University Senate

Meeting 540 Minutes

The University Senate
of Michigan Technological University

Minutes of Meeting 540
20 November 2013

The Senate

  • Presentation: “Patent Trademark Resource Center” by Sarah Lucchesi
  • Presentation: “University Budget Update” by Vice-President for Research Dave Reed
  • Proposal 3-14: “Minor in Surveying” passed
  • Proposal 4-14: “Proposal to Shelve EMPD Product Design Minor” passed
  • Proposal 5-14: “Proposal to Eliminate M.S. in Operations Management” passed

1. Call to order and roll call. President Brian Barkdoll called the University Senate Meeting 540 to order at 5:30 pm on Wednesday, November 20, 2013. The Senate Secretary Marty Thompson called roll. Absent were Senators Cadwell and Panian and representatives of Army/Air Force ROTC, Engineering Fundamentals, Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology, Materials Science and Engineering, Social Sciences, Academic Services A, Academic Services B, Academic Services C, Administration, Auxiliaries, Enrollment, Technology and Staff Council.

2. Recognition of visitors. Guests included Max Seel (Provost’s Office), Dave Reed (Research), Sarah Lucchesi (Library) and Bonnie Gorman (Dean of Students).

3. Approval of agenda. Wood motioned to approve the agenda; Mullins seconded; it passed unanimously on a voice vote.     

4. Approval of minutes from Meetings 539. Wood motioned to approve the agenda; Storer seconded; it passed unanimously on a voice vote.

5. Presentation: “Patent Trademark Resource Center” by Sarah Lucchesi
Lucchesi, defined the Patent and Trademark Resource Center (PTRC) designation recently given to the MTU Library. She discussed the services the PTRC provides to university and community members, including; patent/trademark searching, informational resources and a robust patent searching database (PubWEST and PubEAST), noting that legal advice is excluded. She discussed the support the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) provides to the PTRC and the benefits to Michigan Tech. She concluded by providing contact information and workshop dates. Mullins asked what types of information can be accessed at PTRC. Lucchesi described the general content that is available. Caneba asked if this content was accessible through a website. Lucchesi said the weblink is live, has the basic content and is under development. Mullins asked if image searches from trademarks are available. Lucchesi said the trademark search engine on the database uses keywords for design elements. Mullins asked if a logo, such as the senate logo, could be searched against the trademark database. Lucchesi said no that the search would need to be broken down into constituent elements to search the design code. Mullins said word search on an image is not ideal. Barkdoll said this is to research patent information as opposed to the patenting process. Lucchesi affirmed. Barkdoll asked about the patent process. Lucchesi said PTRC cannot make referrals to a specific person and cannot give legal advice. Barkdoll thanked Lucchesi.

