The University of Oklahoma (Norman campus)
Regular session – October 11, 2010 – 3:30 p.m. – Jacobson Faculty Hall 102
office: Jacobson Faculty Hall 206   phone: 325-6789
e-mail:   web site:


The Faculty Senate was called to order by Professor LeRoy Blank, Chair.


PRESENT:       Adams, Asojo, Atiquzzaman, Ayres, Baer, Bergey, Blank, Bradshaw, Chang, Chapple, Cox-Fuenzalida, Deacon, Devegowda, Dial, Gibson, Hahn, Jean-Marie, Kosmopoulou, Lauer-Flores, Minter, Morrissey, Morvant, Moses, Moxley, Muraleetharan, Natale, Palmer, Park, Sadler, Stock, Tabb, Taylor, Vehik, Verma, Williams, Wyckoff, Yi

Provost's office representative:  Mergler, Heiser
Graduate College liaison:  Griffith
ISA representatives:  Cook

ABSENT:         Chiodo, Gramoll, Kimball, Leseney, Marsh-Matthews, McPherson, O’Neill, Ransom, Remling, Sandel, Strauss, Weaver, Xiao






New senators

Faculty death

2010-11 Academic Program Review Committee

Senate Chair’s Report

Faculty Senate meeting room upgrade


Honors Council

Conflict of Interest policy

Security scans for personally-identifiable information

Graduate College issues

Deans’ Council issues

Faculty Senate apportionment

OTRS credit for full-year sabbaticals and sick leave

Withdrawal policies

Unit representation on Faculty Senate

Benefits:  retirement fund record keeper

Election, councils/committees/boards

Academic Integrity Code






The Faculty Senate Journal for the regular session of September 13, 2010 was approved.





The following faculty members were recently elected to the Faculty Senate:

Amelia Adams (Liberal Studies), completing the 2008-11 term of Aimee Franklin (Political Science), representing the less-than-1% pooled programs;

Christian Remling (Mathematics), completing the 2008-11 term of Lucy Lifschitz (Mathematics), representing the College of Arts & Sciences;

Priscilla Griffith (Instructional Leadership & Academic Curriculum), representing the Graduate College as an ex officio, non-voting member for the term 2010-13. 

The Faculty Senate is sad to report the death in August of faculty member Cindy Foley (Law).

The following faculty will serve on the 2010-11 Academic Program Review Committee (formerly called Campus Departmental Review Panel):  Sridhar Radhakrishnan (Computer Science), Dan Ostas (Marketing & Supply Chain Management), Richard Mallinson (Chemical, Biological & Materials Engineering), Ann West (Chemistry & Biochemistry), and Randa Shehab (Industrial Engineering).  The panel also will include Morris Foster (Associate Vice President for Research), Patricia Hardre (Associate Dean of Education), and Graduate Council representative Paul Spicer (Anthropology).  The units to be review are Botany & Microbiology, Mathematics, Physics & Astronomy, Zoology, Geography, Geology & Geophysics, Meteorology, and Aviation. 





The meeting room of the Faculty Senate, Jacobson Faculty Hall 102, will be upgraded to allow installation of video conferencing.  Currently, the Senate has been borrowing a portable video cart from IT to communicate with the senators in Tulsa.  During the remodeling of the room, the Faculty Senate may be displaced for a short time. 


Accreditation is under way.  Faculty members were asked by email to complete an HERI survey by October 12.


The Honors Council may forward a recommendation to dissolve the council now that Honors is a College and not a Program.  The original functions of the Honors Council have passed appropriately to the Honors College faculty themselves. 


Vice President for Research Kelvin Droegemeier, who was in attendance, has formed a task force to look into expanding the policy on Conflict of Interest to include conflict of commitment activities.  The Faculty Senate office asked the two faculty members on the Conflict of Interest Committee to serve on the task force.


The Information Technology Council was asked to review the policies and procedures for scanning individual computers for personally-identifiable information.


Graduate College Dean Lee William met with the Faculty Senate executive committee and reported on the current status of the Graduate College.  He has some good information about the quality of life for graduate students.  Dean Williams has appointed an ad hoc committee to re-examine the graduate status of deans who do not have graduate degrees. 


At a recent deans’ council meeting, it was reported that we are trying to bolster the summer session enrollment.  Ideas may be sent to Associate Dean of Arts & Sciences Kelly Damphousse.  There also was a brief discussion about some of the changes that will tighten up the federal student aid procedures.


A faculty senator requested that the apportionment language for the Faculty Senate be revisited.  The executive committee decided that the language was fine for the next three years but could be revisited when apportionment is taken up again.


