April 25, 2008
President Glotzbach called the meeting to order at 3:40 p.m.
Minutes from the April 4, 2008 meeting, having been previously distributed, were approved with no emendations.
- President Glotzbach opened this meeting by observing a moment of silence in recognition of the National Day of Silence (protesting discrimination against the LGBT community).
- Two students received awards through the Davis United World College Scholars Program for their Davis Projects for Peace. Each award is in the amount of $10,000. The projects and students are: Building Peace Through Empowering Women by Meghan Morris '09 and Peter Brook '09; and Education for Peace: Expansion and Repair of a Tibetan Primary School by Spencer Xiangjiandangzhi '11.
- Three students were awarded Fulbright Scholarships: Kyle Carey '08, Katie Lasky '08, and alumna Andrea Bergart '06. The President recognized the work of advisor Matt Hockenos and of Dean Michael Ennis-McMillan and Chris McGill.
VICE PRESIDENT FOR ACADEMIC AFFAIRS REPORT
DEAN OF THE FACULTY:
- Dean Poston thanked everyone for their hard work and participation during the academic year.
- Dean Poston acknowledged department chairs and program directors whose appointments conclude at the end of the year: Bob Turner as Acting Director of Environmental Studies, Gary McClure as Acting Director of International Programs, Peter McCarthy as Acting Director of Social Work, Mary Stange as Director of Women’s Studies, Matt Hockenos as Acting Chair of History, Mary Ann Foley as Chair of Psychology, Bill Standish as Chair of Physics, Frank Gonzalez as Chair of Philosophy and Religion, Sue Belden as Chair of Management and Business, Kathy Cartwright as Chair of Geosciences, and Paty Rubio as Chair of Foreign Languages and Literatures.
- Dean Poston thanked Mark Hofmann for his services as Associate Dean of the Faculty for the last two years.
- Dean Poston announced that Paty Rubio has agreed to serve as the next Associate Dean of the Faculty.
- Vice President Kress thanked her senior staff for their hard work and support of the academic program throughout the year.
- Vice President Kress thanked everyone for their work of citizenship. There are over 160 shared governance and other service opportunities, and all of those slots have been filled. She especially thanked the chairs of the major committees for their hard work and acknowledged the work of task forces, study groups, and working groups in moving academic projects forward.
- Vice President Kress acknowledged the retirees of this academic year: Richard Hihn of the Music Department and Kris Szymborski of the Library. Citations were distributed at the meeting. Mary Lynn, as Chair of the Committee on Appointments, Promotions and Tenure read the retirement resolution into the record:
- BE IT RESOLVED, the faculty of Skidmore College expresses its profound appreciation and admiration for the following members of the Skidmore faculty who have this year expressed their determination to retire. The faculty further resolves that the following biographical highlights be included in the minutes of the faculty meeting of April 25, 2008, in recognition and celebration of their distinguished service and achievement. (See Attachment.)
- Vice President Kress asked the assembly to signal their acclamation by applause.
- Tom Denny delivered a tribute to Dick Hihn, and Ruth Copans delivered a tribute to Kris Szymborski.
- Vice President Kress also acknowledged Kathy Cartwright (who did not technically meet the required number of years of service to qualify for retirement) for her contributions to the College and to the Department of Geosciences. Dick Lindemann delivered a tribute to Kathy Cartwright.
- President Glotzbach congratulated the retirees on their service to the institution.
- FEC – MOTION– CEPP Faculty Handbook, Part Two, Article II, Section F, number 3 revisions
- On behalf of the Faculty Executive Committee, Dan Curley, as Chair, moved that the membership statement of the Committee on Educational Policies and Planning in the Faculty Handbook be amended. The motion, having been introduced at the April 4, 2008 meeting was offered for discussion and debate. The motion was put to a vote and carried unanimously.