6. Presentation: “University Budget Update” by Vice-President for Research Dave Reed 
Reed, Vice-President for Research, discussed the financial details for the completed fiscal year 2013, the current status of fiscal year 2014 and planning for fiscal year 2015. He presented unaudited financial statements including the board approved budget for the general fund and current fund statements for fiscal year 2013 noting the surplus of $700,000. Mullins, referring to the variance numbers in the top row, said the tuition and IRAD amounts were off and asked for comment. Reed said for a number of years spring tuition revenue has been 95% of fall tuition revenue. This year it was approximately 91%. So when calculating the 2014 numbers, the spring tuition revenue projections assumed the decreased value of 92% of fall tuition. He said the IRAD variance is due to expenditures being down resulting in a lower than expected recovery. Beck asked if the lower cost recovery was a function of vanishing federal stimulus funds. Reed acknowledged the impact of the stimulus funds but explained the decrease in terms of the overall trend in government funding rates over the past few years. Barkdoll asked how the federal sequestration impacted the budget. Reed said it did, but it was hard to know in exactly what ways but expects it will continue to have impact for several years. He noted all agencies reduced funding rates although its hard to attach specific details to the sequestration. Hungwe asked about student retention as it relates to the lower spring tuition revenue. Reed said there is always a drop-off in revenue from fall to spring and cited mid-year graduation playing a partial role in that decrease. Barkdoll said enrollment has been up. Reed affirmed but noted the increase in enrollment is an overall multi-year trend. Seel cited a big incoming class five years ago and that class has been graduating, which is also reflected in the overall enrollment numbers. Mullins asked if there has been effort to move Tech funds to the general fund as a means to balance the budget. Reed affirmed this is done each year. Mullins asked if transfers are from non-designated funds. Reed affirmed unrestricted funds. Mullins asked where such a transfer of funds would appear on the balance sheet. Reed said it would appear as gift income. Morin said fund transfers also appear under the plant fund which isn’t shown in the balance sheet. Mullins asked if less financial aid was given citing reduced scholarship moneys. Reed said additional funding from the Tech Fund was used to offset the decrease. Barkdoll said if Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) become popular they may cause a decrease in enrollment. Seel said we need to be ready for the effects of MOOCs. Reed noted some accounting changes required by Government Accounting Standards Board (GASB) which made pronouncements on requirements for FY2013 financials. One inclusion was that bond issues which previously could be amortized over the bond lifetime must now be expensed at the time bond is issued. Second is a blended financial statement for MTU and the Tech Fund. Mullins confirmed that GASB permits combined financial statements. Reed affirmed noting under condition that specific GASB criteria are met. Mullins said many universities do not blend financial statements. Reed said MTU may change that in the future but is in effect for FY2013. Reed said a FY2015 change will be when the state takes Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System (MPSERS) off state ledgers and puts the liability onto those of all participating entities. Current liability is estimated at $40-50 million. Wood said MPSERS was phased out. Reed said MTU stopped offering MPSERS to new enrollees in 1996 but carry liability until 2036. Wood asked about the liability to MTU. Reed said the liability will come to [MTU] in the form of accumulated retirement payments that the system pays those employees. Barkdoll asked if that was each year. Reed said this is the total liability over its lifetime. Mullins asked if this included buyouts. Reed said past MTU employees are all on defined benefits plans. Beck asked about the difference between this liability and existing retirement obligations. Reed said probably none because each year [MTU] pays the state $5-6 million. The difference is now we must show that liability on the books. Wood asked if this will impact bond ratings. Reed said it might but it is not clear how the ratings agencies will respond to this change. Wood asked if non-MPSERSare subsidizing MPSERS. Reed didn’t know. Wood asked if MPSERS is better than defined benefit. Reed didn’t know. Barkdoll asked if MPSERS is related to Affordable Care Act. Reed said no it is a government accounting standards change that came out in 2012. Barkdoll said this is money having to be spent. Reed said it probably is not additional money, but the accounting change means it will appear on our financial statements as a liability rather than the state’s. Mullins said major recategorization of expenses make comparisons between years difficult. Reed said reclassification of categories and program codes is ongoing. For example moving expenses are no longer classified as instructional expenses because it also applies to both faculty and certain staff. Mullins said the amount being recategorized is millions of dollars. Morin said fund raising expense was large and categorized as institutional support. Reed said the amount is now partitioned out based on where gift revenue goes. Mullins asked if it was odd to recategorize costs mid-year. Reed said no but it was odd never to change. Mullins clarified that mid-year seems odd versus implementing those changes at the beginning of the next fiscal year. Reed said it was typically done at the beginning of the year. Wood asked about what details define MPSERS. No one in the senate was able to provide any details about MPSERS. Reed presented the current fiscal year projections through June 2014 as approved by the Board of Control (BOC). Projections indicate a positive balance of $1.1 million. Mullins asked if there were any observed or projected affect attributed to the recent change in tuition. Reed said FTEs are up and close to the projected impact of changing tuition structure. Mullins asked what the average student credit hours were. Reed said its up from 14.1 to 15.1. Reed gave revenue details including spring tuition revenue projections, gift funds, and unrealized gains. Mullins asked if interest on the R&I account was retained in the account or being used in other categories. Reed said both. Mullins said R&I was low last year. Reed said it fluctuates with the market. Barkdoll asked about investments and fund payouts. Reed said fund payout is 4% as long as the principle is above water. Barkdoll asked what the universities biggest expense was. Reed said payroll and financial aid. Barkdoll asked how competitive employee pay was. Reed said long term planning parameters are based on AAUP data. The goal is to be at the median of peer institutions. To meet those salaries MTU is providing raises at core inflation +1% as a goal. Barkdoll noted that has not been happening. Reed said not every year, but this year the raise was budgeted for. Mullins said pay raise is supported by tuition not state funding. Wood asked if we are losing senior faculty due to below average salaries. Reed said some turnover exists but not attributed significantly to faculty salary but by age demographics. Mullins noted the lower cost structure of higher paid senior people leaving. Reed said many new hires are highly paid to be competitive. Seel said 155 hires have occurred in the last six years. That is 45% of the 350 faculty with assistant professors at market value, associate professors below market value and full professors the furthest away from market value. Reed mentioned the $3000 assistant to associate promotion adjustments have existed since 1986. Seel provided the exact amounts of the salary adjustments due to promotion. Waddell said in 1990 there was an $11 million deficit. The result was people were laid off and salaries cut. Again 2002-2003 had a deficit and people received a furlough. He said we currently have a surplus. Reed confirmed the surplus but questioned the $11 million deficit statement. Waddell said those past crises [MTU] had very little debt but now we have $80 million debt. Reed said MTU has $78 million debt. Waddell asked how our debt compares to what our debt was during the previous crises. Mullins said back then MTU had $5 million debt. Reed noted that $50 million of the $80 million debt is due to residence halls. Waddell asked if MTU was in better financial shape now then during prior budget crises considering the large increase in debt. Reed said we have a higher long term debt. Mullins said there was a decision to postponed balloon payments in exchange for more interest payments. Reed said the percentage went down but the term increased. Mullins said the result is $7 million in additional payments. Reed said the total payment is $5 million. Mullins clarified by saying the increase in payments compared to the same period last year is $7 million. Reed said that was too high a number. Mullins said its in the millions. Reed didn’t know. Morin estimated that number in the $1-1.2 million range. Barkdoll noted that MTU debt is 40% of our operating budget and asked if this will impact our ability to borrow. Reed said not in the short term, but maybe in the future. Reed cited a capital project request that if granted MTU will need to raise its portion via debt. Seel pointed out the overall net of over $300 million. Waddell noted that is the total value of land and buildings, but MTU is unable to sell off buildings and asked Reed if they were planning to sell off Daniel Heights. Mullins asked if privatization or selling buildings was being considered. Reed said MTU may do a partnership on that. Reed presented the budget projections for FY2015. He noted that planning parameters will be presented to BOC as a starting point to plan fiscal 2015. Beck asked where the IT reorganization fits into the budget. Reed said it was still unclear. Barkdoll asked who makes the budget decisions and how numbers are determined. Reed cited the financial data group listing people and roles. Barkdoll asked if there were opportunities for public comment or input from constituents. Reed said deans and vice-presidents give input and employees can work through their unit to provide input. Beck asked if there was help from $200 million capital campaign. Reed said the positive variance in financial aid is from scholarships given through the Tech Fund. Mullins asked about differential tuition and whether that would vary with discipline. Reed said it could vary with discipline or by graduate/undergraduate and gave the complex differential tuition of the University of Michigan. Mullins asked about adjustments to tuition to be more competitive with each given discipline at peer institutions. Reed said there are multiple ways to make adjustments. Barkdoll thanked Reed for making himself available.

