The University of Oklahoma (Norman campus)
Regular session – September 13, 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 Valerie Watts, Chair.


PRESENT:       Barker, Biggerstaff, Blank, Bradford, Brown, Burns, Caldwell, Catlin, Cintrón, Civan, Cramer, Davis, Devenport, Dewers, Dohrmann, Draheim, Driver, Elisens, Fincke, Forman, Frech, Geletzke, Greene, Gutierrez, Halterman, Havlicek, Hayes-Thumann, Henderson, Hobbs, Houser, Kauffman, C. Knapp, R. Knapp, Lai, Lewis, Liu, Magnusson, Marcus-Mendoza, Penrose, Ransom, Rupp-Serrano, Scherman, Schwarzkopf, Sharp, Striz, Taylor, Vieux, Watts, Wheeler, Wood

Provost's office representative:  Mergler
UOSA representatives:  Johnson


ABSENT:         Bozorgi, Raadschelders






Senate members for 2004-05 and schedule of meetings

Faculty Senate and General Faculty parliamentarian

2003-04 annual council reports

Faculty appointments to committees

E-mail notification

Disposition by administration of senate actions for 2003-04

Energy Center director search

Resources in Faculty Senate office

Health insurance and retirement

Senate Chair's Report:

Tuition waivers for in-state graduate assistants

Student Learning Center

Student Honor Council

E-mail spam

Regents’ policy manual—placement of Financial Emergency section

Campus Tenure Committee review of hire-with-tenure cases

Post-tenure review policy

Issues for 2004-05







The Faculty Senate Journal for the regular session of May 3, 2004 was approved.





A list of the Faculty Senate members is attached.  Prof. Watts introduced the new senators and the Executive Committee members.  She reminded the senators to sign in at the meeting. 

The regular meetings of the Faculty Senate for 2004-05 will be held at 3:30 p.m. on the following Mondays in Jacobson Faculty Hall 102: September 13, October 11, November 8, December 13, January 24, February 14, March 21, April 11, and May 9.

The senate Executive Committee elected Prof. Meg Penrose (Law) as parliamentarian of the Faculty Senate and General Faculty.

The compilation of the 2003-04 annual reports of university councils was e-mailed July 7 to the Faculty Senate members and to chairs, directors and deans to make available to the general faculty.  The reports are available online at

The 2004-05 list of faculty appointments to committees is available on the Faculty Senate web site at

President Boren approved the policy on university e-mail notifications that was approved by the Faculty Senate May 3 (see, but with a modification in the second sentence of the second paragraph:  Official University communications will may be sent to this account.”  He said, “…there remains concern about the security of such communications.  As such, it is important that the University retain the ability to determine the most appropriate form of communication in each instance.”

The summary record of the disposition by the administration of Faculty Senate actions for September 2003 to August 2004 is attached.

The Faculty Senate Executive Committee nominated two faculty members for the faculty-at-large position on the search committee for the Energy Center director.  From these nominations, the administration selected Prof. Bob Dauffenbach (CEMR/MIS) to serve.

The Chronicle of Higher Education, Academe and the University budget are available in the senate office.





Human Resources director Julius Hilburn gave an update concerning health benefits and retirement changes.  Benefits manager Nick Kelly and Employment Benefits Committee (EBC) chair Pat Weaver-Meyers were also present to answer questions.


Mr. Hilburn first talked about the changes in the medical and dental programs as of January 2005.  The university requested bids to find alternatives to the state’s HealthChoice plan, and four companies submitted proposals.  After an extensive evaluation process, the EBC and the Human Resources office recommended Aetna.  The state was going to raise its rates 8.7 percent as of January 2005; Aetna’s proposal will raise rates 4.5 percent.  No company came in with a lower rate than what we have now, and Aetna was the only one that was less than what the state proposed.  To avoid changing vendors so often, the university asked for the companies to guarantee rates for more than one year.  The best rate guarantee was two years, which is what Aetna provides.  Aetna’s guarantee is that our rates will not be higher than the state’s, and the benefits will not be less than what the state provides.  However, we had to agree to a minimum rate increase of 8 percent for the second year. 


