MINUTES 3/10/05

8:30AM – Holmes Student Center 406


Present:    Elizabeth Buck, Gay Campbell, Sara Clayton, Michele Crase, Marcia Dick, Margie Foshe, Linda

    Jennings, Theresa Kinniry, Jay Monteiro, Nancy Schuneman, Andy Small, Donna Smith,    

    and Rachel Turner.  


Absent:     Joe Koch


Guests:     Jodi Tyrrell, Tim Griffin


I.                    Call to Order


President Donna Smith called the regular meeting of the Operating Staff Council to order at 8:45 a.m. on Thursday, March 10, 2005.


II.         Approval of Agenda


A motion was made to accept the agenda.  The motion was seconded and passed.   


III.        Approval of Minutes of February 10, 2005, Meeting


A motion was made to accept the minutes with two minor changes. The motion was seconded and passed.


IV.        Treasurer’s Report


The treasurer’s report was presented for discussion. A motion was made to accept the Treasurer’s report. The motion was seconded and passed.


V.         Announcements/Correspondence


1.         Smith reported that she, Shey Lowman, president of the SPS Council, and Paul Stoddard, president of the Faculty Senate met with President Peters for lunch on February 22, at Peters’s request.  Peters discussed the budget situation, pension issues, summer hours, Monsanto, and Board of Trustee appointments.  A final decision has not yet been made about summer hours.  Smith, Lowman and Stoddard requested that a decision be made soon so that employees can plan accordingly.  They also met with Steve Cunningham, as well as Debbie Haliczer on March 3, for a presentation on pension issues.


2.         Donna Smith passed around the ISU newsletter.  She also presented several e-mails including President Peters’ s e-mail on state pension systems; an e-mail from a constituent about summer hours; and e-mail from Diana Ramp regarding medical billing.  Ramp said that  screening exams such as mammograms are covered 100%.  She also said that school physicals are also covered 100% provided the proper code is entered at the time the service is rendered.  There was also an e-mail from Debbie Haliczer about the next University Benefits Committee meeting on March 31 in AL 212.  Steve Cunningham has been invited to speak at the meeting, but if he can’t attend, it will be re-scheduled.  There was also an e-mail from Kathy Buettner about the legislative hearing in DeKalb.  The event will take place March 14 at Kishwaukee College.  President Peters, as well as the presidents of the councils at NIU, will present testimony regarding the governor’s budget proposals.  The hearing is open to the public and will be held from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. 


3.         Marcia Dick reminded the Council about the library’s penny drive on campus.  The library is trying to raise much-needed funds.  They have set up a wishing well in the library and have also placed receptacles around campus for employees to donate their pennies.  She also reported that the carpeting in the library will be replaced.  A piece of it will be archived.


4.         There was a lengthy discussion about the state budget crisis and the proposed changes to the SURS system.  Proposed pension options and the process of determining individual benefits is very confusing for most people.  There has been a lot of misleading information disseminated about the cost of the SURS system and the percent of returns on SURS investments.  Smith pointed out that employees receiving benefits under the current system are protected under the Illinois Constitution, but there is concern about what the changes will mean for future employees.  There is also a proposal that state agencies would be responsible for paying for increases in benefits that exceed 3% in the last three years of employment, possibly affecting  the number of employees being promoted at the end of their careers.  All of these questions will be addressed to Steve Cunningham at a future meeting.


VI.        Committee Reports


A.                  Personnel/Staff Developments/Benefits


1.  Debbie Haliczer attended the committee meeting.  Haliczer said that the Presidential

    Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity has been working for more than a

    year on a proposal about domestic partner benefit issues.  A proposal has finally been sent to

    President Peters, as has the Fitness Release proposal.  The committee also talked about the

    prescription drug policy and how HR worked with local pharmacies to make it more

    accessible for NIU employees.  Haliczer also said that if anyone is getting erroneous

    information from HR or not getting through to HR staff, she would like specific information

   (such as the date and time called) about it.


B.                  Elections and Appointments.


1.  Rachel Turner passed out the candidate sheets for review.  In the “Requirements” section, it

                 was suggested that instead of “negotiated” and “non-negotiated”, the wording be changed to

                             “union” or “non-union” employees.  The deadline for submission is April 8.  There are six

                Council members whose terms expire this year.   


2.  Turner also presented an interest sheet from Doreen Mace who expressed an interest in

     serving on the Presidential Commission for the Status of Women.  The Council 

     recommended that we send her application to the President’s Office for consideration of an

     appointment to the commission.


C.         Public Relations.


1.       Theresa Kinniry presented a new version of the new member handbook.  The Council was asked to review the latest draft and to let Kinniry know of any changes that are needed.  It was decided that all the past presidents be listed instead of the few that were listed in the handbook.  Kinniry pointed out that it would cost about $23 to have 10 of the handbooks copied by Document Services, or a copy card can be purchased from Document Services so that we can make our own copies.  Smith said she thought she had a copy card.  She will check and let Kinniry know.  Andy Small suggested that copies be sent to various departments and officials on campus.  If any changes are received from the Council, Kinniry will make them and proceed with the copies so that the handbook will be ready for any new Council members.


