Minutes of the UO Senate Meeting for October 10, 2012

Minutes of the UO Senate Meeting 10 October 2012

Prepared and submitted by Christopher S. Prosser, Senate Executive Coordinator





Senate President Robert Kyr (Music & Dance) called the meeting of the University Senate for October 10, 2012 to order at 3:04PM in room 101 of the Knight Library. He informed Senators that a sign-up sheet was being distributed and instructed them to please sign in for the attendance record.

1.1 Approval of the Minutes of the May 9 & 23 Meetings

Senate President Kyr informed the Senate that the Minutes for the May 9 and 23 meetings had not yet been completed. Chris Prosser, the former Senate Executive Coordinator, had recently left the university over the summer, and the Senate was currently conducting a search for his replacement. According to Senate President Kyr, the minutes would be approved at the November 07 meeting. He then welcomed the new University President Michael Gottfredson to deliver his first State of the University Address to the Senate body.


2.1 Remarks by University President Michael Gottfredson

University President Michael Gottfredson thanked Senate President Kyr and remarked that he was very happy to be at the University of Oregon and at the Senate meeting. He also commented that he was very much looking forward to working with the Senate during the academic year. President Gottfredson stated that he had been at the University since August and in that short period of time the weather had been perfect. According to the President, the university had recruited a distinct group of students, and so far the football team had not lost a game. He then stated that it was a privilege to be the President of the UO and that the university was one of the nation’s premiere public research universities and he was delighted to have the opportunity to serve the institution along with its excellent faculty, staff, and students.

President Gottfredson remarked that he had toured the state of Oregon and stated that he was very encouraged to find an enormously supportive and enthusiastic community of alumni, friends, and admirers of the university around the state, nation, and world. He then commented that both he and the Senate had a great deal of work to accomplish and offered his own views on matters relating to governance. His comments pertained to administrative reorganization and institutional governing boards. President Gottfredson stated that his ideas on governance stemmed from the university itself, specifically related to the kind of university that the UO was. He then repeated that the UO was one of the premiere public research universities in the country, and to him, this statement provided the basis for the universities governance model. According to President Gottfredson, being a research university meant valuing certain things as faculty, staff, and students. These values included discovery and creativity, the admiration of and rewarding for accomplishment through scholarship, research, and creative activities. Peer review was the standard for acceptance of these accomplishments. Nearly above all else, as a research university, the UO valued freedom of inquiry and expression, and academic freedom and freedom of speech. He could not imagine a research university that did not have these ideals at its core. He then stated that the UO valued community that had a very high level of respect for ideas, collegiality, and civility in its interactions. The President remarked that such a community enhanced and supported the pursuit of ideas, creativity, and provided the environment for academic freedom and freedom of expression. He also mentioned that the university valued the transmission of knowledge, because teaching and learning were essential values that were imbedded in the idea of the university.

President Gottfredson reminded Senators that the UO was a public university, which opened the door to other essential core values. As a public university, the UO valued access to education for Oregonians. He believed that the test for access was preparation not financial status or stature, which was embedded in the DNA of the university. According to President Gottfredson, the university also valued quality, and he stated that access without quality was akin to a hollow promise. He commented that the University valued quality in everything they did, especially in regards to the faculty, which he believed was essential to underwrite the public interest. Another value that stemmed from the public nature of the university was integrity, which encapsulated open, honest, forthcoming, and transparent activities referring to governance and administration. He then stated that all of these values underwrote the critical nature of what the university represented, which was a kind of institution like no other and that had a very noble purpose which was to enhance the quality of life for citizens of the state, nation, and world.

According to President Gottfredson, all of these values instructed the university in the ways it should be governed. In order to protect the aforementioned values, the governance model must be one of shared governance. He found that effective shared governance required active and meaningful collaboration, active faculty participation, and a faculty authority regarding academic matters. He remarked that these points were a part of the universities history and peer reference. Proper shared governance expected competency and placed responsibility for the nature and care of the central mission of the university with the faculty, all which included programs of study, academic degrees at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, the qualifications of students (admissions and academic scholarships), and qualifications of faculty (hiring and promotion). In President Gottfredson’s mind, these were the responsibilities in a shared governance model for the faculty that were derived from the idea of the university and were shared with the principles of community.

He also believed that it was the faculty’s responsibility to defend the core values of freedom of inquiry and expression. At the same time, the principles of shared governance informed the responsibilities and competencies that were expected of an administration, which were to manage the university to the public interest. He believed that this concept was implicit in the ideals associated with a public university. Administrators must be capable stewards consistent with the notions of community and to the requirements of the governing board and other authorities. According to President Gottfredson, those were the responsibilities of an administration operating within a shared governance model. In his view, the only way that administrative governance models worked was when important policies and practices were informed by consultation and advice from the faculty, staff, and students. He then commented that such consultation could only be meaningful if it took place in a spirit of transparency, knowledge, and in a timely manner. He then stated that an essential advisory role existed for the Senate on administrative matters and that role was essential in executing the mission of the university. President Gottfredson also mentioned several other areas where the Senate’s advice would be welcome, which included budget and finance, capitol planning, athletics, and participation in the selection and evaluation of academic administrators.

