Meeting Minutes - April 18, 2007

Call to order

President Dan Gilmartin called the meeting to order at 3:45 p.m.

Approval of minutes from February meeting

This will be done next month.

Election Committee Report: VP Ben Taylor and Susan Dooley

The election for Area Representatives is in progress. A few are still vacant but 80 percent of all areas have now reported their area representatives' names. The final representative information will be done by Friday of this week, and the nominations will go out Monday morning and be completed by Friday. The elections will be done online the following week.

The schedule for summer Faculty Senate meetings was mentioned. It will be announced when Dan knows his schedule for certain. Some faculty are on nine-month contracts and wanted to ensure that their departments are covered. The new representation (officers and area reps) begins August 2007.

New Board of Trustees Member: Lisa Greer

Lisa Greer replaces Charles English. She is a well-connected local Republican; her husband is chair of the Seminole County Republican party and is supporting another BoT member, Chris Dorworth, who is running for the state representative position being vacated by David Mealor. Rick Lee will be going off the BoT this summer. The current board consists of Schaffner, Dorworth, Greer, Pugh and Lee until this summer's new appointment. How does this affect us? We have a board that is coming online that has no direct board experience. A Senate member asked if any had been community college students. It was reported that DeeDee Schaffner and Rick Lee were. Another asked if any had taught. It was reported that that Verdell Pugh had, and that Schaffner and Greer had worked as substitute teachers.

Reappointment of Board Member: Chris Dorworth

As above.

RIF Process

A reduction in force (RIF) was announced for the Networking Department. A program review was done about two years ago showing that enrollment numbers in FTE have gone down substantially in that area, not justifying the number of faculty, according to the dean and vice president. For the last three years, according to Angela Kersenbrock in front of the board last night, there have been attempts at gaining more enrollment with various types of programs. They have not panned out, she said. So they asked the board last night for approval to go into the RIF procedure. The RIF procedure is clearly marked out step by step on how you reduce force. This RIF is only in this one area in Networking, and it affects a maximum of five faculty members. Actually, three faculty are affected in terms of job loss, reducing the number of full-time faculty in Networking to two. According to Dean Kersenbrock, that is what the numbers justify.

A faculty member asked if these were tenured faculty members. It was responded that yes, all five are on continuing contract. RIF is a process that applies to tenured faculty. A faculty member asked if the RIF procedure was available for review. The response was that it is available at the College's website under Policies and Procedures. A faculty member asked if the difference between tenure and continuing contract could be explained in brief. In every jurisdiction there are different understandings of these, but essentially, tenure is not a "golden arch." Tenure is more a tradition than a hard, fast legal doctrine. It is relatively new, started in the 1890s, and is an understood concept more than anything. But continuing contract, which is what Seminole State faculty have, requires legal justification to fire you. Tenure is more golden than continuing contract. A tenured position wouldn't go away but a person with continuing contract can.

President Gilmartin said, "Let me say something positive, because it's deserved: The administration, including Carol Hawkins and the deans, have been in frequent communication with me about this over the past several months. They have asked my opinion and input and I think Hawkins has treated this situation conscientiously. There was even an attempt brought forward to the legal department to get more of a financial parachute for the people being let go, but it was rejected because it established a precedent."

A past situation with a RIF in the 1990s was brought up, where faculty were let go arbitrarily but later were re-hired in new positions after bringing suit against the College. It was explained that this situation is different because it has followed procedure.

A faculty member asked how the money would be reallocated for these salaries that would not be replaced - will this help fund the new positions that the college advertised? It was explained that the math is $44K per position for a new position. The bottom line is that there is not enough money to fund the 16 new positions that we advertised for; these three RIF'd positions will help fund the new positions but are not enough. A faculty member asked whether the money saved from the RIF was being moved into the new faculty positions? Dan said that it was. Collegewide, there are nine replacement positions for retirees and seven new positions. The majority of these are in Arts and Sciences. The reason for that is that Heathrow and Altamonte are going to have also core curriculum classes like history, English, social sciences, so those are the hires they are looking at trying to kick up the FTE. But it's all on a shoestring and the state legislature is not funding us.

A faculty member asked if this was the only program in the College that had lost this percentage of FTEs. It was reported that it went from about 285 FTE to about 110 FTE, which is indeed a big loss.

A faculty member asked what contract length the new positions would be. The new positions will be 196-day (10 month). The administration wants to cut down on the number of positions that are 228- and 261-day length.

Regarding the RIF, a faculty member wondered if "the axing" was based on seniority. It was explained that seniority is one of the four factors used to evaluate who stays and who goes. A senator who is among the five RIF-affected faculty members, said that the RIF notice states that employee termination will be determined by the following factors: essentiality, work performance, attendance record and supervisory recommendations. If all factors are equal, then seniority will be the determining factor. The fickle factor is attendance and performance of duty, which depends on the evaluator's subjective opinion.

A faculty member said that he was concerned about this because one of the few things we have in place of our moderate pay and over-education is the confidence that we will have a job in 10 or 15 years. When you reach the second half of your career and you are cast out, it is disastrous in terms of your retirement benefits, because you drop eight or nine years down the scale.