2.       Jay Monteiro pointed out that the committee voted to change the deadline for the Operating Staff Dependent Award to September 30.  By changing the deadline, the Council will have the opportunity to verify that the student is in fact enrolled and will allow the Council to award the money in the fall for the entire academic year.  Fliers about the award will be available at the annual StaffFest luncheon.


3.   Monteiro also reminded everyone about the Wellness Fair.  He sent around a sign-up sheet so that all Council members could choose a time that they would like to work at the fair.  If someone is running late, or is unable to attend the event, they are asked to call Kinniry because she works in the building and can easily let other Council members know what has happened.  Monteiro will send reminders to all Council members prior to the event.  There will be “comment” sheets at the table, as well as a 50/50 drawing and StaffFest fliers. Turner said that the display boards are old and worn looking.  She suggested that the boards be covered with black fabric.  Name plates can then be made with Velcro backings and easily attached to the board for a more professional look.  The improvements would cost between $80-$100.  A motion was made and passed to upgrade the display boards.  Sara Clayton said she has purchased some door prizes already and will purchase a few more before the event.  Dick will bring pencils.


4.  Nancy Schuneman reported that there were 14 applications for the Outstanding Service 

    Award.  The number of applicants is down considerably from past years.  Schuneman

    pointed out that an e-mail reminder was sent out, but it was included in a message with a   

    number of other things and may have been overlooked.  The committee has received the

    nomination packets and committee members are to have their evaluations done by March 25. 

    The committee will meet again on March 31 to finalize the results and choose the winners.


D.         Visiting Committees/Guests – None.


E.         EAC


1.       Jodi Tyrrell said that the Non-Status Work Study Committee had proposed possible changes for Extra Help employees, such as being able to extend the 900 hour rule.  She said departments often hire Extra Help for specific projects, but when they reach the 900 hour limit, the employee has to leave for 30 days before they can resume working.  She also pointed out that there are many people who enjoy the flexibility that extra help allows and they do not want to become full-time status employees. 


F.         UAC  -


1.  Smith reported that there was a special meeting on February 16 of the BOT to discuss the

     purchase of the Monsanto building.  They also talked about establishing a special account

     for the neutron therapy lab.  The Finance, Facilities & Operations and Academic Affairs,

     Student Affairs & Personnel Committees of the Board to Trustees met on March 3.  Issues

     discussed included sabbatical leaves for 2005-2006 for faculty and SPS personnel; the

     implementation of a new degree at the Naperville campus – a M.S. in Industrial  

     Management; requests for new specializations in undergraduate programs; and requests for

    new minors.  The committee also received a report on the state requirement for oral English

    proficiency exams.  NIU is in compliance with this requirement and has seen a decline in the

    number of complaints related to English proficiency.


            G.         University Council .


1.       Clayton reported on the March 9 University Council meeting.  President Peters announced that he has spent his time traveling between DeKalb, Springfield, and Washington, D.C.  He will be reporting before the House Appropriations Meeting in Springfield on March 10.  In Washington he has met with the members of the Illinois Delegation.  Peters reported there is a proposal to increase the Pell Grant, but it would mean eliminating the Perkins Loan.  Peters announced the purchase of the Monsanto building.  He mentioned the local hearing on the budget at Kishwaukee College, hosted by Representative Bob Pritchard.  Speaking for NIU at the hearing with President Peters will be presidents of the four senate/councils on campus.  Peters spoke about the elimination of August commencement, saying the decision came after years of discussion about commencement ceremonies.  There is a lot of work by a lot of people to put the department graduation ceremonies together.


2.   Smith reported on the February 16 University Council meeting.  The President’s

      Report was similar to the March meeting and dealt with state budget concerns and

      President Peters traveling to Washington, D.C.


H.                  Special Events


1.   LaRonda Thuestad passed around the drafts of the notices for StaffFest for review by the

     Council.  Thuestad said that this year they made different colored sheets for current

     employees and retirees to make the process easier at check in time.  The theme for this

     year’s event is “Salute to the Operating Staff.”  Thuestad said a request  for photos of

    Operating Staff from various departments will be sent out.  If a department doesn’t have

    photographs, members of the Council will try to go to departments and take photos.  The

    photos will be displayed on one of the screens at the StaffFest event.  The other screen will

    have the names of the winners of the door prizes.  There was some discussion about

    whether or not Extra Help personnel should be allowed to attend the StaffFest.  After much

    discussion, it was decided that Smith should contact Dr. Williams to see if the funding would

    be available to allow them to attend.


VII.       Old Business


A.                   Retirees on Committees - Larry Sallberg has served as the SURS rep for several years and he is getting ready to retire.  He would like to continue to serve on the committee, but it is not clear if he can continue to serve even though he is retired.  Smith asked Steve Cunningham, but has not heard back from him.  Smith will continue to investigate the matter.


B.                   Wellness Fair - **See report of Public Relations Committee**


C.         Digital Camera - Clayton reported that she has purchased a digital camera for $148.  Turner will look into getting memory cards for the camera.


VIII.      New Business – None.


IX.        Adjournment – The meeting adjourned at 10:55 a.m.



Respectfully Submitted,


Theresa Kinniry

OSC Secretary