According to the President, those were the general divisions of response that he believed were implicit in the ideas of the university. He then mentioned that there were two issues being discussed at the Senate meeting, which he believed helped illustrate the kind of shared responsibility that existed between the Senate and administration. The first topic was in regards to the Policy on Academic Freedom and Freedom of Speech. President Gottfredson commented that he had read the policy and did not believe that it was ready for Senate action, but believed that the concept/idea/principle and its defense was a faculty matter. The second agenda item that he mentioned was the discussion of a new Oregon Administrative Rule (OAR) regarding drug testing. The President believed that the Senate’s insights on this topic was of great value and should be considered in a timely manner, but that in the end, it was an administrative decision. He believed that administrative decisions were always best informed by broad engagement and commentary, and was pleased that former Interim President Bob Berdahl had postponed the OAR until the present time.

President Gottfredson commented that together with Senate President Kyr, he had been reading through the University of Oregon Constitution. He stated that the document appeared to express shared governance ideals consistent with the manner in which he had just described and was solidly grounded in law and with the systems of internal management directives. He then stated that he looked forward to conversing with the Senate on issues regarding the Constitution as the year progressed. He also realized that with public institutions, the ultimate responsibility of many decisions rested with the president and that he or she reported to a governing board from which all authority was ultimately derived, but on matters regarding the academic core, he stated that decisions should be derived from the faculty.

The President then mentioned several recent developments he thought were worth commenting on. The first was regarding administrative reorganization. Both President Gottfredson and Provost Bean had recently created a new reporting structure/organizational chart for the central administration which had several features in which several officers would report directly to the President. Those officers were the General Council, the Athletic Director, the Vice President for Development, and the Vice President for Finance and Administration. All other senior officers would report directly to the Provost. He also mentioned that this information could be found on the President’s website (https://president.uoregon.edu/) and he welcomed any and all comments regarding the new structure.  The President stated that this box-like structure had several purposes, one of which was to establish a division of labor, and it also established the Provost as the chief operating officer of the university.

The second development mentioned by the President was regarding institutional boards. He stated that he had recently addressed this matter to the campus and had posted a letter sent to the chairs of the special legislative committee who worked over the summer and early fall to produce a report, a set of recommendations, and a draft bill which would authorize an institutional board both for the University of Oregon and for Portland State University. The President was very encouraged by the work of the special committee and felt that the committee had made great progress that was consistent with the ideals of the public interest and the interests of the university. President Gottfredson stated that there were a few issues that needed some attention, but in general, he was very optimistic about the process. He commented that the issue of institutional governing boards was a response to a nation-wide withdrawal of state support to public institutions, which had resulted in many states, including Oregon, to seek out a governance model with more flexibility in financial strategies and a sensitivity of governance. President Gottfredson stated that he had no intention of changing the mission of the university. The university was not going to change their focus on access, or quality, but what they were doing, with the help of many friends of the university, was changing its financial strategies. President Gottfredson commented that he was very optimistic with the potential restructuring involving institutional governing boards, and repeated that any change would be consistent with the mission of the university.

The President concluded his remarks by stating that he came to work in a research university for the same reasons that many other Senators had, which was due to the fact that he had become very engaged in his discipline through research, scholarship, and teaching. His own values were most consistent with and were best expressed at public universities that had a commitment to research and being associated with the top tier of institutions nationwide. He then commented that he was delighted and privileged to be at the UO working with the Senate and sustaining and enhancing what he believed was a very noble enterprise. The President commented that the university only stood for very good things. These things were in the mission of the university and were what a public university was for. According to President Gottfredson, when Abraham Lincoln took time out during the Civil War to sign the Morale Act, he stated that what was very important for the country was individual, social, and economic mobility and collective social and economic mobility and the very best way to underwrite that was through access to higher education and access that did not depend on status or stature. The President very much believed in these ideals and commented that the university was doing and would continue to do a good job at this.