An issue has been raised with respect to service credit for OTRS when a faculty member takes a full year sabbatical.  There are other issues, such as the OTRS credit for sick leave.  Prof. Jon Forman (Law) agreed to help the Faculty Compensation Committee, chaired by Prof. Muraleetharan, look into the issue, and the committee will report back to the Faculty Senate.  It may turn out to be just an informational item.

Becky Heeney, Director of the Graduation Office, Nick Hathaway, Vice President for Executive Affairs and Administration & Finance, and Prof. Mark Morvant (Chemistry & Biochemistry and a Faculty Senate member) visited with the Faculty Senate Executive Committee about some proposed changes in the withdrawal policies that could improve graduation and retention.  The proposal is to extend the date for course withdrawals with an automatic grade of W from 6 weeks to 10 weeks.  Withdrawals during weeks 11-15 would require permission of the dean, and a grade of W or F would be assigned.  In addition, a student would be allotted only five withdrawals throughout his/her undergraduate career.  The proposal will be referred to the Academic Regulations Committee, and the committee’s recommendations have been requested to be forwarded as a resolution, if appropriate, to the Faculty Senate.


The Faculty Senate office contacted senators whose units have more than one Faculty Senate member and arranged for the additional senators to represent units not currently represented on the Senate.  Shortly, the units will be notified of the direct connection so any issues/concerns can pass both ways.





Prof. Blank explained that a major change is forthcoming in the defined contribution plans (DCPs).  The university will be appointing an administrator to take care of our plans.  The Human Resources office taped the presentation so it could be made available on the web.  Prof. Blank encouraged the senators to tell their colleagues about this important issue and have them provide feedback through the Human Resources website.  The issue will be discussed again at the next meeting.  All faculty should have an opportunity for appropriate input.  The slides shown at the meeting as well as the video of the presentation are online at 


Human Resources Director Hilburn explained that some changes in IRS regulations say that retirement plan sponsors have an increased obligation to make sure that the investment options they offer are subject to a lot of scrutiny and due diligence.  The options we have available should give our employees the best possible opportunity to prepare for retirement.  Currently, we have so many choices that many employees are confused and do not make good decisions.  Some of the goals are lower overall fees for administering our plan, improved and simplified employee experience and program, and compliance with IRS regulations. 


In 2007, the RV Kuhns consulting firm was hired to help us through the process.  It is a national firm that works with major employers in the public and private sector.  In March 2008, President Boren appointed a retirement plans management committee.  It currently is made up of seven individuals who have an interest and expertise in retirement plan assets.  The members are Chris Kuwitzky, Chief Financial Officer for the Norman campus [chair], Terry Henson, Chief Financial Officer for the Health Sciences Center, K.K. Muraleetharan (Civil Engineering & Environmental Science) from the Norman faculty, Michael Ferguson, Associate Dean for Finance and Administrative Affairs in the HSC College of Dentistry, Business Dean Ken Evans, OU Foundation Chief Executive Officer Guy Patton, and Mr. Hilburn.  The changes are significant and are consistent with making improvements to the services and products that are available to plan participants.  In 2008 a Request for Proposal was issued for a company that could provide overall administration of our DCPs. We have three different plans:  401(a), 403(b), and 457(b).  The committee wanted to find a company that would help employees make good decisions about their retirement and manage their plan assets more efficiently.  Going to a single record keeper can resolve issues such as transferring assets from one investment company to another and getting a comprehensive picture of overall assets if an individual has assets in multiple plans.  The company that will be recommended to the president and regents as our administrator is Fidelity Investments. 


Mr. Charlie Waibel from RV Kuhns noted that his company does this sort of work for institutions across the U.S.  The company has about 300 different clients.  About one-third of its work has to do with organization and structure of DCPs.  OU’s is one of the more complex transitions, in large part because of the number of providers under the current plans.  One of the goals was to make the entire plan simpler, more efficient, and more manageable.  The expectation was a better experience for the participants so they could understand what their plan could do for them and execute it.  The committee asked for proposals from eight different investment providers, brought four in for interviews, and narrowed the decision to two finalists.  Based on a number of criteria, the committee selected Fidelity to be the investment manager for the combined retirement plan.  Because the contract has not been finalized, a few details cannot be shared yet.  The investment structure would consist of three tiers.  Tier 1 is a single choice, target retirement date fund.  Its risk tolerance automatically changes as the employee gets closer to retirement.  Tier 2 is a core lineup, a select group of funds that allows employees to execute an individual portfolio strategy and adjust it to one’s particular risk and return requirements.  With the assistance of RV Kuhns, the retirement plans management committee will select the investment options available in this tier and monitor their performance and execution.  Tier 3 is a brokerage window with over 3000 different mutual funds available. 


