The University of Oklahoma (Norman campus)
Regular session - March 12, 2001 - 3:30 p.m. - Jacobson Faculty Hall 102
office: Jacobson Faculty Hall 206 phone: 325-6789 FAX: 325-6782
e-mail: web site:

The Faculty Senate was called to order by Professor Ruth Okediji, Chair.

PRESENT: Abraham, Bemben, Blank, Bozorgi, Brown, Cline, Crawford, Deming, Dewers, Foster, Gilliland, Gollahalli, Gottesman, Greene, Gross, Hart, Hawthorne, Henderson Hofford, Houser, Hutchison, Kunesh, Lee, Magid, Maiden, Mau, McInerney, Murphy, Nelson, Newman, Okediji, Ransom, Robson, Roegiers, Russell, Scherman, Schwarzkopf, Taylor, Trafalis, Vale, Van Gundy, Vernon, Watts, Willinger

Provost's office representative: Mergler
PSA representatives: Hubbard, Smith
UOSA representatives: Roberts

ABSENT: Cox, Damphousse, DeBacker, Guzman, Harrison, Horrell, Kenderdine, Lakshmivarahan, Robertson



Announcement: Pre-finals week

Senate Chair's Report:

Campus Campaign
Human Resources director search

The Big Event

Sooner Information Network

Proposed changes in health benefits

Voting status of Senate Secretary

Revisions in Student Code

Faculty Senate apportionment

Revisions in discrimination/harassment grievance policy




The Senate Journal for the regular session of February 12, 2001 was approved.



President Boren approved the revisions in section 4.10 of the Faculty Handbook, which pertains to the week before final exams (see 1/01 Senate Journal). Prof. Okediji explained that the changes would go into effect fall 2001, not this spring semester as reported in the student newspaper.


SENATE CHAIR'S REPORT, by Prof. Ruth Okediji

Prof. Okediji announced that faculty should have received the materials for the Campus Campaign. Prof. Okediji and Staff Senate Chair Grettie Bondy met with Vice President for Development Dave Maloney, who explained that the success of the campaign is counted in terms of how many faculty and staff participate. It is a huge selling point with donors that faculty and staff also give to the University.

The Human Resources Director search will commence soon. The Senate Executive Committee will nominate faculty to serve on the search committee and will interview the candidates.



Mr. Stephen Butler, Vice Chair of the Big Event, explained that the Big Event is a campus-wide community service project that gives students the chance to give back to the Norman community. Last year, 1500-2000 students participated, despite the rain. This year, the organizers are trying to get faculty and staff to volunteer as well. The volunteer application is online at on the Sooner Information Network web page, and volunteers can list work preferences. The keynote speaker last year was Colin Powell; this year, it will be Elizabeth Dole. Some of the volunteer activities include cleaning up parks and elementary school campuses and caring for animals through Petsmart and Second Chance. This year's event will be held March 31.



About 4-5 weeks ago, Prof. Okediji met with the Director of the Sooner Information Network, when the issue of test files came up in the Senate, and discussed what the appropriate processes might be to ensure that faculty concerns were addressed before certain materials went online. She reminded the Senate that an ad hoc committee was looking into online issues and would soon give its report. Until that time, no formal recommendation regarding faculty materials online will be made. However, Prof. Okediji thought it would be helpful to have the SIN director talk about their vision for this project, the information currently available online, and any security measures.

Mr. Pitou Devgon, Director of Sooner Information Network (SIN), said he and a group of students had founded SIN in the summer. He works for Vice President for Information Technology Dennis Aebersold and came with him from William & Mary. SIN ( is a web site where students can go to find everything in one place. They can post events, buy and sell books online, and find information on housing, the weather, and scholarships. It is a student project, with 12 paid students and 40 interns. As students use the system, they will see filtered information, or they can click on a link to get more information. Events and news headlines are posted, and a television show called SIN TV airs every Wednesday on the Wire channel 4 and is available online. Another service is the test files. He said the test files had been around for 25 years; SIN merely put the tests that were there online. Only OU students, faculty, and staff have access since it requires someone to log in. Other information is available on SIN, including Norman listings, movie show times, and intramural schedules. The calendar feature is the best way to get information out to students. It takes 30-40 seconds to create a group, and then announcements of events can be posted at any time. Student government elections will be conducted online this spring during a 36-hour period. He said they were trying to break the national record of 46 percent for online voter turnout, so he asked the faculty to announce in class that the election would be March 27-28. They also are conducting an alumni campaign to raise money for the election expenses and for student organizations that helped. SIN will track the voter turnout live and post the final election results. Prof. Van Gundy asked about security encryption. Mr. Devgon said security had been heavily addressed. Prof. Okediji explained that once the ad hoc committee gives its report on online issues, Prof. Okediji would discuss with Mr. Devgon what the policy should be.