2.2 Questions and Comments with Response

Senate President Kyr thanked President Gottfredson for his comments and asked if there were any questions or comments from the Senate body. The first comment came from Senator John Bonine (Law). Senator Bonine thanked President Gottfredson for his comments and stated that he believed that everyone was excited at his arrival to the university. Senator Bonine had written down a few of the President’s remarks and repeated them back to President Gottfredson. He believed that the Senate was in accord with the President’s view that the authority of the faculty and therefore the Senate, to whom it has delegated authority, was for academic matters, and that the Senate and faculty also had an important role of consultation regarding other matters that did not fall within the purview of academics. Senator Bonine also stated that, as was mentioned in many documents composed by Senators, including the Constitution, the President had the final word. He again reiterated his enthusiasm and stated that there would be disagreements ahead from both the Senate and administration on whether something was an academic matter or not. He also commented that the Constitution was not written to define the indefinable, but to establish a process of collaboration in which eventually an answer could be derived. According to Senator Bonine, scholarship and policy making were faculty matters and in the past, with the use of Oregon Administrative Regulations, there had been several disagreements regarding these issues. If a policy involved an academic matter, it should proceed through the processes outlined in the Constitution. This was his view on the matter and he believed it was consistent with what President Gottfredson had stated. Senator Bonine also commented that there were three sources of authority in the university under the State Charter that did not stem from the State Board of Higher Education. This was only one of the three sources. The other two were the faculty and the President. Senator Bonine believed that President Gottfredson was in accord with this idea and merely wanted to highlight this concept.

Seeing no further questions, Senate President Kyr thanked President Gottfredson for his remarks.


3.1 Remarks by Senate President Kyr

Senate President Kyr remarked that the Senate had come a long way in the last ten months, and in a way everyone had relived the entire history of the university in his or her own way. He then commented that President Gottfredson had given the university a great gift by articulating how the Senate and administration could work together in a respectful manner. He recognized that the Senate’s primary importance was to focus on academic matters and to fulfill the universities academic mission through shared governance. Senate President Kyr then laid out many initiatives that the Senate would be undertaking during the upcoming academic year.

The first item was the tenth year review of all university standing committees, whose purpose was to improve the consistency of university service and to clear up confusion regarding committees. According to Senate President Kyr, the Committee on Committees would perform the tenth year review, which would tackle such items as committee membership, charges, and how service was acknowledged. Senate President Kyr would be leading the review, but the Senate Vice-President would be presiding over the end of the year committee assignments. He then mentioned that it had been proposed that several new committees might emerge as a result of the tenth year review process such as a committee on undergraduate education, graduate education, and a committee on admissions and standards. The Senate would have the opportunity to participate directly in this process via a campus-wide survey and a campus forum hosted by the Senate, which he hoped that all Senators would attend, as their input was extremely valuable.

Senate President Kyr informed the Senate that he would be creating two new Senate Ad Hoc Committees. The first was the Ad Hoc Committee on Academic Excellence, which would focus on strategies for improving the universities standing in the AAU (American Association of Universities) and would review the universities academic needs at the undergraduate and graduate levels in order to achieve and sustain the highest levels of excellence. The members of the Ad Hoc Committee would develop the committee’s charge. The second committee was the Ad Hoc Committee on Instructional Technology. According to Senate President Kyr, many distinguished universities such as Harvard University and Stanford University had taken the lead by offering online education. This committee would discuss strategies to implement similar online educational opportunities at the UO. He then mentioned that the committee members would also develop this committee’s charge. Senate President Kyr stated that he was very excited about these committees and the work they would be undertaking.

Senate President Kyr then mentioned that the Senate would host President and Provost’s Forums in the winter and spring terms. These forums would give everyone an opportunity to interact publicly with both the President and the Provost. He then mentioned that the Senate would soon be receiving a survey from the Provost’s Office, which would give everyone an opportunity to voice his or her own priorities of the university. He encouraged all Senators to respond as soon as possible to the survey.

Senate President Kyr then took a moment to clarify the relationship that existed between the Senate and the Union. He stated that the Senate did not have a seat at the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) table. The Senate was focused on academic matters, the administration was focused on management, and the union was going to be negotiating with management in regards to compensation, working conditions, and other matters related to the CBA. Senate President Kyr had been asked what the relationship would be with the Senate and the Union, to which he replied the relationship would not be contentious as the Senate was a legislative body and had an excellent relationship with the two of its five constituencies that had union representation; Classified Staff and Students. He informed the Senate that the UA (United Academics) Senate Liaison Committee had recently been formed. According to Senate President Kyr, the chair of that committee was Professor David Luebke (History), and the committee was created to foster communication between the Senate and the Union. The Senate’s primary purpose regarding the Union was to provide communication.

After discussing the Union, Senate President Kyr discussed five upcoming policies that were of critical importance to the university. The first two policies were the Academic Freedom and Freedom of Speech Policy, and the Facilities Scheduling Policy. These policies had come before the Senate in the recent past. According to Senate President Kyr, both of these two policies were posted on the Senate website, and he asked that all Senators become well acquainted with each policy as they would both be coming to the Senate floor for discussion and a vote. The next policy was the Legal Representation Policy. This policy was also posted to the Senate website, but had not come before the Senate, and he asked all Senators to again become well acquainted with this policy. The next two policies, the Fee for Service Policy, proposed by Professor Frank Stahl (Biology Emeritus) and the Financial Conflict of Interest in Research Policy were currently being developed and would be posted to the Senate website once they were complete. He again encouraged Senators to review these policies in order to engage in meaningful discussion when they came before the Senate floor.