- FEC – MOTION – Discretion in Sharing Electronic Communications
- On behalf of the Faculty Executive Committee, Dan Curley, as Chair, moved that the faculty endorse a resolution addressing discretion in sharing electronic communications. The motion, having been introduced at the April 4, 2008 meeting was offered for discussion and debate; discussion ensued. The motion was put to a vote and carried by majority.
- FEC – MOTION – Ad Hoc Committees.
- On behalf of the Faculty Executive Committee, Dan Curley, as chair, introduced a motion that Part Two, Article II, Section F of theSkidmore College Faculty Handbook be amended. An opportunity for answering informational questions was offered. The motion, having come from the committee, required no second. Motions on matters of policy are required to lie over one meeting; therefore, this motion will lie over until the May 14, 2008 meeting.
- FEC – MOTION - Eligibility of Phased Retirees
- On behalf of the Faculty Executive Committee, Dan Curley, as chair, introduced a motion that Part One, Article XX, Faculty Governance; Part Two, Article I. (sub-)Article I, The Faculty Meeting; and Part Two, Article II, Committees of the Faculty in the Skidmore College Faculty Handbook be amended. An opportunity for answering informational questions was offered. The motion, having come from the committee, required no second. Motions on matters of policy are required to lie over one meeting; therefore, this motion will lie over until the May 14, 2008 meeting.
- CEPP – MOTION - University Without Walls (UWW)
- On behalf of the Committee on Educational Policies and Planning, Deb Hall, as chair,
introduced a motion: That Skidmore College terminate its University Without Walls
(UWW) program: and a) that the process of termination extend for a reasonable period
of transition to allow currently enrolled students to complete degree requirements;
b) that during the period of transition, special components such as the Antigua program
may be recommended to the Skidmore College faculty for continuation beyond the termination
of the general UWW program. Deb explained that a “yes” vote would mean that the program
would not continue. However, a “no” vote would not mean that the program would continue
as presently constituted. An opportunity for asking informational questions was offered.
- Roy Ginsberg expressed a concern with regard to how faculty currently vote on institutional issues. The Faculty Handbook provides for a simple majority vote on any motion regarding an academic program. A simple majority is 50 percent plus one faculty member among those present. Other governing bodies use a simple majority vote for procedural or administrative matters; however, a two-thirds majority vote is required for significant constitutional or policy issues. Roy advised that ending a 37-year-old academic program is not a procedural question but rather a policy issue and that accepting the vote of a slim majority might end a program that a larger majority requirement would not. He acknowledged that the faculty could not change the Handbook at this point and requested that FEC take up the issue of majority votes and hold a Faculty-Only Meeting to give these concerns a forum for discussion.
- Roy also expressed a concern with regard to the timing of this recommendation being considered at the very end of an academic year when time is running out and faculty are preoccupied. The administration has recommended that UWW should close and, in fact, the program is no longer accepting new students. This is a complex matter for faculty, which has come too late in the term for proper digestion and consideration, and it should therefore lie over until the fall. The May faculty meeting is not an appropriate time to address such an important legislative issue. Roy offered a motion to postpone the faculty discussion and voting on CEPP’s motion until the October faculty meeting.
- Lary Opitz, as parliamentarian, ruled that the motion is in its introductory phase, and thus any subsequent motions must wait until the meeting at which the primary motion is to be brought to the faculty floor for discussion.
- A question was raised regarding the definition of what a “no” or “yes” vote would mean. It was clarified that a “yes” vote would mean the closure of UWW; a “no” vote would mean that those voting no would support committing additional resources to the UWW program, would support contributing to the program themselves, and would recognize that the administration must restructure the program to address the current challenges.
- A concern was raised regarding the welfare of the UWW staff.
- The parliamentarian issued a reminder that discussion at this stage must remain within the bounds of informational questions only.
- A request was made for supporting data in order to help faculty make a decision.
- Deb announced that CEPP will conduct an Open Meeting on Tuesday, May 6, from 10:30-12:00 in Gannett Auditorium. CEPP will supply information and answer questions at that meeting.
