The University of Oklahoma (Norman campus)
Regular session – April 12, 2004 - 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 Mike McInerney, Chair.


PRESENT:       Abraham, Baldwin, Barker, Biggerstaff, Bradford, Brady, Brown, Burns, Caldwell, Catlin, Cintrón, Devenport, Dewers, Driver, Forman, Frech, Hartel, Havlicek, Houser, Huseman, C. Knapp, R. Knapp, McInerney, Megginson, Mendoza, Milton, Pender, Penrose, Raadschelders, Rai, Ransom, Rupp-Serrano, Russell, Schramm, Sharp, Striz, Watts, Wheeler, Wyckoff, Yuan

Provost's office representative:  Mergler

ABSENT:         Bozorgi, Davis, Dohrmann, Halterman, Hayes-Thumann, Henderson, Kauffman, Liu, Marcus-Mendoza, Newman, Scherman, Sievers






Announcement:  Faculty tribute

Remarks by OU Regent Larry Wade

Remarks by Athletic Director Joe Castiglione

Health insurance RFP, OTRS

Health care survey

Good practice for courses and programs

Faculty Senate reapportionment for 2004-07

Faculty Senate charter

University email notification policy

Preliminary nominations for committees

Senate Chair's Report:

Parking fines

Bicycle policy

Exercise facility

NEH awards (scholarship/fellowship leaves)

Honor Code, student

Joint meeting with OSU and HSC


Faculty meeting







The Faculty Senate Journal for the regular session of March 8, 2004 was approved.





The faculty tribute will be held Tuesday, April 13, at 3:00 p.m. in the Law Center’s Bell courtroom.



Remarks by OU Regent Larry Wade


Mr. Larry Wade, OU’s newest regent, said he came to Norman 47 years ago this fall as a freshman.  He said he wanted to make the point that “You who are on the faculty of this university are the heart and soul of the university, and your job is the most important job.”  The university is about educating young citizens and helping them to be all that they can be.  He called for more funding, better faculty salaries, a larger faculty and for the regents and faculty to work together.  Substantial funding will have to come out of the private sector.  Faculty can assist in identifying people who can help.  Saying faculty members embody the best society offers, he thanked them on behalf of the regents and said he wanted them to know that they are appreciated.  Others in the state believe in what the faculty does and realize the commitment of faculty to make a difference in the lives of young people.  Prof. McInerney thanked Regent Wade for coming and said he appreciated his comments.



Remarks by Athletic Director Joe Castiglione


Mr. Castiglione gave an update on the student-athletes and what is going on in the athletic department.  He said this had become an annual invitation and one that he appreciated.  Just recently, some faculty members on campuses across the country have recognized the opportunity to share and discuss issues related to intercollegiate athletics.  He believes intercollegiate athletics is one of the most scrutinized areas of any college or university today.  There are more controls over athletic business than in any time in history.  The Athletic Department wants to foster a spirit of openness.  Its mission is geared to support the university’s mission.  To a large extent, the Athletic Department is involved in teaching.  The Athletic Department mission is inspiring champions today, preparing leaders for tomorrow.  A champion by the department’s definition fulfills academic goals and grows as a person.  Athletic staff and students are held to certain standards, and disciplinary action is taken if there are violations.  Myriad services are provided to help student-athletes meet challenges.  The Athletic Department does a number of things to be proactive and has a great deal of success utilizing the right philosophy.  Academic services are provided to about 450 student-athletes.  This year’s overall graduation rate is 74 percent, which leads the Big 12 conference and set a record at OU.  The department received the NCAA USA Today academic achievement award, which is given to Division I universities.  This past year there were 30 academic all-Americans.  Student-athletes’ grade point average was 2.94 this past semester.  Last year, 294 out of 453 student-athletes finished with a 3.0 GPA or better, and 50 of those had a 4.0.  Not only are student-athletes having success in the classroom, it leads to greater retention. 