Both Senator John Bonine (Law) and Professor Frank Stahl (Biology Emeritus) commented that several policies posted to the Senate website did not coincide with similar policies found in the online Policy Library. Senate President Kyr thanked them for bringing that piece of information to his attention and replied that he would look into the matter and make sure it was corrected. He then provided a brief account regarding the background of both the Academic Freedom and Freedom of Speech and Facilities Scheduling Policies.

Senate President Kyr informed the Senate that a search was underway for the next Senate Executive Coordinator. The position was open until filled and applications were still being accepted. He encouraged all Non-Tenure Track Faculty (NTTF) to apply for the position, as it was possible to have a dual appointment. He then commented that this was one of the greatest years in the history of the university and the Senate was going to play a large part in making it such a great year through their service and participation. He again encouraged Senators to fill out their surveys and to attend the Provost and President’s Forums as both the President and the Provost were interested in hearing Senator’s ideas and concerns. He then thanked everyone for their service and hard work.

3.2 Questions and Comments with Response

3.3 OAR on Random Drug Testing; Robert Kyr

Senate President Kyr stated that the OAR on Random Drug Testing had been sent to every member of the Senate, and it had been posted to the Senate website. According to Senate President Kyr, a public hearing had taken place which was not very well attended, and only one person, Associate Professor Brian McWhorter (Music & Dance), provided public testimony on the issue. Senate President Kyr then opened up a period of discussion on the OAR.

The first comment came from Senator Bill Harbaugh (Economics). He stated that the issue regarding the OAR centered on the Senate voting or not voting on the proposal before it went forward. He believed that it was clearly an academic issue and as such, the Senate should have been consulted before the preliminary policy was enacted. Senator Harbaugh stated that he wanted to vote on the proposal. Senate President Kyr then called for further discussion.

The next comment came from Senator Gina Psaki (Romance Languages). She commented that since Professor McWhorter was at the Senate meeting, might he want to summarize his comment. Senate President Kyr replied that Professor McWhorter had just recently left the meeting as he had teaching responsibilities elsewhere on campus. Senate President Kyr then provided a brief summary of his comment, which was that Professor McWhorter had hoped that there would be Senate consultation.

Professor Frank Stahl (Biology Emeritus) stated that he was concerned about the process, and believed that it was terribly important that the process outlined in the UO Constitution be respected. According to Professor Stahl, if the Constitution was not respected, the Constitution would die and shared governance would die with it. As he understood it, the OAR was an emergency policy and according to the Constitution, emergency policies were valid for sixty to ninety days (he was not sure) and then became non-renewable. He believed that that time period gave anyone a reasonable amount of time to bring a proper policy proposal to the Senate, and once adopted, an OAR could be properly based. He reiterated that respecting that Constitutional process was much more important than the particular OAR. He asked the Senate to not vote on the OAR as a protest to the manner in which things had gone forward regarding the OAR and encouraged the administration to bring the OAR forward properly.

Senator John Bonine wanted to know whether or not the proponents of the draft regulation could state why a time or compliance issue existed with NCAA standards. He then commented that there were three issues to consider. The first was whether it was a good rule or not. The second was whether the rule was urgent or not, and the third issue was regarding the proper process. He did not believe that the Senate could properly evaluate the issue at the meeting, but suggested that a committee be formed to consider the particulars. He then called for a point of clarification regarding the aforementioned issues before further discussion continued.

Gary Gray (Senior Associate Athletic Director) commented on the time issue. He stated that the Athletic Department wanted to complete the OAR by the beginning of the school year, and that his department had wanted to complete this update for many years. According to Mr. Gray, there was an NCAA ruling that occurred around 1997 that would not allow for random drug testing, and that ruling had recently been changed. Both Oregon and Oregon stated were interested in beginning random drug testing, which would conform to standard practices of 90 – 95% of pier institutions. He believed it was a student welfare issue, and random drug testing would help students to make wise decisions. He then asked Senator Bonine if his reply answered his questions, to which Senator Bonine replied that it only answered his first question regarding if it was a good idea. He was still interested in addressing issues of urgency and process. Mr. Gray then commented that the NCAA was not mandating the university to institute random drug testing, as they have their own system for random drug testing, which was fairly infrequent and was centered on performance enhancing drugs. According to Mr. Gray, the university wanted to instill a year-round process to prohibit drug use and enhance student welfare.

