions from the survey. Lauren will now contact a few people and put together a half-day workshop/speaker series. More information will follow.
Lauren informed us that HR is considering a blog on their site as a communication vehicle for staff and for announcements. The Council decided against participation.
The inclement weather announcement was discussed at the end of the meeting. Last year we submitted a proposal to Lauren with our concerns - consistency in the announcements and preferably a set time. Lauren explained the difficulty she has with the television stations and would prefer not to use them. We encouraged her to continue to use the television and suggested that if there is a delayed opening or a closing to simply announce that staff should call the inclement weather number. She will look into this and get back to us.
Staff Council Minutes for 13 November 2008
Sven Aas, Mary Heyer, Jackie Houle, Carmen Jimenez, Jessica Kansas, Fred Kass, Steve Parmenter, Theresa Rae, Shelley Richard, Bardee Sadlier, Lori Widmer-Hinckley.
Carol Stewart, Ombudsperson, came to introduce herself and explain her role at Mount Holyoke. She offered training to us or to any area that might approach us. She is trying to reach out to the Mount Holyoke community at large so people are aware of who she is and what she does. She told us that she does not keep records, and will not confirm or deny that anyone has spoken to her.
We were informed of yet another ride share program, Ridebuzz . We decided to add a commuting link to our web page with all of the information we have now -- PVTA, Massrides and now Ridebuzz.
We discussed the Coffee Break to be held in January. It was decided to ask Lauren Turner speak on the VBA’s for retirement health care costs as well as a broader discussion on retirement. Carmen will check her availability and get back to us. As soon as Carmen has confirmed this on Lauren’s calendar Jackie will prepare a ‘save the date’ card to send to all staff.
We decided that when and if Mary Jo Maydew does a budget report we will offer to co-sponsor this and help get the word to staff across campus.
The date is set for Thursday, December 18th. We will ask the Winterfest Committee if we can add our Coffee Break‘ save the date’ card to the slide show they prepare. We decided against having our own table at Winterfest but will have information there.
We decided against putting a suggestion box in Blanchard. We will use Blanchard 7000 and ask staff to send suggestions there. This will be part of our December update. We will ask for innovative, cost-effective initiatives on how we can do business differently and any other ideas or concerns.
We asked ourselves now that the survey results are in and our retreat with Lauren Turner is over what can we go forward with? We decided to come up with a proposal for an increase to the tuition benefit. Fred is going to average out what our peer institutions allow. From this we will decide on an amount to request. We will also continue with the increase vacation time for staff with over 20 years of service. Stephen will look at the proposal Ric Rigali put together last year and compare it to the information Lauren sent us from peer institutions.
Lorraine Lacasse is going to prepare a timeline for all our initiatives to give us a better sense of where things are.
We decided to that our first monthly announcement to the staff-l list will go out for December 1st. Mary Heyer will prepare a draft and send along for edits, etc.
Staff Council Minutes for 10 December 2008
Sven Aas, Mary Heyer, Jackie Houle, Carmen Jimenez, Jessica Kansas, Fred Kass, Lorraine Lacasse, Cindy LePage, Steve Parmenter, Theresa Rae, Shelley Richard, Bardee Sadlier, Lori Widmer-Hinckley.
We discussed the recent incident on campus with Professor Kebbede and Public Safety. Many SC members attended the all campus meeting. At this meeting there was mention of the Staff Council’s charge to be included in President Creighton’s committee. Carmen emailed the charges to the President, Senior Staff and Mount Holyoke Community to Shelley. SC asked about Lois Brown’s call for action. Mary Heyer will follow up with Gladys Moore and report back.
Cost Cutting ideas
Several ideas were sent to the Council in response to our December mailing. Mary Heyer will forward these to Nancy Apple. She will also reply to the emails. The suggestions sent to us in a letter will be added to our survey responses.
We discussed the format, content, and timing of our first email notice. We agreed it was a trial. Some staff questioned as to why the email was sent out at the same time as the MHC Today. It was just a coincidence. Theresa will ask Sarah Barrett in Communications about the timing of MHC Today so we can avoid this. After some discussion we agreed that we will include as many notices that we receive or any staff related events that we can in addition to Staff Council news and updates. If it becomes too burdensome we will scale back to just SC information.