Mr. Castiglione said he thought it was important to know that the Athletic Department embraces its fiduciary responsibility.  The department will balance its annual operating budget again for the fifth year.  The Athletic Department does not operate beyond its means.  When possible, the department partners with various academic areas of campus.  Two years ago, athletics established a $1 million endowment for the university libraries.  The academic enhancement fee of $2 per football ticket per game went to the university to help offset the budget shortfall, and the fee will be continued this year.  The fee created almost $1 million in support to the academic side of campus.  Quite a few of the Athletic Department staff members have committed substantial resources of their own to the library endowment. 


Another important part of the department’s goal is athletic performance and continuing to build the athletic tradition, not just in football, but other sports.  All students who come to this university should feel like they have the best possible chance to be successful.  Many Athletic Department staff members stay in touch on a national level.  The number one priority is to improve the experiences and environment for student-athletes.  “In our quest to be the best, I can commit to you that we will achieve [our mission] by strict adherence to the appropriate values, principles, and rules of our game and do that with utmost class and dignity.” 


Prof. Schramm said she was appalled at the lack of sportsmanship by fans at most athletic events.  Mr. Castiglione said it was a national problem.  OU has taken steps, and people are removed from games if their behavior is inappropriate.  We can have a spirited environment without crossing the line.  Prof. Burns asked about any plans to open the new track to the university community for workouts.  Mr. Castiglione said the track was designed to take advantage of the new Olympic rules and also have one lane dedicated to the campus community to use for a few hours per day.  Dr. Ken Cooper, a former member of the OU track team and well-known doctor in the area of fitness, made a personal contribution.  The department is trying to open up some of its facilities for community use.  Mr. Castiglione distributed copies of the annual report and invited the group to contact him if they had questions. 





Human Resources director Julius Hilburn discussed the status of the request for proposal (RFP) for medical and dental insurance that was issued in January.  He explained that the university had changed to the state’s HealthChoice plan in July 2003 because of significant cost problems with the self-funded plan.  At the time, the administration made a commitment to consider other options for January 2005.  The university received responses from four medical and seven dental providers.  The Employment Benefits Committee (EBC) is working with the Human Resources staff and our benefits consultant, Mercer, in evaluating the responses.  The evaluation committee, a subcommittee of the EBC, recommended a short list of vendors.  The EBC concurred.  Meetings have taken place with several vendors, and some site visits will be made with vendors that come the closest to meeting our needs.  Mr. Hilburn pointed out that he could not give details yet because of the competitive bid process.  After the EBC meets April 22, he can talk about the vendors under consideration and the rationale for eliminating others.  Vendors are being asked how they would address some of the major concerns, such as out-of-state coverage.  There is nothing in the bids that would suggest that anyone will have significantly better benefits at a significantly lower cost than the state plan.  The idea is to identify an alternative plan to compare with the state’s plan when it comes out in August.  Mr. Hilburn said he would have the opportunity at the all-faculty meeting on April 29 to talk in more detail about the recommendation and address specific questions.


House Bill 2226 is being considered in the state legislature.  One provision would allow OU and OSU to get out of mandatory participation in OTRS.  New employees would not be required to join OTRS and would participate in a new defined contribution plan.  Current participants would have a one-time irrevocable election to stay in OTRS or go to the new plan.  The legislation provides one year for current participants to make their election.  New employees view defined contribution plans as more portable.   A defined benefit plan like OTRS builds a lot of wealth but over a long term.  The second provision, the equity fix, has to do with the salary caps and a change in the retirement benefit formula in 1995.  The result is a lower benefit for OU and OSU employees than for others in education who have made the same contribution.  The equity fix is not currently in the bill, but OU and OSU are trying to include legislation that is acceptable to all parties.  One of the issues is identifying a fair cost for the withdrawal.  Mr. Hilburn said he would get input and feedback from the various groups and keep the Faculty Senate Executive Committee updated.  The alternative plan for new employees and current people who opt out of OTRS has not been designed yet.  He will seek input and feedback before anything is finalized. 