Senator Bonine then asked why the Senate was not consulted before this policy was put into place, to which Mr. Gray replied that he was not in on any of those conversations. He believed that changing an OAR did not require Senate approval, but did not know the particulars regarding administrative law. Senator Bonine replied that as a professor of administrative law, he was well versed in the Oregon Administrative Procedure Act. According to Senator Bonine, regulations were considered policies enacted into law and must therefore come before the Senate for approval. He then stated that the administration dealt with policies regarding the practical matters of the university and the Senate dealt with policies regarding academic matters of the university, but under the Policy on Policies, the Senate President must be informed of all policies. S/he would then consult with the Senate Executive Committee (SEC) to determine if the policy was academic and if so, it would come before the Senate for a vote. It seemed to Senator Bonine that no one had informed the Athletic Department that the process outlined in the Policy on Policies was in place.

Senate President Kyr asked for a point of clarification regarding Senator Bonine’s statement. He wanted to know if Senator Bonine meant that it was the Senate’s job to determine in part if a policy was academic or not, to which he replied that in part it was, but the administration could disagree with the Senate on this issue.

Mr. Gray commented that the university had always had an institutional drug testing policy that was based on reasonable suspicion that the student athletes were required to sign-off on at the beginning of the term. The change was going from a policy based on reasonable suspicion to a random drug testing policy.

Professor Frank Stahl commented that the problem concerning the OARs was that they might be used to set policy. If this became the case, he believed that the university would suffer from two parallel policy making processes, one of which seemed to come through the Office of the General Counsel more than any other. The other comes from the University Constitution, which involved the Senate. Whether or not the Senate was involved in any given policy was up to the Senate Executive Committee. According to Professor Stahl, the use of OARs to set policy was forbidden by the UO Constitution, and the role of the OARs was to describe how a policy would be implemented and must not be used to set policy, otherwise there would be two policy setting processes running off in all directions and eventually leading to inconsistency and chaos.

Senator Bonine stated that the OARs could not be seen as an alternative to the Constitutional process, but could be used to set policy if the Senate Executive Committee decided that a policy proposal was not an academic matter. Likewise, if the Senate set policy on an academic matter, it may either adopt it as legislation or ask that it be formalized into an OAR, which was what took place regarding the student conduct code. The pathway to deciding these matters was the important issue to him.

Senator Bill Harbaugh (Economics) read from the rule summary that was distributed from the Office of the General Counsel:

The university seeks to educate its student athletes about the detrimental effects of drug-use on    their health, safety, academic work, and future careers.

He then commented that this issue seemed to be an academic matter, and continued to read from the rule summary:

The university must abide by NCAA rules and uphold the integrity of its athletic department.

Senator Harbaugh stated that this statement contradicted what Mr. Gray had just told the Senate that there was not an NCAA rule requiring random drug testing. According to Senator Harbaugh, that conflict was a good example of why the Senate should be involved in these types of processes.

Senator Kassia Dellabough (AAA) thanked Senator Bonine for clarifying the Policy on Policies process, and speculated that there were probably several policies in place that had not gone through this process. She thought it would be a good idea to discuss how the Senate would deal with these policies as they encountered them. She stated that the Senate was sounding awfully bureaucratic, but was glad that there was a streamlined process in place for the future. She supported the direction that the Senate was heading toward and wondered how things would proceed going forward. Senate President Kyr stated that things were moving in the right direction, but more clarity was needed across the university about the Senate’s involvement in the policy process. He then asked how the Senate should proceed regarding this issue.

Senator Bonine stated that the principle was what was important and he thought random drug testing was a good idea. He believed it was up to the Senate to decide whether or not it wanted to spend the time evaluating the policy. He then read a draft policy regarding the OAR to the Senate for their consideration:

Whereas the proposed policy on random drug testing has been put forth in a proposed state regulation without being first sent to the President of the University Senate as required by the Policy on Policies, but whereas this action that was initiated prior to the arrival of the universities new President and whereas urgency is expressed by the Athletic Department, and whereas the Senate will be busy this academic year with a variety of matters, resolved that the shared governance of the University of Oregon embedded in state law through the University Charter of 1856 and the Constitution of the University of Oregon contemplates that policies should come to the Senate President and Senate Executive Committee for an opinion on whether an academic matter is involved, nevertheless, we do not choose to act upon this matter, but to leave it to the administration.

The next comment came from Senator Christopher Sinclair (Mathematics). He believed that the Senate needed to discuss the content of the OAR. He did not like the OAR and believed there to be factual inaccuracies in the current language of the policy.

Senate President Kyr recommended referring the motion to the Senate Executive Committee who would then decided on a possible way forward for the motion. Senator Bonine pointed out that once a temporary rule was established, it had a shelf life of one hundred and eighty days. He then stated that the Senate could not act on the rule during this period of time.

Senator John Ahlen (International Affairs) commented that he was unclear on the issue of urgency regarding the OAR. He was also interested to learn if this issue regarded student safety and if so, had an incident occurred in the past that necessitated urgency. He then asked if student athletes had been unsafe in the past. Senate President Kyr asked if anyone could address Senator Ahlen's questions. Mr. Gray replied that student welfare was the utmost reason for changing the OAR, and the Athletic Department had wanted to make this change for quite a while. 