- The motion, having come from the committee, required no second. Motions on matters of policy are required to lie over one meeting; therefore, this motion will lie over until the May 14, 2008 meeting.
- On behalf of the Committee on Educational Policies and Planning, Deb Hall, as chair, introduced a motion: That Skidmore College terminate its University Without Walls (UWW) program: and a) that the process of termination extend for a reasonable period of transition to allow currently enrolled students to complete degree requirements; b) that during the period of transition, special components such as the Antigua program may be recommended to the Skidmore College faculty for continuation beyond the termination of the general UWW program. Deb explained that a “yes” vote would mean that the program would not continue. However, a “no” vote would not mean that the program would continue as presently constituted. An opportunity for asking informational questions was offered.
- Vice President of Finance and Administration, Mike West, gave an update regarding Retiree Healthcare benefits. Vice President West thanked the members of the Institutional Policy and Planning (IPPC) Budget and Finance Subcommittee for their hard work. Members are: Michael West, Chair of the Subcommittee for IPPC Budget and Finance; Mary Cogan, Administrative/Professional Representative; Barbara McDonough, Support Staff Representative; Muriel Poston, Dean of the Faculty; Mark Huibregtse, Co-Chair IPPC, Faculty Representative; Mehmet Odekon, Faculty Representative; Robert Hill, Student Government Association Representative; Justin Sipher, Chief Technology Officer. The subcommittee affirmed its preliminary recommendation. First, that Skidmore College will no longer offer the retiree healthcare benefit program to individuals hired after September 3, 2008. Second, effective January 1, 2009, implementation of several key changes in the prescription drug coverage benefit only, including the requirement for those in HMO plans at age 65 to move to the College PPO plan which will significantly reduce costs. In addition, the elimination of the second-scheduled-five-percent and third-scheduled-five-percent increases in the cost sharing formula for healthcare for all current employees. The committee believes this recommendation treats all current employees substantially the same; i.e., removal of the earlier bookend regarding employees hired before 1999. The committee believes the proposed solution is fair to all past and present employees, honors Skidmore’s commitments from previous years and is one that is both sustainable and financially responsible. The committee further believes that Skidmore’s benefit programs, including retiree healthcare, are competitive with its peer and aspirant institutions. Vice President West offered to take questions.
- A request for comment on what appeared to be Skidmore’s being ahead of its peer institutions with regard to reducing benefits to retirees. Vice President West replied that he respectfully disagreed and offered the following information:
- Trinity College, effective June 30, 2006, changed its retiree health insurance benefits where it continued to fund those benefits to currently retired employees with ten years of service who were 60 years or older who retire by June 30, 2007. Retirees after June 30, 2007 may participate in the plan, however, they must pay the full cost. The obligation of this change is reflected in its financial statements as a curtailment in the benefit obligation, the value being $7,269,000. During 2006, Trinity amended its policy for health insurance benefits; the impact has reflected a change in the amendment of its benefit obligation the amount of $3,847,000.
- Vassar College, effective January 2007, made several changes to its post-retirement plan including changes to the in-network co-payment, the out-of-network deductible, and prescription drug co-payment. These changes resulted in a decrease in the benefit obligation of $3,090,020.
- Gettysburg College, effective July 1, 2005, revised its post-retirement healthcare program by joining Emeriti Retirement Solutions, a consortium of colleges and universities organized to address retiree healthcare needs. Since Gettysburg is pre-funding retiree healthcare costs the defined contribution count will have not future obligation for those costs when active employees retire.
- Connecticut College, effective July 1, 2007, adopted the Emeriti Retiree Health Plan and began funding separate health accounts for eligible employees for retirement medical expenses. The plan amendment impact was $3,158,000.
- Kenyon College, effective July 1, 2007, changed its post-retirement health care program from a defined benefit to a defined contribution plan. Retirees will now be able to participate in the Emeriti Program which provides health insurance. The transition to the defined contribution plan resulted in a decrease in the unrecognized prior service cost of $6,702,899.
