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K-State Today

March 18, 2015

University Support Staff Senate March highlights

Submitted by Susan Erichsen

Highlights from K-State University Support Staff Senate March 2 Meeting from 12:30-2:30 p.m. The complete minutes are online.

Guest speaker: President Schulz
President Kirk Schulz gave an update on the happenings in the legislative session. There will be no significant changes in the K-State budget for the next two years. Higher education funds are being cut by $16.2 million, with $3.4 million affecting K-State. A statement will be released in K-State Today soon regarding how we will deal with our $3.4 million dollar cut.

Janice Taggart had a question about the possibility of the governor converting classified state positions into unclassified positions, like the University of Kansas. President Schulz said that K-State has no plans of doing this and will be stating such in a future K-State Today.

Carol Marden asked what the financial advantages would be for the university if the university support staff employees were to go to unclassified positions. President Schulz said Cindy Bontrager would have specifics.
John Wolf asked if university support staff employees would be getting raises this year. Right now there is a two percent raise calculated in the budget for all K-State employees. However, due to budget cuts, we aren't sure at this time if it will be the full two percent raise.

Michael Seymour II stated his constituents were concerned about the lack of funding/cuts to KPERS. President Schulz stated that the Board of Regents were aware of the situation and had the same concern.

Lesa Reves, voiced concerns about changes to the PEER review board. She, as most other senators, was under the assumption that nothing would change when we went to university support staff. She would like to have this issue addressed and resolved before June 2015. The president requested that Lesa send him an email stating what changes have been made so that he can meet with his staff regarding them and to begin working toward a solution.

Cheryl Martin asked the president how we should communicate our concerns regarding KPERS to the governor. He suggested writing letters directly to the elected representatives of our districts, voicing these concerns.

In closing the president gave an update on the current ongoing campuswide construction. Many of the projects are being completed with private funding. In fall 2016 the College of Business building should be complete. Construction on the Welcome Center is progressing well and according to schedule. The new foundation building, which will be located at the corner of Denison and Kimball, will not only be used by the foundation but also will be leased to private sector companies, which could be potential places of internship for our students. The new architecture building project is currently on hold. The state was supposed to provide $60 million for this project, however, due to budget issues, we're unsure if they will be able to contribute in such a large capacity. The new multi-cultural building will be built where the old campus Ecumenical building used to be. There also are plans for a new building for geology to be built in the parking lot behind the engineering complex.

Human Capital Services liaison
Gina Lowe reported the Kaizen was successful. Interviews for the director of compensation effectiveness will be taking place on Wednesday, March 4, and Friday, March 6. The screening of the applications for the assistant director of institutional equity has been completed, interviews will start soon. Interviews for the director of compensation and organizational effectiveness will be conducted in the first week of March.

Rob Reves asked for clarification on the consequences for departments who have student workers who work overtime hours. Currently, we haven't had a significant amount of these cases. Gina stated that even so these are still the rules we should go by, however, we aren't sure what the consequences of not going by this rule will be at this time.

Carol Marden, asked how and when the new hiring process would be implemented. Gina said they hope to start using the new process sometime this summer.

Executive Council Report
The award procedures and nomination process was discussed. Senators were asked to go back and review the university support staff website and locate changes that may need to be made to the wording and instructions for next year. President Jennings also asked them to see if there were problems in their sections with submitting nominations.

Senate Standing Committees
University Affairs and Communication Committee
Senators were encouraged to be thinking of questions for the open forum with the president from 10:30 a.m. to noon April 9 in Forum Hall. Hope to have another Roar published by mid-March sometime. Submit articles by March 10.

Governmental Affairs Committee
Senators on this committee attended Cats in the Capital. There was a high turnout. Elections for Vet Med and Student Life university support staff senators are currently ongoing.

Recognition Ceremony Committee
This committee is working on getting the recognition letters out this month. Employee of the year submission were submitted last Friday, as of yet, we still aren't sure of the names of the winning employees. The awards ceremony will be on April 22.

Old Business
Bereavement Policy: Rob Reves moved to take from the table the bereavement policy change. Connie Kissee seconded. Niece and nephew will be added to the policy wording immediately. Any other changes to this policy are currently on hold. Motion passed unanimously. John Wolf moved to send the changes forward. It was seconded by Lesa Reves. University support staff senators unanimously approved sending the changes forward.

Peer Review Committee: Carol Marden spoke about the changes regarding the Peer Review Committee and the inception of the Appeals Board, which was said to take the place of the Civil Service board. Steve Greinke requested that a letter be submitted to Cindy Bontrager by the senate stating our opinion regarding the Peer Review Committee/Appeals Board changes. It was suggested that we should emphasize that this was not what was agreed upon when we voted to go university support staff. The letter would be addressed to Cindy Bontrager and Cheryl Johnson, with Gina Lowe and President Kirk Schulz carbon copied.

New Business
A letter will be sent to the president regarding the appeals process.

Michael Seymour raised the issue of KPERS again. He requested the university support staff president to reach out to his contemporaries to figure out how to handle this situation. President Jennings stated he has already met with Sue Peterson regarding this issue. They discussed going directly to the legislature to discuss this issue. Her advice was to proceed with caution.