Senator Christopher Sinclair commented that the overturned NCAA court ruling did not sound like an emergency situation to him and as the Senate could not act on the rule for one hundred and eighty days, he recommended taking that time to seriously consider the policy through discussion as the Senate had always done.

Senator Mark Gillem (AAA) agreed with Senator Harbaugh that based on the language of the motion it was clearly an academic matter that the Senate should consider. He offered a friendly amendment to Senator Bonine's motion, which was then seconded.

David Hubin (Senior Assistant to the President) asked for a point of clarification. He wanted to insure that the current rule that was in place was not going to be repudiated by the vote, to which Senator Bonine insured him it was not. Senate President Kyr called for a vote on the motion. Before the Senate could vote, Senator Charles Martinez (Education) stated that Dr. Hubin’s clarification was important and asked for the motion to be read aloud for final clarity. Senate President Kyr asked Senator Gillem to reread his motion to the Senate body. Below is his motion:

The Senate moves that the Senate Executive Committee establish a committee to review the OAR policy on random drug testing in light of its impact on academics and the Senate requests that the administration not enact a permanent rule any sooner than legally necessary.

After the wording of the amendment was agreed upon, Senate President Kyr called for a hand raise vote on the motion. The vote was taken, and the motion passed unanimously. He thanked the Senate for their action and proceeded to the Open Discussion portion of the meeting.


Senate President Kyr invited Jay Kenton to the Senate floor to discuss issues related to ORP and PEBB.

4.1 ORP & PEBB; Jay Kenton, OUS Vice Chancellor for Finance & Administration

Before beginning his discussion, Mr. Kenton thanked the Senate for their time and the opportunity to come before them to discuss issues related to ORP and PEBB. According to Mr. Kenton, when the Oregon State Legislative Assembly adopted Senate Bill 242 at the previous session, it included a requirement that OUS form two labor management committees to study the optional retirement program as described in the ORSs and to evaluate continued participation in the PEBB program transferring to a different program called OWEB, a program operated on behalf of the K-12 school districts throughout the state as well as the community college system, or to look at other alternative plans. It was mandated in the statute that the committee report back to OUS, originally in October, but Mr. Kenton appealed to OUS asking for more time to for all constituents to comment on their findings. He had come to the Senate to discuss the committee’s preliminary recommendations and requested that the Senate provide feedback on their recommendations.

The first committee discussed was the Optional Retirement Program (ORP). He showed a series of slides to the Senate and stated that he was the chair of the committee, but actually was more of a facilitator during meetings and did not participate in committee action including voting. He then thanked Associate Professor John Chalmers (Finance) for his hard work on the committee. Moving on, he mentioned that the committee surveyed 100% of program participants and received a 45% response rate. One challenge with the program was that ORP was a defined contribution plan and was linked by statute to the PERS Program, which was a defined benefit program. He then explained the concept of a defined contribution plan and a defined benefit plan to the Senate body. Mr. Kenton stated that linking both ORP and PERS was problematic for a variety of reasons. The first was continuing eligibility. PERS would not provide one year of credit until an employee had worked six hundred hours in each year of their employment. ORP contribution would be lost for any year where an employee worked less than six hundred hours. The committee was interested in changing that stipulation. PERS rates fluctuated and every time a rate fluctuation took place, the ORP rate adjusted accordingly. Many people on the ORP plan were not aware that their rate had been subjected to a PERS rate fluctuation.

During the last IRS certification process (which took eighteen months to complete) the IRS wrote to OUS stating that they had never seen a defined contribution plan linked to a defined benefit plan and the IRS wanted to see a definitely determinable rate for the ORP plan. Mr. Kenton assured the Senate that the IRS recertified the programs, but the IRS mentioned the lack of a definitely determinable rate as an issue that should be address by OUS. According to Mr. Kenton, the committee’s preliminary recommendations were three fold. He then mentioned another point he had forgotten and stated that the statute also required OUS to offer participants in the plan a choice between two annuity providers and two mutual fund providers. Recently, the industry had changed with the development of open architecture fidelity platforms that offered unlimited annuities and mutual funds through one company. Due to this recent change, the committee suggested the removal of that language requiring OUS to provide two annuity and two mutual fund providers. Their second recommendation was to restate the eligibility requirement. Once a person was initially eligible for retirement, they would use the six hundred hours to determine initial eligibility, and once eligibility was attained, a person would always be eligible no matter how many hours they worked in a year. He stated that benefits officers at the seven campuses looked at each person and made an informed decision regarding whether or not a person was going to hit the eligibility mark. Around forty times per year, someone who they thought was going to be eligible did not make the mark and vice versa. These mishaps were very time consuming and disruptive to all involved. The committee’s third recommendation was to establish a new contribution tier for people who were hired by OUS after July 1, 2014. He made it a point of mentioning that OUS was not changing anything for current participants. What they had would remain unchanged. The rate would only change for future participants. He then mentioned that this was an area where the committee could not come to consensus. The current report guaranteed an eight percent contribution rate with a match of four percent for every four percent that someone contributed to a 403B. Mr. Kenton stated that according to HR professionals, employees should invest 14 – 16% of their salary for thirty years in order to have enough money to comfortably retire on, and this was why they set the new rate for employees hired after July 1, 2014. The current rate was 12.23%, and the new system would keep the rate of contribution at 12% encouraging employees to contribute an extra 4% to achieve the full rate. He reiterated that the committee did not reach a consensus on this recommendation. Some thought the rate was too high and some too low. A lively debate took place within the committee, and they came up with the current recommendation. He then called for questions from the Senate body.