(See 2/01 Senate Journal and The guests present to discuss this issue were Prof. David Carnevale, member of the Employment Benefits Committee (EBC) and chair of the ad hoc benefits committee, interim Director of Human Resources Bill Henwood, Benefits Manager Nick Kelly, and Vice President for Administrative Affairs Brian Maddy. Prof. Okediji summarized the preliminary report of the ad hoc benefits committee (attached), which was distributed at the meeting. She noted that several adjustments had been made in the plans, and a third option was added as a result of the discussions. One of the concerns was that the committee did not have enough information about the service quality of Schaller Anderson, the third party administrator, to endorse that plan. Second, because the formularies were not complete when the report was prepared, the committee thought it should reserve judgement about the pharmacy plan. The committee asked the administration to place the formulary information on the web and to produce a benefits handbook as soon as possible. Also, the committee asked for more information on coverage out of area and on the appeal process for the new third (bronze) plan. Prof. Okediji explained that the bronze plan was a result of the Senate Executive Committee's concern that some employees might appreciate a cheaper plan with less coverage.

Three recommendations were put forth. The University should pay the employee share of the Blue Cross plan, and that plan should be the default plan at least for one year, until we have more experience with Schaller Anderson. Second, an oversight committee should be established to manage the fund reserves, evaluate the performance of plan administrators, and appraise the effectiveness of the appeals process. This committee would not replace the Employment Benefits Committee, but work in cooperation with the EBC. Rather than being reactionary, the oversight committee would be involved from the beginning. Third, the Chair of the Faculty Senate would be advised early on when a revision is being considered. The report concluded that the administration did a good job in negotiating the best plans possible and that the Senate should use its positions on the EBC and Faculty Welfare Committee to continue the dialogue. Prof. Okediji pointed out that the ad hoc committee would review some additional information just received today and get a final recommendation to the Senate. She explained that the recommendation needed to go to Vice President Maddy before the next Faculty Senate meeting. She suggested that the Faculty Senate give the Executive Committee the authority to endorse the recommendations of the ad hoc committee and present those to the administration.

Prof. Deming asked for more information about the bronze plan. Prof. Maddy said the faculty brought the idea to the President in order to have a plan with lower dependent rates. The plan is identical to the plan OSU and other higher education institutions in this state have, and it is what the State Employees and Insurance Board has. It has a $300 deductible for an individual and $900 deductible for families, with an 80/20 co-pay. Prof. Deming suggested that the people who would go into a plan with lower cost and fewer benefits would be the healthier ones, and then the cost of the full service plans would go up. Prof. Maddy replied that the rate for active employees was identical to the rate for the Schaller plan, but the rates for dependents were lower. There is some potential for some adverse selection. However, all of the plans will be under the University, so the plans could offset each other.

Prof. Russell noted that the University was not making a lot of money on the health care premiums. In fact, we probably are short in the reserve fund. Prof. Magid asked how the final report would be different. Prof. Okediji said the committee had been waiting on information on the formularies, although the pharmacy component was not expected to be significantly different. Prof. Carnevale remarked that the committee had just received the information before the meeting and needed time to look at it before making a recommendation to the Senate. Prof. Schwarzkopf said the report probably would not change much. What was not settled was the extent to which the University would accept the recommendations concerning an oversight board and the subsidy of the Blue Cross plan. Those negotiations would be done best with the endorsement of the Faculty Senate. In order to start enrollment by April 15 and finish before the faculty leaves, the benefits office would have to begin putting the package together soon. The Executive Committee needs the right to negotiate for the best arrangement, but does not expect to back down from the three recommendations made in the report.

Prof. Hutchison said he thought the Schaller plan had better benefits than the Blue Cross plan. He asked whether the University did not go strictly with that plan because we did not know how well Schaller would administer the plan. Prof. Schwarzkopf said that was correct. Prof. Hart added that the question was which plan should be the default plan. We are not recommending against Schaller; we just do not have any evidence on how Schaller is as a business. Prof. Hutchison asked whether these plans would be examined after a year to see if we wanted to make one the default plan. Prof. Hart said that was the idea. Prof. Okediji said the concern was the interpretation of benefits. This is the first institution that Schaller will be serving in this role. Prof. Hutchison asked whether employees could switch plans at the end of the year. Mr. Kelly said an employee could change himself and his dependents to any plan during annual enrollment.