Describing the fund selection process, Mr. Waibel said RV Kuhns will assist the committee in selecting good investment choices or funds and reviewing a fund’s performance and execution.  The fund selection process involves quantitative screening, qualitative screening, and in-person interviews, the sorts of things that employees have the responsibility of doing currently.  In Tier 2, there are index options (highlighted in blue) and actively managed funds (highlighted in yellow). 


Tier 1, Target Retirement Date funds will be the default option for participants.  These funds transition from aggressive to conservative as the employee gets closer to retirement.  Currently, the default option is cash; generally, investing in cash 40 years from retirement is not a good idea.  Tier 2 provides employees with the ability to control risk and return.  Individual funds in this tier are selected by the committee to be the best for each individual asset class.  Tier 3 funds fall into three different groups:  funds that have no transaction fees or loads associated with purchasing or selling them, funds that have a transaction fee of about $75, and funds that have sales charges and loads.  Twenty-five exchange-traded funds (ETF) were recently added in the no transaction fee group, which provides an opportunity for index-type investing through the ETF vehicle. 


The committee spent a lot of time evaluating how to pay for the plan.  Currently, the cost for providing recordkeeping services is embedded in the management fees of the funds.  One of the goals of this project was to bring those costs on top of the table.  Because of administrative overlap, if someone chose multiple providers now, the plan is likely to cost more than it could.  No one has negotiated a lower fee because the contracts are run by each individual participant.  Part of the selection process was to negotiate a hard dollar charge per participant.  The committee estimates that the total fee burden will be cut in half at least.  The proposal is for two separate charges:  a revenue-sharing fee and a per-participant direct charge ($4/month) to offset the cost of plan administration.  Those costs are a little less than $100 per person on average.  As assets accumulate, the expectation is a reduction in the monthly charge to participants and the ancillary (revenue-sharing) fees that are attached to individual investments.  The net savings to the participants overall is expected to be substantial. 


Mr. Waibel said employees will have to make new fund selections or re-affirm current selections during the fund transition process.  Funds invested with TIAA-CREF will not be redirected but may be moved at the employee’s discretion.  The timeline will allow for assistance and information at least two months before implementation.  If an employee fails to make a decision, funds will be directed to the Target Retirement Date Fund.  Administrative fees are expected to be about one-half to one-third of what they are now.  Fidelity will have a large group of people here for education before and after the transition date.  The process can be entirely electronic.  A number of things will be much simpler, such as beneficiary and address changes.  The committee will be able to evaluate other potential changes and is recommending that loans and hardship withdrawals be available from the voluntary plans. 


Prof. Morrissey asked if the slides would be made available.  Mr. Hilburn said the slides and the presentation would be available online later in the week, and everyone would be notified by email.  Prof. Hofford asked whether employees would have to move TIAA-CREF funds by a certain time.  Mr. Waibel said TIAA-CREF funds would not be transitioned with this new plan roll out, but may be moved electively by the participant at any time.  Mr. Hilburn said he expected to have a very high visibility communication and education effort with employees so there will be at least a couple months of individual meetings and group meetings to explain the structure and options of the new plans.


Prof. Taylor asked for clarification about the TIAA-CREF option.  Mr. Waibel said TIAA-CREF will not be an option for new contributions in the core lineup, with the exception of the traditional annuity.  However, TIAA-CREF funds will be in the brokerage window.  Tier 2 will have several different providers, not just Fidelity.  One of the requirements is all providers must be able to work in an open environment.  Participants will have available the best that the committee can find in any asset class.  Prof. Taylor asked how this would impact individuals who had been in TIAA-CREF their entire careers and now cannot add new money to TIAA-CREF.  They will be rolled into a program where in terms of money generated in that program, it is like they are new employees.  Mr. Waibel said the current assets invested with TIAA-CREF can stay with TIAA-CREF.  TIAA-CREF options are available through the brokerage window with a transaction fee.  The other options available are at least comparable to the TIAA-CREF options.  He said he realizes it is disruptive for participants who are at the end of their career.  What was important was to provide good investment options.  If someone chooses to remain with TIAA-CREF, that possibility is still available.


Prof. Moses pointed out that currently we have 88 different low cost funds with Vanguard.  With the new system, there are only four, and some specific asset classes are not represented.  Furthermore, in Tier 3 Vanguard funds have a transaction fee.  If employees have to pay a $75 transaction fee and average two transactions per month, the annual cost in fees is $1800.  Participants are being forced into Tier 2 by high transaction fees.  Mr. Waibel replied that another option would be to use an ETF, which would give low cost, index-like performance and in most cases is less expensive.  One of the benefits of having a retirement plans management committee is the committee can look at feedback and make changes to the platform.  It is a balance to provide enough options so people can influence how their plans behave, while recognizing that having too many choices can be a destructive thing to a large number of plan participants. 