Senator Kassia Dellabough (AAA) asked if people who were currently in ORP would continue to be linked to PERS or would they be severed from the current system, to which Mr. Kenton replied that nothing would change from participants current plan. He explained that the reason why the July 1, 2014 date was selected was that the committee did not want anyone to have been offered a job and have their decision to accept or reject based on one benefit program that had been recently changed. She then asked if the rate fluctuation would continue between PERS and ORP for those currently enrolled, to which Mr. Kenton replied that the fluctuation would continue. He commented that the committee sought legal advice regarding this matter. He asked the OUS Legal Counsel that if the fluctuating rate ever dropped below the fourth tier rate, could participants opt into the fourth tier, to which OUS Legal Counsel replied no, as it was against IRS rules, but a participant could decide to roll their entire PERS or ORP contribution en mass to the fourth tier plan. Currently, this option did not exist, but it was a legal option and would be monitored moving forward.

Associate Professor Marcin Bownik (Mathematics) stated that he had read Mr. Kenton’s report and identified a huge inequity in employer contribution rates between tier one, tier two, and tier three members. He stated that tier one and two members were receiving roughly 16% contribution rates and tier three members were receiving only 6%. According to Professor Bownik, UO employees who were hired after August 2003 were receiving less than two fifths of the employer contribution rate than those who were hired before that date. He stated that this inequity needed to be address by Mr. Kenton and the committee and at the very least, should be mentioned in their report. Mr. Kenton replied that Professor Bownik was absolutely right. Under former Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski a PERS reform was initiated that established this third tier rate structure. He then mentioned that this was a larger issued that was the business of the PERS Board, but he was willing to bring the issue to the committee for a discussion and possible inclusion in the report.

Senator Steven Pologe (Music and Dance) referenced Mr. Kenton’s previous remark regarding the open architecture fidelity platform investment option, which Senator Pologe believed was being eliminated and did not know how this would benefit OUS employees. Mr. Kenton stated that it was not being eliminated, but would be retained and would lower administrative fees currently paid by OUS employees.

Senator Christopher Sinclair (Mathematics) stated that he believed the committee was charged to examine the ORP program and to make various recommendations to the State Legislature. He also believed that the report was required to include faculty feedback as a part of that report. If that was the case, he stated that it should be made clear that the inequity between tier one/two and tier three existed. He realized that the committee had limited power to change the inequity, but wanted to make it clear that approximately half of all UO employees were in the tier three category and this was not reflected in the committee membership who were evaluating these benefit programs. He then stated that he would be putting a motion forward at the next Senate meeting that would address this inequity. Mr. Kenton replied that Senator Sinclair’s request was noted, and he would bring the information to the committee.

The next comment came from Senator Michael Dreiling (Sociology). He wanted to know if the committee could include in their report the option for an employee to request an en mass roll over of their retirement funds if the PERS percentage rate fell below the tier three rate, to which Mr. Kenton replied that he was happy to bring that request back to the committee. He remarked that in the short run, with PERS rates being what they were, he did not feel that people would be interested in pursing that option, and stated that the rates were likely to increase in the future. He then stated that the tier three account was linked to PERS and when the PERS rate changed, the tier three rate changed. The tier four rate that the committee was suggesting would be a stand alone rate written into statute and would not change.