Prof. Megginson asked whether the state health plan was still an option and whether it was possible to do a multi-year plan.  Mr. Hilburn said the state plan was kind of the base plan.  When the state sets its rates and plan design in August, the university will compare the best alternative to the state plan.  The RFP asked for a three-year rate guarantee from all the vendors so that we would not have a low cost the first year and then escalating costs in subsequent years.  Prof. Forman asked whether the university was looking at the health savings accounts, which are more practical with the new legislation.  Mr. Hilburn said the university asked the vendors to include proposals for what is called a consumer-driven health plan.  Typically, health savings accounts fund 100 percent coverage up to a certain amount, then the employee pays 100 percent up to a certain amount, and then the cost is shared.  The state plan has a similar model, called the basic option.  Less than 10 percent of OU’s employees are participating in it.  The Human Resources office also plans to promote the flexible spending accounts for the next enrollment, in which people can pay out-of-pocket expenses with pre-tax dollars. 


Prof. Weaver-Meyers (University Libraries), chair of the EBC, commented that the OTRS equity issue was huge and significantly affects the retirement benefit for many people.  Mr. Hilburn said the issue involves people who were OTRS participants before 1995.  We want to fix the problem but make sure we do not pay an inappropriate amount to do that.  Prof. Hartel asked whether the flexible spending account was still set up so that it could not be rolled over from year to year.  Mr. Hilburn said that kind of account could not be rolled from one year to the next.  Prof. Biggerstaff wanted to know whether Human Resources would provide guidance in terms of who would benefit from opting out of OTRS.  Mr. Hilburn replied, “Absolutely.”  There will be an extensive education program and lots of communication. 



Faculty Welfare Committee report on health care survey (attached)


Prof. Bob Dauffenbach (Management Information Systems), a member of the Faculty Senate’s Faculty Welfare Committee (FWC), said an open-ended survey was sent to faculty, staff and retirees in January.  The survey asked for experiences with HealthChoice.  Out of about 4700 faculty and staff, 143 responded, which is about a 3% response.  The relatively low response rate could be because the system had only been in place about six months and most people had not had much experience, but it also could indicate that, except for concerns about rising costs, there is a fair degree of satisfaction.  A lot of individuals complained about the cost, particularly for insuring dependents.  With our health care system in crisis nationally, it is no surprise that we are experiencing increasing costs.  Retirees are very satisfied with HealthChoice because it pays what Medicare does not.  One of the largest concerns is out of state coverage and finding in-network providers.  Even at Norman Regional hospital, faculty and staff have discovered that a particular physician may not be in network.  One of the positive comments was that HealthChoice has no lifetime cap.  Other concerns had to do with late payments, billing errors, and emergency care.  Some were concerned about the lack of information about just what the benefits are.  The FWC thinks there is a real need for an ombudsperson who could call HealthChoice when a problem arises and provide information to faculty and staff.  Out-of-state coverage is a very prominent issue.  Also, the FWC thinks the university needs to be concerned about preventive care and wellness.  This is an issue that the FWC plans to investigate more thoroughly next year.  Prof. Dauffenbach said his opinion was there seemed to be a fair degree of satisfaction with HealthChoice. 


Prof. Barker complimented the FWC on a very well-written report that had a number of excellent suggestions.  He said the low rate of response could be due to the lack of familiarity with HealthChoice or because some people did not hear about the survey.  He said he was pleased the FWC was taking the out-of-state issue seriously but thought supplemental coverage should be part of our health plan.  Prof. Dauffenbach responded that the idea was that a supplemental coverage benefit might be achieved at a lower price.  Prof. Burns commented that it would be a mistake to assume a low response rate reflected a satisfaction with coverage.  Prof. Huseman asked whether it was possible for an out-of-state physician or hospital to sign up as a member of the program.  Prof. Dauffenbach said almost all Oklahoma physicians were in the system, but experiences have been spotty out of state.  Mr. Hilburn added that HealthChoice will seek to add a provider, but the provider has to be willing to accept the HealthChoice fee structure.  Prof. Striz said there was no incentive for a doctor to do that.  Prof. Weaver-Meyers said providers might be willing if they are in a community with a lot of OU retirees.  Mr. Hilburn said the fee structure was not necessarily lower than the rates in another state.  Prof. Huseman noted that if the employee retired to another state and set up a relationship with a certain doctor, it was possible for the doctor to apply to be in-network.  Mr. Hilburn said there were some relationships, mostly in neighboring states, but that did not provide a national kind of network that would be desirable to the university.