With the economic pressures from the state, there will be more pressures to keep FTE up now because there is less and less money available for education from the state. When they talk about education in the news, they talk about K12 or the universities; we are the stepchild.

A faculty member mentioned that three non-tenured faculty members in networking and programming did not have their contracts renewed last year. It was added that different areas of the colleges have different situations. The business area has qualifications that are more demanding than liberal arts, in some ways.

A faculty member said that it was like being back in corporate America, which isn't a bad thing; but she added that she hoped that the powers-that-be would be creative in retention strategies and recruitment, and not just put all the onus of student retention on some poor math teacher in a classroom. Enrollment is based on supply and demand, but you don't get paid from the top when enrollment shows up-sometimes our College's funding is much lower when enrollment increases. Tuition costs have been increased on the student, but state reimbursement amounts continue to drop. Our enrollments have just about returned to where they were before the hurricanes, but the funding from the state has not kept up with the enrollment.

A faculty member mentioned that high school enrollment is dropping in Seminole and Orange counties, which means that our future enrollments may be dropping as well. It was mentioned that Lee Constantine, who represents our area, is forcing a bill into the legislature that will charge a student a surcharge any time they reach an excess of hours. We currently have a rule that requires students to pay out-of-state tuition after the third attempt. It's artificial to graft a corporate concept onto a system that is not corporate.

A faculty member mentioned that Leadership Academy faculty just went to Tallahassee; they talked to lobbyists and administrators from universities, which showed that there was a big need for administrators to be fund-raisers. Apparently there is a movement to oppose the Lee Constantine bill in the legislature.

It was said that this "efficiency" imposed on us necessitates a matter of measurement: the state wants reports. 

Staff Benefits: Health, Dental, and Life Insurance

The Board of Trustees meeting last night, on April 17, was supposed to be the time of the decision on the new benefits plan, but the vote was delayed until May. The new board member's appointment was one reason. The other reason was that after the RFPs had been received, and United had been chosen for health, United Concordia for Dental, and Standard for Life, the Consortium's tune changed. The Staff Benefits Committee is now meeting on April 23 for the final decision. On April 25 there will be a three-hour board workshop, and then in the May meeting the final decision will come forward. It looks like we may stay with the Consortium. Either way, that committee has done a lot of good work; Florida Hospital will be part of either plan. The sticking point with the Consortium had been that they did not have Florida Hospital, but they do have it now.

A faculty member asked if this had any impact on the current short-term and long-term disability policies that some maintain. What conversion provisions will be offered? Greg Garrison, Benefits Committee chair, said the same or better in benefits and costs, should we change providers. They will stay at least as good and probably considerably better.

It was stated that if we go with Standard Life Insurance Company, their bid included a no-physical $300,000 life insurance policy, no questions asked, one time open enrollment for yourself. So regardless of your medical condition, dreaded disease or no, that policy would be available. It appears that Standard will be our insurance company.

A faculty member said, if we have found these other providers that seem so good, what is it that the Consortium offers that delays the decision? In the RFP process, three-fourths of the way through the program, the Consortium notified Dr. McGee that they had elected not to bid, despite their making an introductory proposal. That required the Staff Benefits Committee to no longer look at them as a possible candidate due to the process of the RFP. So Staff Benefits unanimously elected United Healthcare as the best bargain, the Concordia company (the second-largest in the US, an AIG buyout) for dental, an additional $200 per person benefit from $1,000 to $1,200 at a lesser cost, with similar provider networks. In this plan, 48 people would lose their dentist but could still pay out of network. The third thing is an insurance company that has offered us considerable opportunities to insure our spouses and dependents at very competitive rates. A faculty member said that Greg and the Staff Benefits committee had sweated bullets over the decision, so why should we go back and consider the Consortium?

Dan said that it is a market issue, and if the Consortium can beat the other prices and services, then it might be worth staying with them. The Consortium is a group of 22 colleges insuring themselves, and costs at those colleges impacts the costs of policies each years. Seminole State is about 700 people, with 529 in Plan E, and the remaining 171 employees in HMOs. The bottom line is that the benefits situation looks good either way.

The final decision will be made in May.

Emergency Response Committee

Faculty member needed for input Carol Hawkins asked Dan today to solicit volunteers. Diane Allard from Fire Sciences-EMS, the new Senate rep, was interested; Dan will contact her. Jon Green also expressed interest.

Old Business

Staff and Program Development

An SPD committee member reported that there will be no call for projects until the new budget is out, per Lynn Powers. E-mails were sent to the SPD chair, vice chair and administration stating that is not good because faculty will be gone. There has been no response on this to date. The new chair is Anita Poole-Sheppard. If you want to do a project, be an independent agent, write the project and hope the money is available. The budget won't be definite until July 1. Projects cannot be submitted until July, so you could start work on them if you want, but they may not be funded because there may not be funding for them.


The meeting was adjourned at 4:45 p.m.


Margaret Jenkins
President, Faculty Senate