1:55 – 4:30 p.m. Thursday, April 27, 2023
53 Bascom Hall
Members Present: Donna Cole; Tim Dalby; Stephanie Elkins; Alissa Ewer; Stephanie Jones; Albert Muniz; Mallory Musolf, chair; Lindsey Stoddard Cameron
Guests: Rob Cramer; Jenny Dahlberg; John Horn; Nancy Lynch; Patrick Sheehan; Eric Wilcots; Scott Wildman
The meeting was called to order at 1:55 p.m.
The minutes of April 20 were approved with one correction.
Motion to convene in Closed Session Pursuant to Wis. Stats. 19.85(1)(g) to Discuss Legal Matters Related to the UNC and Harvard Supreme Court Cases (Stoddard Cameron). Seconded. Approved.
Motion to Reconvene in Open Session (Stoddard Cameron). Seconded. Approved.
Guest: Eric Wilcots, Interim Provost
Interim Provost Wilcots views his main responsibilities while in the interim role as keeping the work moving forward, providing the Chancellor with input and advice as needed, and doing what he can to make the transition for a new provost as smooth as possible.
With regard to climate, we need to think about what changes should be made based on the results of the climate survey and establish a regular cadence for the survey. Flourishing is a main focus of the Chancellor, and leadership will be brainstorming ideas around this in the coming months.
Interim Provost Wilcots discussed strategic staffing within the College of Letters and Science. When there is a staffing vacancy, the tendency is to hire someone as quickly as possible, which is not ideal. A needs assessment should be conducted, and the unit should strategize about what’s important. To accomplish this, we need increased professional development to enhance skills of existing employees, so that when there is a vacancy or a staff member is out on leave, the work can move forward. The College is in the early stages of trying this in a few units where there have been departures. Interim Provost Wilcots stressed that strategic staffing is not an approach to try to shrink staff.
Interim Provost Wilcots views student mental health and wellbeing as the biggest challenge we have right now. There is a huge need for mental health resources for our students. We need to hire additional staff where possible, equip existing staff with resources to be helpful, and consider what technology could be used to provide additional services.
We need to think about what ChatGPT means for academic integrity. We need to consider how we could teach differently and provide professional development opportunities for instructors. We should also consider how we could use ChatGPT in the administrative realm, as well as in research.
Guest: Rob Cramer, Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration
As graduate student stipend rates increase at our peer institutions, we are trying to remain competitive. In the last seven years, we have increased the minimum stipend over 50% and are increasing the minimum 10% for the coming year. We need to remain cognizant of our peers and think about how we attract and retain students, including how we engage in more affordable housing opportunities for graduate students.
Research and Sponsored Programs (RSP) has had challenges with retaining staff and filling vacancies. They have hired consultants to address immediate challenges, but this is a short-term strategy. Looking forward, we need to ensure there are appropriate support mechanisms and that we are not adding grants on top of a stressed system that cannot support them. We need to consider what investments need to be made, if we’re paying appropriate salaries in this space, and if we’re providing professional development paths for staff. To date, there has not been an analysis of salary issues in the research space as a potential contributing factor to attrition, but work on this will occur this summer.
The Legislative Audit Bureau (LAB) is conducting a telework audit looking at our existing policies, procedures, and infrastructure around data security. It’s anticipated they will complete the audit in late summer or early fall. Remote work continues to evolve on campus, in the Madison market, and nationally, and we need to be attentive to this. Vice Chancellor Cramer is supportive of a survey on remote work being conducted in the fall after the LAB audit is complete.
With regard to the Research Administration Modernization Project (RAMP), testing is finishing up this week and training is picking up. In early May, Vice Chancellor Cramer will convene the core group and RAMP steering committee to discuss where we’re at with respect to preparations and get a sense for how people are feeling. While many technical gaps have been closed, there is still a lot of training to get through.
Mallory Musolf, ASEC Chair, discussed an email received from an Assembly representative regarding issues of concern among staff with researcher and scientist titles.
Lesley Fisher, Deputy Secretary of the Academic Staff, reported that nominations for ASEC chair and vice chair will open May 4. The Public History Project released their final report. The Campus Diversity and Climate Committee (CDCC) and the Committee on Undergraduate Recruitment, Admissions, and Financial Aid (CURAFA) submitted a recommendation to the Chancellor to create a tuition waiver program for Indigenous students. ASEC will invite members from CDCC and CURAFA to a future meeting to discuss their recommendations.
Tim Dalby reported on International Division CASI meeting. They discussed award administration and upcoming events, and put together a one-page document about their work for the incoming dean.
Donna Cole reported on the ASEC Transportation Subcommittee meeting with Patrick Kass. Patrick’s team is beginning work on an analysis of existing permitholders and discussed challenges of a tiered payment structure for parking permits. The subcommittee will meet with Patrick again to discuss flex parking.
Stephanie Jones reported that the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences dean attended their recent CASI meeting, at which they discussed the role and structure of CASIs and morale issues among staff. Stephanie also reported that the School of Education CASI is having a meet and greet event on May 3.
ASEC discussed the University Committee’s proposal and will send feedback to the Secretary of the Academic Staff office by Friday, April 28.
ASEC has been asked to provide a briefing document for the incoming provost. They will discuss this at their meeting next week.
Motion to approve the May Assembly meeting agenda (Stoddard Cameron). Seconded. Approved.
Interim Provost: thoughts on request to form committee looking at concerns from staff with researcher and scientist titles; thoughts on the academic staff morale resolution; how the work of the HIB working group will continue
VCFSA: thoughts on request to form committee looking at concerns from staff with researcher and scientist titles; will the HIB working group continue meeting throughout the summer and what are the next steps; updates on academic staff professorial titles
OHR: thoughts on request to form committee looking at concerns from staff with researcher and scientist titles as well as request to investigate how other institutions determine pay scales for these titles; is recruiting getting better or worse and how are challenges with salary compression being addressed; update on pay increases for staff on soft money
Meeting adjourned at 4:35 p.m.
Minutes submitted by Lesley Fisher, Deputy Secretary of the Academic Staff