Prof. Caldwell said she thought the statement about preventive care and wellness was important.  She encouraged the FWC to try to get an exercise facility as a free service for faculty and staff.  Following some comments about the implications of the low response rate, Prof. Dauffenbach pointed out that the survey was open-ended, not a sample.  Prof. McInerney said the FWC had wanted to get some data to give to the EBC as it made a decision about insurers for next year.



Recommendations on good practice for courses and programs


Prof. McInerney said the recommendation on good practice for courses and program was brought to the senate last month (see 3/04 journal).  The document (attached) was developed by an ad hoc committee and was reviewed by the Academic Programs Council.  The main point is that online courses and regular courses would be treated the same.  The motion to approve the document was approved by the senate on a voice vote.



Recommendation on Faculty Senate reapportionment for 2004-07


Prof. McInerney explained that senate had to be reapportioned every three years and that the recommendation (attached -- and had been presented last month (see 3/04 journal).  Every college would remain the same except Fine Arts would lose one seat and that seat would go to a joint representation of the Energy Center and Honors College.  The motion to approve the recommendation was approved by the senate on a voice vote.  The recommendation will have to be voted on by the general faculty on April 29. 



revisions in Faculty Senate charter


As Prof. McInerney explained last month (see 3/04 journal), the main reason for the revisions in the faculty charter (attached) was to include renewable term faculty in the definition of regular faculty.  One sentence was struck out because the senate voted in 2001 that the secretary could be a member of the senate.  Some other wording needed to be updated.  The senate approved the motion to approve the revisions on a voice vote.  The revisions will have to be voted on by the general faculty on April 29. 



University email notification POLICY


The proposed email notification policy (below) will be discussed and voted on at the May meeting.  Prof. McInerney pointed out that he had received some comments about the proposed policy, which he forwarded to the Information Technology Council policy subcommittee, the committee that developed the policy.  The policy basically states that email can be an official means of communication, i.e., one means, not the only means.  This is important when communicating with students.  Also, it states that it is the student’s responsibility to make sure that OU email is forwarded to their email account.


In order to assure timely and efficient communication, the University establishes email as an acceptable means of official communication.


All University students, faculty, and staff will be assigned an official University email account. Official University communications will be sent to this account. Email sent to this account is expected to be read in a timely fashion.


Faculty and staff may assume that a student’s official University email is a valid mechanism for communicating with that student. Faculty who rely upon electronic communication with or between students in their classes will specify their requirements in the course syllabus.


Disclaimer: Account holders who choose to have email forwarded to another email address do so at their own risk.  An account holder’s failure to receive or read, in a timely manner, official University communications sent to an official email account does not absolve the account holder from knowing and complying with the content of the official communication.



Preliminary nominations for committees


The Senate Committee on Committees’ preliminary nominations for end-of-the-year vacancies on university and campus councils, committees, and boards (attached) were presented at the meeting and will be voted on at the May meeting.  Prof. McInerney announced that two volunteers were needed for the Faculty Appeals Board.  Professors Russell and Barker agreed to serve on the board.  Prof. Watts pointed out that the committee was still working on a couple of vacancies but would have the list finalized in a week or two.