Prof. Stock asked how much the brokerage fee would be to continue TIAA-CREF in the third tier.  Mr. Waibel said the fee would be $75 per transaction.  Participants have the option to accumulate and move assets in large lumps and pay $75 for a single transaction or pay $5 per month per fund.  In most cases, the funds that are offered in parallel to the TIAA-CREF funds have better performance and lower cost.  Prof. Tabb said he assumed that an employee who wanted to move funds from TIAA-CREF to the new platform would have to specifically elect to transfer to the new fund and would have to have a new payroll deduction form to do that.  Mr. Waibel said the reenrollment will redirect the going-forward contributions to one of the new options.  Prof. Tabb pointed out that the amount OU contributes will not change, so an employee is not really being treated as a new employee in terms of the amount, just in terms of where it is being invested.  Mr. Waibel said this would not affect the amount that OU contributes.  Mr. Hilburn commented that the employee will direct where the dollars the University contributes on the employee’s behalf are invested.


Prof. Ayres said she would like to better understand why the fee is so high in the Tier 3 and why there cannot be more choices.  If it is done with electronic transfers, it should not cost much.  Mr. Waibel said this is a rarely-used option.  The participation rate tends to be 1-2 percent.  The committee pressed hard on the places that would benefit the largest number of participants.  The inclusion of the ETFs as a no transaction fee option was a big step forward, but the committee will continue to press on bringing the fees down. 


Mr. Hilburn announced that the tentative time line was to communicate the proposed changes to employees in October and November.  A copy of this presentation, the power point slides, and frequently asked questions will be available online.  The web site will have a link for submitting comments, and all comments will be shared with the committee.  The proposal will not be final until after the campus-wide discussion and communication process.  Representatives from Human Resources will come back to the November Faculty Senate meeting to give an update.  If things go smoothly, a recommendation will be made to President Boren and then to the regents at their November 30 meeting.  Employee education will begin after the first of the year.  The goal is for employees to make personal decisions as opposed to having the election done automatically.  For the component that gets defaulted, there is a good default option available.  The program is anticipated to be effective July 2011.  In summary, Prof. Blank said this is a huge amount of information for everyone to absorb and a new way of doing things.  He encouraged the senators to talk to their colleagues, have them look at the website, and bring concerns to the next Faculty Senate meeting. 





The Faculty Senate approved the Senate Committee on Committees’ nominations to fill vacancies on university and campus councils, committees and boards (attached).  





For background information on the proposal for a new Academic Integrity Code, see the September 2010 Faculty Senate Journal.  Prof. Blank noted that some modifications in the proposal had been made since the last meeting (revised version attached). 


Associate Provost Greg Heiser said the policy changes were in response to concerns in the past few years about some contentious hearings.  He said the focus should be not just on the 20 or so cases that go to hearings but on the 200 students who go through the process each year.  One of the benefits of changing the system is to increase more student involvement and responsibility for how the system is run.  Students should understand that integrity is a value they should share.  It is not just something that professors worry about.  At the last meeting, some questions were raised about the extent to which the pledge is binding.  Section 1.5 of the proposal was revised to substitute some language provided by Senator Tabb.  Questions also came up about the policies that will be developed.  The plan is to draft some procedures that would take faculty out of the prosecutor role and allow faculty to refer academic misconduct to a panel.  The faculty member would function more as a witness.  The student-run Integrity Council would have oversight and advice from a board of faculty.   The Faculty Senate would appoint five faculty members to help draft the policies that would ultimately be approved by the Provost and the President.  Dr. Heiser said he had talked to about half of the senators over the last couple of weeks and had had a lot of good conversations about the proposal.  Prof. Blank added that some faculty members have been concerned that the proposed policies and procedures might be very different from the current ones.  Dr. Heiser has assured him that we will start off with procedures that are similar to what we currently have.  Dr. Heiser said many parts of the current system, such as the ability to use an admonition, will be kept in place.  Some changes will have to be made to remove the faculty member from the prosecutor role.


Prof. Blank pointed out that the proposal had not been officially approved by the Student Association yet, so it is possible that minor modifications may come back to the Faculty Senate.  The proposal was approved on a voice vote. 





The meeting adjourned at 4:50 p.m.  The next regular session of the Faculty Senate will be held at 3:30 p.m. on Monday, November 8, 2010, in Jacobson Faculty Hall 102.


Sonya Fallgatter, Administrative Coordinator


Amy Bradshaw, Faculty Secretary