Prof. Gottesman asked about the network of doctors. Mr. Kelly said Schaller would use the PPO Oklahoma network, which has 96 of the 100 doctors in the Prudential network plus another 100 in the Norman area. It is very close in size to the Blue Cross network. Employees can nominate a doctor to be in the PPO Oklahoma network. Prof. Green asked whether there was much overlap between the doctors in Blue Cross and the ones in Schaller. Mr. Kelly said the PPO Oklahoma network was about 95 percent the size of the Blue Cross network, so most of the doctors would be on both networks. Prof. Taylor asked whether the employee would have to purchase drugs at a particular pharmacy under the co-pay system. Mr. Kelly said Catalyst RX had an extensive statewide network of pharmacies that included all of the big pharmacies and a lot of smaller ones, so anyone who lives in the metro area should not have any problem finding a pharmacy. The list of pharmacies and formularies will be available on the web in about a week. Blue Cross is available online already. Prof. Schwarzkopf asked about the national network. Mr. Kelly said the national network would be CCN, which is one of the two largest nationwide networks. The information will be on the web site, and the company has a toll-free number. Prof. Abraham asked whether a pre-existing health condition would cause any problem in switching plans. Mr. Kelly said someone with a pre-existing condition would have no problem going from one plan to another. Prof. Magid asked whether the first recommendation of the ad hoc committee would apply also to retirees. He pointed out that under the current proposal, active employees would pay a difference of $7 for Blue Cross, but retirees would pay $70. Prof. Schwarzkopf said the intent would be that the University's payment for any plan would be $208.90. Mr. Kelly reminded the group that enrollment had been handled by an interactive phone line. Since the system was damaged by the fire in December, enrollment will be done this year by submitting forms. The motion to give the Faculty Senate Executive Committee authority to act on the Faculty Senate's behalf was approved on a voice vote.



(See 1/01 and 2/01 Senate Journals.) Prof. Okediji explained that for a long time, there had been a rule that the faculty secretary could not be a voting member of the Senate. The Executive Committee felt that the secretary, who attends all the meetings, sits on the Executive Committee, and is part of the deliberations, ought to be a voting member. The Executive Committee proposed the following change in the Charter of the General Faculty and the Faculty Senate, section 10.2.3--Powers, third paragraph: "The Faculty Senate shall elect a Chair, a Chair-Elect, a Secretary, and such other officers as it shall by its operational procedures provide. The Secretary shall not be a member of the Senate."

Prof. Cline commented that the language did not say the secretary "shall be a member." Ms. Fallgatter noted that the officers are ex officio members of the Senate until their terms as officers expire. The proposal was approved on a voice vote. The Senate's action will have to be approved by the General Faculty.



Some proposed revisions in the Academic Appeals section of the Student Code were forwarded to the Senate by the judicial coordinator (attached). The current code does not cover qualifying, comprehensive, and general exams given to graduate students, so the revisions would add "evaluators" to the process. Prof. Magid asked how appeals currently are handled. Provost Mergler answered that we have no system and that she has to devise a system when such an appeal is filed. If there is no avenue for appeal, that puts the University in jeopardy legally. Prof. Okediji said that because Provost Mergler has had to tailor make policies every time there is an appeal, it gets costly in terms of time and resources, it makes the University vulnerable legally, and there can be no assurance of consistency in each case. The policy we have now for regular courses could work well if we add "evaluators." Prof. Russell, saying he thought we should extend the guarantee of due process to graduate students, moved to accept the revisions. His motion was approved on a voice vote.



Prof. Okediji reported that an ad hoc committee was formed to recommend the apportionment of the Senate for the next triennial (attached). Seats are based on the number of faculty in a college. An issue that will be examined next year is the question of who is a faculty member for purposes of representation. For example, some faculty members have been appointed in recent years on renewable term contracts but are not tenure-track. Provost Mergler noted that we currently have about 12-14 renewable term faculty and four research faculty. Prof. Okediji said units vary in whether they consider individuals who are not in tenured or tenure-track positions as regular faculty. Next year's Senate leadership will discuss the appropriate mechanism for representing the interests of those who are not in the traditional tenure-track positions. For now, the committee followed the traditional means of apportionment. Provost Mergler said she was concerned that interdisciplinary faculty feel included and have a voice. Another group that should be included in the discussion is graduate faculty, which includes some staff and some non-OU employees who are attached to a unit. Prof. Okediji added that in some universities, graduate students who teach have started to unionize, and so that is a concern as well. There should be some representative body. That will be a major issue to deliberate next year.

Prof. Brown said University Libraries was concerned about combining the Library with the Honors College because they do not have much in common. One group might not have its needs met or voices heard. She asked the Senate to think about another way to apportion the non-degree-granting units. For example, the Honors faculty could be assigned to their home departments. The Library has as many or more faculty as Journalism or ROTC, which have their own seats. Prof. Okediji mentioned that the Honors faculty has requested a seat on the Faculty Senate. The Senate will continue to look at a way to make sure everyone's interests are represented in the Senate. The ad hoc committee's recommendation was approved on a voice vote. The Senate's action will have to be approved by the General Faculty.



(See 2/01 Journal.) Prof. Okediji announced that she had received some more feedback on the revisions in the discrimination/harassment policy (see and 2/01 agenda attachment). She will synthesize the comments, meet with the acting Equal Employment Opportunity/Affirmative Action Officer, and will report back at the next meeting.



The meeting adjourned at 4:47 p.m. The next regular session of the Senate will be held at 3:30 p.m. on Monday, April 16, 2001, in Jacobson Faculty Hall 102.

Sonya Fallgatter, Administrative Coordinator

Valerie Watts, Secretary