Academic Staff Executive Committee Minutes 04-30-20
2:30 – 5:00 p.m. Thursday, April 30, 2020
Members Present: Donna Cole, Jenny Dahlberg; Tim Dalby, chair; Stephanie Elkins; Mallory Musolf; Leslie Petty; Deb Shapiro; Lindsey Stoddard Cameron; Bill Tishler
Guests: Ben Biltz, Diane Blaskowski, Russell Dimond, Pam Garcia-Rivera, Denny Hackel, Jennifer Hadley, Ron Harris, Laurent Heller, Alyson Kim, Angela Kita, Kristin Larson, Avril Liu, Karyn Matchey, Bridgett Molinar, Elizabeth Oseid, Tetyana Schneider, Ashley Voss, Mark Walters, Lori Wilson
The meeting was called to order at 2:30 p.m.
The minutes were approved with one correction.
Guest: Laurent Heller, Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration
As a result of the COVID-19 situation, there are significant budget issues and short term actions that UW-Madison and the state have had to take. The Department of Administration and the Governor’s Office have decided that there would be a 5% lapse on all state funding portions of the 101 budget. In practical terms, it means that 5% of the budget will need to be given back to the state by the end of this fiscal year. Early on, UW-Madison took steps to slow or freeze hiring and pay adjustments, dialed back certain discretionary expenses, restricted travel and events. There were also savings in utilities expenses with fewer people on campus and fewer buildings operating. Even after doing these things, there was no choice but to implement temporary measures to maximize cost savings and earnings for our lower paid employees. With a few exceptions, there will be an across-the-board furlough, with our highest paid employees being furloughed 1 day a month for the next 6 months, and our lowest paid employees being furloughed 1 day a month for the next 3 months. The Chancellor and other high-level administrators will take a 15% pay cut for the next 6 months. The financial impacts are greater in some units, such as the auxiliaries, than others.
With regard to the COVID leave, we don’t have all of the data on usage yet. There was not much usage in March, but we expect to see more in April. COVID leave has been extended through May 15. Laurent responded to a question from ASEC regarding possible tuition remission to refund portions of spring costs to grants due to COVID. This option has not been discussed, but Steve Ackerman is looking at the impacts to our grants from this disruption, as well as how best to resume research activities on campus. Regarding travel credits, the vendor handover as of July 1 will not be an issue, and we have records of all of the credits that have been issued.
Laurent reported on the distribution of CARES funds. There is a portion of the funds that is for students, and another that is for general campus losses. On the student side, we were one of the first campuses to ramp up our emergency student grant program before the CARES funds were in place, and CARES funds will continue to fund that program. We have already provided $10 million in grants to students. On the general campus side, a plan about how the funds will be distributed is still being discussed.
Lowell Hall continues to be used as a quarantine facility. Dejope is open for first responders for UW Health, as well as other county agencies and medical staff.
The report of the Revenue Innovation Study Group has been delayed by COVID. It is almost finalized, and they are working on a communications plan to roll it out. Laurent suggested ASEC invite the chair of that group to a future meeting to discuss the report.
Laurent also addressed questions on furloughs at the School of Veterinary Medicine. There are additional concerns regarding how the crisis has affected the Veterinary Hospital. The School has applied to be part of the workshare program. ASEC suggested better communication around the workshare aspect of this situation as well as addressing individuals on grants.
Guest: Mark Walters and Diane Blaskowski, Office of Human Resources
Mark discussed the furlough policy being rolled out on April 29, which was a massive effort from OHR, including intermittent and position-specific furloughs, as well as the workshare program. OHR is working on filling in all of the remaining details, logistics and programming on this. There are a great number of complexities in the implementation. They are building out the FAQs, and those will continue to be updated. OHR has transitioned from the April 1 policy for COVID leave to the federal requirement. Leave has been extended until May 15. Feedback on the furlough policy has been generally positive, particularly on the progressive nature of the furloughs and pay cuts for top administrators. This is the transitional plan while campus figures out long-term issues and implications.
The workshare program and terminology comes from the Department of Workforce Development and involves larger groups of employees that have a specific amount of work to do and a reduced workforce to accomplish that work. In order to keep everyone employed, the hours of that group are reduced, and they are also eligible for unemployment benefits. The goal is to make those individuals whole due to the combination of wages from the workshare program and unemployment benefits, which would add up to the same amount as their current compensation, if not more.
OHR is also discussing the telecommuting policy. Returning to campus will be a phased approach that will involve social distancing and some employees continuing to work remotely. In some cases, this affords employees some flexibilities they have been asking for with respect to telecommuting. Forums are being considered regarding the furloughs. TTC forums will be held virtually in the second week of June. OHR is also working on provisions for allowing probationary periods to be extended as needed.
Guests: Ashley Voss and Lori Wilson, Co-Chairs, Communications Committee
After a dormant period for the academic staff newsletter, the Communications Committee spent summer and fall looking at the landscape and how it could better serve its campus partners. The committee split into three teams to look at three main interconnected areas: email content, email mechanics, and the academic staff website. The committee submitted a report with ideas and suggestions for the future state in these areas. Ideas include increasing the frequency of the newsletter to a quarterly schedule, exploring a move to Eloqua for the newsletter, and a redesign of the website in partnership with the Secretary of the Academic Staff Office. The committee will work over the summer with the Secretary’s office on the website and will look at relaunching the newsletter in the fall.
Tim Dalby, ASEC chair, reported that he raised issues related to furloughing individuals on soft money with the Chiefs of Staff. Tim also thanked Jenny and Stephanie for their work in organizing logistics related to the Secretary of the Academic Staff search.
Jake Smith, Interim Secretary of the Academic Staff, reported that Provost Scholz has asked ASEC for its feedback regarding a proposal on satisfactory/unsatisfactory grading for the summer term. ASEC will discuss this proposal with the Provost at its next meeting.
Guest: Alfonso Morales, Chair, Immigration and International Issues Committee
IIIC is a newer Chapter 6 committee which is at the end of its second year. The committee has looked at how the DACA program is under fire, and the Supreme Court may make a ruling on it in the next week or so. There have been many actions on behalf of DACA students, but the committee proposed that something needed to be done on behalf of staff as well. A resolution was considered at the University Committee and will be on the May 4 Faculty Senate agenda. ASEC discussed a similar resolution being brought forward to the Assembly.
Bill Tishler reported on the April 27 University Committee meeting, at which there was discussion on the decision to reopen campuses and how much of that decision-making is at the System level and how much is at the individual campus level.
Mallory Musolf reported on the UW System Reps meeting. The Morgridge family has donated funds to support online teaching resources for faculty and staff. President Cross reported that they are aiming for a return to in-person teaching in the fall, but that could change by mid-July. Prior to COVID, applications at the 2-year campuses were looking up. In the current state, applications are down across the board by 5%. President Cross intends to meet weekly with the System Reps into the near future.
Jenny Dahlberg reported that all CASI events and forums at the School of Veterinary Medicine have been cancelled, though there will hopefully be some sort of forum regarding the furloughs at the School.
• May Assembly Meeting Agenda
Motion to approve the May Assembly Meeting Agenda (Cole). Seconded. Passed.
• Topics for Guests
Provost: Alternative plans for campus-wide activities and guidance around those; ways to donate time to employees more adversely impacted by furloughs
OHR: TTC updates, how units are addressing essential work with furloughs; ways to donate time to employees more adversely impacted by furloughs
Meeting adjourned at 5:24 p.m.
Minutes submitted by Jake Smith, Interim Secretary of the Academic Staff