7. Report from the Senate President
Barkdoll discussed the impact of the University Senate sponsored General Education forum. Specifically, the general education council changed its recommended proposal. Barkdoll said the next senate forum on university assessment will be after the Thanksgiving break and will be announced soon. He updated the senate on the status of efforts to make all governing documents match. Barkdoll is working with university marketing to develop a senate logo. He invited everyone to attend the upcoming BOC meeting and made a call for presentation topics.

8. Reports from Senate Standing Committees

Academic Policy Committee. Breffle said a speaker from Colorado State University was scheduled to speak on legal issues at universities related to blended learning. Nooshibadi commented on developing a senate blended learning policy. Barkdoll said we could craft a policy favorable to faculty and go from there. Fleming said this is a broad legal discussion. Breffle said still accumulating background and relevant information on intellectual property (IP). Barkdoll asked about the timeline to having a definitive IP policy. Breffle was not clear on when the issue would be resolved.

Administrative Policy Committee. Barkdoll read an email from Vable stating the senate evaluation has been tested and is ready. The ombudsman policy is being made consistent with BOC policy. The Dean and chair review proposal is still being worked on. Nooshibadi cited a typo in BOC policy and noted its correction.

Curricular Policy Committee. Oliveira provided an update on degree proposals being reviewed by the committee. 

Elections Committee. Barkdoll read an email from Riehl stating an ad for ombudsman will be coming soon.

Finance Committee. Mullins said reviewing proposals in parallel with Curricular Policy Committee. He noted that guidelines are being prepared to help people prepare financial information that accompanies new degree proposals. 

Fringe Benefits Committee. Waddell said two new proposals will be introduced today and proposals addressing SDC membership and parking are in the works. He said the committee is working on ways to improve communication to employees about available benefits. Breffle asked Waddell about the creation of two new subcommittees for general education and assessment. Waddell said such policies are being developed as senate reasserts more of its traditional authority. Barkdoll felt the creation of the two subcomittees would be an issue for the Academic Policy Committee.  

Institutional Planning Committee. None.

Instructional Policy Committee. Kilpela deferred to new business.

Professional Staff Policy Committee. None.

Research Policy Committee. Froese is reviewing reports relating to computing.

