The meeting was called to order at 2:00 p.m.
SSAC members present were:
Member Excused: Carol Brower, Catherine Corsi
Others Present: Patrick Harker, David Brond, Tom LaPenta, Jerry Cutler, Maureen Querey, Patty Fogg, Judy Allarey
Dr. Patrick Harker and Mr. David Brond attended the meeting.
President Patrick Harker expressed the University’s appreciation for a year of hard work that culminated in the recently held commencement exercises. He encouraged everyone to take part in the Employee Appreciation Day that was held on June 6 on The Green.
President Harker shared that the state is cutting back support for higher education. This results in a 3.9 % cut in the budget, which brings the University back to where it was in the fiscal year of 2004. We were advised to be prudent in our budgeting and to use resources wisely. He also stated that this year’s merit pool is 2.5%.
President Harker also talked about various developments in that are happening at the university:
President Harker thanked everyone attending for their hard work. He stressed that UD could not have accomplished so much without staff contribution.
Question and Answer:
Is the University abandoning the plans for a law school at this time? President Harker responded that we would like to have a law school, we just can’t afford to do it now. Because of the research that has been performed, we now know what it will take to do it well, and the idea is not off the table.
Regarding the emergency alert system, can it be used for other than just emergencies on campus (such as closings and weather alerts)? According to Public Safety, UD Alert is used when there is imminent threat to the safety and welfare of the University community. When there is the threat of snow, the majority of the time, we have notice that the weather event is coming, so employees are anticipating checking for information, but are not in immediate danger. There is already an established system for notifying employees of late openings or closings due to weather: the UD homepage. If there is a flash flood warning or tornado warning, the UD Alert would certainly be used.
Will UD consider allowing employees to donate vacation/sick leave into a sick leave “bank” for other employees who have a serious illness and are out of their own sick time. Mr. Cutler responded that the State has a short term disability program that covers employees for six months, and then transitions to long-term disability. He stated that there is also a donated leave program provided under the law for State employees, and that HR could certainly take a look at this if there was interest.
How do you see the incoming students in terms of their exposure to social media? Dave Brond responded that about 98% of students use Facebook and other social media to communicate with one another. The university will soon launch a new events calendar that will interact with Facebook, Twitter and other social media. Dr. Harker said that we want the students to be where they are and also encourage them to use Career Services and other resources such as LinkedIn which are professionally-oriented. We also have done a pilot, first with the athletes on etiquette, like how to speak with someone across the table. We want them to be successful, so we are trying all sorts of things.
There are a lot of discussions about options for completing a degree downstate. Dr. Harker responded that the Southern Delaware campus has been looked at and the interest and monies are just not there. When there is demand, it will happen, and we are looking at educational options downstate that make sense. We would collaborate with Delaware State University on some of their programs that we don’t offer.
Ms. Doucette commented that she has been checking the classified section of the employment website, and she noticed that there are many more available positions for professional staff than salaried staff. Mr. Cutler responded that many of the openings are for positions that previously existed and had been vacated. There are also some positions created as a result of combining two positions into one at a higher level. Dr. Harker stated that he didn’t think it was a broader strategic purpose. He stated that UD wants to keep great, talented people to stay here. Mr. Cutler added that Employee Education and Development will offer more robust training programs, and encouraged everyone to check out the website and take the opportunity to develop their skills and gain proficiencies. Ms. Doucette asked if HR will work with people to help them to achieve that training. Mr. Cutler stated that HR is moving toward more online training opportunities to provide employees with greater flexibility in meeting training needs. It was also stated to build into your performance appraisal your desire to obtain additional training.
It was discussed that the next SSAC meeting be held at the William A. Carter Partnership Building in Georgetown. Tom LaPenta will check with Dr. Mark Issacson to see if a ½ day trip is feasible, the meeting will include a tour of the downstate facility.
Mr. Cutler discussed the new health plans, specifically regarding the current double State share. He stated that HB 81 will eliminate double State share for new employees hired after January 1, 2012, and impose a $25 monthly fee for existing employees effective July 1, 2012.
Marge Hadden had a constituent who asked if there was any way to award outstanding staff for meritorious service? There are awards for faculty but none for staff. There used to be a special merit award for staff employees which included a monetary reward. Can we revisit? Tom LaPenta said that it is a valid idea and he encourages the group to come up with some ideas by the next meeting.
A constituent inquired about the computer purchase program. Mr. LaPenta responded that Dr. Roselle started this program 15 years ago to encourage people to purchase computers and learn how to use them. The program was discontinued because prices of computers have gone down and computers have become more affordable for employees to purchase.
Due to the rising cost of fuel, would it be possible for offices to go on a four-day work week program? We could do this on a trial basis for summer. According to Mr. LaPenta, University of Delaware offices are open Monday through Friday to meet the needs of students and the public. Departments may adjust the work hours of individual employees in accordance with operational requirements.
Meeting adjourned at 3:10 pm