John Lemly, chair of the Faculty Conference Committee, contacted Shelley and Mary regarding the health care retirement benefit being discussed among faculty. He wanted to know what, if anything, staff knew about this issue. He mentioned that students and faculty meet on a regular basis with Trustees and asked why staff did not. Members agreed SC should also meet with Trustees and will present this up to President Creighton when we meet with her in January.
Shelley reported that Lauren was under the impression that our budget request was for FY10. Carmen will follow-up with Lauren about adding funds to our budget.
Tuition Reimbursement Increase
Fred will follow up on average numbers and will send this information out to all of us. Once this is received we will make a recommendation on the amount to request.
Vacation increase for staff with 20+ years of service
Stephen noted that this initiative has been on our agenda for 5 years. We discussed the reasons for HR’s disapproval. He will meet with Lauren soon to inquire on why this has stalled. This will also be brought to President Creighton’s attention in January.
Thursday, January 15th at 9 a.m.
We discussed several topics to put on the announcement – Retirement 101 or something similar. Jackie will send a draft card to Lauren asking her for announcement ideas. Fred will talk to Christopher Rust about adding this save the date card to the slide show at Winterfest.
Ideas for the January email to staff were discussed. Coffee Break, any brown bag events, bus trips, reports from the Committee to look at flex time.
Staff Council Minutes for 8 January 2009
Mary Heyer, Jackie Houle, Carmen Jimenez, Jessica Kansas, Fred Kass, Cindy LePage, Steve Parmenter, Theresa Rae, Shelley Richard, Bardee Sadlier, Lori Widmer-Hinckley.
There was some initial discussion on budgets in general. We had a copy of the MassLive story on the situation at Smith College. There was a brief recap on the OPC meeting of this week.
With the budget the main concern for all it was decided that we should change the topic of the upcoming coffee break. Mary Jo Maydew and Jan Albano are available on January 15th and have agreed to address this issue. To accommodate their schedule we have to change the time to 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. Theresa Rae will contact the offices in regards to this.
Mary had sent around a draft which was approved. The only change was to the time (8-9 a.m. now).
Staff Council Charge
Mary Heyer spoke with Gladys Moore regarding the Council’s charge in response to the incident on campus involving Professor Kebbede. Gladys informed her that all the concerns, at the moment, have been addressed. If more is needed in the future she will contact us.
Carmen informed us that our budget increase was approved. We will go forward with ordering the banner. We discussed submitting our budget to HR in time for the budget deliberations for FY 10. We also discussed ways to ensure that the budget will be submitted yearly as council members change.
Vacation increase for staff with 20+ years of service
Stephen met with Lauren Turner to address this. He wanted her to see that there was no loss of hours with our proposal. He is encouraged that we might see something positive soon. Lauren suggested that they meet again. Shelley and Fred will also attend with a plan to move forward.
Tuition Reimbursement increase
We will propose to the OPC and increase to $1500/year. Shelley and Fred will inform Lauren of this and ask for her backing. We will draft a proposal to get to the OPC at their next meeting.
Meeting with President Creighton
Friday, January 30th at 2 p.m.
Items to be discussed include the vacation policy, tuition reimbursement, meeting with the Trustees and the budget.
We agreed that we should invite Jim Moynihan from Facilities Management to our next meeting. He submitted a list of items for us to consider and look into and we want to get back to him on our progress.
Mary Heyer will follow up on the letter of concerns the Staff Council received.
Staff Council Coffee Break Notes from 15 January 2009
There were 150+ in attendance.
Shelly introduced Mary Jo Maydew and Jan Albano for a discussion on the FY10 and beyond budgets.
Mary Jo reported that last year was a good year financially but the last 6 months all revenues have taken a hit. Our endowment is down, giving is down, and we are seeing more requests for financial aid. The recession will be slow to recover and we need to look structurally at the college. We have done cuts in the past few years now we need to think more broadly and look at line items.
Jan Albano went over the College’s budget structure and sources of revenue and noted that they are all under pressure.
- tuition/room board 63%
- grants 17%
- endowment 19%
She also presented a breakdown of expenditures (or expenses) we spend:
- salaries and benefits 67%
- student wages 2%
- utilities 4%
- supplies 4%
- OCS 3.5%
- all other 7%
There are limited places the college can make changes and it will be difficult to cut more – we may have to stop doing some things.
Jan also reported on a Moody’s survey of 200-300 institutions budget-cost saving plans. Below are some of the findings:
- 48% will freeze faculty hiring
- 65% will freeze staff hiring
- 3% will have layoffs
- 36% will not provide salary raises
In addition, Jan reported that private institutions are not increasing tuition at levels seen in previous years and 50% of the institutions’ are cutting capital projects.
Both Mary Jo and Jan encouraged staff to send any ideas they have to Staff Council via email or to P.O. 7000 – all ideas will remain anonymous.
UPDATE: Ideas are being listed, and can be submitted at, the Budget 2010 page, which also links to Mary Jo Maydew's budget blog.
Mary Jo reported that Senior Staff is looking at department budgets and division heads are leading the process. Senior Staff will discuss the budget with Trustees in February. This is earlier than past years.
The College’s current plans are to reduce capital projects but complete what has been started as well as reduce the number for next year. Only maintenance and energy saving projects will be approved.
Questions from the audience:
Can more of the endowment be used?
Endowment is not for the short term and we should not shortchange the future of the college. It took a loss this year and if we spend more this would be another hit.
Tuition Exchange being eliminated?
The College needs to look at balances and ask if we can keep it at the same level. This is unclear and we may have to limit but we will not do away with it entirely.
There will be discussions with staff about their plans but no one will be forced. This is always discussed with faculty. They have a phased retirement program in place
Outsourcing is an advantage when there is an open position because we do pay less, however, it is also less than a full time solution.
Comments were made concerning the problems that occur when staff retire or leave and they are not replaced. The continuing staff employees have an increase in stress due to more work. There will be careful scrutiny so this does not happen.
Will some positions go from full-time to part-time as stated in President Creighton’s note to the Community?
The College will look within departments and divisions. If it is feasible, ample notice will be given.
What about switching from a 12-month to a 9 or 10 month position?
Lauren Turner explained that if people choose this option, they are eligible for unemployment only during the first summer.
How does the endowment look for next quarter?
Jan Albano feels it will be down as well.
Raises for next year?
All options are being considered.
The College’s contribution to staff retirement accounts – will this be reduced or eliminated?
That, as well as reduced benefits, are all being considered.
What about cafeteria style benefits?
Lauren Turner suggested that we could revisit this.
Jan did assure those in attendance that faculty are also looking at ways to cut back – the Dean has had retreats with faculty and met with department chairs.
A staff member thanked the Council, Mary Jo, and Jan for holding this session and especially thanked the college for keeping staff informed and allowing staff to be a part of this process.
Staff Council Minutes for 30 January 2009 meeting with President Creighton
President Creighton, Sven Aas, Mary Heyer, Jackie Houle, Carmen Jimenez, Jessica Kansas, Fred Kass, Lorraine Lacasse, Cindy LePage, Steve Parmenter, Theresa Rae, Shelley Richard, Lori Widmer-Hinckley.
President Creighton asked about our most recent coffee break. She was impressed with the turnout and the responses from staff on ways to help the budget. She asked the Council what would be the best way to follow up on the ideas we receive. She does not want staff to feel that their ideas are not being heard.
A suggestion was made at a Senior Staff meeting to post all the suggestions received to date on the web site. Jan Albano has a compilation list and Mary Jo Maydew has offered to post and keep track of all ideas.
President Creighton then asked if we had a sense of staff mood. We told her that most of us feel that staff are anxious but pleased to have engagement with the administration about the overall picture. There is still concern about decision making. President Creighton assured us that we will be consulted but. the ultimate decision will be up to Senior Staff.