- Haverford and Smith went to a similar defined contribution plan. Amherst is transitioning to a defined contribution plan. Colby, Davidson, and Middlebury benefits have been frozen. Wellesley, Mount Holyoke, Bates, and Bryn Mawr have no retiree benefits.
- A defined benefit plan means a certain level of benefit is given as opposed to a defined contribution where generally a percentage of salary is given.
- The work resulting in the present proposal is the result of a series of compromises in order to address the many financial challenges, a $34 million liability, combined with the challenge of trying to protect Skidmore’s retirees first and balance that with honoring current employees.
- A question was raised regarding the September 3 date. Vice President West explained that the effective date is actually after September 3 so that almost all new fall faculty appointments for 2008 will be eligible. Those hired after the first day of classes for the 2008-09 academic year will not be eligible.
- The committee believes that generally the focus of new hires is on salary and not on retiree health benefits or retiree benefits; therefore, the ability of Skidmore to attract new employees should not be significantly affected. He noted, less than 20 percent of employers offer anything regarding retiree health at all.
- If this issue was not addressed, Vice President West believes that there would in the future have been more pressure for lower salaries as a result of an increased pressure on the operating budget.
- Vice President West announced that he would stay after the meeting to answer any further questions.
- Committee on Academic Standing (CAS) – Social Integrity Violations/Academic Honors at Graduation. A report from CAS was issued to faculty at the meeting regarding the relationship between academic honors and social integrity violations. The work of the committee focused on the question of whether or not a social integrity violation should prevent a student who has otherwise qualified for academic honors at graduation from being awarded those honors. CAS has determined that it should not and, therefore, will not screen the list of students eligible for academic honors for social integrity violations in the way it does for academic integrity violations. The full report is attached to these minutes. (See Attachment.) The committee offered to take questions.
- CEPP – UWW Discussion Board is now available and can be found on the Skidmore home page. A binder is on reserve in Scribner Library which contains all of the materials from UWW students and alumni. The Open Meeting hosted by CEPP is scheduled for Tuesday, May 6, 10:30-12:00 in Gannett Auditorium.
- CEPP – has received the DOS Restructuring Committee’s Report and CEPP is currently reviewing it.
- Mary Ann Foley, on behalf of the Faculty Development Committee announced that the 2008-09 Ralph A. Ciancio Award for Excellence in Teaching has been awarded to Associate Professor Beau Breslin.
- John Brueggemann, on behalf of the Vice President for Advancement Review Committee, reminded everyone that the review of the Vice President for Advancement is ongoing and information should be submitted to the committee by Friday, May 2.
- David Vella, on behalf of the Honors Forum Program reminded everyone that on next Wednesday, April 30, the 10th annual Academic Festival will be held. Programs were provided at this meeting.
- Pat Oles, announced the conference, Born in the ADA: Creating an Inclusive Campus Community, to be held May 2.
- Kate Berheide, on behalf of the Athletics Council announced that the Skidmore College Riding Team will be going to nationals in Los Angeles on Tuesday, May 6, which occurs during finals week. Other teams do not yet know if they will be attending nationals, so students do not yet know their athletics commitments during finals week.
- President Glotzbach announced the Hip Hop Culture Community Event being conducted this day from 5:00-7:00 p.m. in Case Center and encouraged faculty to perhaps stop by after the faculty meeting reception.
- John Brueggemann, on behalf of the Employee Scholarship Program, asked that everyone renew their commitment to the program. Faculty participation in the campaign so far is at 63 percent with a targeted goal of 80 percent.
- Muriel Poston, on behalf of the Office of the Dean of the Faculty, announced the Faculty Meeting/Retirement Celebration Reception to be held following the meeting in the Murray Aikins Dining Hall.
The meeting was adjourned at 5:15 p.m.
Minutes submitted by:
Colleen M. Kelly,
Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs