April 2007 Meeting minutes

MINUTES OF THE WESTCHESTER
ADMINISTRATIVE STAFF COUNCIL MEETING

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

 

Butcher Suite, Kessel Campus Center, PLV

 

Announcements

 

The Council applauded Phyllis Bradbury, DoIT, who is retiring on April 6, 2007, for her many years of valued service.

 

Co-op and Career Services announced a new award, the Co-op Education Student Awards 2007, which recognize those students who have participated in one or more of the University’s experiential education programs (co-op, internship, practicum, clinical, field work, or student teaching). Please submit nominations to Jody Queen, at jqueenhubert@pace,edu, by April 15, 2007.

 

To date, one nomination for Co-chair of the Administrative/Staff Council (for 2007-2008) has been received. The nomination is for Elaine Scanlon, Academic Affairs. A reminder to please e-mail nominations for Co-chair, Treasurer, and Secretary to Peggy Caraccio at mcaraccio@pace.edu. Elections for these offices will be held in May. Update: Since the meeting, Fran Tripoli, Co-op and Career Services, was also nominated for Co-chair.

 

Remarks by President David A. Caputo

 

The Student Handbook Committee, chaired by Dr. Darnita Killian, reviewed the Guiding Principles of Conduct and has made recommendations for revisions to the document. The draft is available on the Portal. The Committee asks that comments be forwarded directly to Dr. Killian by April 20, 2007.

 

There will be an announcement on the Portal shortly regarding a new “whistleblower” program. An 800 number will be provided for employees to anonymously raise issues of suspected fraud, mismanagement, etc. The service is not an expensive item for the University.

 

The University is in the process of revising it policies regarding Conflict of Interest and Gifts /Gratuities. All existing and new employees will be asked to sign these policies. Both policies will be forwarded to the Chairs of the Administrative/Staff Councils before they are submitted to the University community for individual signature.

 

The President spoke about the $15 million in reductions that have to be made in terms of the four-year budget plan, which covers July 2007 forward. The budget plan was approved by the Board of Trustees. The plan indicates a deficit of $6 million next year, no loss or gain during years two and three, and positive growth beginning in year four.

·         There will be no salary increases in September 2007. There will be a one-time 1% stipend, which will not affect an employee’s base salary, for those earning less than $50,000.

·         Tuition will not increase next year.

·         There will be an opportunity for salary increases during the second, third, and fourth years of the plan.

·         The current position freezes will continue.

·         In general, those who retire on the academic side will not be replaced.

·         Specific targets, regarding operating cuts, were given to the Provost, Finance and Administration, and to the President’s area.

·         The President hopes to keep reductions in personnel to a minimum. We must preserve the student and academic areas as much as possible. There is no information yet as to the extent of these reductions.

·         The University is positioned for a very difficult year ahead. The key is to recapture our lost enrollment.

·         There will be more details forthcoming at the end of the month in a series of comprehensive meetings.

 

Q & A

 

Q: When will we know if enrollment is up? If so, will the increased enrollment mean fewer personnel reductions? A: We will know more about enrollment in mid- to late- fall. However, the reductions listed in the four-year plan are effective as of July 1, 2007. As the University builds its recovery, the excess revenue will be used to build back people and programs. Summer II is the first revenue cycle for the new fiscal year.

 

Q: Does the current investigation by the NYS Attorney General’s Office affect Pace’s budget? A: The question refers to the investigation into the “revenue sharing” relationship between universities and various lenders. We do not have this type of relationship with any of our lenders. Pace was faulted because we use an off-campus (Sallie Mae) call center for calls made to our Financial Aid Office. The call center previously answered the phone as “Pace University.” As a result of the investigation, call center personnel now answer as “Sallie Mae.” The outcome of the investigation remains to be seen.

 

Q: How can we become more familiar with the advertising/marketing to prospective students? The Westchester campus does not seem to be promoted to the local high schools. We need to do more “local” marketing. A: Over the last couple of years, enrollment at Pleasantville and Briarcliff has been stronger than it has been in New York. There has been a shift in Westchester from a majority of commuter students to a majority of residential students. The President suggests that we invite Doug Whiting, Vice President for University Relations, to come and speak to the Council. Regarding recruitment at local high schools, the President will be reviewing the marketing plan for 2008 shortly.

 

Q: Has a final determination been made as a result of the facilities study? A: No, but there has been a lot of discussion. Given the current enrollment, is it wise to have as many properties as we have? Pleasantville is the “hub” for Westchester. If we can figure out how to add housing in Pleasantville, we may phase out Briarcliff over time, although there has been no discussion with the Town of Mount Pleasant. The Graduate Center is still under active discussion. We own Pace Plaza and 41 Park Row. It is difficult to do anything to either without great expense. There has also been discussion about subleasing the French Building in Midtown. Presentations will be made to the Pace community prior to any final decisions.

 

Q: We all believe that we work hard. What is to prevent Vice Presidents from giving bonuses to staff? A: No raises or bonuses will be approved. As people move from one position to another, there is the possibility of a salary increase. At times, salary increases have been approved in order to retain current staff. These are exceptions – increases will be very limited.

 

Q: How do you propose to change the attitudes of staff who feel that Pace is already “down the drain?” What will you, as President, do to improve the perception of Pace among staff? A: The four-year budget plan is workable and reasonable. Think about the success of our programs (Model United Nations, Accounting students receiving prestigious awards). The President said that he will continue to represent the University as well as he can. We are all part of the Pace community and we must work together. Our staff is very important as we are the public “face” of the University.

 

Q: What is the University doing, in the way of energy conservation, to save money? A: We have to look at the trade-off between the capital investment and the potential savings. The Facilities group is looking at the issue of conservation. A lot of our buildings are not energy efficient. This would require a large capital investment and the University has not been able to identify a source of funding.

 

Q: You mentioned that there will be an opportunity for salary increases in years two and three of the four-year plan. Will an attempt be made to make up for the lack of increases during year one? A: The budget model calls for a raise pool of 3% in 2008-2009. The University absorbed the increased medical plan costs from January 1, 2007 through June 30, 2007. The raises given last year were for the period ending June 30, 2007.

 

Q: Please address the fact that there will be no increases, yet we’re being asked to do more work with less staff. A: As positions are frozen and the range of responsibilities increases, the University has asked supervisors to work with Human Resources to identify solutions for managing the workload. We either have to eliminate some of the things that we are doing or offer more money for those doing more work.

 

Q: What is the purpose of completing a Performance Appraisal if there will be no salary increases? A: The University is not saying that we will never have increases again in the future. Instead, we have said that increases will be “paused.” We need to continue to document performance over this year and next year.

 

Q: Why was the decision made to do a one-time 1% stipend? In many cases, the 1% will not even cover an electric bill. A: We know that a significant number of employees are at a relatively low salary. The 1% stipend represents approximately $215,000. The stipend will be distributed at one point in time, probably during late fall, so that the impact will be felt. However, the stipend is taxable and will not add to an individual’s current base salary.

 

Q: What is the status of the Health Care Centers? As a parent, I would be nervous about sending my child to a residential facility with no opportunity for health care. A: Geoffrey Brackett, Interim Provost, is looking into the possibility of providing a similar service less expensively. We know that the Centers play an integral part for students, staff, and faculty. There has been no final decision. However, we cannot continue the status quo and make a $15 million reduction.

 

  Q: What area does the $3 million reduction in the medical plan come from? A: We anticipated a $2.5 - $3 million increase in health care costs next year, which is a national concern, not just a Pace issue. This reduction will prevent an additional $3 million on top of that. Vice President Ramirez will provide more information shortly.

 

Q: Is the on-campus tuition remission for our children threatened? A: The on-campus tuition remission benefit was not looked at in terms of reductions. It is a very valuable benefit that the University would like to continue. However, these students must still meet Admissions criteria in order to apply for the program.

 

Summary

 

  • We will be rethinking programs/departments that are viable. Vice Presidents have been asked to look across their areas to determine what is essential and what is not. We have to look at things that are "core” and those that are not. However, we have to maintain a future focus.
  • The President emphasized the importance of staff to the University. This period will be very difficult; however, the four-year plan is not built upon a series of risky assumptions. If we follow the plan, we will be able to retain current students and recruit a larger incoming class, which will result in greater resources in the coming years.

 

Remarks by Yvonne Ramirez-Lesce, Vice President for Human Resources, in response to questions that were submitted to her, by the Council, in March.

 

With a budget deficit of $15 million, the University has had to make some difficult decisions. The President has worked hard to minimize freezes where possible. DoIT and the academic areas have been spared to a significant extent and the OSA staff has increased.

 

Regarding reductions in personnel – there has been no final decision and no list of targeted positions exists. The goal is to minimize layoffs. In many cases, those affected will be given the opportunity to work in another department. Human Resources will help with severance support, as needed.

 

A Performance Appraisal serves to document and reflect contributions more so than support a salary increase. Performance Appraisals set the activities of the department. They are also used to expand roles and help employees move on within the University. Performance Appraisals provide opportunities for coaching regarding skill development. The Performance Appraisal helps to identify those who are growing and are ready for the next step.

 

Changes have been made to the Performance Appraisal form for June 2007. The Objectives Setting (II) section was a bit onerous, so it will become voluntary for staff. Managers will still be required to set objectives. The hope is that Deans and Vice Presidents read all Performance Appraisals for their areas.

 

Two Employee Relations managers will be hired, one in NY and one in Pleasantville, to help improve employee morale. One of their goals will be to begin a “Thank You” program for staff.

 

We are not in a position to offer mortgage assistance, which is currently only available once to Officers and Deans who are recruited from outside the NY area, to all employees.

 

The President, Officers, and Deans will not take salary increases until the University turns around.

 

Yvonne will try to respond, in writing, to the concerns presented by the group prior to today’s meeting.

 

Information Regarding Results of Medical Plan Review

The University is committed to providing a comprehensive plan with access to quality providers. We also understand that choice is important.

  • Oxford/United Healthcare, which represents the largest national network of providers, will be the administrator. We are considered to be a “premier client” with access to Centers of Excellence (i.e. Sloan Kettering is considered an in-network provider).
  • There will be 3 options available under this one provider – one HMO option and two POS options. The same doctors will be available in all three choices.
  • The plan is fully-insured rather than self-insured.
  • Employees will have access to the Freedom Network (current Oxford HMO members have access to the Liberty Network, which is smaller).
  • There will be no mandatory mail order under any of the plans.