Fred mentioned something about “the concern around the person who does the job should be included in the process of their job”. And we also mentioned something about we’d rather see other cuts before there are job cuts.
She also reported that the College is trying to protect positions but cannot say for sure that there will be no layoffs. The goal is to keep everyone employed this year. There is too much uncertainty for next year. She informed us that the Dean of Faculty is working hard with the faculty on the budget as well. We told President Creighton that staff would like to hear that. We suggested a College meeting that includes faculty, staff and students. Perhaps a small group could get together to share ideas and concerns. She was very much in favor of this.
The Council emphasized that the more information made available the better it is for all of us.
Students have been sending ideas to her as well in an effort to save. Most of the ideas are focused on food - mostly food waste.
President Creighton informed us that 70 new students are starting this spring semester. Fifty of them are first years. We also received 3000 applications for next year which is very good news. We have however seen a drop in applications from China and an increase in student financial aid.
She reiterated that we are a strong institution but we do not have much surplus or ways to cut. She informed us that the College needs to look for revenue generating programs.
The Council discussed the survey results and stressed the need for more professional development opportunities across the staff. She likes the Brown Bag series being offered by Human Resources. We informed her that we are looking into a collaborative training program that Lauren Turner will arrange in the near future.
We discussed with her 2 initiatives that the Council is going to move forward on but realize the budget restraints. We want them set up so that when the times come for adding initiatives these are in place.
One is an increase to the tuition benefit - from $500 to $1500/year. We shared with her the number of staff that currently take advantage of this – she asked for a list of the institutions as well. She expressed concern that the benefit we offer now for staff children is also much lower than our peers.
The other initiative is an increase in vacation for employees with 20+ years of service. She is worried that this will mean less work will get done. Several ideas were discussed and the Council will continue working on this initiative with Human Resources.
She once again thanked us for our work.
Staff Council Minutes for 12 February 2009
Sven Aas, Mary Heyer, Carmen Jimenez, Jessica Kansas, Fred Kass, Lorraine Lacasse, Cindy LePage, Steve Parmenter, Bardee Sadlier, Lori Widmer-Hinckley.
James Moynihan, Facilities Management, was invited to the meeting so we could respond to the issues he brought forward at our first Coffee Break. We reported to him that the mileage rate for supervisors who use their personal vehicles will be compensated at the IRS rate. Another issue important to Facilities Management is an increase in vacation time for those with 20+ years of service. We told him that this issue is still on the table.
The plan/initiative to phase out veteran workers and train new workers is also being discussed in HR and we encouraged him to contact Linda Samano on the progress.
Bardee reported on the progress in Kendall.
Work cannot be started on the fitness center until the dance studio is complete. That space is being painted this week. During spring break dismantling of the dance studio will take place and a temporary wall will be put in place. The new fitness center will be 4200 square feet with all new cardio equipment. The weight room will remain on the lower level and the crew room will be enlarged.
There are several ideas being considered in regards to classes that will be available to staff. Kendall is also considering incentive programs for staff.
Flex Schedule Committee
Lorraine Lacasse reported on the first meeting of the Flex Schedule Committee. Lauren Turner is preparing a proposal. The Committee wants core hours to be covered in offices. This schedule will be available for summer 2009 on a trial basis.
Waste Reduction/Recycling Committee
Lorraine Lacasse reported on this committee has been charged by OPC to develop food guidelines for meetings across campus. Since there are already two staff members from Financial Services on the committee, Lorraine suggested that she step down from the committee and that someone from an academic area be added.
Jackie was not in attendance. The deadline is late March so she will bring this to our next meeting along with the amount we will be able to award.
Upcoming Coffee Break
We talked about the next coffee break. It was suggested that we consider something around brainstorming "ideas" list in smaller groups. If we did this it would be helpful to have a conversation with Mary Jo Maydew on what might be more constructive.There was also some talk about using the coffee break to talk about health benefits as there is some talk (via OPC) that we will move to a one vendor model and prices might be dramatically effected (especially for Tufts folks).The meeting adjourned early to allow Council members to attend the Budget Forum.