The second committee was charged with looking at health and wellness issues and continued participation in PEBB. He displayed the committee membership, which included several faculty members from the UO. With health care reform happening at the national level, the committee felt that it would be in their best interest to obtain a consultant. The committee selected Gallager Benefit Services to advise the committee, and also sent out a survey to 100% of participants. They received a 40% response from those surveys. They also talked to the Governor’s health advisor who had recently become the chair of the PEBB Board, and adopted a filter, which was used to evaluate various options. The committee came up with nine options that they felt were important to offer to their employees. 70% of employees expressed a desire to evaluate options other than PEBB. According to Gallager Benefit Services, OUS paid sixty-seven million more dollars than claims costs. Mr. Kenton stated that the OUS System was very healthy, and that PEBB covered over fifty two thousand lives, and over 25% of those lives were from OUS. He then stated that Governor Kitzhaber was a national leader in healthcare reform and had established coordinated care and was partly responsible for the HEM requirement. The Governor believed that disaggregating the pool would disadvantage the reforms, and wanted to amalgamate PEBB, OWEB, the Oregon Health Plan into one pool of around one million lives in order to apply pressure to the various networks to bend the cost curve. The committee agreed that if the decision was made to separate from PEBB, they wanted a stronger voice in the debate, subsidization should decrease over time, and transitory workers should have better options when working abroad. Mr. Kenton stated that their reports were due by December 1, 2012, and he wanted to hear from all constituent groups. Senate President Kyr stated that this report would be posted to the Senate website and he would be happy to include any other information that Mr. Kenton would like to submit. Mr. Kenton thanked the Senate for their time, and asked for any further questions.

Senator Christopher Sinclair stated that vesting for post-doctoral students must be less than two years. Currently, it was at five years, and half the money that was deposited into their accounts was taken away if they did not reach the five year vested period. Mr. Kenton thanked Senator Sinclair for his comment.


5.1 ASUO Report; Laura Hinman, ASUO President

Laura Hinman (ASUO President) greeted the Senate and thanked them for allowing her to present her report. She then introduced Will Campodonico, the University Affairs Commissioner, who was responsible for recommending student appointments to committees that faculty and staff served on at the UO. She echoed Senate President Kyr’s sentiment that this was a year filled with hope and promise. She began her report by mentioning the street fair that was taking place on 13th Street, which supported the ASUO’s vision of community on campus and brought a little slice of Eugene to campus. She also mentioned the homecoming parade, which was held in a similar spirit and invited the Senate to attend these events. Her administration had recruited a sexual violence preventative task force to address five specific charges regarding reported and unreported sexual violence crimes that took place on campus. She stated that many campus crime alerts were sent out over the summer and the results of the taskforce’s work would be presented to her on how to move forward on this issue.

According to Ms. Hinman, there was an enormous lack of academic focus in the ASUO, and Harlan Mechling, the ASUO Academic Director was working hard to provide a structure with expanded opportunities for undergraduate research. His initiative also focused on expanding the undergraduate symposium, and increasing study space at the EMU. Her administration created a taskforce to address the capacity issues on campus regarding services that the ASUO provided and other campus provided services like counseling and classroom capacity. She hoped that the Senate would take up the issue of classroom capacity as well.

The ASUO was also working on three educational campaigns to get students involved in the social ordinance/unruly gathering policy proposed by the City of Eugene. They were also running an EMU Referendum Campaign and she encouraged Senators to visit the EMU to view its current condition. Her administration would be putting forward a proposed fee in November. Finally, her administration was working on an educational campaign urging students to vote and they had already registered over four thousand students to vote in the past two and a half weeks. She ended her comments by thanking the Senators for helping students to become more involved in various committee and governance issues and mentioned that she really appreciated their collaborative spirit. Senate President Kyr thanked Ms. Hinman for her report.

5.2 Student Voter Drive; Lamar Wise, ASUO Senator

Laura Hinman delivered the Student Voter Drive Report (mentioned above), as Lamar Wise was unable to attend the Senate meeting.

Items 5.3 – 5.11 were discussed in Senate President Kyr’s opening remarks.

5.3 President’s Forums in Winter & Spring Quarters

5.4 Provost’s Forums in Winter & Spring Quarters

5.5 Search for Senate Executive Coordinator

5.6 Policies for 2012 – 2013: Academic Freedom and Freedom of Speech; Facilities Use Policy; Legal Representation Policy; “Fee for Service” Policy; Financial Conflict of Interest in Research

5.7 Tenth Year Review of All University Standing Committees

5.8 Ad Hoc Committee on Academic Excellence

5.9 Ad Hoc Committee on Instructional Technology

5.10 UA Senate Liaison Committee

5.11 Survey on University Priorities (Provost’s Office and Senate)


Senate President Kyr read the three notices of motion (as they are listed below) aloud to the Senate body.

6.1 Notice of Motion: Faculty Input into Hiring Executive Administrators; Bill Harbaugh, Senator (Economics)

6.2 Notice of Motion: Review of Executive Administrators (Harbaugh)

6.3 Notice of Motion: Release Time to Enhance Senate Effectiveness; Frank Stahl, Professor Emeritus (Biology)

Senate President Kyr asked Senator Christopher Sinclair to place his notice of motion, which was on the inequity of contribution rates. Senator Sinclair placed the notice of motion and stated that he was looking forward to a discussion at next months Senate meeting. Senate President Kyr mentioned that there were two other motions that would be announced later on in the coming weeks. He then thanked the Senate for their hard work and participation.


Seeing no further business, Senate President Kyr called the October 10, 2012 meeting of the University Senate to a close at 5:16PM.