The Aetna plan design is similar to what we have with HealthChoice.  Aetna has a $600 family deductible; the state’s is $900.  The out-of-pocket maximum with Aetna is $2000 per individual, compared with $2800 under HealthChoice.  The Aetna plan has a more understandable approach to the pharmacy benefit and has fixed co-pays.  Aetna’s mail order prescription program provides a 90-day prescription for the equivalent of two co-pays.  Oklahoma law allows the same arrangement through local pharmacies.  Answering questions from the floor, Mr. Hilburn said the highest co-pay, for drugs that are not on the formulary, is $40 for one prescription, and individuals will know exactly what the cost is.  The individual deductible will remain $300.  There was a brief discussion about meeting deductibles for families.  Continuing, Mr. Hilburn pointed out that Aetna offers a high deductible plan, which has a lower out-of-pocket maximum than the state’s and pays 70 percent rather than the 50 percent under the state.  Aetna offers some wellness benefits that might reduce our overall medical cost.  Aetna’s PPO plan covers both a well-woman exam and annual physical exam.  In addition, Aetna provides online tools and information about medical issues. 


This year OU is paying about $292 for each employee.  The state projected a 7.3 percent increase in employee-only coverage for January 2005.  Aetna’s rates are about $10 per month cheaper for employee only, $50 for spouse, $54 for children, and $63 for families.  The only rate category higher than the state’s is for one child, and that is because the state distinguished between one child and multiple children.  Aetna also will offer an HMO high option and HMO low option.  The HMO options include Norman physicians and Norman Regional Hospital, unlike previous HMOs.  Our projected cost for the university and employee contribution to the state plan is about $43.8 million this year.  Based on the state’s rate renewal projection of 8.7 percent for January 2005, the cost would have gone to $47.6 million.  In addition, the national network that the state planned to provide for employees who live outside of Oklahoma would have cost an extra $300,000.  The projected cost with Aetna is about $45.7 million.  Employees will save about $900,000 in premiums and will also realize some savings due to lower out-of-pocket expenses.  The university will save about $1.2 million with Aetna versus the state plan.  There is a good match, more than 90 percent, between Aetna’s network of physicians and hospitals and the state’s.  OU had asked the state to establish a national network so people would not be treated as out of network when they were traveling or assigned outside the state.  HealthChoice established a new national network but only for people who live out of state.  The plan would not address the issues of out-of-state travel and dependants in college out of state, and the state would charge an additional $170 per month for people in the national network.  With Aetna, the national network with in-network benefits comes with the package.  Also part of the program is an international subsidiary that offers benefits to international employees and employees traveling internationally.  Aetna has committed to working with OU to identify ways to help manage health care costs so that our trend is more positive.  The Human Resources office is comparing plans, and so far, Aetna offers all the benefits that were included under the state plan.  The Human Resources office is working with Aetna on transition issues to minimize any potential impact on employees.  Aetna will serve our account from the customer service center in OKC.  They have a one-stop shopping approach to medical management, customer service, and claims processing.


When asked about family rates escalating more than individual rates, Mr. Hilburn said there was no active program to change the contribution strategy.  OU pays 100 percent of the employee’s premium and nothing for dependents.  Last year the EBC polled various constituencies on whether OU should subsidize part of the dependent coverage, and there was not a lot of interest.  It is a tough issue for us to try to address with the budget we have.  The administration tried to provide as robust a salary program as possible to help people address that situation. 


Prof. Wood asked about the maximum rate increase in year two.  Mr. Hilburn said Aetna would base our rates on how much we use health care, and the maximum would be the state’s rate for 2006.  The minimum would be 8 percent.  Addressing the question of the discrepancy in rates between employee and family, Mr. Hilburn said the rates are based on actual utilization, that is, claims experience.  Aetna will be proactive in helping us manage care.  For example, they call individuals with chronic illnesses and offer to help manage their care.  The program is voluntary and is designed to keep small problems from becoming expensive costs. 


Aetna has also been recommended for dental as of January 2005; the rate proposal was for no increase.  Our current provider, Delta, came in with a six percent rate increase.  Benefits are almost identical, except Aetna has no deductible for preventive services.  With Delta, it is $50 per person.