Staff Council Minutes for 11 March 2009
Sven Aas, Mary Heyer, Jackie Houle, Carmen Jimenez, Jessica Kansas, Fred Kass, Steve Parmenter, Therese Rae, Shelley Richards, Bardee Sadlier, Lori Widmer-Hinckley.
David B. Truman Employee Scholarship
We decided to move the announcement this year to early April. Fred or Sven will update the website and form. All Council members will receive the applications that are submitted electronically. We will delay the decision on the amount to be awarded until we see the number of applicants and the quality of the proposals.
March 25th at 9 a.m. Lauren Turner will update the community on health care for next year. We considered offering only offer drinks as a way of conserving. After checking further with Dining Services we will scale back the food for this Coffee Break and announce possible changes for next year.
Health Care Advisory Committee
Sven reported on the Health Care Advisory Committee meeting. Changes will be made for next year and details are still being worked out.
Drug and Alcohol Committee
Bardee reported on the most recent meeting of the Drug and Alcohol Meeting. There is concern with the ADAC committee that the College signed on with interest to participate in a study to lower the drinking age. They asked Bardee if she could arrange for staff to have access to a survey to share experiences with drugs and alcohol. Bardee will get back to this group and offer them our April newsletter.
Shelley reported on the last OPC meeting. It was announced that there will be no layoffs in 2008-2009 but it is uncertain for years to follow. There will be some staff attrition and small raises for those staff earning less than $60,000. The tuition rate for next year was also announced - $50,390.
We discussed short term disability – we will tell Lauren to continue with this in spite of the possible cost increases to the health benefit. We hope it can be announced during the Benefits Fair in May.
Carmen shared with us the Five College Training. Shelley and Carmen will go back to Lauren with ideas for training on the Mount Holyoke campus that was promised us in November.
The Staff Council slate of 5 staff members for the Presidential Search Committee is due on Monday, March 16th. Shelley is working on that.
Staff Council Minutes for 9 April 2009
Sven Aas, Mary Heyer, Jackie Houle, Carmen Jimenez, Fred Kass, Cindy LePage, Steve Parmenter, Therese Rae, Shelley Richard, Bardee Sadlier.
Short Term Disability Insurance
Lauren Turner and Cindy Legare attended the meeting to discuss Short Term Disability Insurance. A proposal was recently received from Met Life. Staff would have to pay for this. It would need to be synced with work schedules (9mos/10mos.etc). Lauren found the premiums very high. In order to move forward the College will need 25% participation or a little over 200 staff.
We asked if HR had a sense at to how many staff have enough banked sick time where this would not be an interest to them. They believe the number is low.
We asked about the possibility of 5-College participation. Lauren will inquire but knows that at Hampshire this would not be of interest. They also pay for their own dental.
We decided to ask staff directly and discussed ways to proceed- the Benefits Fair, the May newsletter, on next year’s survey. We decided that a short survey should go out immediately. If there is enough interest we would like to make this available for January 1, 2010.
We briefly discussed the upcoming Benefits Fair on May 14th. This year’s theme is Wellness. Shelley asked for items for our table keeping with the theme - stress balls, electric putter, etc.
2 applications received to date – the deadline is early May.
To date there were very few nominations. Mary will send out a reminder this afternoon reminding staff to nominate. There was discussion on committees for next year. We agreed to add a liaison for the Student Coalition for Action Committee.
A pilot program will be in place for this summer from May 26 – August 14. Core hours must be in place (9 – 12 noon and 1 – 4 p.m). Voice mail must reflect summer hours. Examples of a four day week are three days at 9.5 hours and one day at 9 hours. 75 hours must be worked over a 2 week period. No overtime will be paid. There needs to be flexibility in start/end times. Lauren will present the proposal to OPC and Senior Staff but is confident that it will be in place this summer.
Staff training – workshops
Mount Holyoke will offer fleet service to the UMass programs for this semester. Lauren is still in negotiations with Steven Butler and will try to bring him to MHC at the end of April.