9. Old Business
a. Proposal 3-14: “Minor in Surveying” 
Barkdoll asked if there were any additional comments on the proposal; there being none he called for a vote; the proposal passed unanimously on a voice vote.

b. Proposal 4-14: “Proposal to Shelve EMPD Product Design Minor” 
Barkdoll asked if there were any additional comments on the proposal; there being none he called for a vote; the proposal passed unanimously on a voice vote.

c. Proposal 5-14: “Proposal to Eliminate M.S. in Operations Management” 
Breffle confirmed that elimination of the degree was sought. Barkdoll asked if there were any additional comments on the proposal; there being none he called for a vote; the proposal passed unanimously on a voice vote.

10. New Business
a. Proposal 6-14: “Proposal to Amend Senate Policy 102.1: Policy on Classroom Attendance” 
Kilpela, Instructional Policy Committee, said a small modification from the proposal introduced in spring 2013 was made to revise wording and correct a typo. Gorman summarized the changes as a friendly amendment removing references to ad hoc job fairs which no longer occur.

b. Proposal 7-14: “Proposal to Amend Senate Proposal 22-00”
Waddell, Fringe Benefits Committee (FBC), said the two proposals (7-14 and 8-14) follow from the Sense of Senate resolution recently passed. He stated the need for specifics in the proposal and the drive to address employee comments concerning our role in shared governance made in the previous executive team survey. Waddell discussed the commitment to shared governance as he framed the context of proposal 7-14. He noted senate authorization of the Benefits Liaison Group (BLG) which was in addition to the existing senates Fringe Benefits Committee and discussed such justification to open the issue of BLG composition to revision. He cited the concerns inherent within Proposal 22-02, which formed the BLG and cited several examples of noncompliance. Waddell addressed the apparent conflict between discreet committee discussions versus open communication of the committee. He noted a general lack of participation of constituents and noted that 22-02 states the administration would develop policy and present their decisions to the senate. In practice, the FBC chair has presented the recommendations of the BLG, which creates the potentially false appearance that the senate has been involved and approves the recommendation. The new proposal addresses what may be discussed, as the BLG has sought to keep discussions in confidence preventing open communication to the senate. Finally, the 90 day reporting requirement has been changed. Waddell said item 3 says the composition of the BLG isn’t clearly defined, nor are issues of budget or agenda. He cited past Senate President Luck who said the FBC should be doing the entire job of determining benefits. Waddell read portions of proposal 7-14 defining composition of the committee and conditions of exclusion of executive team members. He described conditions under which consultants are to be contracted and defining what issues consultants will address. Barkdoll summarized by saying this document clearly defines the composition, duties procedures of the BLG. Waddell affirmed the new proposal defines the composition and duties of the BLG. Beck said the senate should have a campus-wide election for senate appointees to the committee. Barkdoll asked how this applies to the BLG. Beck said there are BLG members from the senate constituency and we should get the best representation from across campus. Snyder asked how many current BLG members. Waddell read the membership list noting 15 members from administration, staff and faculty.

c. Proposal 8-14: “Proposal to Amend the University Senate Bylaws on Standing Committees” 
Waddell, Fringe Benefits Committee, said with the exception of the Election Committee, each standing committee has assigned a member of the executive team as a resource/liaison. This relationship is not defined anywhere and the goal of proposal 8-14 is to clearly define the roles of executive team members acting as liaisons to senate standing committees. The proposal defines when a liaison may attend a committee meeting. The rationale is to avoid any unwanted participation of an executive team member that might suppress discussion or alter the independent function of the committee. Past senate president Luck worked with Provost Seel to open communication between senate committees and administration and facilitate proposals that would pass both senate and the administration. The goal of the proposal is to codify the relationship of the two parties into policy rather than risk it evolving into something it was never intended to become. Seel said the original arrangement was very informal and was to open up communication. It was clear this was invitation only. He felt 8-14 was not necessary. Waddell said it is a question of practice versus policy. Seel said the situation motivating this policy has been remedied. Waddell said this policy codifies the arrangement and does not leave it up to interpretation or convention. Barkdoll says this proposal does not preclude a liaison from attending a committee meeting. Barkdoll said this formalizes this arrangement. Beck said a liaison can get any issues put on agenda of the committee by asking the committee chair. Nooshibadi asked if the FBC was overreacting due to one incident. Waddell said two incidents come to mind, but he didn’t know how often this happens amongst all senate committees. Mullins said informal arrangements become codified during transition and this is to prevent the arrangement from morphing into more than intended. This policy makes the arrangement clear and permanent.

d. Proposal 9-14: “Minor in Music Performance”
Oliveira, Curricular Policy Committee, said the minor is an avenue for experienced music student to pursue a rigorous curriculum that gives music training experience. Students have expressed interest in the minor. Mullins said the Finance Committee has reviewed the proposal. 

11. Adjournment. President Barkdoll adjourned the meeting at 7:26pm


Respectfully submitted
by Marty Thompson
Secretary of the University Senate