Answering questions, Mr. Hilburn said we would still have two dental options.  Aetna offers a small preferred network that pays 90 percent on routine, Class 1 services.  That network is a little bigger than Delta’s preferred network.  Almost every dentist in Oklahoma is on Delta’s broad network, which has a benefit for Class 1 services of 75 percent.  Aetna does not have a broad network.  They will compensate dentists at the 90th percentile, and they have tried to set it so most dentists will accept their fee structure.  The university has asked Aetna to solicit dentists to join the network, but even if a dentist is not in the network, the employee will get a significant level of benefit.  Getting one provider for both health and dental will provide more seamless claims administration and possibly allow us to utilize some other services with Aetna, such as administering the flexible spending accounts.


Turning to retirement benefits, Mr. Hilburn said the state of Oklahoma approved a change for OU and OSU as of July 1, 2004.  Oklahoma Teachers Retirement System (OTRS) is no longer mandatory for new OU employees.  Once we get IRS approval, current employees will have the option of continuing in OTRS or an alternate retirement plan.  Another change corrected an inequity in the pension system for OU and OSU employees who were OTRS members before 1995.  New employees have the option of joining OTRS or the new optional retirement plan.  If they do not make a decision within 90 days, they default to OTRS.  The Human Resources office has a decision guide on the web that walks people through the factors to consider.  Employees can make the decision only one time in their career at OU.  The optional retirement plan (ORP) was developed by a reconvened committee of faculty and staff.  The objectives for the ORP included making it cost neutral for the university, competitive, straightforward in design, and easy to communicate.  OU contributes 9 percent of base pay to the ORP, and the plan does not require any employee contributions.  People in OTRS have to make a mandatory 7 percent contribution to OTRS.  The ORP allows people to make discretionary contributions to 403(b) and 457(b) plans, and it is portable.  Once they are vested, individuals can roll the ORP into another retirement plan, whereas OTRS dollars stay in the plan until the rules allow them to be distributed.  People who opted out of OTRS because of their age will be switched to the ORP, which is a better benefit than the previous defined contribution plan (DCP). 


Prof. Forman noted that long-time employees contribute 7 percent to OTRS, and the university contributes 15 percent on salary above $9000 to the DCP.  Mr. Hilburn said that plan was for people who were hired before 1995.  In 1995 the contribution to the DCP changed to 8 percent on salary above $9000, and the university also puts in 7.5 percent to OTRS.  Those employees will have the option to keep the current plan or have the university contribute 9 percent without any required employee contribution.  We will have to pay OTRS a surcharge for anyone who opts not to go into OTRS.  We also have to put some money into a reserve fund.  The cost neutral number that the actuary gave us is 9 percent, which is competitive with other universities.  OU and OSU are at the top of the Big 12 in retirement benefits.  OU is in the middle in terms of health care.  Our fringe benefits rate is the highest in the Big 12. 


Prof. Schwarzkopf commented that any money held in escrow would be used only for benefits.  Prof. Weaver-Meyers pointed out that younger employees with families could choose to spend the money that would have gone to OTRS on health insurance.  Mr. Hilburn said the optional plan is more flexible because people can contribute to discretionary retirement programs or dependant health care.  The decision guide should be helpful, and the Human Resources office plans to make a calculator available so that people can compare projections for the plans.  Current employee will have a one-time option to stay in OTRS or go to the ORP.  We probably will not get IRS approval until 2006, and then employees will have a full year to make a decision.  People who have been here a long time and are in the 15 percent plan will probably not make a change.  The ORP is being offered to meet the diverse needs of our faculty and staff.


Prof. Gutierrez asked about a guide for current employees.  Mr. Hilburn replied that current employees would get individual calculations and counseling to help with the decision.  Prof. Barker asked whether someone who was already vested in OTRS and transferred to the ORP had to satisfy a second vesting period.  Mr. Hilburn said, “No, your OU service counts toward vesting in both plans.”  The vesting period for the ORP is the same as for the DCP: three years.  The minimum age requirement is eliminated in the ORP and DCP for exempt faculty and staff.  Mr. Hilburn said he thought the retirement plan changes were all very positive for OU and gave people the option of picking what would work best for them.  Prof. Watts thanked Mr. Hilburn and Mr. Kelly for all their work and for keeping the faculty informed. 