Staff Council Minutes for 7 May 2009
Attendees: Mary Heyer, Jackie Houle, Carmen Jimenez, Jessica Kansas, Cindy LePage, Steve Parmenter, Shelley Richard, Bardee Sadlier, Lori Widmer-Hinckley.
We discussed the upcoming Benefits Fair on May 14th. Shelley gave out the schedule as a reminder. We will have a raffle - some items were collected. Since 103 staff members voted last year we will continue with the laptops. Paper ballots will also be available.
We received 3 applications. One was already attending college; one had received the Tuition Exchange Scholarship leaving us with one award. We decided upon $500.
Mary passed out the final slate to have everyone verify those running. She will meet with Fred to discuss how to proceed. Another email will be sent out when the election site is open.
Bardee reported that Kendall is in Phase 2 with an anticipated opening of September. The new facility will be air conditioned. New Life Fitness equipment as well as free weights have been ordered. The weight room will not be relocated but remain in the lower level. Some cardio equipment will remain on the balcony. Extra hours are being considered as well as priority hours for faculty/staff.
A survey will be sent to all staff explaining this new initiative and asking for feedback. Bardee will send the information to Mary/Jackie to forward to staff-l.
Staff Council Minutes for 11 June 2009
Attendees: Sven Aas, Sarah Barrett, Cappie Glica, Mary Heyer, Carmen Jimenez, Fred Kass, Jessica Kansas, Cindy LePage, Jim Moynihan, Stephen Parmenter, Paula Pierce, Shelley Richard, Theresa Rae, Sue Rusiecki, Bardee Sadlier, Tanya Williams
We welcomed the newly elected members, Sarah Barrett, Cappie Glica, Jim Moynihan, Paula Pierce, Sue Rusiecki, and Tanya Williams. We said farewell to outgoing members and thanked them for their two years of service.
Committee assignments were assigned as follows:
- Co-Chair: Fred Kass and Tanya Williams
- Communications: Sarah Barrett
- Events Coordinator/Scheduler: Theresa Rae
- Secretary: Sue Rusiecki and Cindy LePage (back-up)
- Web: Carmen Jimenez, Sue Rusiecki and Cindy LePage
- Drug and Alcohol: Bardee Sadlier
- Faculty Meeting: Sarah Barrett and Cappie Glica
- Scholarship: Cappie Glica
- Election: Sue Rusiecki
- OPC: Paula Pierce
- HR Liaison: Paula Pierce
- Student Coalition for Action: Tanya Williams
Fred and Shelley reported on the miscommunication regarding layoffs of two employees in communications. There were two layoffs due to a reorganization of the department, and one person was moved to communications from another department. These changes were budget neutral.
Lauren Turner also wanted the Council to be aware that the Board of Trustees asked Senior Staff to create contingency plans for possible additional 2009-2010 budget shortfalls due to increased financial aid. Some of these contingency plans may include the possibility of layoffs. Lauren agreed with Fred and Shelley's desire to increase communication about staff changes, the Staff Council Co-Chairs and HR Liaison will have an additional summer follow-up meeting.
Bardee gave an update on Kendall. A proposal is being sent to Senior Staff at the end of June outlining a possible fee of $150 per person to enroll ($150 per year to be reimbursed by Blue Cross/ Blue Shield after 4 months). Each employee will be allowed one guest at no charge. Spouses and Children 16-26 have the option to purchase a membership for $150 to use the facility on their own. The charge for a Mount Holyoke Alumnae is proposed at $200. Kendall is looking into offering classes, personal trainers, and separate classes for faculty/staff. Specific hours for faculty/staff may be from 12-1 with no students allowed in the fitness center during that hour. Actual hours of operation are still being discussed.
SC discussed a standard meeting time, it was agreed to meet the second Tuesday of each month from 1-2:30.
A meeting is being scheduled at the end of August or beginning of September with Joanne Creighton, SC plans to meet before that to plan the agenda. (Fred will send out a Doodle to schedule that meeting).
Some questions were raised regarding current initiatives and whether they should be closed out or kept on the table. SC will keep current initiatives on the table but may temporarily put on hold certain issues due to the current budget. These items will be brought back to the table when the budget allows.