SENATE CHAIR'S REPORT, by Prof. Mike McInerney


“Theta Dempsey sent the Executive Committee the proposed increases in parking fines (attached). The proposed increases were consistent with the discussions that she had with the Executive Committee in March. The two fines that will increase the most are displaying a lost or stolen permit, which will increase from $65 to $125, and parking in a fire lane, which will increase from $20 to $50. There are a number of other fines that are less egregious that will increase about $5. An appeal fee of $5 will be assessed if the appeals board does not sustain the appeal. The time to make an appeal will be shortened from 30 days to 14 days. This will also shortened the time on impounding a vehicle for excessive citations (more than three unpaid tickets) from 30 days to 14 days.


“Associate Vice President for Administrative Affairs Burr Millsap is working on a policy for abandoned bicycles and for appropriate bicycle use on campus. He sent drafts of these policies to the Executive Committee. The bicycle use policy would require registration of bicycles that are used on campus and stipulates the appropriate places to park bicycles, e.g., in racks by buildings. The Executive Committee understands the need for registration so that the owner can be contacted if there is a problem. However, we think the process should be a convenient one and that the cost of registration be minimal. Also, we feel that it is appropriate for faculty to bring their bicycles into their offices. I sent Mr. Millsap an email that summarizes our comments. If there are other comments/suggestions, please let me know.


“I have had several questions about the proposed exercise facility in the southwest portion of the stadium. I talked to Vice President Nick Hathaway about this. He has had discussions with Prof. Mike Bemben, who is an expert in exercise science. Mr. Hathaway has also been corresponding with about 10 to 15 faculty about this. I am happy to say that the facility is near completion. It will have some equipment for use by faculty as well as showers and locker facilities for both men and women.


“On March 31, 2004, Prof. Bradford, Prof. Keppel, Prof. Ransom and I met with Cindy Cash of the Provost Office, Dean Lee Williams (Graduate College) and Nick Kelly (Benefits Office) about leaves with scholarships and fellowships. We discussed the mechanics of leaves when a faculty member receives a scholarship/fellowship that is paid directly to the faculty member rather than to the University. The suggested practice would be to have the faculty member sign over the award to the University. The faculty member would then receive full salary and benefits from the University. The University would provide the faculty member documentation of the contribution to be used when the faculty member files his/her taxes. This route would probably require the submission of Schedule C on business expenses by the faculty member so that the faculty member does not pay additional taxes. There was some discussion about a minimum dollar award needed to receive full compensation from the University. It was recommended to include wording to have approval by the respective department. The concern is to ensure that the teaching needs of the department are met. Cindy Cash just sent the revisions to me today. Given that the semester is winding down, I believe that it would be best to have next year’s Executive Committee review this and bring it to the Senate for discussion and vote in the fall. I think that we can use this as a provisional policy in the meantime.


“UOSA has constituted their Honor Council, which will advocate and advertise the Student Honor Code that was passed by UOSA in the fall. I feel that we encourage this action by our students by including the Honor Code on copies of examinations and finals this semester. You will be able to download the wording from the Provost web site.


“Last week, the Executive Committee met with representatives of the Faculty Council at Oklahoma State University and the Faculty Senate at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. We discussed a number of issues including budget, raises, retirement, and governance policies. We had a good exchange of ideas. We also met separately with the Health Science Center representatives to develop mechanisms to work more closely with each other.


“The senate leadership met with Mr. Julius Hilburn and Mr. Nick Kelly last week about House Bill 2226 (see above discussion). We recommend that the staff and faculty senates be involved in the development of the retirement plan along with the Employment Benefits Committee. The discussions and planning will probably start this summer.


“The general faculty meeting will be April 29 at 4:00 p.m. in Dale Hall 211.  The faculty will vote on the charter revisions and hear more information about the health and dental RFP.”





The meeting adjourned at 5:00 p.m.  The next regular session of the Faculty Senate will be held at 3:30 p.m. on Monday, May 3, 2004, in Jacobson Faculty Hall 102.


Sonya Fallgatter, Administrative Coordinator


Karen Rupp-Serrano, Secretary