SENATE CHAIR'S REPORT, by Prof. Valerie Watts


“There are two announcements that relate to our senate meetings directly.  President Boren will speak at our October 11 meeting.  We are now sending agendas out by email and ask you to bring a copy to each meeting.


“The provost has informed me that the university will be able to offer our graduate assistants (in-state) a 7th hour of waived tuition for this fall and spring.  Also, money is now available to begin addressing classroom maintenance.  As you may remember, last year a committee examined the state of our classrooms and forwarded their recommendations to the provost.


“Last May the regents approved the plans for the Student Learning Center project.  This center will house our various assessing, tutoring, and advising services for students in one location.  The hope is to make it easier for students to seek help.  I believe the location will be Lottinville Hall, which is the old location of OU Press.


“The members of the new student Honor Council have already begun educating their peers about the OU honor statement and academic integrity in general.  They are now tackling the issue of acceptable collaboration in the classroom.  The council is asking the faculty to submit their definition of acceptable collaboration, which can vary from discipline to discipline or course to course.  They are very much interested in what you consider acceptable collaboration in your course. 


“Finally, a bit of good news for faculty:  The Information Technology office is offering an e-mail anti-spam service.  (Refer to OUMM email message sent 8/16.)  IT can help you log on to that service. 


“The next three items on our agenda will be presented to you today.  We ask that you circulate these motions and discuss them with your colleagues before next month’s meeting, when we will discuss and vote.”





Prof. Watts explained that initially the financial emergency section stood alone, coming before the severe sanctions section.  The changes made (attached) were intended to try to make things simple by including Financial Emergency in the Severe Sanctions section with an asterisk by it indicating that it was a valid reason for termination of employment but not considered a severe sanction.  The senate Executive Committee wanted to make clear that financial emergency was not the faculty member’s fault.  In response, the administration agreed to make the financial emergence section a sub-paragraph, and they also decided to include the paragraph about changes in the University’s educational function since it is another example where the faculty member is not at fault.  





Prof. Rick Tepker (Law), Chair of the Campus Tenure Committee (CTC) said, “This proposal (attached) comes out of the experience of the units, faculty, and the Campus Tenure Committee.  To keep it brief, basically the units were having some difficulty in a class of cases that might be described as hire-with-tenure cases.  These individual cases usually involve competitive searches within the unit, and the materials that are developed are largely not what we require as part of our ordinary tenure process.  So the value we get in these files is often quite different and, to put it gently, somewhat incomplete compared to our other experiences.  In effect, the university and the unit are really relying upon the integrity and skill of the competitive search process to make the decision and really not relying at all on any expertise or role the CTC would play.  The second problem was at the CTC level because, frankly, these cases came to us in the summer when we weren’t around, and so our review of these cases was often incomplete or uncertain or with a fragment of the committee.  It was a unanimous judgment of the Campus Tenure Committee that it is a better and more candid process to rely on the competitive search process, which is our real reliance for excellent choices in this field, and get the Campus Tenure Committee out of this business.” 





Prof. Doug Elmore (Geology & Geophysics) reported that the Post-Tenure Review Policy requires a review of that process every five years.  That was put in the policy to protect faculty rights.  This last summer when it was time for that five year review, the provost asked him to chair the committee to conduct the review.  The committee made two recommendations (attached).  The first recommendation is a fairly minor wording change in terms of faculty evaluation.  The second recommendation is to remove the requirement of a five-year review.  There have been no serious problems with post-tenure-review.  If problems develop, there is a mechanism to request a review of the process.  The review could be perceived by some outside interests as an invitation to critique the process and seriously erode tenure rights.  Very few faculty members have been asked to write a professional development plan, and no one has been removed from the University because of the post-tenure review process.  The general consensus is that post-tenure review has been useful.



ISSUES FOR 2004-05


Prof. Watts asked the senate members to look over the list of issues for 2004-05 (attached).  Senators who have other issues may send them to her by e-mail or turn them in to the senate office.





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, October 11, 2004, in Jacobson Faculty Hall 102.


Sonya Fallgatter, Administrative Coordinator


Roger Frech, Secretary